By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke County on Wednesday added a record daily high number of cases to its COVID-19 virus tally, and in the last two weeks two more Hoke residents have died due to the contagious illness.
The county has now seen at least 509 known cases of the COVID-19 virus since the pandemic hit in March, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). Over 160 people in Hoke County who tested positive for the virus are currently considered active cases that are under investigation by the Hoke County Health Department. Most of the others who previously tested positive are presumed recovered.
The county had 44 new cases added to the system July 15, Health Department Director Helene Edwards said. That number marks the largest single day increase in new cases in Hoke County since the start of the pandemic in March.
Health departments across the state use the North Carolina Electronic Disease Surveillance System, or NC EDSS, to track the number of cases. Cases are assigned to a county based on the person’s permanent home address, regardless of where the test is done.
It’s a time-consuming process and with the ongoing mass testing efforts across North Carolina, it’s taking longer to generate the data, Edwards said Friday in an email.
“People are being tested all across the state and the results come to the county of residence, we are getting cases that were tested at pop-up sites in another city and the NC DHHS employees have to hand key the information into NC EDSS before counties receive the information,” Edwards wrote. “This is very time consuming and with the mass testing it is taking two weeks for the information to generate, by the time patients know their results they are outside of the isolation order of 10 days.”
“Also, many of these people being tested are asymptomatic, so by not knowing their COVID-19 status – they are still working, participating in family activities, going shopping, etc. and as unknown positive cases they are spreading the disease further in the community.”
Hoke is seeing a continuing rise in the number of local cases, the Health Department said this week in a press release. It also saw another two deaths over the last two weeks.
Two more deaths
A total of six people from Hoke County have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
The two most recent deaths included a woman who died July 7 at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, and a person who died July 13 apparently of COVID-related causes. Health officials are still investigating the death that occurred July 13.
The first four COVID-19 related deaths of Hoke residents were a Native American woman who died May 21 at UNC Hospitals, apparently due to complications with an existing medication condition; an African American man who died June 12 at FirstHealth of the Carolinas; a Hispanic woman who died June 18 at FirstHealth of the Carolinas; and a Hispanic woman who died July 2 at Cape Fear Valley Health System. Health officials have not released further information on the people who have died.
Open Arms residents negative for virus
All of the residents at Open Arms Retirement Community have tested negative for the COVID-19 virus, after three employees tested positive for the illness. The employees are continuing to follow the state-directed COVID-19 response for congregate living facilities, the Health Department said in a statement. The outbreak status at Open Arms Retirement Center will expire July 31.
Hoke County residents can receive COVID-19 testing in multiple places across the county and North Carolina. The local health department of residence manages the positive cases.
“The Hoke County Health Department continues to test people with and without COVID-19 symptoms daily, as well as manage the positive COVID-19 cases. The management of the COVID-19 cases requires in-depth interviews with contact tracing,” the Health Department said in a statement.
“Many of the COVID-19 positive cases were exposed to COVID-19 within their household or contact with a COVID-19 positive person at work or public. Masks should be worn in public or when you can practice social distancing. Make sure to frequently wash hands and disinfect areas.”
For more information, visit the NCDHHS website at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov, or the CDC website, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. Local information is available online at www.readyhoke.org.
Schools to open on a hybrid schedule
Hoke County Schools announced this week that in accordance with Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision on school reopenings, Hoke students will start back on a hybrid in-person and online instruction schedule this August. Families in Hoke can also choose to keep their child at home, and enroll them in an online-only remote learning academy provided by the school system. Sign-ups for the online-only remote learning academy close July 27.
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