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Deadly Days

JACKSON – The Northampton Board of Commissioners will hold an emergency meeting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday (May 13) as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the county continue to rise dramatically.

The purpose of the meeting, as stated in an email sent Tuesday from the county manager’s office, is to address citizen concerns in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following health safety guidelines as mandated by the pandemic, the meeting is closed to the public and the media. It will be conducted electronically and stream live through the Northampton County, NC Local Government Facebook page.

The Northampton Commissioners will hear updates regarding the virus from the county’s Health Director, Emergency Management Coordinator, and Emergency Medical Services Director.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the Northampton County Health Department reported 124 COVID-19 cases since March. While 72 of those patients have recovered from the virus, nine others have died. That death toll is the third highest in the eastern part of the state (Columbus County has 16 deaths; Wayne County lists 13).

Numbers provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) show the majority of confirmed cases in Northampton are in the eastern portion of the county, as are all nine deaths. Rich Square lists 26 cases and 7 deaths; Woodland and Conway have 27 and 12 cases respectively and one death each.

By comparison, Gaston (18 cases) and Garysburg (6) show the most number of citizens that tested positive for the virus in the western end of the county.

The deadliest outbreak is at Rich Square Nursing and Rehabilitation. There, the NC DHHS on Tuesday reported 43 cases (29 residents and 14 employees) and seven deaths. All of those deaths were residents of the facility. Those numbers reflect an increase of eight cases and two deaths since last Friday.

According to the NC DHHS, 61 percent of COVID-19 deaths are linked to long-term care facilities and make up 16 percent of the state’s overall cases.

As of Tuesday, 577 COVID-19-related deaths were reported in North Carolina, and 343 of those deaths were among people who work or live at nursing homes (297 deaths) or residential care facilities (46 deaths).

Meanwhile, Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) received notification on Saturday regarding the third death of a Bertie County resident from COVID-19.

ARHS officials said the individual was in the 50-64 age range with underlying health conditions and succumbed to complications from COVID-19.

To protect the family’s privacy, no further information about this patient will be released.

“We extend our deepest sympathies and are extremely saddened by the loss of another one of our community members. Our heart goes out to the individual’s family and friends,” said ARHS Health Director R. Battle Betts Jr.

As of Tuesday of this week, Bertie has added several new cases, now reporting 67 total. Of that number, 21 are active and 43 have recovered.

Over one-half (37) of the cases in Bertie are in the Windsor zip code area.

Hertford County listed 49 cases as of May 12 while Gates County had 11.

There are 41 cases of COVID-19 at Rivers Correctional Institution, a privately owned and operated prison located near Winton. Twenty-one of those cases involve staff members at the prison, while the other 20 are inmates.

ARHS is continuing to ask citizens to be mindful in practicing preventive and safety measures. These precautions include:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Practice social distancing; stay at least six feet away from others, avoid unnecessary travel, avoid handshakes, hugs and other close contact.

Wear a cloth face covering in public when social distancing measures are hard to maintain

To slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of people infected, communities should be following the guidance set by local, state, and federal officials to reduce frequency of contact and increase physical distance between persons, thereby reducing the risks of person-to-person transmission.

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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