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Warren County Announces Fourth Confirmed Positive COVID-19 Case

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-Information courtesy Warren County Government

The Warren County Health Department received confirmation of a positive COVID-19 test result on Saturday, April 25, 2020. Currently, there are a total of four (4) positive cases of COVID-19 in Warren County. Two of the positive cases have recovered and there are no deaths related to COVID-19.

Residents should remain diligent about complying with the Governor’s Stay at Home order and Warren County’s curfew; they should continue practicing prevention measures such as frequent hand washing and maintaining social distancing as we try to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Warren County.

Warren County will continue to update its COVID-19 resources page with updates on confirmed case counts. Residents may also check-in daily with the NC Department of Health and Human Services for their NC case count at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19/covid-19-nc-case-count.

For more information, residents can call the Warren County Health Department at 252-257-1185, the Warren County COVID-19 Information Line at 252-257-7132, Monday– Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. or visit the Warren County Government website at https://www.warrencountync.com/712/COVID-19-Resources.

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Two Franklin Co. Health Dept. Employees Test Positive for COVID-19

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-Information courtesy Franklin County Government

On Friday, 4/24/2020, the Franklin County Health Department (FCHD) received positive coronavirus test-result notifications on two (2) employees. The two (2) employees do not serve as healthcare providers within the department.

The first employee was last at work on Thursday, 4/09/2020 at 5 p.m., and first reported mild symptoms on Saturday, 4/11/2020. This employee has not been inside the FCHD since 4/9/2020.

As per the employee’s healthcare provider’s guidance, a coronavirus test sample was collected on Monday, 4/20/2020, but the results were “inconclusive.” A second sample was collected on Wednesday, 4/22/202, with positive test results being reported to the Health Department later in the morning on Friday, 4/24/2020. As noted above, this employee was last in the health department on 4/9/2020.

The second employee was tested on Wednesday, 4/22/2020, after reporting symptoms they initially thought were allergies. Following sample collection, the employee was sent home and given instructions to isolate. Their positive coronavirus test-results were received a little after 9 a.m. on Friday 4/24/2020.

Immediately after the Health Department received notification of the first positive test result, all non-health department staff were instructed to leave the department. All appointments were canceled, and a total of 48 Health Department staff were tested for coronavirus, with 42 employees being sent home with written instructions on isolation and symptom monitoring. The remaining seven (7) department staff canceled all appointments for Monday, 4/27/2020, and prepared the facility for disinfecting which occurred on Saturday, 4/25/2020.

Test results for all staff should be available by late Sunday (4/26/20) afternoon, or earlier Monday (4/27/2020) morning. Only staff who receive a negative test result are allowed to return to work.

As of the date and time of this release, all face-to-face: clinical services; care management services; and WIC are canceled for Monday, 4/27/2020. Patients will be able to speak by phone to staff in those programs on Monday, 4/27/2020 if needed.

Patients whose appointments were canceled have been notified and the department will contact you on rescheduling those appointments. The Health Department anticipates a resumption of these services on Tuesday, 4/28/2020.

Environmental Health Services (septic, wells, food & lodging inspections, etc.) and the Franklin County Home Health Agency services will continue to operate remotely (as they have been doing for some time). Limited drop-off service will be available for Environmental Health needs.

The Franklin County Health Department continues to conduct contact tracing for COVID-19, so any individual suspected of being exposed to the coronavirus will be notified by Health Department staff and given specific instructions on what they need to do next.

As noted above, only Health Department employees with a negative test result will return to work on Monday, 4/27/2020 or thereafter.

Look for more updates from the Franklin COVID-19 EOC as more information becomes available.

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COVID-19: 68 Cases, 3 Deaths in Vance; 130 Cases, 5 Deaths in Granville

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-Update from Lisa Harrison, director of Granville Vance Public Health

Vance County has 68 known cases of COVID-19 as of April 26, 2020.

10 of those 68 have been released from isolation;
7 of those 68 are inpatient (in the hospital);
28 of those 68 are associated with the Pelican Health Nursing Home outbreak.

