Forsyth reported 64 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the lowest total since 33 cases were reported July 24.
It was also the first time since Oct. 5 that the Forsyth daily case count was below 100.
There were no additional deaths listed Tuesday among Forsyth residents. There have been at least 21 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in Forsyth so far in October.
As of noon Tuesday, Forsyth has had 50,390 cases and 534 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.
A local infectious diseases expert cautioned Tuesday that, while the decline is an indication that the delta variant surge may be waning, COVID-19 is likely to remain a factor well into the first quarter of 2022.
Dr. David Priest said there is reason for modest optimism with the decline.
He cited as an example that in the past two weeks Novant hospitals have gone from caring for up to 400 COVID-19 patients to between 250 and 300.
Priest cautioned, as have other local public-health officials, that between 90% and 95% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU patients are among unvaccinated individuals.
“The delta variant remains incredibly contagious … with about one-fifth of all deaths in North Carolina having taken place in the last two months,” Priest said.
“While we are optimistic about new developments and encouraged by the latest data, we’re not out of this just yet.
“We can’t be complacent, particularly those individuals who are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.”
Merck COVID-19 pill
Priest discussed the Merck pill that, if approved by U.S. health regulators, could be used to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 cases.
The FDA has been asked to review the safety and effectiveness of the drug, molnupiravir.
The Associated Press reported that “an antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking,” as well as potentially contribute to lowering the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
“It can be another tool for getting this virus under control. Hopefully, this could be a real breakthrough,” Priest said.
But he warned against seeing the new drug as a reason to skip a vaccination.
“... It is always better to prevent illness than to treat it once you have it, so we would hope folks would not forgo immunization or vaccination for COVID because they think, ‘Oh, they can just give me the pill.’
“What we have seen with the delta variant is that sometimes COVID can progress really rapidly, and you may not have time to for that (Merck) pill to work.”
DHHS reported 2,148 new cases statewide Tuesday, along with 1,786 Monday, 3,467 Sunday and 4,236 Saturday.
The number of new cases reported Monday was the lowest for North Carolina since July 27.
There were 26 COVID-19-related deaths reported statewide between Monday and Tuesday.
Across North Carolina, there have been 1.44 million COVID-19 cases and 17,233 deaths since the pandemic began.
DHHS listed 2,236 COVID-19-related hospitalizations statewide as of noon Tuesday, up 84 from Monday’s report.
Monday’s hospitalization count of 2,152 was the lowest since Aug. 8.
Hospitals in the 17-county Triad and Northwest N.C. region reported a combined 504 COVID-19 patients, down four from Monday’s report.
North Carolina had 608 adults in the ICU with COVID-19, up 27 from Monday’s report. There were 29 pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations as of noon Tuesday.
Statewide, 402 patients were on ventilators.
The peak number of N.C. patients on ventilators came Sept. 12, with 701.
Positive test rates, vaccinations
The latest statewide positive test rate is 7.7% based on 33,674 tests conducted Sunday.
For Forsyth, the average positive test rate has been 8.9% over the past 14 days.
DHHS said 65% of adult North Carolinians are fully vaccinated.
When counting 12- to 17-year-olds, 63% of the population is fully vaccinated.
As of noon Monday, 225,916 Forsyth residents were at least partially vaccinated, or 59% of all residents. That includes 210,496 residents — or 55% of all residents — who are fully vaccinated.
By comparison, Guilford is 55% fully vaccinated, Durham 64%, Wake 65% and Mecklenburg 56%.