NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – The data review subcommittee of the New Hanover County Health and Human Services Board met Friday to discuss the latest COVID-19 trends in the community as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads.
On Friday, the state set another record for new cases, with 28,474 reported in a single day, according to the state health department. New Hanover County’s full HHS board is expected to meet on January 18 to discuss whether or not to re-instate a mask mandate or other restrictions.
Board subcommittee members discussed what trends they might consider when it comes to a full conversation about another mask mandate.
Among the trends members talked about are the number of cases in the county, the quantity of current outbreaks, the percent of tests coming back positive, total patients in county hospitals, and the availability of testing for the community.
“There’s a rapid test that works at home, there’s a rapid test that is issued at point-of-care, typically a doctors office, and then there’s the PCR — the lab-based test,” said NHC Health Director David Howard. “All those different types of test manufacturers are continuing to try to respond to the demand and increase the supplies and that’s happening on a daily basis and we hope to receive higher capacity with all three of those types of test coming up in the days and weeks ahead.”
The county’s Pandemic Operations Manager Jon Campbell says the Omicron variant is showing its spread through the county right now.
“We are seeing a more mild disease, but think of the other impacts it has,” said Campbell. “The increasing numbers because of the high transmissibility, because of emergency department visits. We know that that’s affecting our front line workers.”
Howard says Omicron is different from previous variants.
“From a community sense we’re seeing, so far, less severity from [the] Omicron variant as other places have seen over the past couple of months,” Howard said. “We hope that holds true, but that’s one indicator that it’s a slightly different variant in terms of how it affects us.”
Health officials maintain that regardless of whether a mask mandate is in place, it is important to protect yourself and others as COVID-19 case numbers are back on the rise.
“Regardless of what the metrics tell us and what happens in the next several weeks, those measures will work,” said Howard. “It’s not really about stopping, completely, this virus. It’s about navigating through.”
Officials ask for the entire community to come together and continue to work towards reducing the spread of all active COVID-19 variants in our community.
The public can make comments at the January 18 meeting and also submit comments online until Jan. 14 by clicking here.
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