Who’s catching COVID for a 2nd time? New numbers offer a clue


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The number of North Carolinians who caught COVID-19 for a second time surged during the recent spike caused by the delta variant.

The state Department of Health and Human Services reported nearly 11,000 reinfection cases with 94 deaths through Sept. 20.

A CBS17.com analysis of that data showed about a third of those were reported during a four-week span in July and August — when the delta variant was spreading rapidly — with at least 600 cases each week during that stretch.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a reinfection as someone who had two positive, lab-confirmed cases of COVID at least 90 days apart. NCDHHS says it started reporting reinfections on its dashboard Monday.

Out of the 10,812 people who have been re-infected, 200 were vaccinated, or just under 2 percent.

Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, said the numbers show how vaccinations boost protection against getting sick again, even for people who’ve already recovered from the virus.

“It shows you that the vast majority of re-infections are happening in unvaccinated people,” Wohl said. “It also kind of pulls the rug out of this argument that natural immunity is going to be as protective as I think people want it to be.”

Many of the age and racial breakdowns of reinfections looks much like the overall demographics, with the largest share — 40 percent — showing up in those between the ages of 25 and 49. 

Black people account for 22 percent of both reinfections and total cases.

But there are some discrepancies: Latinos, who have had 18 percent of all cases, had 10 percent of reinfections. And men account for 61 percent of reinfections but 47 percent of all cases.

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state, and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.

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