5/14/20: 22ND COVID-19 CASE IN DARE COUNTY REPORTED, COULD BE COMMUNITY SPREAD; DR. DAVIES TO PROVIDE DETAILS NEXT WEEK ON LOCAL DRIVE-THRU TESTING; CLOSEST FREE TESTING SITE IS GREENVILLE WALMART.

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Dare County today reported its 22nd positive COVID-19 test result, a Dare resident  who, Dr. Sheila Davies, Ph.D., director of the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services, said, did not come in direct contact with an infected person.

“It is unclear how this individual came into contact with the virus, which indicates the potential that the virus was acquired by community spread.” Dr. Davies said in a videotaped message available through the Dare Emergency Management website.

Community spread occur when a person contracts a virus without having any known exposure to a source of infection, such as someone who is sick. The virus is said to be “out there” in the community.

Dr. Davies also discussed the current lack of free or mass COVID-19 testing in Dare County and announced she would “share information” next week on a “local initiative on drive-thru testing.”

See Dr. Davies’s message at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cse7BeWIVhg

Although both the federal and N.C. governments have said that anyone who wants a free COVID test should be able to get one, that availability has “not trickled down” to Dare County, Dr. Davies said, despite efforts by County officials to work with the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services on a testing site.

Absent federal or state assistance in setting up free or mass testing sites, she said, Dare has had to look for “alternative opportunities.”

The closest free testing site to the Outer Banks is a Walmart in Greenville that operates drive-thru testing by appointment only on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. The test is done by a nasal self-swab so as to limit personal contact, and eligibility requirements apply. (See below for details.)

Walmart is one of the big retailers with whom the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services has partnered to provide free COVID-19 testing. There are seven Walmarts in North Carolina participating in this partnership, including one in Tarboro.

For details, see www.doineedacovid19test.com.

HOT TOPICS  

The 22nd Dare County resident to test positive for the novel coronavirus is recovering in isolation at home, Dr. Davies said. The health department today notified all of his or her direct contacts.

The health department director said that, counting this new case, there currently are four active COVID-19 cases in Dare County, one of whom is hospitalized and the other three of whom are recovering at home in isolation.

A Dare County resident who formerly had an active case has recovered or been asymptomatically cleared, bringing the total number of case recoveries to 17.

In her videotaped message, Dr. Davies reviewed how COVID-19 testing—which she calls a “hot topic” at the federal, state, and local levels—has evolved with increased scientific knowledge about the virus and its transmission and the availability of personal protective equipment, whose scarcity limited the number of tests that could be performed.

She said that in early April, it took seven to 10 days to get a test result back from a lab, whereas, “now, we get results back in 24 to 72 hours.”

While the NCDHHS has “been pushing for increased testing” statewide, Dr. Davies said, and its testing task force has set up “strategic partnerships” for testing, it did not form such a partnership in Dare County and place a testing site here.

All NCDHHS “sites have been selected,” she said, hence the need for a local testing initiative.

The Beacon will report on the Dare County drive-thru testing site initiative as soon as Dr. Davies reveals the details.

If you are interested in going to the Greenville Walmart, at 210 Greenville Blvd. SW, to be tested, you must meet eligibility requirements and call ahead for an appointment.

Eligibility is based on guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The following people are eligible:

Healthcare workers and first responders;

Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19;

Individuals with symptoms in accordance with state and local plans and for public health monitoring.

The general telephone number at the Greenville Walmart is (252) 355-2441.

N.C. COVID-19 DASHBOARD FOR TODAY

The number of COVID-19 cases and completed tests increased again today, as 691 people out of 8,811 tested positive during the latest 24-hour count. The positive test result rate rose to 7.8 percent, the highest percentage in a week.

The 691 positive test results is the highest daily total reported in North Carolina since the pandemic began, but it is only recently that the number of tests completed has increased to acceptable public-health screening levels.

Yesterday’s new case total was 470, based on 8,213 tests, for a positive rate of 5.7 percent.

Hospitalizations statewide for COVID-19 declined to 507, from yesterday’s count of 521.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/14/20

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