The number of COVID-19 cases over the past week in Nash County has increased from four to 17 and the number of cases in Edgecombe County has increased from one to five, bringing the total number of Twin Counties cases to 22 as of press time Friday.

Of the 17 cases in Nash County, eight of those residents still are hospitalized and nine remain at home, Nash County Health Director Bill Hill told members of the Nash County COVID-19 emergency team on Friday morning. Nash County continues to have a much higher than average rate of hospitalizations related to the novel coronavirus, a statistic Hill attributes to the general age and level of health among the Nash County victims of COVID-19.

One of those COVID-19 victims was newly announced on Friday. The latest case involves the wife of a previously confirmed case, Hill said. Neither of those people are hospitalized.

But Hill did offer good news.

“Three of these people appear to have recovered from the coronavirus and are symptom-free and seem to have no complications,” Hill said.

But in answer to a question from Nash County Manager Zee Lamb, Hill said that these cases have not yielded negative test results as of yet.

“Only one of those people that have recovered have had a repeat nasal swab test and that test still came out positive,” Hill said. “We are seeing that these positive results can sometimes linger up to 21 days from onset. The state is recommending that most people can return to work when they have gone seven days without any symptoms and 72 hours without any fever.”

But Hill said it ultimately is up to the employer to decide when recovering victims should return to work.

“That will often depend on their job situation and their risk of infecting others,” Hill said. “A health care professional, for instance, would be at higher risk of infecting someone else.”

In answer to a question from Lamb about whether a person who recovered could be infected again, Hill said that is not clear, though he felt it is unlikely to happen.

“We would hope that people who have this strain that they would have a natural immunity and not relapse — but that is not certain at this time,” he said.

Hill also gave out more information concerning the demographic breakdown of the Nash County victims of COVID-19. Of the 17 cases, four have involved Hispanic residents, five have involved African-American residents and eight have involved white residents, Hill said.

One new case also was announced Friday in Edgecombe County, bringing the total in that county to five. None of those cases appear to be related to one another, Edgecombe County Health Director Karen Lachapelle said.

Wilson County Heath Director Teresa Ellen reported Friday that Wilson County had suffered its first COVID-19-related death on Thursday.

Ellen said the woman was in her early 60s and had underlying health conditions.

Statewide, 2,093 cases of COVID-19 have been reported as of Friday morning, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources. Roughly 259 patients are hospitalized across the state with COVID-19 symptoms and 19 people have died from complications of the coronavirus.