11/8/20: 2 COVID-19 CASES REPORTED AT MANTEO MIDDLE SCHOOL; DARE COUNTY ADDS 11 MORE CASES SATURDAY.

Two COVID-19 cases at Manteo Middle School were reported yesterday by the Dare County school system, and the Dare County health department announced 11 new COVID-19 cases, as the autumn surge of the coronavirus disease continued locally.

[After this article was posted, the DCDHHS reported seven new COVID-19 cases, six of them residents, and all but two between the ages of 25 and 49.]

The middle school is expected to be open for classes tomorrow, after a deep cleaning today by the Dare County Schools district safety team, according to an email sent yesterday to families of Dare County students by School Superintendent John Farrelly.

Fifty-one people have been identified as direct contacts of the two middle-school cases, who were not identified as students or staff, and have been directed to quarantine, Mr. Farrelly also reported.

Eight of the 11 people whose positive tests for COVID-19 appeared on the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services dashboard yesterday are local residents, but none is a child.

Last week, however, the DCDHHS reported six cases of COVID-19 among Dare County children age 17 or younger.

Nine of the 11 new cases reported yesterday are in the 25-to-49 age group, which has been driving the pandemic statewide and nationally. The other two are in the 50-to-64 age group.

Although none of the newly reported cases yesterday or Friday was hospitalized, the DCDHHS dashboard now shows that four local residents—an increase of one since last Thursday’s update–are in the hospital because of COVID-19.

THE GOVERNOR’S NOV. 5 COVID-19 BRIEFING

It was not until a reporter asked Governor Roy Cooper at his Nov. 5 briefing how he intended to “depoliticize” the coronavirus pandemic that the newly reelected head of state said anything about people’s political outlooks. He did not comment on the “politics” of mask-wearing; he just advocated for the practice.

In its reporting Thursday on the Governor’s 30-minute briefing, The Raleigh News & Observer emphasized his response to this question—which was the last one he took—and presented what we believe now, after viewing the meeting videotape, was a skewed view of the Governor’s message. We quoted The N&O as a source on the briefing and feel compelled to set the record straight.  

In his response to a question about “depoliticizing” the pandemic now that the election is over, Governor Cooper said that he believes depoliticization will be “a natural occurrence” and more people will begin to look at the pandemic “wholistically,” for example, seeing the pandemic and the repressed economy as connected.

The Governor earlier reiterated his preventive message of wearing a mask and social distancing and said, as he has said on numerous occasions, that “facts” and “scientific data” will guide his decision-making going forward.

“Our numbers remain high,” he said, in reference to daily COVID-19 case reports statewide. “. . . We need to get these numbers down, and we know how” [Observing] the three Ws.”

North Carolina hit a single-day record high of 2,908 COVID-19 cases on Friday, and had more than 4,700 more cases reported over the weekend, and its COVID-19 positive rate has been between 6 and 7 percent for the past week.

In her presentation of North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics, Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, used her catch phrase, “behind the mask,” to advise how people can protect themselves and stop the spread of the virus.

“If they don’t live with you, get behind the mask,” Dr. Cohen said to discourage people from socializing without protection with people who do not live in their own households.

Advocating that people should “take care of others” by taking the “simple, low-cost precaution” of mask-wearing, she said, “Show that we care about each other by getting behind the mask.”

Dr. Cohen also stressed that a person could be infected by COVID-19 “for many, many days” and not show any symptoms.

Governor Cooper said he understands that life with COVID-19 is “difficult and tiring,” and he relates to “the frustration and fatigue” people must feel, but he encouraged all North Carolinians to continue to be “vigilant.”

The Governor’s current executive order, which has North Carolina “paused” in Phase Three of its reopening, is set to expire this Friday at 5 p.m. It is likely that the pause will be extended for another two or three weeks.

HOW YOU CAN GET TESTED

In response to a question from a reader last week about how you can get tested for COVID-19 in Dare County, we offer the following information, which is available on the DCDHHS website athttps://www.darenc.com/departments/health-human-services/coronavirus/covid-19-testing-copy:

If you have symptoms, the DCDHHS advises you to call your doctor’s office to discuss them. This consultation is being called a triage.

Clinicians can consider testing for COVID-19 any patient who has a fever of 100.4 degrees F. or higher; a cough; chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; muscle pain; a headache; a sore throat and/or new loss of or alteration of taste or smell.

In assessing patients, clinicians (healthcare providers) observe testing guidelines issued by the NCDHHS and are testing every day in Dare County.

If you are symptomatic and have been evaluated in a phone triage by a healthcare provider as being in need of a test, you may be tested at one of the following testing centers, instead of in your doctor’s office, but you should call ahead:

Beach Medical, Nags Head, call (252) 261-4187

Outer Banks Urgent Care, Kitty Hawk, call (252) 449-7474

Outer Banks Urgent Care Center & Family Medicine, Nags Head, (252) 261-8040

Surf Pediatrics & Medicine (for established patients only), Kill Devil Hills, (252) 449-5200

At least this is how I read the DCDHHS’s information on testing. I have only known individuals who have been tested in their physicians’ offices; all have received their results within two days.

If you are asymptomatic, you have only one option, as far as I can tell, and that is to go to the Outer Banks Testing Center in Nags Head. Call (252) 449-6175.

In last week’s briefing, Dr. Cohen recommended that people get a COVID-19 “screening test” before traveling or gathering with a group for the holidays.

For answers to any questions you may have, call the DCDHHS COVID-19 Call Center, at (252) 475-5008. The center is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Once you are tested, the DCDHHS advises, you are considered a Person Under Investigation and are required to isolate immediately at home and to remain in isolation until your test results are returned as negative or, in the event of a positive result, the following has occurred:

*You have had no fever for at least 72 hours, without using medicine to reduce your fever, AND

*Other symptoms have improved, AND

*At least seven days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

The best advice about testing is: Call ahead.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 11/8/20

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