There have been 3 deaths in Vance County related to COVID-19. A 72-year old male from Vance County died Sunday, April 12, 2020. He was hospitalized at the time and had multiple pre-existing health conditions that worsened as a result of COVID-19. An 82-year old male from Vance County died Thursday, April 23, 2020. He was in Hospice Care. An 81-year old female from Vance County died Saturday, April 25, 2020. She was in the hospital at the time of death and was the initial positive case identified at the Pelican Health Nursing Home on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

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Granville County has 130 positive test results for COVID-19 in the NC Electronic Disease Surveillance System or NCEDSS as of April 26, 2020.

44 of those 130 are community-spread cases located across Granville County.

21 of those 44 have been released from isolation – enough time has passed since initial symptoms appeared and since test results came in. 21 individuals who were positive for COVID-19 in Granville County a few weeks ago report they are feeling better. GVPH does not have official guidance for ‘recovered’ at this time.

86 of those 130 cases are affiliated with the prison system in Butner, NC. More about their response can be found online at https://www.bop.gov/coronavirus/. GVPH numbers correlate with the NC Electronic Disease Surveillance System (NCEDSS) data and NC county map: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc

46 of those 86 have been released from isolation.

There have been a total of 5 deaths reported by the Bureau of Prisons associated with the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, NC:

April 11, 2020, an 81-year-old male died,
April 12, 2020, a 57-year-old male and a 78-year-old male died,
April 13, 2020, a 46-year-old male died, and
April 16, 2020, a 67-year-old male died.

All inmates died from complications related to COVID-19. All individuals were also hospitalized and experienced underlying health conditions.

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NC Public School Students Not Returning to Classroom This School Year

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-Press Release, Office of Governor Roy Cooper

Governor Roy Cooper today announced that North Carolina K-12 public schools will continue remote learning through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Cooper was joined by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson and the Chair of the State Board of Education Eric Davis for the announcement.

“School buildings will stay closed to students for this school year, but school isn’t over,” said Governor Cooper. “The decision to finish the year by remote learning was not made lightly, but it is the right thing to do to protect our students, teachers and communities. This is a difficult time for many children and parents, and I am grateful for all the educators, administrators, support staff and parents who have gone the extra mile to keep children learning.”

Cooper underscored the needs for schools to continue to provide school nutrition programs now and into the summer, and to be looking ahead and planning for when it is safe to re-convene schools in person. This includes how to get students back on track, especially those who have not been able to access remote learning or were already behind when schools closed to in-person instruction.

To help students without home internet access online learning opportunities, Cooper today announced a partnership to equip more school buses with Wi-Fi. School buses with Wi-Fi will travel to areas that lack internet so students can turn in assignments, download materials, and connect with teachers. AT&T is providing 100 hot spots, Duke Energy Foundation is providing 80, and additional partners are expected to join the effort.

State public health officials are developing safety guidelines for schools to follow when classes are able to convene in person, as well as guidance for summer camps and other groups that use school facilities.

BUDGET

Cooper also released a recommended budget plan to invest $1.4 billion in emergency funds to help North Carolina respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding for this proposal would come predominantly from the state’s share of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and would be appropriated by the North Carolina General Assembly in its upcoming session.

The budget package is intended to fund immediate needs in three main areas:

  • Public health and safety
  • Continuity of operations for education and other state government services
  • Assistance to small businesses and local governments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every North Carolinian. This emergency funding proposal makes strong investments in public health, schools, local governments and small businesses to respond to this unprecedented crisis,” said Cooper.

Governor Cooper and State Budget Director Charlie Perusse worked with state agencies, local governments, and other stakeholders to identify what immediate COVID-related needs were unmet by existing federal and commercial assistance to build a budget proposal that is responsive and responsible.

Key investments from this proposal include:

  • $75 million to support testing, tracing and trends analysis as well as have the Personal Protective Equipment needed to help North Carolina move into Phase 1 of easing restrictions;
  • $78 million for school nutrition to continue to serve as many as 500,000 meals a day to children who depend on these meals to meet basic nutrition needs typically met in school;
  • $75 million for rural and underserved communities and health care providers that are particularly hard hit by COVID-19;
  • $243 million for public schools to enhance remote learning and get ready for the next school year in a “new normal.” Funds are a joint request from DPI and the State Board of Education.
  • $52 million to the UNC system and private colleges to help with remote learning and COVID-19 impacts;
  • $300 million to assist local governments, distributed based partially on population and partially on acute need.

