Three more cases added over the weekend as slow, phased reopening begins

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke County added only three new known cases of COVID-19 to the local tally over the weekend, after several weeks of seeing larger daily additions.

Hoke was up to 123 known cases of coronavirus Monday, as North Carolina entered its first full week of phased reopening.

The most recently identified cases in Hoke included a 53-year-old man who became ill April 28 and tested positive May 8 at FirstHealth Hoke. Others included several people who work at meat processing plants experiencing outbreaks.

There haven’t been any deaths from COVID-19 in Hoke County. Seven people from Hoke were hospitalized with the illness. Those hospitalized include several people, including a 28-year-old man, who developed trouble breathing.

The 123 known cases of COVID-19 in Hoke County includes both active cases, and people who tested positive and have since recovered. Most of the people in Hoke who became ill with COVID-19 in March and the first weeks of April should have all recovered by now, Hoke Health Director Helene Edwards said.

While the Health Department doesn’t have an exact updated number of how many people in Hoke have recovered from COVID-19, staff members are calling weekly to check on those infected.

Recovery and numbers

Early data from the World Health Organization showed it’s taking about 14 days for people with milder cases to recover, according to Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Secretary for Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). For people hospitalized with COVID-19, recovery takes as long as 28 days.

However, that data doesn’t include guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC could update it later, Cohen said Monday.

Testing has identified more than 15,000 known cases of coronavirus in North Carolina since the start of the outbreak. More than 9,100 of those people have recovered from the illness, according to NCDHHS. So far, 550 people in North Carolina have died due to coronavirus-related causes.

The state doubled its testing capacity over the last few weeks, according to officials. It’s easier now for patients in Hoke County to get tested for COVID-19 if their doctor says they need testing, Edwards confirmed.

First full week in phase one

In the first phase of reopening, the stay-at-home order is still in place – but with modifications. Citizens can leave home to enjoy state parks or shop at any open store.

People should still remember the “three Ws,” Cohen said: wear a face covering, wait six feet apart in line, and wash your hands frequently.

Other restrictions are still in place for now. That includes the governor’s orders that closed restaurant dining rooms, movie theaters and hair salons.

State officials are tracking four data points to judge whether it’s safe to reopen. So far those numbers show improvements, officials said. If the improvements continue, North Carolina could further ease restrictions.

However, if the numbers show a sudden spike of infections, the state could put restrictions back in place.

“We’ve done a great job of keeping the numbers low in North Carolina, but we must continue to be vigilant,” Cohen said.

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