Though the coronavirus pandemic still hasn’t reached the proportions of some neighboring counties, public health officials are seeing an increase in the frequency with which cases are now being reported.
The most recent cases confirmed by the Person County Health Department Monday bring the total number of cases reported in the county to 17. Public health officials announced the most recent cases that day.
Person County’s first case was reported March 16 and for the next four weeks, most of the cases reported came in one at a time. By April 14, that started to change. The health department said two more cases were confirmed that day and on April 16, 17 and 20, two additional cases were reported on each of those days.
Local public health officials have not said when they expect the spread of the virus to reach its peak, although some university researchers have pointed to a statewide peak taking place late this month.
Public Health Director Janet Clayton said Monday that the county is currently monitoring seven patients and have released nine from monitoring. One patient remains hospitalized outside the county in good condition.
Clayton said the county is starting to see reinforcements from the state in terms of providing personal protective equipment which was requested by the county’s emergency management services when the coronavirus first appeared in the county.
That material includes everything from gowns and facemasks for healthcare providers to hand sanitizers and head coverings.
Emergency services staff has been distributing that material to partnering agencies to ensure they have the supplies they need to treat cases.
The health department, in addition to monitoring active cases and the people those patients have come into contact with, is also working with local long-term care facilities to make sure they are prepared for what to do in the event of a case of COVID-19 in those facilities. To date, no cases have been reported in any Person County long-term care facilities and there have been no cases reported in the Person County jail.
Prisons and long-term care facilities have been hotspots for the spread of the disease in other parts of the state.
Clayton repeated what has been a regular message from the health department in recent weeks, saying people need to continue to maintain physical distance between themselves, wash their hands frequently and to stay at home as much as is practical. Those steps, health officials say, are the most likely to help slow the spread of the illness.
Clayton said the health department will issue a weekly summary of the pandemic in Person County on Friday.