“We know that people are hurting, businesses are struggling, and local governments are facing severe shortages. That’s why we have to act now to get resources in the hands of people and organizations that provide vital support,” said Cooper.

Governor Cooper and State Budget Director Charlie Perusse have been in discussions with leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly for several weeks to develop a consensus COVID-19 budget package that can be approved swiftly when the legislature returns next week. Elements of this package have already been announced as having consensus support, including a significant investment in an already operating bridge loan program for small businesses through the Golden L.E.A.F. Foundation.

“This plan is a first step, and while it may not have all that North Carolina needs moving forward, I present it in the spirit of compromise and consensus so that we can get relief to families fast,” said Cooper.

Find a slideshow summary of the budget recommendation.

Read more about the full budget recommendation money report and provision list

NCHSAA

NCHSAA Cancels Winter Championships, Spring Sports

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-Information courtesy NCHSAA

North Carolina High School Athletic Association Commissioner (NCHSAA) Que Tucker offered the following statement on the NCHSAA website:

In keeping with Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement today that the public schools of North Carolina will be closed to in-person learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) has canceled all remaining winter championships and spring sports.

“Today’s decision is difficult for the NCHSAA Board of Directors and Staff. We empathize with the thousands of student-athletes, especially graduating seniors, coaching staff, officials and family members affected by this decision,” said NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker. “However, this decision reflects a commitment to keeping our student-athletes, officials and member schools’ staffs and their communities safe, while following the guidelines provided by the Governor and his team, along with the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education.”

“We had maintained hope for a conclusion to our State Basketball Championships and a modified spring sports season to help return a sense of normalcy to our communities,” continued Tucker. “Now, as we continue to deal with this difficult time, we must do so by applying the lessons that education-based athletics teaches us: cooperation, patience, sacrifice, responsibility, perseverance and resilience. Together, we will be able to put a “W” in the win column!”

The NCHSAA Board of Directors, in its meeting next week, will discuss finalizing the state basketball playoffs, policies for summer activities, as well as address academic eligibility concerns for Fall 2020.

For more information, please visit the NCHSAA site at www.nchsaa.org.

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Total COVID-19 Cases Increase for Vance, Granville; Several Released From Isolation

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-Information courtesy Granville Vance Public Health and Brian Short, director of H-V Emergency Management

As of April 20, 2020, there are 113 known cases of COVID-19 in Granville County, 31 cases in Vance County, and 6,764 confirmed cases in North Carolina. Of the positive test results in Granville County, 74 are being reported at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, NC.

There have been a total of six (6) deaths in the health district – one in Vance County and five with the Bureau of Prisons in Granville County. Of the 39 community-based cases in Granville County, 11 have been released from isolation and 10 of the 31 cases in Vance have been released from isolation.

According to a recent update from Brian Short, director of Henderson-Vance Emergency Management, three individuals remain hospitalized in Vance County, while 18 individuals are currently isolated at home.

Granville Vance Public Health (GVPH) does not have official guidance at this time to determine whether someone is ‘recovered’ since many details about this virus and its effects are still being discovered. GVPH can share the number of those who have been ‘released from isolation’ as determined by the CDC Guidance for discontinuation of isolation for persons with COVID-19.

According to the CDC site, the decision to discontinue isolation should be made in the context of local circumstances. Options now include both 1) a time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery (non-test-based) strategy, and 2) test-based strategy.

Time-since-illness-onset and time-since-recovery strategy (non-test-based strategy):

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
  • At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Test-based strategy:

Previous recommendations for a test-based strategy remain applicable; however, a test-based strategy is contingent on the availability of ample testing supplies and laboratory capacity as well as convenient access to testing. For jurisdictions that choose to use a test-based strategy, the recommended protocol has been simplified so that only one swab is needed at every sampling.

Persons who have COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue isolation when at least seven days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 diagnostic test and have had no subsequent illness provided they remain asymptomatic.

For three days following discontinuation of isolation, these persons should continue to limit contact (stay six-feet away from others) and limit any potential dispersal of respiratory secretions by wearing a covering for their nose and mouth whenever they are in settings where other persons are present.

In community settings, this covering may be a barrier mask, such as a bandana, scarf, or cloth mask. The covering does not refer to a medical mask or respirator.

