Hoke at 83 cases, no deaths as of Thursday, while state officials plan for phased reopening

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • The number of COVID-19 cases connected to Hoke County continued rising Thursday, as health officials updated the count to 83 people who tested positive for the illness.

Of those 83 known positive cases, 19 are at Canyon Hills child behavioral health facility on Turnpike Road. That includes 14 of the young residents, and five employees. The residents had no symptoms and didn’t report feeling sick when they tested positive last Friday, according to the Hoke County Health Department.

Of the other cases, seven are people who live in Hoke and work at Mountaire Farms. Another four cases are people who live in the county and work at Smithfield Foods. A number of spouses of people who work at those companies are also infected.

The most recently identified cases added to the local tally include:

•A 75-year-old man who is the spouse of a 74-year-old woman who is hospitalized at Scotland Healthcare for COVID-19, and who tested positive April 30 (His wife tested positive April 28)

•A 39-year-old woman, who tested positive April 30

•A 48-year-old man who had contact with a person known to have COVID-19, and who tested positive April 30

•A 43-year-old woman and her 38-year-old husband, who works at Mountaire Farms, and who both tested positive April 29

So far, 23 of the patients who were among the first in Hoke infected by the coronavirus have already recovered, health officials said.

Five people from Hoke County are in the hospital being treated for COVID-19. The hospitalized patients include a 27-year-old pregnant woman, a woman employed at Smithfield Foods and a 53-year-old woman who works in healthcare. The five people hospitalized are receiving care at Cape Fear Valley, UNC Hospitals and Scotland Healthcare.

Plans for phased reopening

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen gave a briefing today on when the state could begin to ease restrictions and move into the first phase of reopening. Some of the data points are going in the right direction, though some are not where they need to be yet, Cohen said.

Potentially, the state could enter Phase 1 of the reopening process as early as next week if the trends continue in the right direction, Cohen said. Currently the state is still under a stay-at-home order until May 8. (See more about the reopening phases in our story from April 23 here.)

Schools plan virtual ceremonies

North Carolina public schools are closed for the rest of the school year. Hoke County High School and SandHoke Early College will hold virtual graduations, and drive through to pick up diplomas. (See the story here.)

Hoke High Principal Dr. Adell Baldwin was organizing an “adopt a senior” program, at no cost to the students’ families, to help the Class of 2020 celebrate despite the circumstances. Anyone who would like to “adopt” a high school senior can contact Hoke High School at (910) 875-2156 to learn more.

Hoke County Schools paused meal deliveries this week to deep clean school cafeterias and buildings. Meal deliveries will start again Monday, May 4, school officials said. One person who lives in Hoke County and works for the school system has tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Health Department.