By Catharin Shepard •
Staff writer •
Hoke County is up to more than 370 total cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in March, with about two-thirds of those patients presumed recovered from the virus. The county’s seven-day rolling average of new daily cases is rising (see chart).
As of Tuesday, 371 people with Hoke County addresses had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus since the first known local positive case March 18. More than 200 of those people have since recovered, according to the Hoke County Health Department. The Health Department last week was conducting contact tracing for, and check-ins with more than 100 people who are still in active isolation with the virus.
So far, three people from Hoke County who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus have died. An African-American man died June 12 at FirstHealth of the Carolinas, and a Hispanic woman died June 18 also at FirstHealth of the Carolinas after testing positive for the virus. A Native American woman also died May 21 at UNC Hospitals after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, but her death was reportedly due to complications from an existing medical condition, according to officials. The Health Department did not release the names, ages or further information about the deceased.
All three deaths were reported to the state and are included in Hoke’s total number of COVID-19 related deaths. More than 1,300 people across North Carolina, and more than 120,000 people across the United States who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus have died since the pandemic hit the U.S. in March. There have been more than 2.6 million known positive cases of the virus in the United States over the last four months, including more than 64,000 in North Carolina.
The numbers in North Carolina have been going in the wrong direction in recent weeks, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said.
“We are seeing more virus spread in our community,” Cohen said Tuesday in a live-streamed press conference.
The number of people hospitalized with the virus, and the number of newly identified positive cases each day have both gone up over the last month. State officials took action to try and address the rising numbers.
Last week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a mandate requiring nearly everyone in North Carolina over the age of 11 to wear a face covering in public. There are numerous exceptions: people who are eating or drinking, exercising or who have a medical condition preventing them from wearing a face covering.
The mask mandate is meant to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, officials said. They hope it can help reverse the trends, so that reopening can continue and students can return to school this fall, Cohen said.
“We want everyone to work hard together on this…one of the important things is, we want to get our kids back to school for in-person instruction,” she said.
The governor additionally hit the brakes on North Carolina’s reopening. Currently the state is in the second of three planned reopening phases. Cooper’s order extended the second phase by another three weeks, instead of moving on to the third phase of reopening.
The state will take another look at the reopening plans on July 17 and consider whether to move into phase three at that time, Cooper said last week in a press conference.