In the last four days, three more Columbus County residents died from COVID-19 complications, increasing the total number of deaths to 70, the county health department announced Thursday. The individuals passed away on Saturday, Monday and Thursday in the hospital.
“We offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to all of the individuals’ family and friends in this very difficult time,” the press release stated.
Overall, the county saw 206 more COVID-19 cases with 73 additional on Monday, 33 on Tuesday, 62 on Wednesday and 38 on Thursday, according to the county health department. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported that two days within the past week have recorded record-setting numbers of over 70 cases per day.
The total is now 2,455 cases with 837 active cases and nine hospitalizations, according to the county health department. Approximately 1,618 residents have recovered.
The county health department press releases stated that “of the 206 new COVID-19 cases, 84 can be attributed to correctional facilities and long-term care facilities in Columbus County.”
In addition, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety reported 27 active cases and 34 recoveries at Columbus Correctional Institution, along with 199 active cases and 156 recoveries at Tabor Correctional Institution. Tabor Correctional Institution still has the highest number of COVID-19 cases among state prisons, comprising 37% of the state’s total.
NCDHHS continued to classify Liberty Commons as an outbreak with seven cases.
Superintendent: Stay home, so schools can stay open
Marc Whichard, superintendent of Whiteville City Schools, said the school system had 11 people out due to new positive coronavirus tests as of Thursday morning. The total included one Whiteville Primary student, three Central Middle students, six students and one employee at Whiteville High and one employee at North Whiteville Academy. No school contacts of the infected people needed to be quarantined.
“We continue to stress to the community the importance of staying home if you have any of the identified symptoms of COVID-19,” Whichard said. “In addition, the community has to understand the critical nature of our schools remaining open. In-person instruction is the best method to positively impact student learning. In order for schools to functionally remain open, the community has to assist us with staying safe and following instructions that have demonstrated effectiveness in combating the virus.”
Columbus County Schools had six positive tests by Thursday morning. Cerro Gordo Elementary, South Columbus High and West Columbus High each had one infected student; Williams Township had two. At the central offices, one staff member was infected and two people in contact with that patient were quarantined.
County schools will conduct all instruction remotely Monday through Wednesday next week, Superintendent Deanne Meadows announced Wednesday afternoon.
Columbus Charter School had no new positive tests by presstime, “but we now have 21 students quarantined due to contact with someone more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period,” Headmaster Steve Smith said.
Thomas Academy had “no problems, no cases and no quarantines,” Principal George Ward III said Thursday morning.
Columbus Christian Academy had one individual with a positive test since last report a week ago. No school contacts of the person needed to be quarantined, Principal Jennifer Noble said Thursday.