COVID-19 weekly case count remains on decline in Forsyth; county has two more deaths – Winston-Salem Journal

The Forsyth County death toll from COVID-19 increased by two last week while the weekly case count reached another seven-month low.

Forsyth was reported with two confirmed deaths related to COVID-19, both occurring during the week that ended Nov. 19, according to the latest dashboard update from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The county has had 926 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic erupted in mid-March 2020.

DHHS cautions that its weekly totals are subject to revision, including factoring in cases and deaths that occurred weeks or months ago, but were only recently confirmed as related to COVID-19.

Those ages 75 and older represent 486 of the Forsyth COVID-related deaths, along with 210 ages 65 to 74, 182 ages 50 to 64, 41 ages 25 to 49, two ages 18 to 24, two ages infant to 24, and three whose age has not been determined.

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Meanwhile, there were 252 new cases of COVID-19 in Forsyth, down from a revised 266 and 347 in the previous two reports. It is the lowest weekly case count since 237 for the week that ended April 16.

About 16.7%, or 42, of the latest weekly cases were considered as reinfections.

Forsyth has had 116,890 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Forsyth health director Joshua Swift and Novant Health Inc. infectious diseases expert Dr. David Priest have stressed that the DHHS weekly case totals include only laboratory confirmed cases, and don’t include most people who determine they are positive with an at-home test.

Priest has said he expects another uptick later this year and into early 2023 as more people spend more time indoors during the holidays without mask restrictions in place.

Community spread

Forsyth was returned to the low category for COVID-19, according to the latest federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update on Nov. 17.

The county was in the medium category last week after being in the low level for three weeks.

Davie, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties also were shifted from medium to low, while Alleghany was moved from low to medium — the only one of the 14 Triad and Northwest North Carolina counties currently at medium.

Statewide, there are eight counties listed at medium and none at high.

The COVID-19 community level is determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions and the total number of new cases in an area.

Forsyth was reported with 73 new cases per 100,000 people, compared with 98 and 116 in the previous two reports.

The rate of new COVID-related hospital admissions per 100,000 people was at 7.9, compared with 10 and 7.8 in the previous two reports.

Also, 2.7% of staffed inpatient beds are being used by COVID-19 patients, compared with 2.7% and 2.6% the previous weeks.

Before the Oct. 6 CDC update, Forsyth had been considered in the high category for 13 consecutive weeks.

Long-term care centers

The number of Forsyth long-term care centers with current COVID-19 outbreaks dropped by two to nine in the latest state update.

The number of infected residents linked to current outbreaks is at 144, down from 177 in the previous report, while infected staff members are at 49, up one.

At least seven long-term care residents have died since early April from a COVID-related illness.

DHHS spokeswoman Bailey Pennington Allison has said the weekly outbreak report “is a combination of current and past outbreaks.”

“It’s also important to remember that the number of cases associated with an ongoing outbreak are the cumulative total for that outbreak, not the number of people currently positive for COVID-19.”

An outbreak is considered over if there is not evidence of continued transmission within the facility, according to DHHS. If new positive COVID-19 cases occur after an outbreak is considered as ended, it is listed as a separate outbreak.

Current outbreaks of at least 15 COVID-19 cases in Forsyth long-term care centers include:

* Silas Creek Rehabilitation Center, with 65 cases reported for residents and 17 staff (both unchanged from previous report). There have been four COVID-19 related deaths reported at Silas Creek during the current outbreak.

* Brighton Gardens of Winston-Salem, newly listed with 22 residents, including one death, and 10 staff.

* Brookdale Reynolda Road, with 18 residents (up one) and four staff (unchanged).

* Brookridge Retirement Community, with 17 residents and four staff (both unchanged).

* Trinity Glen, with 14 residents and five staff (both unchanged).

The dashboard listed outbreaks as over at three Forsyth long-term care facilities: The Atrium/The Respite Center with 22 residents and one staff; Shuler Health Care/Record Villa with 13 residents, including one death, and one staff; and Clemmons Village I with four residents and one staff.

COVID-19 statewide

The statewide new case count last week was 5,719, down from a revised 6,556 in the previous report.

Of those North Carolinians with a positive test result last week, 1,003, or 17.5%, were considered re-infected.

North Carolina’s total confirmed case count since the onset of the pandemic is at 3.29 million.

There were 27 COVID-related deaths reported statewide last week, along with 15 from previous weeks, for a total of 27,342 since the onset of the pandemic.

Last week, the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals in North Carolina was at 495, down 71 from the previous report.

COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide averaged 569 last week, down 58 from the previous week.

Hospitals in the 17-county Triad region averaged 121 COVID-19 patients, down 169 from the previous week.

The current dominant omicron subvariants have proven to be more contagious, but have not produced a surge in hospitalizations.

The BA.5 subvariant made up 45.9% of new cases from Oct. 30 to Nov. 12, along with 15.3% the BQ1.1 subvariant, 11.9% the BA.4.6 subvariant, 8.9% the BQ.1 subvariant, 8.5% the BF.7 subvariant and 4.4% the BA.2.75 subvariant.

There were 10 subvariants listed by DHHS.

Priest warned that newer subvariants of the virus are very contagious, even among people have either been vaccinated or exposed to COVID-19.

“By this point, most of us have either had COVID or some kind of natural immunity or been vaccinated, or both,” Priest said.

DHHS reported 10.4 million COVID-19 virus particles found in wastewater samples last week. That’s compared with 8.1 million and 10.9 million the previous two weeks.

DHHS has said that COVID-19 virus particles appearing in wastewater can signal how quickly the virus is spreading, even if people don’t get tested or have symptoms.

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