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COVID-19 impacts HCPS

Hertford County Public Schools has confirmed that a small number of their staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

The number of those with the virus as well as the location of where they work was not made public, either by the school system or from local/state health officials. It is believed that no official report was made available due to there are less than five cases per campus. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services defines a COVID-19 cluster as a minimum of five laboratory confirmed cases within a single location.

“There’s not a lot we’re able to say at this point due to personnel issues,” stated HCPS Superintendent Dr. William T. Wright Jr. on Friday. “As we learn of cases we are able to perform contact tracing and advise of the need to get tested and/or quarantine.”

Amy C. Underhill, Healthy Communities Coordinator with Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS), said they have been facilitating bi-weekly meetings with school personnel across the eight counties they serve, providing guidance and support.

“Our communicable disease staff have regular communication with the schools when cases arise and further investigation is warranted. Investigation and contact tracing efforts within the schools as well as sharing migration strategies with staff are continuing to take place when there is a positive case reported to us,” Underhill said.

“Each school system will make their own decisions on what types of information they will be releasing. NC DHHS will also be releasing information on clusters in schools as well,” she added.

Hertford County Public Schools is currently using a virtual educational format due to the ongoing pandemic, meaning no students are on any of its campuses at least until mid-October. Additionally, all athletic contests have been postponed until late November.

Meanwhile, ARHS is reporting a rise in the local death toll from COVID-19 as the virus claimed eight more lives this week (seven in Hertford County and one in Bertie County). Seven were over the age of 65 while one was in the 25-49 year age range.

Underhill confirmed that all eight were residents at Accordious Creekside Care & Rehab in Ahoskie. There, 71 individuals have tested positive (55 residents and 16 staff members).

Local outbreaks were also reported at the Windsor House in Windsor (20 cases: 16 residents with one death, and 4 staff); Brian Center Health & Rehab in Windsor (8 cases: 6 staff, and 2 residents); Gates House of Gatesville (6 cases: 5 staff, and 1 resident); Bertie Correctional of Windsor (39 cases: 14 staff, and 25 inmates); and Rivers Correctional of Winton (16 cases: 9 staff, and 7 inmates).

There was also a cluster (5 teachers and 1 student) reported two weeks ago at Ahoskie Christian School.

Since the outbreak began in March, COVID-19 numbers in the Roanoke-Chowan area are:

Bertie County – 507 cases: 32 active, 468 recovered, and 7 deaths;

Gates County – 103 cases: 15 active, 85 recovered, and 3 deaths;

Hertford County – 628 cases: 75 active, 528 recovered, and 25 deaths; and

Northampton County – 412 cases: 32 active, 363 recovered, and 17 deaths.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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