Second death due to virus in Sampson

Duplin reports 13th as Phase 2 begins

By Chris Berendt [email protected]

COVID-19 in Sampson: A timeline

*Total positive patients based on announcements made by the County of Sampson and the Sampson County Health Department.

March 16 — first case

April 3 — second case

April 5 — third case

April 6 — 5 cases

April 8 — 9 cases

April 9 — 10 cases

April 13 — 13 cases

April 14 — 14 cases

April 15 — 17 cases

April 16 — 18 cases

April 17 — 19 cases

April 20 — 21 cases

April 21 — 24 cases

April 22 — 27 cases

April 23 — 35 cases

April 24 — 36 cases

April 27 — 45 cases

April 28 — 49 cases

April 29 — 63 cases

April 30 — 74 cases

May 1 — 81 cases

May 4 — 96 cases

May 5 — 100 cases

May 6 — 120 cases

May 7 — 129 cases

May 8 — 140 cases

May 11 — 171 cases

May 12 — 177 cases

May 13 — 193 cases

May 14 — 211 cases

May 15 — 224 cases

May 18 — 257 cases

May 19 — 267 cases

May 20 — 302 cases

May 21 — 314 cases

May 22 — 333 cases

Sampson County reported its second death due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Friday, the same day some businesses began to reopen and 19 new cases were added to a county case tally that numbers 333. A silver lining in the report was that the numbers indicate the majority of tests coming back from a recent drive-thru mass testing are negative.

The Sampson County Health Department did not release any information on the patient who passed away, and the Sampson Independent will not disclose the resident’s name out of respect for his family. The report of a second death in Sampson came on the same day Duplin reported its 13th death attributed to COVID-19.

Health officials have noted that, with the increase in testing, comes the possibility of additional identified positive cases, both symptomatic and asymptomatic.

As of Friday, there had been 1,337 tests for the virus conducted in Sampson, with 814 negatives to go with the 314 positive tests. The 814 negatives is 355 more than was reported a day earlier on Thursday, an indication that many of those tested during last weekend’s drive-thru mass testing event in Sampson were not found to have COVID-19.

Of the 333 positive patients, 133 are listed as recovered, according to county officials. There are still 190 tests pending.

Duplin County’s total number of laboratory confirmed positive COVID-19 cases has increased to 537 residents, according to Friday’s report, up 83 cases from the last report of 454 on Tuesday. Of those confirmed positive cases, 238 of them have met clinical criteria to be released from isolation.

Duplin also reported a additional death, bringing the county’s total to 13 fatalities related to COVID-19. Of the most recent fatality, the decedent was in the age range of 50-64.

As of Friday, North Carolina had 21,618 confirmed cases, 728 deaths and 568 hospitalizations covering all 100 counties as of Friday, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). There were 303,224 tests for COVID-19 completed as of Friday.

According to data provided by NCDHHS, there has been a significant increase in the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity. Cooper said as much this week, noting that North Carolina has more than doubled the daily testing rate, with more than 8,000 tests completed daily on average.

There are more than 300 testing sites across the state, and both Sampson and Duplin held drive-thru testing sites in the recent days, with nearly 500 people tested for COVID-19 in Sampson last weekend alone.

Duplin County will hold a second COVID-19 Diagnostic Drive-Thru testing event on May 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Duplin Events Center. The drive-thru testing event is open to all Duplin County residents, but pre-registration is required. To schedule an appointment, Duplin County residents should call 910-267-2044.

Health officials said they are continuing a process of extensive contact tracing as part of their investigation of positive cases. Through that process, they attempt to assess risks of exposure and determine additional measures that may be needed, including quarantine or additional testing.

They continue to preach the 3Ws: wear a face covering, wait 6 feet apart, and wash hands often or use hand sanitizer. Those practices are vital, especially now that North Carolina’s Phase 2 is underway, Gov. Roy Cooper said.

“Safer At Home” Phase 2 officially began at 5 p.m. Friday. It will run through at least Friday, June 26.

Under Phase 2, which Cooper noted was “a more modest step forward,” some businesses and places will remain closed, including: bars; night clubs; gyms and indoor fitness facilities; indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys; and public playgrounds.

Under the governor’s order, certain businesses will be open at limited capacity with other requirements. Restaurants can re-open for dine-in customers at mostly a 50% capacity, with distancing and cleaning requirements. Personal care businesses like salons and barbers can also re-open at 50% capacity. These businesses will have face covering and cleaning requirements while also reducing the number of people in the waiting areas (see related story on today’s front page).

Retail businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 at 50% capacity will continue at that level.

The mass gathering limits in Phase 2 will be no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. This applies to event venues; conference centers; stadiums and sports arenas; amphitheaters; and groups at parks or beaches.

Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.