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Forsyth remains in high community level for COVID-19; more than two-thirds of NC in same category

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Forsyth County remained in the high level for COVID-19 for a fifth consecutive week, according to the latest federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update released late Thursday.

Over the past 10 weekly CDC reports, Forsyth has been listed in the high-level category eight times.

Of the 14-county Triad and Northwest N.C., Alleghany was moved from low to high, Alamance from medium to high and Davie, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin remained at high.

The CDC recommends that people who live in counties in the high category wear masks in indoor public spaces, as well as on public transportation regardless of vaccination status.

Meanwhile, Davidson, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham and Wilkes stayed at medium levels, while Ashe and Watauga remained at low.

There are 69 high-level counties in the state, up from 61 in the previous CDC report.

The CDC’s COVID-19 community level is determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

The CDC listed Forsyth with 319 new cases per 100,000 population, compared with 308, 240 and 236 in the three previous reports.

Forsyth health director Joshua Swift said Thursday the county was at a 28% positive test rate last week — the highest level since the tail end of the omicron wave in late January.

The rate of new COVID-related hospital admissions per 100,000 was at 16.7, compared with 16.3, 11.9 and 12.8 in the three previous reports.

Also, 4.5% of staffed inpatient beds are being used by COVID-19 patients, compared with 4.4%, 4% and 3.7% in the three previous reports.

Swift said that as of Thursday, there were 31 county residents in a local hospital with a COVID-19 infection. That’s down from 39 residents last week.

Both Swift and Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious diseases expert with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, have said Forsyth’s current status in the high community level category may be influenced by outside — rather than inside — county factors since it is a health-care system hub for northwest N.C.

Forsyth status

Forsyth County was reported with an additional six COVID-19 related deaths, according to Wednesday’s update from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Forsyth has reported 857 COVID-19 related deaths since the pandemic began.

The case count for the week that ended July 30 was 1,198, up two from a revised 1,196 for the week that ended July 23.

The last time the Forsyth weekly case count was higher was 2,251 for the week that ended Feb. 5.

Of the 1,198 new reported cases, DHHS said 167, or 14% were people who have been re-infected with either the omicron subvariant BA.5 or BA.4.

Meanwhile, the state surpassed 3 million COVID-19 cases since mid-March 2020.

The weekly DHHS dashboard totals are subject to revision. When newly listed cases and deaths are added retroactively to statewide and county totals, they are attributed to the week in which the positive case is determined.

For the BA.4 and BA.5 wave that began in mid-May, the weekly case range for Forsyth has been between 798 (week ending June 18) and 1,198.

By comparison, in April the number of weekly cases in Forsyth had fallen below 200.

Forsyth has had 106,120 cases for the pandemic since the onset in mid-March 2020.

Swift and Novant Health Inc. infectious diseases expert Dr. David Priest have stressed that the DHHS weekly case totals include only laboratory-confirmed cases, and don’t include most people who determine they are positive with an at-home test.

People are not required to report their positive tests to county health departments.

However, Swift said the department has seen an increase of people who test positive from an at-home kit that choose to verify the result through a test administered by the department.

Statewide

The statewide new case count last week was 31,848, down 4,1% from 33,159.

Of those North Carolinians with a positive test result last week, 4,908, or 15.4%, were considered as re-infected.

North Carolina’s total confirmed case count since the onset of the pandemic is at least 3.01 million.

There were 204 COVID-19-related deaths recorded statewide last week for an overall total of 25,687.

The current dominant omicron subvariants — BA.5 (57.6% of new cases for the period of July 10 through July 23), BA.4 (16.1%) and BA.2.12.1 (13.2%) — have proven to be more contagious, but not producing a surge in hospitalizations.

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@rcraverWSJ

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