LUMBERTON — The 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 the local Health Department reported Tuesday pushed Robeson County past the 1,000 mark.
One thousand one county residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the first case was reported March 21. Thirty-one of those cases have resulted in death.
Tuesday’s cases included 13 females and five males. The oldest person to test positive was 94 and the youngest, 15. Seven of the people to test positive were age 65 or older.
Seven of the confirmed cases were American Indian, four were African American, four were white, two were Hispanic and one case report did not list race.
The local hospital tested 12 of the cases. Four were tested outside Robeson County, and two at a private clinic.
With recent events and relaxed social distancing people need to keep an eye on any possible virus symptoms, said Bill Smith, county Health Department director
“If you have any of the symptoms or feel your health has been compromised, you can make an appointment with one of the clinics offering testing,” he said.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 646 new confirmed cases on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 37,160. The virus has claimed the lives of 1,029 state residents and left 774 residents hospitalized.
On Tuesday, the NCDHHS released updated guidance for doctors and clinicians on who should be tested for COVID-19.
The state is focused on rapidly increasing testing of people who may not currently have symptoms, but may have been exposed to COVID-19, especially people from historically marginalized populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, according to the NCDHHS. To support testing in populations being hit hardest by COVID-19, the state health agency also has a new resource available, COVID-19 Community Testing in Historically Marginalized Populations: Best Practices.
The guidance recommends that clinicians conduct or arrange for diagnostic COVID-19 testing for anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 and close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms.
People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings, such as long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility or migrant farmworker camp, should look to be tested, according to NCDHHS.
Other groups that should consider testing are: frontline and essential workers — such as grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction sites or processing plants — in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain; health-care workers or first responders; and people who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings that could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and some of his colleagues recently sent a bipartisan letter to federal Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma requesting the administration act swiftly to distribute emergency funding allocated in COVID-19 spending packages to hospitals that overwhelmingly serve Medicaid and low-income patients.
“To date, the distribution methodology used by the Department of Health and Human Services has not sufficiently addressed the needs of hospitals and health providers who disproportionately serve Medicaid and low-income patients,” the senators wrote. “We are concerned about the future financially viability of our hospitals who help care for the sickest, lowest-income, and costliest patients. These hospitals stand at the front lines of our health care system for many of our disadvantaged communities and operate on razor thin margins under the best of circumstances.”