Some of Mecklenburg County’s key coronavirus trends continued to narrowly improve in the past week, even as the death toll once again rose sharply.
Deaths are considered a lagging indicator in the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning they trail several weeks behind people developing symptoms and requiring hospitalization for severe complications.
Atrium Health put the COVID death toll into stark terms earlier this week: “COVID deaths in August were higher than the previous 4 months combined. September COVID deaths are on pace to be even higher.”
County health officials reported 35 coronavirus-related deaths in the past week, bringing the local death toll to 1,126 on Friday morning. In the week prior, Mecklenburg officials had reported 19 coronavirus-related deaths.
Over the last 14 days, almost one-third of county coronavirus-related deaths involved residents age 40-59, Mecklenburg officials said. Nearly 15% of deaths involved residents age 20 to 39, and more than half involved residents 60 and older.
Officials said nearly 40% of all deaths are linked to COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities, including nursing homes.
Most county deaths involved elderly residents, although 29 deaths were among residents ages 20-39 and 173 deaths were among residents ages 40-59, as of Wednesday. Nearly all residents who died, with the exception of 32 individuals, had underlying health conditions, officials said.
Hospitals across Atrium Health continue to see the devastating effects of the Delta variant on the communities we serve.
In August alone, COVID deaths were higher than the previous 4 months combined, with September COVID deaths on pace to be even higher.
Please get vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/H63r2jR8ek
— Atrium Health (@AtriumHealth) September 15, 2021
County COVID trends
While some of Mecklenburg’s coronavirus trends are showing signs of modest progress, all numbers remain extremely elevated. It is still too early to gauge the impact of Labor Day gatherings on the spread of new cases, due to the incubation period of the virus and the time it takes to experience symptoms. attrib
These are the latest COVID-19 numbers.
▪ On average, Mecklenburg is logging 578 new cases each day, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. That is nearly the same volume as the start of the month.
But on Aug. 1, the average daily caseload was 310. On July 1, it was 41.
▪ Mecklenburg officials say they are aware of 472 confirmed breakthrough cases among fully vaccinated residents between March 22 and Sept. 16. That compares to 463 breakthrough cases reported last week.
To be considered a breakthrough case, a person must have completed all vaccine doses within at least the last 14 days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mecklenburg’s true breakthrough infection total could be far higher. Local health officials are relying on self-reported cases during contact tracing investigations, as they wait to obtain more comprehensive data from the state.
▪ Mecklenburg’s COVID-19 positivity rate fell to 11.2% in the past week, a roughly 15% decrease over the last 14 days.
In mid-July, the rate of positive COVID-19 tests was below 5%, a crucial threshold that public health officials will partially rely on when easing the countywide indoor mask mandate.
▪ Mecklenburg officials say the average number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 fell to 409 in the past week, a 9% decrease over the last 14 days. The daily hospital census appears to have peaked in late August, when 458 patients were hospitalized.
The overwhelming majority of coronavirus patients are not vaccinated. At Atrium, 215 out of 222 patients on life support were unvaccinated, the hospital tweeted on Tuesday.
▪ State health officials say 59% of Mecklenburg residents are at least partially vaccinated and 54% are fully vaccinated. That compares to 56% of all North Carolinians who are at least partially vaccinated and 52% who are fully vaccinated, according to N.C. DHHS.
The vast majority of elderly Mecklenburg residents are vaccinated, though their younger counterparts still lag far behind. Just over half of residents ages 12-24 have received at least their first vaccine dose.