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Officials cautiously optimistic as COVID-19 case numbers decline

Health officials urge caution, however, saying that the pandemic is not over yet.
Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 10:16 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina is on the decline as the seven-day rolling average of new cases is at its lowest mark since the start of the new year. Health officials urge caution, however, saying that the pandemic is not over yet.

Dr. Paul Kamitsuka, an infectious disease consultant with Wilmington Health, says while the Omicron variant surge is slowing down, it is still important to mask-up, especially if you are not vaccinated against the virus.

“The reality is that if you have not been vaccinated and, particularly, vaccinated and boosted, and go around without a mask, you’re basically playing Russian Roulette with your life,” Kamitsuka said.

More than 20 percent of COVID-19 tests in North Carolina are coming back positive. The rate is even higher in New Hanover, Brunswick, Bladen, Pender, and Columbus counties, according to the state health department.

“It’s hard to have a crystal ball on this, but I think that Omicron — I’m one of those that believe that Omicron really is on its way out in its current iteration,” said Kamitsuka.

Doctors say while the “light at the end of the tunnel” may be visible, it is still important to wear a mask and get vaccinated.

“We shouldn’t depend on mandates to tell us what the right thing to do is to protect ourselves,” Kamitsuka said.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the state reported each day has dropped sharply since the peak of the Omicron surge last month. On January 13, the state reported nearly 45,000 new cases. On Wednesday, just over 10,000 new cases were reported.

Kamitsuka adds that while Omicron may be on the decline, vaccines could be here to stay.

“I think it’s going to become an endemic infection and we may need a yearly vaccine or something of that sort,” Kamitsuka said.

Novant Health offers COVID-19 testing in New Hanover County and Brunswick County seven days a week. More information can be found here.

To find out where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot, click here.

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