Image source: Screenshot from the Alexander County Christmas parade Dec. 7. By the face of things — that is, all the smiling faces — people are happy to get together in public community events and live life as normal.

This past week over 99.6% of people in NC were estimated to pose no threat of passing along COVID-19 to anyone, and nearly nine out of 10 (89.7%) adult North Carolinians are estimated to have either vaccine-induced or natural immunity.

Here is the NC Threat-Free Index for the week ending December 13. All of the statistics generated for the NC Threat-Free Index are based on numbers provided by government sources. This link gives a detailed explanation of how each statistic is derived. You can compare them with the U.S. Threat-Free Index here.

  • As of December 13, there were 1,515,240 North Carolinians presumed to be recovered from Covid-19.
  • Active cases comprised just 2.6% of NC’s total case count. A case of Covid-19 isn’t a permanent infection. Only someone with an active case of the virus can conceivably transmit it to you. The total case count given banner headlines comprises active cases, the very large proportion of people who have recovered, and the very small proportion of people who have died with Covid-19.
  • Active cases represented nearly 0.4% (four-tenths of one percent) of NC’s population. Active cases are lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 minus recoveries and deaths.
  • Also, about 26 out of every 27 (96.2%) of NC’s total cases were recovered. People who have recovered from Covid-19 are no longer infectious. More importantly, a large and growing body of empirical research (“science and data”) shows that they have acquired persistentlong-lasting, and robust natural immunity to Covid-19 — immunity that is stronger against Covid-19 and its variants than even that enjoyed by those who are fully vaccinated.
  • Only 0.18% of people in NC had died with Covid-19. This statistic must be phrased in that manner (“with,” not “from”) because of the lack of clarity over the actual cause of death and because of the research finding as well as DHHS and the CDC admitting that a significant proportion of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths were “not related to Covid-19.”
  • All things considered, over 99.6% of people in NC posed no threat of passing along Covid-19 to anyone. This estimate will fluctuate based on relative growth in lab-confirmed cases vs. recoveries.

Herd immunity, reinfections, and post-vaccination infections

For the week ending December 13:

  • Now nearly nine out of ten (89.7%adult North Carolinians are estimated to have some immunity, whether vaccine-induced immunity or natural immunity, the stronger and more durable immunity, to Covid-19. Adults are the ones most at risk of losing their jobs, access to government services, ability to travel, ability to buy groceries, etc., for not being vaccinated even though the ostensible public interest is in immunity. 
  • The total population of North Carolina is at 84.2% immunity. These estimates are based on DHHS case numbers, CDC estimates of actual infections, DHHS estimates of current vaccinations, and the formula outlined here.
  • As of December 13, there had been 13,829 reinfections for those with prior lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19, and the estimated reinfection rate was 0.9%. For reasons discussed here, the actual reinfection rate is likely much lower than the estimated rate. (Note: With this report going forward, I am counting reinfections against the total case count from two weeks prior in order to match the procedure for counting post-vaccination infections after two weeks of vaccination.)
  • After several weeks, DHHS has provided new numbers for post-vaccination infections. Unfortunately, the new data are questionable. Specifically, the count of North Carolinians vaccinated given is lower — is that discrepancy a typo or indication of a change in tabulation? In the current Respiratory Surveillance update (for November 28 – December 4, 2021), DHHS reports that “For the week ending November 27, 2021 there were 5,343,385 North Carolinians vaccinated against COVID-19 and 107,345 cases in fully vaccinated individuals since January 1, 2021.” In the previous update, however, DHHS had reported, “For the week ending November 6, 2021 there were 5,567,698 North Carolinians vaccinated against COVID-19 and 97,160 cases in fully vaccinated individuals since January 1, 2021.”
  • If taken at face value, that would mean that as of November 27, per the most recent update from DHHS, there had been 107,345 post-vaccination infections, and the estimated post-vaccination infection rate was over 2.0%. Given how strictly DHHS defines a “post-vaccination infection” — as of now, someone must be at least two weeks past receiving the second of two injections; anyone with only one injection or within two weeks of receiving the second “counts” as an unvaccinated case of Covid — the actual post-vaccination infection rate could be much higher than the estimated rate.
  • Also as of November 27, 25% of Covid-19 cases in North Carolina were to people considered fully vaccinated.
  • As of December 13, only about one in ten (10.5%) adult North Carolinians were estimated to have neithervaccine-induced nor natural immunity.

DHHS still discovers “new” cases and death from 2020

Sometime in the past week, DHHS reported three new cases that had occurred before May 5, 2020. No, really. The “new” cases were discovered on April 24, April 28, and May 4. Overall, DHHS discovered 27 “new” cases in the past week that had occurred prior to Dec. 6, 2020 — a year before the week’s start.

DHHS also reported as a “new” Covid-19 death one that had occurred on November 13, 2020.

Since I look into the retrospective data only once a week, I cannot tell if these changes to data well over a year old happened on the same day that state health bureaucrat Mandy Cohen was boasting before the General Assembly about DHHS’s award-winning data. I would merely remind her and our readers that the same outfit that was handing out those awards like participation trophies had also thrown up their hands at DHHS and cautioned readers to “Interpret North Carolina’s historic data with caution.”