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Editor's note: This is the first of the maternity leave editions. Newsletter will arrive weekly on Thursdays, but as a reminder, turnaround times for emails, newsletter promotion approvals and job listings will be 72 hours. More info + other changes in this column.
The essentials...
Weekly COVID-19 analysis: The CDC’s community transmission risk is still “high” for Wake County after a brief dip into the lower “substantial” level three weeks ago.

This week the 7-day case rate is down slightly:
  • Wednesday: 109 cases per 100,000 people
  • Last week: 119 cases per 100,000 people
  • Two weeks ago: 100 cases per 100,000 people
  • Three weeks ago: 89 cases per 100,000 people (at substantial-level)
The threshold for “high” community transmission is 100 cases/100,000 people or higher.

The CDC level is one to know since local officials have said mask rules could be lifted when the risk level is “moderate” — 10-49.99 cases/100,000 people.
According to the state's 14-day measurement, the rate of confirmed cases increased.

In Wake County, that 14-day number has increased from 226 cases per 100,000 people last week to 237 cases per 100,000 people this week.

The percent of tests that are positive in Wake County is at goal level for the eighth week in a row, 3.9%. It’s an increase from last week’s 3.4%. The goal is 5% or less. The statewide percentage is higher than goal, increasing to 7.3% this week after last week’s 5.9%.

Vaccination percentages: 73% of all Wake County residents are vaccinated with at least one dose, up 1% from last week. 68% of all Wake County residents are fully vaccinated, also up 1%. [data]

There are 12 congregate living facility outbreaks in Wake County this week. No new outbreaks were announced. 

There are 10 K-12 or childcare clusters in Wake County on Wednesday, flat from last week, but one new childcare cluster facility is named. 

Raleigh Convergence has analyzed local-level data for Wake County for the last 82 weeks. [become a member to support hyperlocal journalism like this!]

📊 More data, resources + links: []
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2022 ideas: 
Amber Smith: Start the Civic Renaissance in 2022
How could Raleigh be better for more communities in 2022?

We asked local community leaders and doers to share their ideas for the future. 

First up in our series: Amber Smith, the Executive Director of Activate Good, a nonprofit that mobilizes locals to improve our community by facilitating volunteer projects around the Triangle. 
When COVID-19 arrived, nine out of 10 of Activate Good’s active volunteer opportunities were canceled. Our community partners lost the critical volunteer help they needed to keep their operations going.

I watched people recede into homes and disconnect and feel the pangs of isolation and listlessness.

But then I saw the first sparks of a “Civic Renaissance” — a phrase I admittedly made up, probably during one of my classic unintentionally-brainstorming-while-sleeping episodes. 
It stuck out in my head as a near perfect descriptor of what I was seeing: A widespread understanding of our interconnectedness. A realization that everyday people hold the key to transforming things for the better. And for some, a fresh initiation into a world of service.

Research came out that validated my observations. 95% of participants in a 2020 civic engagement survey conducted by Points of Light stated they wish to maintain their level of involvement or do MORE to make a difference after the pandemic passes. 

So here we are, nearly at the end of 2021, and we’re at a crossroads. The way I see it, we have two choices: 
  1. Continue as things have been, accepting little progress on the big issues we all care deeply about: Hunger, homelessness, health and wellbeing, the environment and more.
  2. Choose to make today the start of our own Civic Renaissance. For ourselves as individuals, for this beautiful city and state we live in and, inevitably — because good things tend to ripple out beyond borders — for the world. 

What that could look like:

  • Ask questions, listen, and learn. A spirit of discovery and learning is a key component of any good renaissance. Have you ever wondered why things are the way that they are? Why do we still have hunger, poverty, and homelessness? How can we help people but also better understand root causes so we can ultimately address them once and for all? 
  • Proactively practice empathy. I’ve seen people from all walks of life helping others and yearning for meaning and connection. So, find someone different from you, talk to them, and try to identify 3 things you have in common with them. 
  • Take action by helping your community. There are hundreds recovering from the numerous setbacks of the pandemic. Consider what you’re passionate about, how you can use your skills, and what fits your schedule (Find some at
  • Grow your impact by inviting others. Nearly half of all new volunteers got started because a personal invitation. You can help increase the number of people involved in our community just by sharing the causes you care about with passion, enthusiasm and a clear call to action. 
So, what do you think? I for one am excited about the possibilities a Civic Renaissance holds for us. I hope you’ll join in. We need every person we can get. 

Thanks Amber! Watch for the next idea in next Thursday's newsletter.
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