The state Department of Health and Human Services reported the first official outbreak of COVID-19 in a congregate living facility in the Twin Counties.

The Edgecombe Health and Rehabilitation Center has two confirmed cases of COVID-19, one reported in a staff member and one reported in a resident. This information was updated by the state on Friday afternoon.

According to information provided by the DHHS, “in a congregate living setting, a COVID-19 outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases.”

The state has begun releasing more information about outbreaks in congregate living facilities in order to inform the public about potential trouble spots, as such facilities are one of the largest sources of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

More information about these reports can be found at https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/dashboard/Weekly-COVID19-Ongoing-Outbreaks.pdf.

A statement from the DHHS said the department will update the report two times per week that will include the names of facilities where there is an ongoing outbreak and the number of positive COVID-19 cases at the facility.

“As this pandemic continues to evolve, we continually reassess the appropriateness of data reporting to balance transparency, public health and individual privacy,” according to the statement.

The Edgecombe County Health Department, which has taken a stance against reporting the number of hospitalizations or demographic data related to COVID-19 cases in the county, has not yet released any statement about the outbreak.

No COVID-related deaths have yet been reported at the facility.

So far, no Nash County congregate living facilities have been reported by the state as having an outbreak.

According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, an outbreak is considered over if there is no evidence of continued transmission in the facility. This is measured as 28 days after the latest date of onset in a symptomatic person or the latest date of specimen collection in an asymptomatic person, whichever is later.

The Edgecombe County Health Department does report the cumulative number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the county. As of Friday afternoon, that number had reached 300. Of that number, 259 people are considered recovered and nine have died.

The number of Nash County COVID-19 cases is approaching the 400 mark, Nash County Health Director Bill Hill reported Friday. As of Friday afternoon, 388 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nash County. Of that number, 126 people are isolated at home, 233 are considered recovered and four have died.

As of Friday, 25 Nash County residents remain hospitalized for COVID-19. That number is well above average for the county and only slightly below the peak number of 26 hospitalizations. Hill said Friday that he is somewhat concerned that the number of hospitalizations among county residents is increasing even as state numbers are coming down.

However, Hill said that he feels confident that Nash UNC Health Care can handle the increased hospitalizations from area residents.

“From what I have been told by hospital staff, we still have more than 50 percent availability of COVID-19 beds at Nash UNC Health Care. The folks there have done a good job preparing for this,” Hill said.

Hill said the best protection that people have now is in wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining a proper social distance.

“We can’t rely on a vaccine anytime soon,” Hill said. “From what I am being told, a vaccine will likely not be widely available until sometime in 2021.”