Editor's note: The article and headline were updated at 10:02 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021, to reflect two additional cases reported by the school system after the report was published.
CARTERET COUNTY — With students back in classrooms as of Monday, Carteret County school officials confirmed 32 COVID-19 cases connected to the public school system in the first week of classes.
The cases were reported Aug. 23-26, according to information posted to the school system’s website Friday afternoon. Officials did not specify which schools the cases were reported in or how many of the cases were students, teachers or other school staff. They also did not respond to the News-Times' request for that information.
According to the website, parents of students identified as close contacts to confirmed cases will be notified directly, through a letter or phone call, with directions on how to proceed based on the school system and County Health Department’s determined exposure risk. Staff members identified as close contacts are notified directly by school administrators.
Monday was the first day of school for Carteret County public school students. As decided by the Carteret County Board of Education in a split vote Aug. 18, students and employees are required to wear face masks within public school buildings for at least the first two weeks of the school year.
Meanwhile Friday, the health department confirmed 20 new cases of COVID-19, with active cases falling to 311, down from 336 reported Thursday. Of the 6,445 total cases confirmed in Carteret County since March 2020, 6,027 have recovered and 62 have died.
After reaching a pandemic high of 24 hospitalizations a week ago, the number of patients being treated for COVID-related complications at Carteret Health Care in Morehead City decreased steadily all week to settle at 16 as of Friday afternoon. The hospital reports two of those patients hospitalized are fully vaccinated and the other 14 are not fully vaccinated.
The county’s test positivity rate also fell from Thursday down to 11.9% Friday, below the state’s positivity rate of 12.8%. To date, 48% of the population in Carteret County has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 53% have received at least one dose.
The county offers a weekly COVID-19 vaccination clinic Fridays at the health department on Bridges Street. To make an appointment, call 252-728-8550, option 2.