6/29/20: MANY RECENT COVID-19 CASES WERE CAUSED BY DIRECT CONTACT AT A LARGE GATHERING WHERE PEOPLE DID NOT ACT RESPONSIBLY, DARE COUNTY HEALTH DIRECTOR SAYS. And the Culprits Are Locals, Not Visitors. (Case Total Is Now 97.)

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Social distancing is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19. So is wearing a face covering whenever you cannot maintain social distancing with others.

The elderly man who was hospitalized recently for COVID-19 contracted the viral disease through direct contact with household members who attended a large gathering where people did not maintain social distancing or wear face coverings, according to a message released this afternoon by Dr. Sheila Davies, Dare County’s health director.

In fact, the majority of the recent COVID-19 cases in Dare County, Dr. Davies further explains, are “locals who acquired the virus by direct contact” with others at this same large gathering, not by contact or community spread in a restaurant or a grocery store, as you might suspect.

The message: People are not being infected by out-of-town visitors who brought the virus with them.

But there is no denying that confirmed COVID-19 cases have increased more than 400 percent since May 16, when the ban on visitors was lifted.

“The spread we are seeing currently is local-to-local spread because people are not following the guidelines,” Dr. Davies says.

You cannot state the facts any more plainly than that: The recent spread of COVID-19 is being caused by Dare County residents who are not acting responsibly.

While the majority of the people who recently tested positive for COVID-19 are “only experiencing mild to moderate symptoms,” the health director says, the older patient upon whom we earlier reported “required treatment at the hospital.”

Dr. Davies asks everyone living or visiting Dare County to take COVID-19 “seriously” and to “play your part in preventing and slowing the spread” by:

*Not attending or hosting gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors [as Phase Two requires];

*Following the 3 W’s—wear a face covering, wait six feet away, and wash your hands frequently—when you leave home;

*Sharing all details of your activity during the timeframe that you discuss with a contact tracer. [This is the first time that we’ve heard that people are not being forthcoming with contact tracers.];

*Quarantining for 14 days when you are contacted by the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services and informed that you are a direct contact; and

*Remaining in isolation until you are directed otherwise by the DCDHHS staff.

Anyone who violates a quarantine or isolation order can be charged with a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment, according to Dr. Davies, who would rather not resort to criminal charges, which exist, she says, “to protect the public from individuals who choose not to do the right thing.”

Dr. Davies also reveals in her message that “a large number of people” are getting tested for COVID-19 at urgent care centers “because they are curious or they believe they [may have been] in direct contact” with someone who may have tested positive.

If you are sick, she advises, you should call your healthcare provider before you visit an urgent care center. Do not simply show up.

If you are not sick and merely curious, you should call the Dare Care COVID-19 call center at (252) 475-5008 for guidance.

“We must work together,” she concludes, “to ensure our healthcare providers are available for those who truly need them.”

THREE MORE COVID-19 CASES REPORTED TODAY

 Since we posted our earlier blog about the hospitalized COVID-19 patient, the DCDHHS dashboard has reported that three more people have tested positive: Demographically, they are two Dare County residents and one non-resident; two men and one woman; two between the ages of 18 and 24, and one between the ages of 25 and 49.

All three are in home isolation, the non-resident being transferred out of the area.

The dashboard also reports that one of the two Dare County residents who was hospitalized has been discharged to home isolation.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/29/20

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