Hoke up to 14 COVID-19 cases

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke County now has 14 known positive cases of COVID-19, according to the Hoke Health Department. Many of the local patients have already recovered from the illness.

The latest cases announced Wednesday involve two people who live in Hoke and work at different healthcare facilities in other counties, Hoke Health Department Director Helene Edwards said.

Both of the patients are isolated and doing well, Edwards said. So far, there haven’t been any deaths in Hoke County related to COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, April 8, the Hoke-connected coronavirus cases include:

  • The first local patient who tested positive March 18, and has recovered
  • Two Fort Bragg/military-connected patients with Hoke home addresses
  • A contractor working in New York who has a Hoke address, but has not been back to the county in a while
  • A healthcare worker who tested positive April 1, and has recovered
  • An 18-year-old and a 66-year-old who separately traveled to New York in early March, and have recovered
  • A man who caught the virus in New York and also infected his pregnant wife, they are doing well
  • A patient who became ill March 24 and received a positive test result Friday, and has already recovered
  • A contractor on Fort Bragg who tested positive at Womack and has two colleagues on Fort Bragg who are also sick, who is doing well
  • A veteran who tested positive at the VA medical center, who is doing well
  • Two Hoke residents who work in different healthcare facilities in other counties, and are doing well

New orders for nursing homes, retail stores
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday he will sign an executive order requiring retail stores to take more steps to keep customers and employees safe.

Some stores are already taking precautions, like marking out six feet of distance in checkout lines. Some businesses are also limiting the number of people allowed inside.

Cooper praised companies that have taken those steps. The executive order is meant to make those efforts more uniform for all of North Carolina.

“We commend that, but we think it needs to be across the board in retail stores across the state,” Cooper said in a press conference.

Long-term care facilities
The governor also issued instructions to long-term care facilities after officials announced COVID-19 outbreaks at 18 facilities in North Carolina. None of those outbreaks involve Hoke County facilities, as of Wednesday.

The instructions directed those facilities to take more precautions, like having staff members wear masks and gloves. The facilities should also shut down communal areas and restrict nonessential personnel. Officials also instructed daily screenings for staff and residents.

Holiday weekend
Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, urged people to continue to stay at home over the Easter weekend. It’s normally a time people like to gather with loved ones, but “this year will have to be different,” Cohen said.

“It will have to be different to protect one another,” she said. Stay home and find new ways to connect with loved ones from a distance, Cohen recommended. Many churches are offering services online.

North Carolina is under a stay-at-home order until at least April 30. The order includes Hoke County. Public schools are closed until at least May 15.

Supplies, donations needed
North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said he’s seen some small improvements in the supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE). Right now Emergency Management is working with healthcare providers “trying to fill the most urgent needs,” he said.

There are other needs as well. People are relying more on food banks, and the shelves at many food banks are starting to look bare, Sprayberry said. Many hospitals urgently need blood donations, too.

For more information on COVID-19 and updates from local officials, visit ncdhhs.gov and readyhoke.org.