BREAKING NEWS: Dare County, in partnership with Macko Medical Laboratories of Raleigh, will host drive-thru COVID-19 testing Tues., May 26, at 1:30 p.m. at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills. A total of 200 tests will be performed of permanent Dare County residents who are age 10 or older.
People interested in being tested must schedule an appointment by calling (252) 475-5008. The testing is not free, but it is fully covered by private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Results will be available within 72 hours.
For details, see https://www.darenc.com/Home/Components/News/News/6277/1483.
Dare County conducted 588 tests for COVID-19 from March 9 through May 17, according to a videotaped message by Dr. Sheila Davies, director of Dare’s Dept. of Health and Human Services, posted yesterday on the health department’s website.
Dr. Davies will be posting an update videotape every Tuesday, she said.
Of the 588 tests conducted by the County, 22 tested positive, for a 3.7 percent positive-test rate as of this week.
According to Dr. Davies, the positive test rate had been “stable” around 4.2 percent for the past few weeks.
Dr. Davies used her message to update the status of the 22 cases; describe the metrics that Dare County has been tracking to determine the “intensity and spread of COVID-19 in the community”; and give some information about the local drive-thru testing initiative that she mentioned last week. (See breaking news, above.)
She also referred businesspeople to free online training sessions that they may take to prepare themselves for protecting their employees and customers from the coronavirus.
Of the 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases, Dr. Davies said, 19 have recovered or been symptomatically cleared, two are active, and one died. Of the two active cases, one remains hospitalized, and the other is recovering in home isolation.
Similar to the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Dr. Davies said the Dare DHHS is tracking:
- the weekly number of COVID-19 cases;
- the number of lab-confirmed cases;
- positive tests as a percent of the total tests done; and
- COVID-like illness surveillance.
Dr. Davies explained that the County does surveillance by tracking the percentage of people who present to the Outer Banks Hospital Emergency Department with COVID-like illness, out of the total number of people who present to the ED. That percentage, she said, has been less than 5 percent during the past few weeks.
Businesspeople will find free 30-minutes courses in how to operate safely during the COVID-19 crisis at www.countonmeNC.org. The program is called Count On Me, N.C.
STATE MOVING TOWARD PHASE TWO
Governor Roy Cooper is expected to outline at a 5 p.m. press conference today a Phase Two opening for North Carolina at the end of the week.
Phase Two will allow restaurants, entertainment venues, hair and nail salons, and other nonessential businesses that either have been closed or have been operating without indoor customers to reopen, provided they have specific infection-control measures in place.
The NCDHHS has already issued “interim guidelines” to restaurants owners about how to safeguard their employees and customers.
See guidelines at https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/guidance/NCDHHS-Interim-Guidance-for-Restaurants-Phase-2.pdf
The guidelines contain both requirements and recommendations.
All restaurants will be required to have tables and seating spaced out among customers, both indoors and outdoors, to ensure that six-foot distancing is maintained, and their indoor maximum occupancy will be restricted to 50 percent of the stated fire capacity.
Restaurants that do not have a “fire code number available,” according to the guidelines, may permit up to 12 people per 1,000 square feet of space.
Restaurants also will be required to conduct daily COVID-19 symptom screening of their employees and to perform ongoing and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of “high-touch areas.” They will be required to increase their disinfection during “peak times or high customer density times” and to ensure that all shared objects are cleaned between use.
NCDHHS “strongly” recommends that all employees and customers wear a cloth or disposable face covering when they may be less than six feet from other people in a restaurant. The State health department also “encourages” restaurant owners to provide face coverings for their employees and customers.
THE SOUTHERN SHORES TOWN COUNCIL yesterday authorized allowing restaurants to use a portion of the parking lots that serve them for outdoor dining.
The question of sidewalk and parking-lot dining came up in regard to the two restaurants at the Southern Shores Crossing, Coastal Provisions Oyster Bar & Wine Bar Café and Steamers. The Council did not discuss the five eateries at the Marketplace, all of which are smaller than Coastal and Steamers.
The Town Council unanimously voted to proceed with taking the legal action required to amend the Town zoning code temporarily to allow for parking-lot dining.
NCDHHS DASHBOARD NUMBERS
The NCDHHS reported the following metrics for the past two days:
Tuesday: 677 new COVID-19 cases out of 9,253 completed tests, for a positive-test rate of 7.3 percent; 74 new hospitalizations (from 511 to 585); and 30 new deaths (691 total).
Today: 422 new COVID-19 cases out of 12,595 completed tests, for a positive test rate of 3.3 percent; 31 fewer hospitalizations (from 585 to 554); and 11 new deaths (702 total).
The Beacon will cover the highlights of the Governor’s press conference later today.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/20/20