A second case of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been confirmed in Person County, unrelated to the first case. The affected individual is in isolation at home and is doing well. Person County Health Department has been in communication with the individual and is conducting contact tracing to identify close contacts. A close contact is defined as anyone who was within six feet of the individual for 10 minutes. Local health officials will be in touch with anyone determined to be a close contact of the individual to be advised about measures to take to protect themselves and others.
“We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for Personians to stay at home and only venture out when absolutely necessary. If you have to go to the grocery store or any other place permissible by the Stay At Home Order, please make your trip as quick as possible. We are urging everyone not to use these places as a means to socialize,” said Person County Health Director Janet Clayton.
The number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina had ballooned to 1,498 by Tuesday morning as Governor Roy Cooper’s statewide stay-at-home order took effect Monday.
According to the Person County Open Data Portal created by the county GIS department, and confirmed by county Health Director Janet Clayton, Person County has one case of COVID-19.
There have been eight deaths in the state and 157 individuals are currently hospitalized. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 23,106 tests have been completed by the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial labs.
In a Monday update, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen said the median age for positive tests is 46 years old.
The NCDHHS breakdown shows that 43 percent of cases fall within the age range of 25-49.
Cohen reemphasized the fact that there is no current vaccine or treatment for COVID-19.
“We do not have vaccines or treatment,” she said. “Social distancing is the only tool we have to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that fewer people get sick at the same time and so we don’t overwhelm our hospitals. I can’t stress it enough: your actions matter. Staying home matters. Staying home will save lives.”
Cohen said the stay at home order will be analyzed by watching the state’s case count and tools that survey how citizens are getting the virus and how they are recovering.
“We didn’t have the luxury of time to know everything we want to know about this virus, but what we know of it is quite scary and that we wanted to take these aggressive actions to slow the spread here in North Carolina,” she said.
Cohen said the state is looking at other states that are “several weeks ahead” of North Carolina like Washington and New York. She said the state now has seen community spread where those affected did not have direct contact with a confirmed case.
Cohen said testing is a continued area of focus.
“We are wanting to make sure we are prioritizing testing, particularly this week and next week, on those that are at high risk - health care workers who may have been exposed, those that are hospitalized and those that are in long-term care facilities,” she said.
She said the number of testing supplies is an issue, but the state is doing all it can to get the supplies and to use them wisely on those at the highest risk.
Cohen also said that increased testing is leading to more confirmed cases.
“We are testing more,” she said. “We’re doing thousands and thousands of tests – we’ve done over 20,000 tests and of those about 1,300 have now become positive. So while we’re testing more we’re going to find more. But what we are finding is a different kind of someone who is positive. Prior, we were able to trace back each of those positive cases to someone who may have had contact with someone who is positive. What we’re seeing now is that there is community spread of this virus – meaning that folks don’t know where they picked it up from and that changes what we think about in terms of our level of response. It means we need to increase our social distancing. It means we need to make sure we’re planning to have the means of medical capacity that is appropriate to respond to COVID-19... We’re seeing the number of counties that are experiencing COVID-19 go up every day and I expect to see COVID-19 in every county in North Carolina within the next couple of days, if not the week.”
Cohen said there are a number of predictive models that have different assumptions, so officials don’t know with precision when the situation could change in the state.
Cohen said there is no backlog at the state’s testing lab, but there is one at the state’s private partners like LabCorp who is receiving tests from across the country.
With Cooper’s statewide stay at home order in effect, local law enforcement is asking for voluntary compliance with the ban on mass gatherings of 10 or more.
Roxboro Chief of Police David Hess said that if the public follows the rules, his department won’t have to step in to enforce the order.
“We think the public will do their part and we won’t have to do anything outside of what we normally do,” he said.
A Monday Facebook post on the Roxboro Police Department page explained some frequently asked questions regarding the order.
The department will continue enforcement, including the stay at home order.
“We are encouraging voluntary compliance,” the post reads. “No one in Person County wants to see the virus affect our area. Do your part to help everyone out. Someone who blatantly and continuously defies the order, could get charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. We are enforcing normal criminal laws not associated with this order. COVID-19 is not a stay out of jail epidemic.”
The department will not be conducting checkpoints and will not be stopping cars simply because they are out.
“The Roxboro Police Department can only legally stop a person/vehicle for reasonable suspicion, probable cause or a traffic offense,” the post explains. “We will continue to enforce traffic laws but are not stopping vehicles simply because they are on the road.”
The stay-at-home order is in effect until April 29, but can be revised or extended, if needed.
People may leave their homes to care for a family member or friend, or to help their family member or friend get essential goods or receive necessary health care, but should not visit with friends or family members if there is no urgent need.
Essential businesses are permitted to stay open during the order, but other businesses must close.
Businesses that are required to close are still allowed to continue minimum basic operations which includes activities necessary to maintain the value of the business’s inventory; preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment; ensure security; process payroll and employee benefits, or related functions; and, activities to support employees who are working remotely.
Cooper succinctly summarized the Executive Order in a tweet following his Friday press conference.
“Learn more about what today’s order means: Stay at home. That’s it, that’s the tweet.”