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Are North Carolinians worried about COVID-19 as they head into the holidays? High Point University releases poll results


(WGHP) — Most North Carolinians are at least somewhat concerned about another surge of COVID-19 this winter and how holiday gatherings might affect that, a new High Point University Poll showed.

The poll of 968 adults by both telephone and web, conducted Oct. 22 through Nov. 4, shows that 37% are somewhat concerned about a large increase in COVID-19 cases in the coming months. Another 25% say they are very concerned. About 34% say they are concerned very little or not at all.

A third of those respondents said they were somewhat concerned about contracting COVID-19 because of a large increase caused by holiday gatherings. A quarter of them are very concerned, but about 38% weren’t that worried about such events.

In 2020 the holidays drove the most significant spike of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in January and February. But that was before the wide distribution of vaccines began.

“Many North Carolinians are still concerned about becoming sick with COVID-19,” Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct graduate school instructor, said in a release about the data.

Because the poll combined sample of live phone interviews and online interviews, the release said it was appropriate to assign a classic margin of sampling error for the results.

Vax or no vax?

The poll also focused on vaccination rates and reported that 60% of respondents said they were fully vaccinated by having two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one shot of Johnson & Johnson. Another 6% said they had had the first of two shots, and 30% said they were not vaccinated at all.

Those figures would lag the statewide rates of 68% of adults who are fully vaccinated, as reported by the NC Department of Health & Human Services. About 56% of all residents are fully vaccinated.

The state’s dashboard also shows that 60% of residents and 72% of adults have had at least one shot.

Guilford and Forsyth counties have among the state’s highest rates of both first shots and full vaccinations (Buncombe has the highest rates of 64% and 60%, respectively), but Davie, Caswell and Montgomery counties are among the lowest (in the 40s for both), DHHS data show.

The High Point poll also revealed that 39% of adults have had a flu shot this year, and only 30% of the remainder say they intend to have one. About 57% said they would not get that vaccine.

The American Health Rankings reported in 2019 that about half of North Carolinians had flu shots, which was up from about 42% in 2018. About 44% nationally had flu shots in 2019.

What about the delta variant?

HPU also asked about the delta variant of the coronavirus, and only half said they had heard a lot about that variant. More than a third (37%), said they had “heard a little.”

About 41% said they were at least somewhat concerned about delta.

Moving in the right direction

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention as of Friday shows the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing in Guilford County to be 3.43% for the past seven days, which is below the 5% threshold for controlling community spread. Forsyth and Alamance counties also are below that level, at 4.41% and 4.86%, respectively.

But those figures rise in outlying parts of the Triad. Caswell County is at 5.78%; Randolph County at 5.96%; Wilkes County at 6.01%; Davidson at 6.22%; Montgomery at 6.88%; Surry County at 7%; Davie County at 7.63%; Rockingham County at 7.68%; Stokes County at 8.64%; Yadkin County at 9.28%; and Alleghany County at 11.59%.

The CDC does have all counties in the High category for community transmission.

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