• 64°

COVID-19 death toll rises locally

COVID-19 continues its deadly grip across the globe, even here in rural northeastern North Carolina.

The virus claimed three more local lives last week as Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) reported COVID-related deaths in Bertie and Hertford counties. The Bertie County death was a young adult between the ages of 18-24. The virus-related death in Hertford County occurred in the 50-64 age group.

Neither of the local deaths was affiliated with a care facility.

The Northampton County Health Department reported one death last week due to the virus.

The COVID-19 death toll in the Roanoke-Chowan area now stands at 199 since the pandemic began in March of last year. Seventy-one of those deaths have occurred in Northampton County followed by Hertford County (66), Bertie County (48), and Gates County (14).

The Delta variant of COVID-19 remains widespread across the state and nation. Locally, the number of positive cases rose last week in two counties, fell in one, and remained unchanged in another.

As of Friday, Sept. 17, the number of positive cases in the Roanoke-Chowan area were as follows:

Northampton County: 132 (+41 from the previous week)

Gates County: 31 (+3)

Bertie County: 84 (unchanged)

Hertford County: 78 (a decrease of nine cases from the previous week)

ARHS noted in its weekly summary on Friday, Sept. 17 an increase in COVID-19 outbreaks at congregate living facilities across the region. Locally there are six cases at Ahoskie Assisted Living (four residents and two staff members) and three cases (all staff members) at Bertie-Martin Regional Jail.

In its report on Sept. 14, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported an outbreak at Lawrence Academy involving 28 individuals (six staff and 22 students).

ARHS is continuing to accept vaccine appointments (ages 12-and-up) for first and second dose Moderna and Pfizer, along with Johnson and Johnson, at each of its local health departments. Those in the R-C area can call the Gates County Health Dept. (252-357-1380), the Bertie County Health Dept. (252-794-5322), or the Hertford County Health Dept. (252-862-4054). Those offices can also be contacted for COVID testing.

Northampton County residents can call 252-534-5841 to schedule an appointment for either a COVID-19 vaccine or test.

As of Sept. 17, 59.07% of those ages 12-and-over are partially vaccinated across the eight counties served by ARHS. Those fully vaccinated account for 58.47% of the region’s population.

“There is still a large percentage of our community who have not been vaccinated yet,” said R. Battle Betts, Jr., ARHS Health Director. “The data is becoming increasingly clear that these vaccines are safe and effective, and crucial in preventing severe illness. In fact, a new CDC study notes that fully vaccinated individuals had 10 times lower risk of hospitalization or death. These vaccines are doing exactly what all vaccines do: limit spread, decrease your chance of infection, and reduce your risk for severe illness. We urge you to schedule your vaccine appointment.”

In its surveillance report from Sept. 17, ARHS listed a total of 642 active COVID-19 cases in the region. The majority of those cases impacted two age groups: 25-to-49 (36.29%) and 0-to-17 (30.84%). From May 1 through Sept. 3, ARHS reported that of the newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, 89.61% are not fully vaccinated.

Local and regional health officials say it is important to follow guidance from NC DHHS including:

If you are not fully vaccinated, you should:

  • Get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalization and death, including from the Delta variant, and reduces community spread of the virus.
  • Practice the 3 W’s. Wear a face covering in all indoor and, crowded outdoor public settings. Wait 6 feet apart in all public settings. Wash your hands often.
  • Not gather with unvaccinated individuals who do not live with you. If you do gather, wear a mask, stay outside and keep 6 feet of distance.
  • Not travel. If you do travel, get tested 1-3 days before and 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self – quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.
  • Get tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 and quarantine and get tested if you’ve been exposed to a person diagnosed with COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.

If you are fully vaccinated, you should:

  • Wear a mask in all indoor public spaces if you live in area of high or substantial levels of transmission as defined by the CDC until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases. Consider wearing a face covering in crowded outdoor settings where you cannot maintain 6ft physical distancing.
  • Get tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. After an exposure to a person with COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask around others for 14 days after exposure or until you get a negative test result.

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.

email author More by Cal