A Pasquotank County resident has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, Albemarle Regional Health Services officials said Thursday evening.
The regional health agency announced that ARHS Director R. Battle Betts Jr. had been notified of the region’s first lab-confirmed case of COVID-19.
The individual, a resident of Pasquotank County, is being isolated at their home, ARHS said in the release.
Amy Underhill, the spokeswoman for ARHS, could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management Coordinator Christy Saunders said Thursday she couldn’t release details about the individual.
But the Edenton-Chowan Schools announced Thursday that the spouse of a school district employee who works at D.F. Walker Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19.
The case of the spouse is believed to be the same case as the one reported in Pasquotank since both counties are covered by ARHS and the agency announced only one case.
The district said employment laws prohibit identification of the employee but said “the couple live outside Chowan County.”
The district said the school employee had not been in the Walker building since Monday. However, upon learning Thursday afternoon that the spouse of the employee had tested positive for coronavirus, the district said it had shut down the campuses of both D.F. Walker and White Oak Elementary schools.
The district also said it was following ARHS’ and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s instructions to disinfect all buildings based on CDC guidelines. It also said that out of an abundance of caution, all school campuses in the district will be closed on Friday and Monday for all employees and staff members. In addition, the schools’ meal service will be suspended until Tuesday.
“We will continue to notify the public, work with the health department, and take responsive measures as appropriate,” the school district said.
Pasquotank Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Dixon said news of Pasquotank’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 came as a shock. He said he first heard about it while attending a meeting of local officials who were discussing their response to the crisis.
“I think this is probably going to kick in reality to a lot of people,” Dixon said.
It’s hard to deny the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak when there’s a case here, he said.
Health officials are working to identify others who might have come into contact with the infected person and notify them, Dixon said. That’s probably the most urgent task right now, he said.
Saunders said no new measures are being put in place as a result of the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Pasquotank.
“We have already put in place a lot of precautions,” she said. “We have already done a lot.”
Chief Eddie Buffaloe of the Elizabeth City Police Department also said there are no immediate plans for changes in department procedures as a result of the local confirmed case of COVID-19. He echoed Saunders’ assertion that significant precautions have already been taken.
Dixon also said he believes local officials are doing all they can right now.
Dixon also said he believes local citizens have pulled together well during the crisis. He said his only real concern has been the trend toward excessive stocking up on items like toilet tissue, water and cleaning supplies. He added that he hopes Thursday’s news of a positive test for coronavirus will not make the panic buying even worse.
ARHS repeated its request that citizens be vigilant in practicing preventive and safety measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.
These precautions include:
• Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Staying home when you are sick.
• Covering your cough or sneezing with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.
• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular householdcleaning spray or wipe.
• Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty
• Practicing social distancing by avoiding handshakes, hugs and other close contact.