Health officials say the number of lab confirmed COVID-19 cases in northeastern North Carolina has grown to at least 144, with much of the increase coming due to transfers of inmates to the state prison outside Elizabeth City.
Pasquotank County had 32 lab confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Monday, with 18 active cases and 14 patients that have recovered, according to Albemarle Regional Health Services.
The health department covering eight northeast N.C. counties said the jump in Pasquotank resulting from prisoners who were transferred from the Neuse Correctional Institution near Goldsboro to the Pasquotank Correctional Institution prior to April 7.
In addition, ARHS is working with partners at a long term care facility in Bertie County and officials at Rivers Correctional Institution in Hertford County to manage two additional local outbreaks.
Bertie now reports 25 cases, with 10 active, 14 recovered and one death. There are eight cases in Hertford County, with five active, two recoveries and one death.
An outbreak is defined as two or more cases in a facility. When an outbreak is identified, additional contact tracing and testing is required in order to manage exposures and ensure proper steps are taken to protect both staff and residents. This often times identifies additional cases more quickly, including asymptomatic cases.
The North Carolina Division of Public Health has prioritized testing in congregate care facilities in order to proactively manage the situation in order to quickly mobilize resources and actions to limit additional spread.
“As public health continues to actively investigate these cases, and as we identify cases in congregate care facilities and as testing becomes more widely available, we expect our positive lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 to increase,” said R. Battle Betts, Jr., MPA, Health Director for Albemarle Regional Health Services.
“Based on statewide, regional, and local trends, we do anticipate that we are slightly behind other areas and that we will continue to see a rise in cases over the next couple of weeks which means it is important for us all to continue to take all precautions to mitigate the spread including staying at home, social distancing, and practicing good hand hygiene and sanitation,” Betts said.
Agencies affiliated with outbreaks in Pasquotank, Bertie, and Hertford counties are all working closely with ARHS communicable disease staff and are following local and state guidance. Individuals are isolated and their symptoms are being monitored. Additional testing will be provided as needed.
“Mitigation strategies aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19 which include; social distancing, staying home when you are sick, and hand washing will continue to work in concert with containment strategies. These strategies aim to minimize the risk of transmission from infected to non-infected individuals in order to stop the outbreak,” Betts said.
Dare has held at 15 cases since the middle of last week, with 13 recoveries and one death.
Perquimans had eight cases (six active, two recovered), Chowan six (four active, two recovered), Gates four (all recovered) and Currituck two (all recovered).
Washington County reported 21 cases as of Monday, and two deaths. Beaufort had 14 cases with no deaths, Tyrrell had four cases and no deaths.
Camden and Hyde are the only northeastern N.C. counties to have reported zero cases, so far.
Statewide, there were 1,000 more coronavirus cases since Friday, bringing the total case count to nearly 6,900. There have been 199 fatalities in North Carolina from the virus.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.