Dare County health officials see record vaccination rates; masks now required in county buildings

North Carolina

DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — Coronavirus cases continue to climb in North Carolina.

The state hit a new record Tuesday when 4,963 new cases were reported. Tuesday’s metrics mark the highest single-day average since January before vaccines were readily made available.

As numbers climb, so do vaccination rates in Dare County. North Carolina’s Outer Banks has the highest vaccination rate of all rural counties in the southern United States, according to a recent report from USA Today.

About 65% of people in Dare County have had at least one dose of the vaccine. About 61% are fully vaccinated. Public health director Sheila Davies told 10 On Your Side she’s proud of those numbers but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Health officials are worried.

“Our cases are rising exponentially,” Davies explained. “Just this past week, we had 216 positive cases in Dare County. Compared to last summer this same week, we had 21 positive cases.”

The coastal community still remains in the red and is considered high risk for community transmission of COVID-19. That’s why health officials and some businesses are urging residents and visitors to mask up.

Beginning on August 12, masks are required inside Dare County buildings regardless of vaccination status.

“Effective immediately, the towns of Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Manteo and Dare County now require the use of face coverings while indoors at all county and town buildings.”

Dare County Emergency Management

The re-instated face covering requirement for the Town of Kill Devil Hills’ facilities will become effective Monday, August 16.

Visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and the Wright Brothers National Memorial are also now required to wear a face covering inside all park buildings.

Some businesses are also asking customers to mask up.

“The delta variant is no joke. If you take a look at all the data, we have to wear masks. In this shop we will ask you, please wear a mask when you’re in here because there are other people that are shopping with us. We don’t want to expose anybody,” said Lloyd Khan, a small business owner in Kitty Hawk..

A simple ask from small business owners like Khan, who owns Holistic Pet Shop in Kitty Hawk with his wife. They have signs plastered across the front door.

“I’ve got a mask on. I’m keeping my mask on,” Khan stated.

Khan told 10 On Your Side he knows of too many people who’ve gotten sick with the virus and had complications from it. He fears another statewide lockdown if numbers keep getting worse.

“We want to be here. We don’t want to have to close down,” Khan said.

Davies’ message for everyone regardless of vaccination status is to wear a mask, wash your hands and socially distance.

“It takes all of us to get to the other side of this,” Davies said.

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