If only more sunlight were the antidote to COVID-19, then the time change and some perhaps Congressional action on Daylight Savings could be the final answer. Sadly, as the turn of the calendar and change of another season has shown – this virus really wants to stick around.

Casting sunlight on the raw data, the trend for this region is positive, but the means little with a virus that seeks new avenues of infection. The new case average over 14-days in Surry County was 84, Wilkes County had 100, Stokes County 54, Yadkin County 31, and Alleghany County registered 21.

Improvement is seen when looking at the 7-day average where Surry County had 36 new cases, Wilkes 36, Stokes 26, Yadkin 6, and only 5 in Alleghany. Saving the best news for last, with most recent information only 27 new cases were reported overnight in the five-county area from Tuesday into Wednesday, Wilkes and Alleghany reported zero.

Statewide new case numbers saw a brief uptick this week with 1,519 new cases reported Wednesday, bucking a trend of daily decreases. The new case count number is lower though, 833 new cases were reported on the previous Wednesday and 6,079 a month prior.

Hospitalization rates and death rates are considered by some professionals and statisticians to be the best barometer of where the fight against COVID-19 stands in real time.

In North Carolina on Wednesday, there were 799 patients hospitalized across the entire state. Glancing down through one month’s worth of data, the hospitalization rate is clearly falling daily. The Wednesday prior saw 1,094 hospitalized, looking back a full month, on February 15 statewide there were 2,870 patients hospitalized with the virus.

Take a comparable look through the Intensive Care Unit numbers to find a similarly calming trend: Wednesday ICUs across the state housed 140 adults, down from 208 the previous week. In mid-February the number was 523

Commissioners go to the head of the class

Nationally, the 7-day average for new hospital admissions is 2,380, down 28.5% from the week before and off 89% from its peak in January. The second week of January this year, during the post-holiday Omicron surge, saw the peak 7-day average for entirety of the pandemic with that average being 21,622 new hospital admissions daily across the country.

Rates of new vaccinations have significantly slowed in 2022, and the total percentage of the population vaccinated nationally remains under the threshold of 70% once commonly thought to be target for herd immunity.

In the first ten weeks of 2022 approximately 355,000 North Carolinians got at least one shot. This was down from 750,000 seen in the last ten weeks of 2021.

In Surry County the vaccination rate for those over age 12 is 59% having had one dose and 57% have received the single dose Johnson & Johnson, or the complete course of Pfizer or Moderna. The statewide vaccination rate for the same age range is 74% and 69% with a complete course of vaccination.

Age groups most heavily at risk from COVID have shown strong results in the vaccination rates here in County, in North Carolina and across the country. Locally 84% of seniors have received one dose, and 82% are complete; state levels mirror similar participation levels with 93% of seniors statewide being fully vaccinated.

According to the CDC, the age 12 and up national vaccination rate sits as of Thursday at 73.7%. North Carolina’s senior population are outperforming their peers as the national rate for those over age 65 is 88.9%.

The most somber measurement is the death rate, another metric that is seeing a trend in the right direction. There were three deaths statewide on Monday attributed to COVID, down from 20 one week before. A steady decline has been seen from February 4, the highest total of 2022, which had 97 deaths reported. These numbers pale in comparison to the twin peaks of January 4 & 15 of 2021 when 129 deaths were seen on both days.

Again, trends seen locally are mirrored more broadly as the national rate of death from the virus has fallen. However, the highest national one-day total for the course of the pandemic of 4,162 deaths was just seen last month on February 1.

Debates over masks seem moot as communities are making decisions for themselves, and some businesses and school districts may choose to continue at their own discretion.

Some measures for fighting the virus may have changed, but America’s desire to be over and done with the pandemic has not. To hasten that day, medical professions still encourage the basics: covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, proper hand washing, and social distancing when necessary.

At two years in though, much having to do with the virus now lays with the individual and their own personal choices. Some may argue it should have been that way all along.