By Catharin Shepard •
Staff writer •
Two people from Hoke County have died after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, according to health officials.
An African-American man died June 12 at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, and a Hispanic woman died June 18 also at FirstHealth of the Carolinas after testing positive for the virus.
A Native American woman also died May 21 at UNC Hospitals after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, but her death was reportedly due to complications from an existing medical condition, according to officials. All three deaths were reported to the state and are included in Hoke’s total number of COVID-19 related deaths.
Officials did not release the names, ages or further information about the deceased.
Some of Hoke’s neighboring counties have seen far more deaths related to the virus. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reported a total of 36 COVID-19 related deaths in Cumberland County, 29 in Robeson County and 11 in Moore County. Scotland County has not reported any virus-related deaths.
There have been 330 total known cases of COVID-19 in Hoke since the first local patient tested positive March 18. As of Tuesday, the Hoke County Health Department had identified 114 currently active cases of the COVID 19 virus. At least 209 people in Hoke County who tested positive for the virus have since recovered.
Currently, four people from Hoke County are hospitalized with the virus. In total, 17 people from Hoke have at one time or another been hospitalized with the virus since March.
The Health Department uses people’s home addresses to track the numbers. Physicians and hospitals report the positive cases as test results come back.
“We are still doing contact tracing and COVID-19 testing for both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients,” Hoke Health Department Director Helene Edwards said in an email Monday. “The COVID-19 testing is completed by appointment only.”
The Hoke County Health Department, like others across the state is working with new tools to conduct contact tracing and track cases.
Health officials continue to urge citizens to “wear, wait and wash” – wear a face covering in public, wait six feet apart from other people and wash hands frequently. People who have been in close contact with others, have not been practicing the “three Ws” or have had close contact with a person known to have the virus should get tested, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) recommended.
People can seek testing even if they do not have symptoms. It can take days for symptoms to appear, and some people do not feel ill but are capable of passing the virus on to others who could become sick. People who test positive for the COVID-19 virus should stay home in isolation for at least 10 days and monitor their symptoms.
State leaders concerned over trends
Some of the numbers state officials use to track the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina are trending in the wrong direction, NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said Monday.
The state continues to see new record high numbers of people being hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus. There were more than 900 people across the state in a hospital due to COVID-19 as of Monday. There have been more than 1,250 coronavirus-related deaths in North Carolina since March, and over 54,400 laboratory-confirmed cases out of more than 773,000 completed tests.
The data shows that people under the age of 49, especially those who work in areas like construction, childcare and food processing are being the hardest hit by the virus now, Cohen said.
“The largest increases in cases we’re seeing are younger folks, those under the age of 49,” she said in a live-streamed press conference Monday.
The state is “doubling down” on making testing accessible and finding ways to connect people with resources so they can stay home and recover if they test positive for the virus, Cohen said. The state introduced a new platform called N.C. Care 360, offering an infrastructure system to unite traditional healthcare settings like primary care doctors with non-medical needs like housing, food and employment. The system will help doctors make referrals for patients who need those extra supports, and let them track patient outcomes in their communities.
“It’s a groundbreaking achievement that was completed six months ahead of schedule due to COVID-19,” Cohen said, and added that it helps officials with “a way stronger position” to address the state’s recovery. The website for the platform is online at https://nccare360.org.