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New Hanover County sees improvement in COVID-19 numbers

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 11:43 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New data shows a steady decrease in the COVID-19 positivity rate for New Hanover County meaning fewer and fewer tests are coming back positive.

Health officials say that the coronavirus trends are looking a little bit better. About a month ago New Hanover County was near a 14% positivity rate, and two weeks ago that number dropped into the single digits.

“We’re at 5.9% positivity rate. We dipped below that 6% and we continue to decline, and our cases per day is right at 50 cases per day. Both of those figures are on a 14-day rolling average. That means we’re dropping at a steady rate,” said New Hanover County Health Director, David Howard.

He said that the lower numbers can be attributed to the community’s increased effort to wear masks and get vaccinated.

“The Delta variant rose very fast, and so we expected it to decline fast, as we’ve seen in other countries, other areas of the world where it started, it didn’t start here in the U.S. But, our real goal was to make that happen as fast as possible with all of the mitigation measures and trying to get people to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Howard said.

Howard said he wanted to thank everyone in the community for their efforts to help lower these numbers in the county “for taking action, taking control when we saw the surge fueled by the delta variant, we acted as a community.”

Many people are asking how much longer the mask mandate will last, and Howard said that there needs to be a continued effort from the community to get to that point. “So, community wide — they take the community wide testing, each day, each week — so we’re looking at that metric, to drop it to 5% or below. That indicates that our transmission rates are relatively low, also they’re looking at cases per day. Which is another 14-day running average,” Howard said.

The New Hanover County Health and Human Services Board will meet again on October 19 to look at those metrics, and if those numbers continue to decrease and near that 5% mark, then it’s possible that the county could be nearing the end of the mask mandate. “Now the same process for action on the rule follows as we had with the enactment of the rule, which means they will indicate to the public that they intend to look at the rule, which indicates another 10-day publication notice. By law that has to happen so everything is transparent and the public is aware, and then up to the board’s choosing they set a date either before the November meeting, or otherwise to meet and specifically look at the rule,” Howard said. “The 19th is just going to be a very brief update on the metrics.”

For more information regarding the county’s latest update, click here.

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