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Halifax County Health Director Bruce Robistow this afternoon confirmed there is a cluster of positive novel coronavirus cases within the department of social services.

Currently, he said he doesn’t have the accurate numbers but did say a cluster is defined as five or more people.

In response to the outbreak Robistow said, “The county has sent forth mandatory guidelines on how people are to follow the Three 3Ws and other guidelines in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The outbreak started last week and the department’s interim director contacted Robistow with concern for the positive cases. “I discussed all the guidelines and rules set forth. I did an in-person visit and did a thorough inspection of the work environment as well as held a department meeting with staff members and educated and answered questions regarding mitigation.”

Robistow said the health department’s investigation showed the work environment at DSS “is quite satisfactory and conducive to ensuring a safe work environment for all staff. It’s obvious there is compliance and enforcement of the Three Ws — handwashing, wearing a mask, and waiting 6-feet apart — at the worksite. Investigation did find, however, that compliance outside the work environment has been less impressive.”

Anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 has been isolated.

Robistow said while at work employees are instructed to clean their workspaces frequently and follow other established guidelines. “According to my observation, DSS is a safe environment to work and promote the mitigation of the spread of COVID-19.”

Daily report

In its daily update the health department added 22 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus bringing the cumulative total since testing began in March to 1,412.

There have been 27 deaths related to COVID-19 in Halifax County with the following breakdown: 17 within the Roanoke Rapids area ZIP code; three within the Weldon area ZIP code; two within the Enfield area ZIP code; two within the Scotland Neck area ZIP code; one within the Halifax area ZIP code; one within the Hollister area ZIP code; and one within the Littleton area ZIP code.

Information on recoveries and current cases was not immediately available this afternoon.

In the graph charting daily lab confirmed cases from March 25 to today, a decrease in the trend is shown.

Robistow said, however, “Although the trend line appears to be declining, the daily reported cases remain above 15 per day which is an increase not previously experienced.”

In the chart documenting cases by race and ethnicity the numbers, which peaked in July, have remained the same for the past week.

The chart which shows the percent of positive tests as a proportion of total electronic lab reporting shows a decrease over the past week with a two-week average of 11.5 percent. 

This chart, the health department said, “gives us an idea of the number of cases with respect to the amount of testing being done. These are only calculated using results from labs that report to the state. 

The 25-49 and the 50-64 age group continue to represent the largest ones who have tested positive the past week.

There has been a decrease in the number of new cases within congregate living facilities, a number which peaked in early July.

Northampton County

The health department reported Tuesday there were 581 total positive cases of which 514 have recovered. There were 48 active cases. There have been 19 related deaths.