COVID cases increase behind bars

Published 7:08 pm Friday, April 24, 2020

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Outbreaks of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are on the rise in the Roanoke-Chowan area due to a spike in the number of cases at two local prisons.

As of Friday afternoon, the number of confirmed cases in Hertford County more than doubled from mid-week. Of the county’s 23 cases, 19 are at Rivers Correctional Institution, a privately owned facility located just west of Winton.

Per information provided Friday by Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS), there were nine inmates and 10 staff members who tested positive for the virus. On Tuesday, there were five cases at Rivers Correctional (four staffers and one inmate).

ARHS communicable disease staff and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) have been proactively working with the correctional facility. Local and state guidance has been provided in order to manage the situation and mobilize resources and actions to limit additional spread of the virus at the facility. Individuals are isolated and their symptoms are being monitored. Additional testing will be provided as needed.

Of Herford County’s four previous cases, three have recovered and one passed away.

On Thursday, Bertie County Correctional Institution, a state-owned facility located in Windsor, reported four confirmed cases involving three staff members and one inmate.

Bertie County reported 34 lab confirmed cases as of Friday. Unfortunately, there has been a second death from COVID-19 in Bertie.

ARHS said late Friday afternoon that a Bertie resident, who was over the age of 65, succumbed to complications associated with the virus. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information about this patient was released.

“We are extremely saddened by the loss of one of our community members. We extend our deepest sympathies to their loved ones. Our heart goes out to all those suffering from this virus,” said ARHS Health Director R. Battle Betts.

“It is still imperative that our community continue to practice prevention measures needed to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially handwashing, sanitation, and social distancing,” Betts added.

In a follow up to last week’s article that detailed an outbreak at Three Rivers Health & Rehabilitation in Windsor where three individuals were positive for the virus (two patients and one staff member), testing of all patients and staffers there is complete with no new cases to report.

Of Bertie’s 34 cases, 16 are active, 17 have recovered, and there has been one death.

Bertie officials said 30-to-40 percent of confirmed cases in the county are not showing symptoms, so it would be wise to assume that anyone you encounter could be unknowingly carrying the virus.

Due to its abundance of testing, Northampton County has reported four additional cases, upping its number to 79. The county’s health department is reporting that 55 of those cases are deemed recovered. They also have seen a majority of individuals who tested positive show little or no symptoms of the virus.

Tragically, three individuals have died from COVID-19 in Northampton County. Health Department officials say they work hard to protect the privacy of individuals, and to respect the families of those cases who have passed away. To that end, they are not sharing any further information.

Gates County reported two new cases this week. Their four previous cases are all deemed as recovered.

As of 12 noon on Friday (April 24), NC DHHS reported 8,052 cases and 269 deaths statewide.




About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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