Disturbing Trending of Key COVID-19 Metrics

In the state of North Carolina, trending of key COVID-19 metrics over a 14 day look-back period is bleak. The number of persons visiting emergency departments with symptoms of COVID-like illness (an early indicator of community spread) is escalating sharply, as is the number of new cases identified each day. The percentage of tests returning with positive results continues to climb, though gradually, and the number of individuals hospitalized due to the virus is increasing and even beginning to threaten the capacity of some community hospitals.

Our state, on the whole, has fared relatively well throughout the course of this pandemic, managing to stave off catastrophic transmission rates while surges ravaged, at different times, New England, the Sunbelt, major metropolitan areas, and the Southeast. Today, the entire nation is essentially ablaze with COVID-19 transmission. Astonishingly, more cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the past four weeks than in the first six months of the pandemic. While North Carolina is not yet “on fire”, so to speak, a combination of alarming key metric trending and the expectation of severely accelerated transmission related to the holidays indicate that the darkest days of this pandemic will soon be upon us.

My job is to protect, to the best of my ability, the public health of Deerfield’s community of residents and employees. To that end, I need to make one fact abundantly clear:

COVID-19 is a markedly greater threat to you now than it has been at any other time in this pandemic.

You should expect that the danger will progressively increase throughout the course of this winter. Arguably even more so than it was back in the springtime, when stay at home orders were in effect across the nation to “flatten the curve” of the emerging pandemic, now is the time to hunker down. This winter, I urge residents to stay home whenever possible and to avoid unnecessary social visits with people outside their households. When you must leave home, embrace that healthy level of anxiety reminiscent of the early days when this pandemic was new. Wear your mask with reinvigorated resolve. Conscientiously maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet between yourself and others. If you find yourself in a situation in which you are near others who are not wearing masks, leave. Opt to decline invitations that invite unnecessary risk. Stay safe.

Let us not succumb to our individual or collective weariness. The work of staying at home, of socially distancing, of constant hyper-vigilance, of practicing viral mitigation measures – this is all tough. It’s exhausting. But it is necessary. And it works. Keep up the effort! I will, too.

Taryn Tindall, RN, on behalf of the Deerfield Leadership Team