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COVID cases climb

Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to increase across the Roanoke-Chowan area and there has been one additional death despite the fact that outbreaks at two local congregate care facilities appear to have subsided.

The latest death was reported late last week in Hertford County. There, according to Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS), the victim was over the age of 65.

COVID-19 has now claimed 34 local lives (16 in Northampton; 12 in Hertford; 4 in Bertie; and 2 in Gates).

Since last Friday there are 29 new cases in Bertie; 18 more in Hertford; 9 new positive patients in Northampton; and two added cases in Gates.

Since the outbreak began in March, Northampton has seen the most number of positive cases (297) followed by Hertford (241), Bertie (219), and Gates (37).

Those who have since recovered include 245 in Northampton, 182 in Bertie, 168 in Hertford, and 35 in Gates.

The outbreak at the Ahoskie House has resolved, while a second outbreak at Bertie Correctional Institution in Windsor remains stable with four staff. NCDHHS considers an outbreak to be over if there is no evidence of continued transmission within the facility. This is measured as 28 days after the latest date of onset in a symptomatic person or the latest date of specimen collection in an asymptomatic person, whichever is later.

“While ARHS is happy to report our congregate care facility outbreaks have stabilized, we are concerned about the steady increase in COVID-19 case activity across the region,” stated ARHS Health Director R. Battle Betts Jr. “Over the past week we have seen a rise in new cases and therefore active cases in each of our eight counties. Last week at this time, we were at 87 active cases total and this week we are at 179 active cases.

“While we recognize increase in testing is likely a contributing factor, this activity is in line with what we are seeing in our neighboring health districts both in North Carolina, and Virginia,” Betts continued. “This trend, while not unexpected, is very concerning and is a stark reminder of the need to protect yourself and your loved ones, and why we are still in the Safer At Home Phase 2 Executive Order.

“I urge everyone to please stay home as much as possible, limiting unnecessary exposures. If you do have to go out, there are more and more studies showing that maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet, along with face coverings, and hand hygiene, can greatly reduce your chances of becoming sick. This virus impacts people in many different ways and we want everyone to stay safe and healthy,” he concluded.

COVID-19 testing is available for those meeting criteria by appointment only at the local health departments across the region. ARHS encourages residents to call their primary care provider for an assessment or information on testing availability before calling the local health department. If someone does not have a primary care home, ARHS does offer primary care services. All tests will be completed through a curbside screening clinic at the local health department.

For more information on criteria for COVID-19 testing or appointments, call 252-338-WELL/9355 or your local health department directly. Please note our clinics time below have been adjusted due to the extreme temperatures we have been experiencing across the region.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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