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COVID-19 death toll rises locally

COVID-19 has accounted for 21 deaths in the Roanoke-Chowan area after three more succumbed locally this week to the virus.

Meanwhile, regional health officials are working with Ahoskie House management in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. As of Friday, 61 individuals (39 residents and 22 staff members) at the assisted living facility had tested positive for COVID-19.

Two deaths were reported this week in Northampton County, bringing their total to 14, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). Ten of those deaths are at Rich Square Nursing and Rehabilitation Center where an ongoing outbreak has resulted in 55 cases (19 staff members with one death and 36 residents and nine deaths).

Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) received notification on May 29 confirming an additional death associated with COVID-19 in a Hertford County resident. The individual was over the age 65 and succumbed to complications from the virus.

Hertford County now has two COVID-19 related deaths. Bertie has lost four of its residents to the virus while Gates County has recorded one death.

ARHS also reported on May 29 that it is working with Ahoskie House to manage its outbreak. Mass testing of all residents and staff was completed on Wednesday, May 27 with all results being received. The majority of the individuals are asymptomatic, according to ARHS.

On Friday, Ahoskie House posted on its Facebook page that the staff members and residents testing positive are being treated in isolation by their primary care providers, and the facility is under quarantine until further notice.

“Since March, Ahoskie House has followed strict infection-control protocols, adhering to recommendations by the CDC and state health agencies. We are working with local health officials to monitor and maintain the health of our community. We sincerely appreciate the support of our families and the public at this time. We will continue to maintain close communications with our families throughout this situation,” stated the Facebook post.

“I have dedicated 20 years of my life to serving the residents who have come to call Ahoskie House their home,” Sandra Plaunty, the Executive Director at the facility, wrote Friday on Facebook. “The residents and staff are my family and we will be working around-the-clock in partnership with local and state health officials until our community is fully recovered. I urge everyone to consider this situation as they rush to get their hair done, or have parties, or go out to eat – COVID-19 is still a danger and we must be vigilant against its spread for the sake of those Americans who are at the most risk.”

Additionally, ARHS reported Friday that COVID-19 cases at Bertie Correctional Facility (6 staff and 10 inmates) and Rivers Correctional Institution (22 staff and 20 inmates) remain stable at this time.

As of Friday, Northampton County has 156 lab-confirmed cases since the outbreak began, according to the county’s health department. One hundred sixteen (116) have recovered.

Bertie reported 119 cases (101 recoveries).

Hertford County’s case count increased to 89 due to the outbreak at the Ahoskie House. Fifty-five (55) of those cases are deemed recovered.

Gates County listed 23 cases on Friday, with 12 recoveries.

North Carolina had the second-highest number of new coronavirus infections on Thursday of this week, according to state officials. The 1,076 new cases trails only the 1,107 reported last Saturday.

As of 11 am on Friday (May 29), NCDHHS reported 26,488 lab-confirmed cases and 859 deaths statewide since the outbreak began in March. There were 680 people hospitalized with the virus as of Friday.

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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