Health officials talk about rising COVID-19 cases heading in to the new year

New pandemic operations manager weighs in on new CDC quarantine guidelines
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 6:07 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - COVID-19 has changed holiday plans for many, but more tests are being sought after many people who traveled over the weekend.

New Hanover County’s Health and Human Services Director Donna Fayko said New Hanover County currently has about 523 active positive COVID-19 cases.

“We are considered to be a community of high transmissibility right at this moment,” said Fayko.

With the New Year holiday still ahead, Fayko expects numbers to keep rising.

“We’re seeing lots of testing, lots of people congregating, gathering, so we do expect those numbers to jump even higher.”

New Hanover County welcomed Jon Campbell on Tuesday as the new pandemic operations manager.

As people gather to celebrate the new year this upcoming weekend, Campbell said he hopes people make smart decisions.

“First and foremost, if you’re not feeling well, stay home, stay away from others. If you’re going to attend a gathering, it would be recommended to have perhaps a smaller gathering, and if you have the option, do a rapid antigen test before the gathering,” Campbell said. “Of course, wearing a tight-fitting mask — that is a great thing you can do as an individual. Getting a vaccine is incredibly important. Distancing or limiting social gathering sizes, washing hands frequently — those are definitely some recommendations as some of the holidays are winding down and a fresh year is about to start for us.”

Keeping in mind that cases are on the rise due to increased gatherings with family and friends over the holidays, Campbell said Omicron is the most active COVID strain right now. “Omicron is really widespread at this point. So, in general, it is safe to go off the assumption that if there is a current case of COVID, it is the Omicron variant,” Campbell said.

For anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or comes in close contact with someone who is positive, the CDC is now recommending a shorter isolation or quarantine period.

“If you are an asymptomatic individual, you can isolate for five days after testing positive,” said Campbell. “Then the key is, following on the next 5 days, you can wear a tight-fitting mask. And that’s something that truly all individuals, vaccinated or not, if they’re in a social gathering event, should [do is] wear a tight-fitting mask. But definitely a lot of improvement from the ten days down to five days.”

New Hanover County is following the CDC’s new isolation and quarantine recommendation.

While Campbell said that updated quarantine/isolation guidelines are an improvement from where we were at the beginning of the pandemic, he noted that everyone has a role to play to get us out of this pandemic.

“Everyone has an individual role and I ask that everybody please play an active role to move forward through the pandemic.”

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