The number of COVID-19 cases in Craven County increased by more than 300 since the last report from the Craven County Health Department on Dec. 31, 2020.

The number is alarmingly high, but artificially so — somewhat.

Dec. 31 was not only the last report, it was the last time Craven County Health will be issuing daily reports. The department is handing that off to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

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The number of cases reported at the county level has been trending lower than the number reported by the state. For consistency’s sake, New Bern Post was sticking to one agency for day-to-day numbers, and that agency was the Craven County Health Department.

From this day on, the daily numbers will come from NCDHHS.

There are a couple of small issues with that change, at least from my point of view.

First is the one-day jump in numbers, almost an apples-to-oranges comparison, but that will resolve itself starting with tomorrow’s New Bern Post COVID-19 update, at least from a consistency standpoint.

Other issues are about active cases, recovered cases, hospitalization numbers, data about county-wide spread, and details (skimpy as they were) about deaths. Those details simply aren’t available from the state at the county level, at least that I can find.

For example, the state is reporting that Craven County had an 84th COVID-19-related death with no further details. Craven County Health provided details about when individuals were tested, when the results came back, and the date they died.

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The bigger issue is data about how the disease is spreading in our community. Craven County Health provided data five days a week about total number of cases and how many cases resulted from out-of-state travel, community spread, known sources, unknown sources, and number of cases still under investigation.

In all, that information was useful in determining how severe the pandemic affected Craven County over time, with the key numbers being community spread, active cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and those changes from day to day.

As of the last and final report from the county, the number of community spread cases had breeched 1,000. The number of active cases as of last Thursday was nearing 1,000.

It’s guesswork now.

Craven County Health Department’s statement:

“As of January 1, 2021, the Craven County Health Department will no longer publish daily reports on COVID-19 cases in Craven County. Each Friday, Craven County COVID-19 hospitalization data will be released along with a link to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) COVID-19 Dashboard.

“The NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard provides extensive statewide and county level data on COVID-19 cases and testing. County level COVID-19 demographic data is also available on the NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard. Demographic information is available for COVID-19 cases and deaths.”

It’s unfortunate that as Craven County enters its most severe spike — the Christmas Break spike — its health department stops releasing data.

I don’t know whether it is a staffing issue (collecting the data is labor-intensive), but I for one appreciated the data they provided.

Here are some updated graphs.

Note: It is uncertain whether the one death in January was actually in January. We lack details.

Here are the last and final graphs based on Craven County Health Department data, along with my notes:

Above: Total number of cases will be updated, but not recovered and active cases. This graph will be reformatted.
Above: Granular data about spread in Craven will not be available. This is the last update of this graph.
Above: The graph above dates to Dec. 31 and does not reflect the 84th Craven County death. Number of active cases and number of Craven County residents hospitalized are no longer available. This is the last update of this graph.

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