Hoke has seven positive cases of COVID-19 as testing labs face backlogs

By Catharin Shepard – Staff writer – Hoke County now has seven confirmed cases of COVID-19. Several of the local patients have recovered from the illness, Hoke County Health Department Director Helene Edwards said.

The county already identified four cases of the virus, and health officials learned Wednesday of three more when doctors received positive test results for three patients.

An 18-year-old and a 66-year-old who traveled to New York in early March both tested positive from samples taken March 19. They didn’t get their test results back until April 1, Edwards said.There is a backlog of COVID-19 laboratory testing in North Carolina and across the country, with thousands of test samples still unprocessed.

The 18-year-old and 66-year-old patients isolated themselves at their homes. They have since recovered from the illness. They are out of isolation now, officials said.

Additionally, a healthcare worker tested Monday found out Wednesday that she has COVID-19. She is in isolation now, Edwards said.

People with mild symptoms from COVID-19 should isolate themselves for at least seven days, and then stay isolated for at least three days after their symptoms go away.

“It’s basically 10 days that you need to be away from people if your symptoms are mild,” Edwards said.

The laboratory testing backlog is causing delays for doctors waiting to find out their patients’ COVID-19 test results. It’s taking as long as two weeks in some cases to get the results, Edwards said.

Due to the delay, the public might see a jump in the number of known cases of COVID-19 over the next few days as doctors get more test results back from samples taken weeks ago. Some of those people have likely already recovered from being sick, health officials said.

The first person tested positive for COVID-19 in Hoke County on March 18 has since recovered, Edwards said.

The Hoke County Health Department doesn’t have status information on a few of Hoke’s listed cases, including a contractor who works in New York and two military-connected cases isolated on Fort Bragg.

As of Thursday, test results confirmed more than 1,800 known cases of COVID-19 in all of North Carolina. So far, 16 people in North Carolina have died from the illness or complications related to it. Another 183 people with the coronavirus are currently receiving treatment in hospitals across North Carolina. (Data taken from ncdhhs.gov.)