Raleigh, N.C. — Even as more people are being vaccinated against coronavirus, more people are testing positive for the virus in Wake County.
Nearly 3,000 people have tested positive in the county in the last two weeks, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. That compares with about 2,660 in the preceding two-week period.
Although restrictions have recently been eased on businesses, allowing more people into bars, restaurants, movie theaters and stores later into the night, county health officials say school and child care settings are the sources of the latest outbreaks.
According to DHHS, at least 26 schools and day care centers in Wake County have had outbreaks in the past week, accounting for 230 cases. Most of the K-12 schools on the list are private schools.
Thales Academy, which has seven campuses in Wake County, doesn’t have any current outbreaks, although there were some earlier in the pandemic.
“Late November, December and January were kind of our months where we saw more,” said Hilary Herman-Pagliolo, senior administrator for Thales’ Knightdale campus.
Aside from taking precautions such as making students wear masks, Herman-Pagliolo credits Thales’ recent success to open communication between families and staff.
“They contact us that they’ve either been in contact with someone who has COVID or someone has developed new symptoms within their household,” she said.
Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease expert with UNC Health, said he believes schools can operate safely amid the pandemic. The key in any setting, whether it’s at an office, restaurant or school, is taking the proper steps to mitigate the spread of the virus, he said.
“The question is, will we? Will we do it the right way, and can we trust people to do it the right way?” Wohl said.
The Wake County Public School System, which is slowly transitioning to in-person learning, hasn’t had any recent outbreaks, officials said.
The district “has been very deliberate in creating and enforcing health guidelines designed to keep transmissions low on campus,” Keith Sutton, chairman of the Wake County school board, said in a statement to WRAL News.
“We often say we can’t stop COVID-19 from entering our schools, but we can slow its spread. It’s hard work, and schools must remain vigilant to keep those infections down,” Sutton said.