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Health Department: COVID-19 cases rising steadily in Cumberland County

Fayetteville Observer - 7/28/2020

Jul. 28--The average number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily in Cumberland County has been going up steadily since the first of the month, according to the Cumberland County health director.

Dr. Jennifer Green of the Department of Public Health said 232 new COVID-19 cases were reported between the release of the Friday morning case report through Monday.

The county's case count now stands at 2,489 with 49 deaths, the department said Monday in a news release.

"We are in a challenging place right now," Green said Tuesday in an interview with The Fayetteville Observer. "We have the opportunity to slow down our spread of the virus. We need this community to accept the challenge. Right now, we're in a tough spot. We're not moving in the right direction. Our numbers for nearly every metric are moving in the wrong direction. Otherwise, we'll see the cases continue to increase."

In the health department release, Green said, "The average number of daily cases has been steadily climbing since the beginning of July. This level of community transmission stretches our resources to do contact tracing and testing thin. I am urging the public to continue to stay home when possible. When you are in public, wear your face mask and practice social distancing."

So what did the country health director attribute to this surge in positive COVID-19 cases? Green said in the interview that she thinks a series of different things are going on, boosting the number of cases here in Fayetteville and across Cumberland.

"One, we have the Fourth of July weekend. We know that people travel around, so there's going to be an uptick in cases," she said. "Another thing -- people are going to barbecues, getting together and watching fireworks. Earlier in July, while we might have seen an uptick over the first and second weeks of July.

"Also," Green added, "businesses are opening. They're going out and about. People are going to restaurants, retail shops. People are more out and about than before. That increases risk. We're going to a better job of testing. When there's more testing, you get more cases. More testing, more people out and about more. The Fourth of July and coming together and there's this mishmash. We're seeing an increase in cases."

Along with those reasons, Green added, people are probably getting a little tired of the coronavirus and how we have had to essentially hibernate in our homes as much as possible. They're exhausted from the pandemic.

"We know that face masks are mandatory. We're seeing less people doing the social distance thing. They don't like being forced into it. I think people are a little more relaxed than they were a few months ago. We're all tired of it. This is not the time "

community ahs done to slow the spread.d now see increase in cases and have to double down on social sistances, washing our hands and wearing face ccoveerings. Don't know if go back to normal, butgo back to where much more management.

Is this surprising to you? If so, why? If not, why?

Our state tended to lag behind other stars. Hit a burst, saw texas and florida. Nad now in our surge hreere in cumberland. Other case: not surprising to me we increased our number of cases. What surprised waas increase. Also summertime. People traveling to beach and visiting with friends. Unintentialyy bringing that back with them. Bringing the virus with them. No matter where live, if you travel and have virus, it's going to travel with you.

Are we the highest in the state at this time?

In trems of cases: not at this time. I think we're still. Don't know ranking number. Other counties ahead of us in number of cases have. Wake and mecklendburg come to mind. ...

We're not at top in terms f number of cases. We've certainly increased our daily average number of increase. ... doesn't mean we can relax. ... we still have our own concerns in our conmunitiy and managing those.

Is our two-week average still higher than the stat -- 10 percent as compared to 9 percent? they

Now our two week aveageis 9 percent. And the state's average is 7 percent. We've come down one percent from last week but still above state. Hight that world health organization of 5 percent. We have waays to go therte.

Are the hospitals able to handle this at this time? Are there enough beds, oxygen tank equipment, etc.

Direct to cape fear valley. ... data they have shared with us we have capacity in hospital (w/ what state department has in region, available icu beds, available hospital inpatient beds, venitolaotrs. For each, we have capacity, if someone came in today, we have place to putty them. ... . Have ventiloators alsohospitalized. ... we they do have capacity and we want to keep it that way. ... icu beds, ventilators, good news. We want t keep itthat way. As we saw w/ new york, that change very quickly. ... want to be avle to manager. ...

What has led to this?

What does the increase in cases say to you about where we are in terms of this virus?

We've got work to do in cumberland county. We really appreicate community sticking w/ us and hanging in there slow down spread. Numbers of evidence: we don't know where all the cases, where contracted virus. We have wor to do. We need to get back to place where more managmentble. We need to be diligent abut wearing face covering, diligent about social distancing, handwashing. Now absence of vaccine, those are things we can do. "We can wear, wait 6 feet apart and wash." Wearing face coverings.

Trump says increases across nation are due to additional testing. Is that the case here?

But that doesn't account for iall of it. We are ramping up testing. It is attributing to ourr inc rease in cases. Look at percent positive. Regardinless of tests,w hat percentage of testing. .... We still have strong evidence of community spread here.

Have any clusters been reported?

We define cluster as 5 cases or more. Outside of a congregate living setting. Within 28 days of each other and some link. ... weve had some clusters in congregate living ... we have cluster in child care setting. When seeing those, seeing staff and also children impacted. ...

What can we do about it? What measures can we take?

Have you looked at cases that may have originated at Lake Pines Swim Club? A reader's friend was there prior to when the young man drowned and said it was packed with we've people. People have wondered if that contributed to his death and/or some of these COVID 19 cases.

Can't speak specifically.

In terms of COVID, how would you describe the state of Cumberland County?

We are in a challenging palce right now. We have opportunity to slow down our spread of the virus. We need the community to accept that challenge. Right now we'rein a tough spot. We're not moving in right direction. Our numbers for nearly every metric is moving up in the wrong direction. Otherwise see cases continue to increasse.

Daily average of cases, (in may maybe 20, 10 casees in day. Noow 60, 70, 80 fcases in day. That daily average continues to increase. Percentage of tests come back positive also increase. ... Daily number of cases; hospitalizations; that increasing in cumberland. We need to make sure while we have capacity in hjosptial make sure we keep it that way.



Meanwhile, the health department continues to offer drive-thru testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays at Manna Church, 5117 Cliffdale Road. Thursday testing will relocate from the health department to Southview Baptist Church, 4089 Elk Road, Hope Mills, on Thursday and Aug. 13 to serve residents in the Hope Mills area.

Because of staff training, the health department will not conduct drive-thru test collection on Aug. 4 and Aug. 6.

Other test locations are listed on the health department's test and collection web page at

Test collection is by drive-up appointment only. Appointments can be made after completing the online assessment. For assistance with the online assessment, call 910-678-7657.

Also, because of the increased testing, results can take five to seven days to be returned, the department of health said. Those tested will receive a phone call with positive or negative results.

The department advises people to follow these three guidelines after testing for COVID-19:

? Quarantine at home and avoid others in your household as much as possible.

? Wait seven days before calling the health department for results because high call volumes slow response times.

? If tested with another person, do not anticipate your results will return on the same day.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Historically Marginalized Populations Work Group is sharing video messages in English and Spanish on the effects of the virus for the African American and Hispanic/LatinX communities.

Those video messages are intended to slow the spread of the virus.

The videos are available on YouTube @NCDHHS.

Staff writer Michael Futch can be reached at or 910-670-1842.


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