While the mainstream media has begun to have discussions about ‘reopening the country,’ Short stated that H-V Emergency Management continues to strongly encourage citizens to continue to observe social distancing parameters and closing orders.

To stay current on the number of cases in our state and local area, please visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Coronavirus statistics page at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc.

GVPH is also updating its website with Vance and Granville statistics daily at www.gvph.org/COVID-19/

Local Area Eligible for U.S. Chamber’s Small Business Financial Relief Initiative

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-Information courtesy the Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce

To extend a helping hand to small businesses suffering from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation – in partnership with Vistaprint and a coalition of supporting companies, foundations, and philanthropic donors – is working to provide financial relief through the Save Small Business Fund.

The Fund is providing $5,000 in short-term relief to employers across the United States. These one-time supplemental cash grants are for businesses that have between three and 20 employees and operate in an economically vulnerable community.  You will be asked to put in your zip code (27536 is an approved area) and you will need your business W-9 form.

Grants will be awarded on a weekly basis, but you only need to apply one time to be eligible for funding. Once the grantee has been notified and submitted payment information that meets compliance checks, it will take 3-5 days to process the payment. The number of grants awarded will be scaled in proportion to the demand and available funds.

The grant application will go live on Monday, April 20, 2020, at 3 p.m. ET.  To learn more about the Save Small Business Fund and to apply for a grant, visit savesmallbusiness.com.

H-V Emergency Operations

Vance County COVID-19 Cases Rise to 27; Granville Reports 105

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-Information courtesy Brian K. Short, Director of Henderson-Vance County Emergency Operations

As of April 16, 2020, the total number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Vance County increased to 27. Presently, 25 individuals are self-isolating at home with two (2) others currently undergoing treatment at Maria Parham Health.

One death has been reported in Vance County as a result of complications associated with Coronavirus infection.

According to Granville Vance Public Health, there are 105 known cases in Granville County, with 74 of these cases being reported at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner. The NC Department of Health and Human Resources reports four (4) virus-related deaths in Granville County.

North Carolina reports a total of 5,465 cases.

It is still very likely that given the progression of this virus elsewhere in the world and in our country, cases will continue to increase over the days and weeks ahead.

At this time, the Henderson-Vance Emergency Operations coordinated response posture remains the same. We strongly encourage our citizens to continue to observe the social distancing parameters and closing orders issued by the governor and suggested by our local and state public health agencies.

Town Talk 04/16/20: Tribute to Lt. Walter Fuller, Jr., Fire & COVID-19 Fighter

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

Debbie Scott, niece of Lt. Walter Fuller, Jr., the first person to die in Vance County from complications of COVID-19, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Thursday at 11 a.m.

Scott contacted WIZS directly to pay tribute to her uncle, who passed away on Easter morning, Sunday, April 12, 2020, at the age of 72, following a confirmed positive case of the virus.

Fuller was well-known and respected in the community as a former Henderson Fire Department (HFD) lieutenant who retired with over 28 years of service in 2000, said Scott, and served as a “father-figure” to many, herself included.

Long-serving Henderson firefighter Lt. Walter Fuller, Jr., passed away on Easter morning, Sunday, April 12, 2020, at the age of 72, due to complications of COVID-19. (Photo courtesy the family of Fuller).

“Most people would know him as Lt. Walter Fuller, Jr., but we knew him in the family as Uncle Peewee,” Scott said. “That was his nickname because he only weighed three pounds when he was born.”

Prior to his decades-long service with the HFD, Fuller served as a firefighter for two years in Philadelphia before returning home to Henderson.

According to Scott, Fuller was also a professional photographer who captured joyful moments for his family and community members at weddings and other special occasions.

“He was a good person who went about doing good deeds; his profession was saving lives. He was a father, grandfather and great grandfather, and he was a wonderful uncle,” Scott said. “He was brave; he was the rock of our family and our hero. We looked up to him.”

While Scott would prefer Fuller to be remembered for his service to the community as opposed to his distinction as the first Vance County death due to COVID-19, she also warned listeners of the dangers of the virus.

“This virus is very serious and dangerous. I think we should do everything we can to follow protocol at this time. The way you have to deal with this is painful – you can’t see your loved one, talk to them or even be in the same building with them. No one wants to experience this.”

Scott said the healthcare workers at Maria Parham Health, Fuller’s ICU nurse, in particular, were instrumental in providing comfort during an emotional time for the family.

