Nash UNC Health Care Nurses

Nurses Ashley Waters, left, and Allison Chapel attend to a patient at Nash UNC Health Care.

COVID-19 is killing Edgecombe County residents at triple the rate of Nash County residents, according to information released Thursday by the Edgecombe County Health Department.

Michelle Etheridge, deputy director of the Edgecombe County Health Department, released information concerning the county’s most recent COVID-related death Thursday.

“We are sad to report that we now have nine deaths,” Etheridge said.

The Nash County Health Department has reported three COVID-related deaths among Nash County residents so far, even though its population is almost double that of Edgecombe County.

Though one additional person died, no new positive cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday in Edgecombe County. That number remains at 173 positive cases, of which 133 people are considered recovered.

The Nash County Health Department reported one new case on Thursday, bringing the total number of positive test results in that county to 164. Of that number, four people are hospitalized, 50 are isolated at home and 107 are considered recovered.

In response to the growing number of people testing positive in the Twin Counties, Nash UNC Health Care officials announced Thursday that a new layer of safety measures will be implemented at the hospital to protect patients, staff and visitors from the spread of the virus.

Beginning on Tuesday, all patients and visitors will be issued a mask upon arrival if they do not already have one and will be required to wear the mask while in patient care areas unless special circumstances warrant alternative protective measures, according to a press release from the hospital.

Nash UNC Health Care continues to limit visitors and requires screening of all patients, visitors and staff before entering its facilities. Details on visitor restrictions, entry points and screenings can be found on the nashunchealthcare.org/coronavirus webpage.

“These measures are added layers of protection against the spread of COVID-19 and allow us to continue to provide safe and quality medical care to our community,” Lee Isley, president and CEO of Nash UNC Health Care, said in the release. “We continue to adapt our operations and approach based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, UNC Health’s infectious disease experts and state and local health departments.”

Patients who go to an outpatient appointment or undergo an outpatient procedure also are affected by these more stringent policies.

These patients are asked a series of medical screening questions when they call for the scheduling or registration of the appointment and again when they arrive at the facility. If the patient or visitor demonstrates risk factors during the entry point screening process, they may be subject to a temperature check or directed to self-isolate and contact their primary care provider or their local health Department.

Select outpatient clinics are requiring temperature checks of all patients based on the risk profile of their patient population or the type of medical service they will be receiving. For example, the Cancer Center is taking temperatures for all patients due to the immunocompromised status of its patients.

Patients undergoing outpatient rehabilitation also have to undergo such checks due to the close proximity of the staff member and patient for prolonged periods of time.

Other safety measures in place include the spacing of appointments and of chairs in lobbies to ensure social distancing, encouraging proper hand hygiene and enhanced cleaning between patients, including more frequent deep cleaning of facilities.

Additionally, all staff continuously are self-monitoring for temperature and symptoms, are screened upon entry for every shift and wear proper personal protective equipment throughout the entire care process to protect patients and themselves, the press release said.