The Edgecombe County Health Department announced Tuesday that another person has died from COVID-19 in that county.

The announcement brings the death toll from COVID-19 in that county to 10. The Edgecombe County Health Department has refused to provide any information about the cases or deaths, including the race, age and gender of the victims.

The number of new cases in Edgecombe County also is seeing a surge as 42 new cases were reported Tuesday, increasing the cumulative number of positive cases from 407 reported on July 16 to 449 cases reported as of Tuesday. The Edgecombe County Health Department only reports case totals on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Of the 449 cases reported so far, 382 people are considered recovered.

Edgecombe County is the focus of a new initiative by the state Department of Health and Human Services to reach underserved communities with greater testing efforts.

The DHHS announced last week that it is holding a number of community testing events in Edgecombe, Halifax, Hertford, Johnston, Northampton, Sampson and Wake counties as part of an initiative to increase access to free COVID-19 testing for historically marginalized communities that currently have limited testing sites.

While the Edgecombe County Health Department will not release any demographic information that informs the public who is most at risk in the county, the DHHS chose Edgecombe County to be part of this effort because it apparently has disproportionate rates of COVID-19 cases among certain demographic groups.

According to a statement from the DHHS, a disproportionately high percentage of North Carolina’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred among historically marginalized populations. Mounting evidence shows that members of these populations experience higher rates of COVID-19 mortality and serious complications.

“People who may not currently have symptoms but may have been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested — especially people from historically marginalized communities, including Latinx/Hispanic, Black/African American and American Indian populations,” the statement from the DHHS said.

In addition, testing is a priority for anyone who has symptoms or people who may have been exposed to COVID-19, including:

  • Anyone who has attended a mass gathering, including a protest.
  • Anyone who works in a setting at higher risk of exposure such as a grocery store, restaurant, gas station or child care program.
  • People who live or work in high-risk settings such as long-term facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities or food processing facilities.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, the COVID-19 Community Team will reach out to them and connect them with needed supports. People should answer the call when the COVID-19 Community Team reaches out, the statement said. They also may get a text message from the number 45394 or email from NC-ARIAS-NoReply@dhhs.nc.gov with further instructions.

The press release stated that there is no cost for COVID testing through this program.

Several community testing events will be held in Edgecombe County in the next few days, according to the information provided by the DHHS.

Testing will be provided by the Edgecombe County Health Department from 9 to 11:30 a.m. today at the Pinetops Town Hall at 101 E. Hamlet St. in Pinetops. Call 252-985-4100 for more information.

Testing will be provided by Vidant Health from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Conetoe Family Life Center at 204 N. Railroad St. in Conetoe. Testing also will be available at this location from 4-7 p.m. Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday. Call 252-847-8000 for more information.

Testing also will be provided by Vidant Health from 4-7 p.m. today at the Living Waters Ministries Community Church in Pinetops. Testing also will be available at this location from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and from 4-7 p.m. Friday. Call 252-847-8000 for more information.

The Edgecombe County Health Department also will offer testing from 9-11:30 a.m. on July 27 and July 29 at the Tarboro Leggett Volunteer Fire Department at 29 Draughn Road in Tarboro. Call 252-985-4100 for more information.

Find more information about upcoming testing events by going to https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/about-covid-19/testing/find-my-testing-place/pop-testing-sites.