KENANSVILLE, Duplin County — During Governor Roy Cooper's coronavirus briefing on Monday afternoon, Duplin County was one of nine counties across the state considered a place of concern due to a high number of coronavirus cases.
“Our Department of Health and Human Services team is pushing assistance to local health departments," he said, "especially in counties experiencing the highest growth: Alamance, Duplin, Durham, Forsythe, Guilford, Johnston, Lee, Mecklenburg, and Wake.”
As of Tuesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 1,228 positive cases - a number that County Manager Davis Brinson says is cause for concern.
“I’m concerned for my citizens," he says. "And we’re doing all that we can to try to protect the citizens of the county and get them the resources they need.”
He says officials at the Duplin County Health Department are in close contact with state health officials on a daily basis.
“We do seem to have a disproportionate share of positive cases in Duplin County, and I think that’s due to some socioeconomic barriers, some health disparities in the counties and some outbreaks in congregate living facilities," he explains.
He adds that the county has many processing plants but says they are all doing what they can to minimize exposure and communicate with local leaders.
“Our meat processing plants are doing an excellent job working with health care professionals at the health department to help to minimize some of the exposure to the workers and their plants," he explains.
On Tuesday, the health department and NCDHHS announced a new initiative to expand coronavirus testing and contact tracing in the county.
“The state has told us they’re going to send us additional testing supplies," Brinson says, "and also, the state is going to send us more contact tracers.”
Those in Duplin County can now use online tools to determine if they should be tested and find a local testing site; an online platform is also available for those advised to track their symptoms:
“There are a number of testing sites located within Duplin County, so if you feel that you should be tested, then call your primary care provider or visit the new online tool to identify a local testing site,” says Duplin County Health Director Tracey Simmons-Kornegay.
The state will also use a new platform to integrate contact tracing efforts across North Carolina; the county health department will transition to the new software in the coming weeks.
“These new COVID-19 testing tools and resources help North Carolinians have the support and information they need to take care of themselves and their loved ones,” explains NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “When more people get tested, and we all work alongside the COVID-19 Community Team to do our part with contact tracing, we can protect our loved ones and slow the spread of the virus.”
Brinson adds that the state plans to send more personal protective equipment and face coverings not only for healthcare workers, but also for the general public.