The county averages more than 800 cases per 100,000 people; the highest in the state. Rising infections and other measures led the county to be downgraded from “low” to “medium” risk on Wednesday. Wake County is one of only two counties in North Carolina at this level of risk.
Cumberland County has seen a 40% increase in cases and Durham County has reported 20% more cases over the past week.
Despite the rise in cases, the true number of infections is likely much higher as home testing remains popular.
“People need to recognize that we are no longer counting these cases as accurately as we used to, because thankfully many people now have widely available access to rapid tests that are no longer flagged in the systems as they once did. are likely a very large underestimate of the true number of COVID cases,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, infectious disease specialist at Duke Health.
Wolfe said because of that, officials and residents have to rely on other metrics. Unfortunately, these are also increasing.
The number of hospitalized patients has increased by 21% since last Wednesday in North Carolina.
“While the number of cases has increased a lot over the past month, the impact on hospitals by increasing is not as great as it was last year, for example. This is a good thing So the impact of those cases is less, but the number is absolutely increasing,” Wolfe said.
It’s a trend seen across the country as new Omicron variants appear. Over the past week, cases have increased by about 29% in the United States.
“He’s just become more contagious again. So it takes less time around sick people than he said at this time last year for you to get sick,” Wolfe said.
Another concern is the increase in deaths among the vaccinated population.
A recent ABC analysis found that 40% of COVID-19 deaths in February occurred in vaccinated Americans. This is a slight increase from September when 1% of COVID-19 deaths were among vaccinated people.
Wolfe said that doesn’t mean the vaccine has stopped working.
“A high proportion of this mortality that’s happening right now is in patients for whom vaccines are less effective because they themselves are immunocompromised. You know, maybe they’ve recently had chemotherapy, maybe this person had a transplant,” Wolfe said. “We know historically in these patients that vaccines are less effective, true for COVID, true for flu, true for all other vaccines.”
Wolfe said even people who caught Omicron last winter are starting to report reinfection.
“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, ‘Hey, I got sick in January. That’s all. I’m done with it. The pandemic is over. This is not the case.
Despite the uptick, Wolfe said he doesn’t expect this surge to disrupt day-to-day activities as much as past surges.
As cases rise across the board, it also impacts children. Around 93,000 children have COVID cases were reported last week. This is the highest weekly total since February.
The US Food and Drug Administration authorized a recall for children ages 5 to 11 earlier this week. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is to officially recommend the recall which is expected to take place later this week. Nationally, only about 43% of eligible children (ages 5 to 17) are vaccinated, according to federal data.
Experts continue to push the vaccine, especially the most recent booster, as the best tool to fight the infection.
“The virus gets a little bit better around immunity and our immunity goes down over time. But I think you know, and the older you are, the faster it goes down. So somebody who’s 75 and who was vaccinated in December is likely to have less recollection of that vaccine than someone who is 25 and got vaccinated in December,” Wolfe said.
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