“We called his nurse for two days, and she was so wonderful. She gave him messages for us. We wanted him to know we loved him; he couldn’t talk. I called her back yesterday to thank her for what she did.”

In a touching surprise to Scott, WIZS reached out to Henderson Fire Chief Steve Cordell and former chief Danny Wilkerson, both who worked with Fuller for years, for comment.

Chief Cordell had this to say about Fuller, “He was a good, Christian man. When I came to work at the fire department in 1992, Lt. Fuller was a fire engineer, and I worked under him for my first six months. Lt. Fuller took me under his wing and taught me the ropes. I will always appreciate the effort he put into me as a young, 20-year-old coming in the door.”

Cordell continued, “I was able to see Lt. Fuller go from fire engineer to fire lieutenant over fire prevention, and he excelled in that position; he made a tremendous impact on young kids. He was able to take the enthusiasm that he brought every day to the job and use that to educate young kids and adults on fire safety.”

Wilkerson said, “He was a great person and a very good firefighter. He was at the fire department a few years before I started in 1975. Being a new firefighter, he gave me a lot of guidance, and I really took that to heart. He is also one of the first African-American firefighters that the Henderson Fire Department had.”

“The one thing Walter did that really stood out to me,” Wilkerson added with a chuckle, “was that he was all for enforcing the City’s fire lane and handicapped parking. I believe he wrote more fire lane and handicap parking violations than any firefighter or police officer at the time.”

Wilkerson’s final thoughts on Fuller echoed Scott’s sentiments expressed during the interview, “The thing that I always respected about Walter is that he put God first, then his family and then his fire department family, and he would tell you that is how your priorities in life should be.”

To hear the interview with Scott in its entirety, including comments from Cordell and Wilkerson, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.

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Governor Roy Cooper Shares Path Forward for North Carolina

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-Press Release, Office of Governor Roy Cooper

Governor Roy Cooper today charted a path forward for eventually easing certain COVID-19 restrictions while still protecting North Carolinians from a dangerous second wave of the virus.

“This virus is going to be with us until there is a vaccine, which may be a year or more away,” said Governor Cooper. “That means that as we ease restrictions, we are going to enter a new normal. We want to get back to work while at the same time preventing a spike that will overwhelm our hospitals with COVID-19 cases.”

Expert modeling has shown it would be dangerous to lift the restrictions all at once because it would increase the chances that hospitals become overwhelmed and unable to care for severely ill patients. Cooper emphasized that changes in restrictions must protect public health, especially those who are most vulnerable to severe illness, including people over age 65, those with underlying health conditions and people living in congregate settings.

“Experts tell us it would be dangerous to lift our restrictions all at once. Rather than an on/off light switch, we are viewing this as a dimmer switch that can be adjusted incrementally,” said Governor Cooper.

In order to ease restrictions, the state needs to make more progress in three areas: testing, tracing and trends.

TESTING

State planning relies on an increase in testing capabilities to identify, isolate and track new cases of COVID-19. This means having the supplies and lab capacity to do more testing across the state. Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, has brought together laboratory partners from the public and private sector to coordinate efforts to ensure testing – diagnostic and antibody – is widely available across the state while also conserving protective equipment.

TRACING

Tracing requires the state to boost the public health workforce and the ability to trace contacts of new cases of COVID-19. Contact tracing can be effective at containing new outbreaks, but it requires more personnel. When a person tests positive, the tracing efforts will help identify who that individual may have been in contact with so those people can get tested and take the right precautions. NC DHHS is working with its partners to increase this critical piece of our public health workforce. New digital tools can also help scale this effort.

TRENDS

In order to ease restrictions, the state needs to understand how COVID-19 is impacting the state and impacting specific populations and regions of the state to determine when to strengthen or ease social distancing policies. Trends that will influence policy decisions will be based on data like the new positive cases, hospitalizations, deaths, as well as the available supply of personal protective equipment, hospital capacity.

“Because we acted early and because we acted together, we have averted the devastating scenarios we have seen playing out in other parts of our country and across the globe. We now need to look ahead at how we stay ahead of the curve. Widespread testing, aggressive contact tracing, and data-informed policy decisions are our best tools to keep our communities safe and protect our frontline workers,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD.