Mon Aug 3, 2020

About 4,000 tested for COVID-19 in Columbus; case count rises to 452

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Goshen Medical Center Outreach Coordinator Brian Rhodes, left, and provider Aixa Kimes, FNP, gather information before testing residents for COVID-19 in Fair Bluff Tuesday.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Columbus County rose to 452 on Thursday, according to the county health department.

Two cases were confirmed Thursday, 12 on Wednesday, seven on Tuesday and one on Monday evening. Eight other cases confirmed Monday were included the county’s previous report.

No new deaths have been reported since Monday.

The 452 total number of cases includes 33 deaths and 264 recoveries. Thirteen Columbus County residents were hospitalized due to COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon, the health department said.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services releases the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths by zip code, but the numbers don’t always match those released by the county health department because of timing differences.

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Data from DHHS on Thursday:

  • 28423: (Bolton) 13 cases, 0 deaths
  • 28430: (Cerro Gordo) 16 cases, 0 deaths
  • 28431: (Chadbourn) 75 cases 5 deaths
  • 28432: (Clarendon) 12 cases, 0 deaths
  • 28436: (Delco) 3 cases, 0 deaths
  • 28438: (Evergreen) 10 cases, 0 deaths
  • 28439: (Fair Bluff) 22 cases, 4 deaths
  • 28442: (Hallsboro) 9 cases, 0 deaths
  • 28450: (Lake Waccamaw) 27 cases, 3 deaths
  • 28455: (Nakina) 7 cases, 2 deaths
  • 28456: (Riegelwood) 19 cases, 0 deaths
  • 28463: (Tabor City) 103 cases, 10 deaths
  • 28472: (Whiteville) 133 cases, 9 deaths

Federal funds

The Columbus County Health Department will receive $306,136 in federal funding to support COVID-19 response, the state announced Tuesday.

The money is part of $35 million in federal funding that DHHS is passing through to local health departments. Federal guidelines specify that counties can use the money to support COVID-19 staffing, infection controls, testing and tracing, IT infrastructure and data sharing and visualization.

Each local health department will receive a base allocation of $90,000 per county with additional funding based on population size and their “cumulative positive COVID-19 caseload,” DHHS said.

Because Columbus County has been hard hit by COVID-19, it is receiving more funding than some other counties with larger populations but fewer cases of the coronavirus. For example, neighboring Brunswick County, with a population of 73,143, is getting $292,783 compared to Columbus, with a population of 55,508, which will receive $306,136.

Daniel Buck, a spokesman for Columbus County Health Department, said the money will be used to hire personnel for COVID-19 investigation and case management.

“There will be more to come, but that is the only decision that has been made for now,” Buck said.

DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen praised the work of local health departments.

“Since the start of the pandemic our local health departments have been working around the clock to protect their communities and slow the spread of the virus,” Cohen said. “These funds continue to support their ability to address the overwhelming demands they are facing.”

Testing

The Columbus County Health Department announced on Thursday that “there have been approximately 4,000 COVID-19 tests completed in Columbus County to date.”

The health department partnered with Goshen Medical Center to offer COVID-19 testing at various sites throughout the county over the last week. Testing is scheduled for Tuesday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Bug Hill Senior Center, 11300 N.C. 905 in Nakina. The service is available at no out-of-pocket cost.

Goshen Outreach Coordinator Brian Rhodes and Family Nurse Practitioner Aixa Kimes traveled from health provider’s headquarters in Faison to conduct testing at the Fair Bluff Town Hall Tuesday. By mid-day, 26 people had been tested and others still were calling for appointments. And, although pre-testing publicity had indicated that people needed appointments, they weren’t turning away walk-ins who hadn’t made arrangements ahead of time.

“We don’t leave the office without at least 100 test kits,” said Rhodes, “and we are trying to accommodate people even if they don’t have an appointment.”

Nevertheless, people who want to be tested still are asked to call 910-267-2044 to make an appointment ahead of time.

Goshen has personnel performing testing throughout an eight-county area six days a week.

The test itself takes five minutes or less. A swab is taken from the nostril of the person being tested, and the more recent tests are not nearly as intrusive or uncomfortable as earlier tests which required swabs from deep within the nasal cavity, Rhodes said, and he would know. Goshen personnel involved in administering the tests themselves are tested weekly, and Rhodes has experienced all methods of testing, including the earlier more intrusive ones.

Testing occurs quickly, and people being tested don’t even have to get out of their cars. “When we get really, really busy we fill out the required paperwork and get people tested in three or four minutes total,” Rhodes said.

Test results are received back in three to five days and people who have been tested will receive telephone calls with their results, whether those results are positive or negative. Goshen will notify the health department of any positive test results and the health department will reach out to those with positive tests to determine how to best handle their individual situation.

Reporter Allen Turner contributed to this story. 

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august, 2020

08aug9:00 am1:00 pmKid’s Back-to-School Fun Day at Columbus County Farmers MarketThe first 200 school-age students will receive free school supplies.  Student must be present.

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