By Catharin Shepard •
Staff writer •
Health officials are urging citizens to follow health and safety precautions as the number of COVID-19 infections across North Carolina continues to rise once again.
Hoke County has seen more than 1,370 laboratory-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus since the first known local case in March. At least 1,156 people in Hoke who contracted the illness have since recovered, according to local health officials. As of last week, the Hoke County Health Department was tracking at least 164 known active cases of COVID-19. Since last week, the seven-day average of new cases has declined in the county.
Another person with a permanent Hoke County address has died after testing positive for the virus. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday that a total of 21 people from Hoke have died of coronavirus-related causes since the start of the pandemic.
As of last week, there were more than 20 people from Hoke County hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the Hoke County Health Department. There have been at least 50 people with Hoke addresses hospitalized with the virus in recent months, health officials reported.
Autumn Care nursing home in Raeford continues testing staff and residents twice a week as the facility addresses an ongoing outbreak at the nursing home. At least 55 people at Autumn Care, including 16 staff members and 39 residents, have tested positive since the start of the outbreak. One resident reportedly died in September after testing positive for the virus. The facility has been working closely with the Hoke County Health Department.
Canyon Hills behavioral treatment center for youth, located in Raeford, is also dealing with a new, small outbreak, according to NCDHHS reports. Two staff members at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. The facility previously experienced a larger outbreak among staff and residents this past spring.
State numbers up •
Two weeks after the state went into Phase 3 of a three-phase reopening plan, state health officials are warning that they’re seeing worrying trends of new coronavirus infections.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said during a live-streamed press conference Tuesday that the worsening trends are “concerning.”
“Our cases are up, our hospitalizations are up and our early surveillance data is up,” she said.
It’s been a long road since the start of the pandemic, and it’s hard to imagine that just a year ago, most people didn’t even know COVID-19 existed, Cohen said. It might be challenging for people to continue to take steps to reduce the chance for getting or spreading coronavirus. But washing hands frequently, wearing a mask in public and staying six feet apart from others consistently reduces the risk of getting or spreading the virus, Cohen said.
“We need to re-commit to these actions. Right now our trends are moving in the wrong direction,” she said.
North Carolina is one of a number of states across the United States currently seeing a rise in the number of cases of COVID-19. Health officials aren’t seeing any one single reason behind the increase in North Carolina, Cohen said.
“Our current worsening trends don’t link to any one place, age group or type of activity,” she said.
That’s why the department is encouraging people to continue to follow health and safety guidelines – “We do not want to have to go backwards,” she said.