Hoke up to 35 COVID-19 cases as Smithfield Foods, Mountaire Farms employees test positive

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke County’s total known COVID-19 cases rose from 25 on Tuesday to 35 by Thursday.

The newest cases include employees at Smithfield Foods and Mountaire Farms, according to Hoke Health Department Director Helene Edwards. A local family is also experiencing an outbreak in their home, with multiple family members ill from coronavirus.

Hoke’s most recently identified cases of COVID-19 include:

•Two people who work for Mountaire Farms and live in Hoke County

•One person who works at Smithfield Foods and lives in Hoke County

•A healthcare worker who lives in Hoke and works at a congregate living facility in Fayetteville

•A traveling nurse who has a permanent residence in Hoke, but is working with coronavirus patients in California and has not been back to Hoke County since January

•A Hoke County family experiencing an outbreak in their home, multiple members of the family tested positive

The News-Journal reached out to Smithfield Foods and Mountaire Farms for more information about how those companies are handling the situation.

A mail carrier at the Raeford Post Office tested positive for COVID-19 last week, according to the U.S. Postal Service. The mail carrier apparently does not live in Hoke County. See here for more information.

Many of the Hoke residents with COVID-19 who tested positive in March or earlier in April have already recovered, health officials said. Some of the most recently identified cases are still in isolation.

So far, there have not been any deaths in Hoke County attributed to COVID-19. More than 250 people have died of coronavirus-related causes in all of North Carolina. (Source: NCDHHS.gov) The virus is blamed for killing more than 48,000 people in the United States since the pandemic reached the country in March. (Source: worldometers.info)

Previously identified Hoke-attributed cases of COVID-19 include:

•Two juvenile siblings who tested positive at Scotland Memorial Hospital

•A 44-year-old woman who tested positive at FirstHealth of the Carolinas in Raeford

•A person who traveled to Georgia in March and tested positive at the VA hospital in Fayetteville

•Two healthcare employees who live in Hoke County, and work at a nursing home in Moore County that is currently experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19

•A military-connected person who tested positive at Womack

•Two Hoke residents who work in different healthcare facilities in other counties

•A veteran who tested positive at the VA medical center

•A contractor on Fort Bragg who tested positive at Womack and has two colleagues on Fort Bragg who were also sick

•A patient who became ill March 24 and has since recovered

•A man who caught the virus in New York and also infected his pregnant wife

•An 18-year-old and a 66-year-old who separately traveled to New York in early March

•A healthcare worker who tested positive April 1

•A contractor working in New York who has a Hoke address, but has not been back to the county in a while

•Two Fort Bragg/military-connected patients with Hoke home addresses

•The first local patient who tested positive March 18