Coronavirus outbreak at Open Arms

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • An outbreak of COVID-19 at Open Arms Retirement Center in Raeford has seen three residents die and a total of at least 26 known cases among residents and staff, according to the Hoke County Health Department.

As of last week at least 14 residents and 12 employees had tested positive for coronavirus since the start of the outbreak, local health officials said. That includes three residents who have died during the outbreak. Two residents were hospitalized after testing positive, and died while in the hospital. A third resident with COVID-19 passed away at the facility.

The outbreak was first reported December 30, with eight residents and five employees testing positive at that time. Open Arms is reportedly completing its own rapid antigen tests and PCR testing, according to the Health Department.

Including the recent deaths of Open Arms residents, Hoke has now seen 41 people die after testing positive for coronavirus. The recent deaths include an African-American man who died January 8; an African-American woman who died January 7; an African-American woman who died January 4; a Hispanic woman who died January 3; a white woman who died December 26; a white woman who died December 25; and a white man who died December 7.

As of this week, Hoke County had seen more than 3,100 known positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic, including over 400 currently active cases. More than 2,700 people in the county who contracted the virus are considered recovered.

North Carolina is currently seeing a spike in cases, repeatedly breaking records for the number of new cases reported daily and the number of hospitalizations statewide. More than 3,900 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, and on January 8, the state saw more than 11,000 new positive cases, according to state data.

Vaccination efforts continued this week for people in the Phase 1a and 1b – Group 1 categories, including frontline healthcare workers and people age 75 or older. For information on how and when you will be eligible to get the vaccine, go to https://www.readyhoke.org/ or call or call the Health Department at (910) 753-4429, or (910) 753-4430 or (910) 875-3717.

Visit https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines for more information about the vaccines in general.

Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital announced Wednesday that it is also offering walk-in vaccinations for eligible groups, including people age 75 or older.

“Cape Fear Valley Health Hoke Hospital will continue with walk-ins for COVID-19 vaccines, ongoing, from Tuesday through Friday of each week. Following the prioritization schedule from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), we are currently vaccinating Phases 1b, group 1, which includes individuals ages 75 and above (as well as continuing vaccinating first and second doses for healthcare workers in Phase 1a),” the health system said in a press release.

The Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital vaccine clinic is located at the hospital campus in the Community Conference Room on the second floor, 210 Medical Pavilion Drive off Highway 401 in East Hoke. According to the hospital system, people should enter in the front entrance and follow the instructions at the campus upon arrival for parking in the main lot.

“My goal is to make the vaccine process as seamless as possible to get as many residents we serve age 75 and older vaccinated as our supply allows”, Cape Fear Valley Hoke Hospital President Dr. Roxie Wells said in a statement.  “Our process of issuing color-coded cards upon arrival allows seniors the ability to stay in their vehicles while in line to complete the paperwork, until we are ready for them to come inside the building.”

The hospital system is also operating an automated message line at (910) 615-9000, to keep people updated throughout the vaccine process with the phase the system is currently vaccinating.

Cape Fear Valley is additionally offering scheduled vaccine appointments at its Hoke, Fayetteville and Bladen hospitals. To schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment with Cape Fear Valley Health’s Hoke Hospital, go online to http://www.capefearvalley.com/covid19.

The federal government is contracting with Walgreens and CVS pharmacies to vaccinate long-term care residents and staff against COVID-19. Those vaccinations have started at long-term care facilities in Hoke, including at Open Arms.

More than 190,000 people in North Carolina have received the first dose of vaccine as of Wednesday, and over 28,900 had received both doses. That includes 612 people in Hoke who have received the first dose, and 143 people who have completed the vaccine series, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

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