States: Aid for those infected; masks slow the spread; COVID updates

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     A new North Carolina program provides assistance for those ordered to isolate or quarantine following a COVID-19 positive test, and a new report shows face masks slow the spread of the disease.

     This post will cover these topics and may be updated:

  • NC program aides those who test COVID positive
  • DHEC: Masks slow the spread
  • Two new cases for Columbus?
  • Horry shows 34 new infections

NC program aides those who test COVID positive

     Residents of Columbus and 20 other North Carolina counties who are asked to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 may qualify for state assistance for food, relief payments, or to access primary medical care under contracts awarded Tuesday, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced

     “Treating any health matter, including COVID-19, is much more than arriving at a diagnosis” said DHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “We have to treat the whole person and that includes making sure they have enough food to eat, have a safe place to isolate, and can meet basic living expenses while missing work.

     “This is an investment in our community well-being and slowing the spread of this devastating virus.”

     Anyone who tests positive for or has been exposed to COVID-19 needs to quarantine or isolate for as long as 14 days, meaning that they need to separate themselves from others, including anyone in their household. Many North Carolinians struggle to safely quarantine and still meet basic needs.

     The COVID-19 Support Services program is a new effort to provide the supports needed so anyone who needs to isolate or quarantine can do so. This effort is slated to run through late 2020 and DHHS will assess its impact.

     ADLA, Inc. was awarded the contract for the region that includes Columbus County.

     When someone tests positive for or has been exposed to COVID-19, they receive a call from a health professional providing guidance on what to do to protect themselves, their families and their community.

     In Columbus and the other 19 counties, people who need help to successfully meet that guidance will be connected to a Community Health Worker who will coordinate needed services, which may include nutrition assistance, access to primary medical care via telehealth, medication deliver, and/or COVID related over-the-counter supplies such as face masks, hand sanitizer, thermometer or cleaning supplies.

     The COVID-19 Support Services program builds on NCDHHS’ nationally recognized work to address non-medical drivers that impact a person’s health such as food, housing and transportation. It does this by tapping into the infrastructure the Department has built to “buy health” and not just health care.

     A foundational component of this ongoing work is NCCARE360, the nation’s first statewide technology platform that enables health and community-based organizations to make electronic referrals, communicate in real time, securely share client information and track outcomes together.

DHEC: Masks slow the spread

     Communities with mandatory mask requirements in place continue to see a slower rate of COVID-19 spread than communities without those rules, South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reported Tuesday.

     “The data continues to reinforce what we’ve already known about proper wearing of masks and their success in helping to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC physician. ”Wearing a mask every day in public is critical, however, not all face coverings provide the same protection. A recent study by Duke University shows that neck gaiters may be among the least effective types of face coverings for preventing the spread of respiratory droplets.”

     Neck gaiters are circular fabric tubes designed to be slipped on over the head, worn around the neck and pulled up over the mouth and nose. The Duke University study observed a high respiratory droplet count that passed through the neck gaiter tested in the study, although it is important to note that the effectiveness of neck gaiters can depend on the quality of material they’re made from.

     “A close-fitting face mask can be made from common household fabrics and can be very effective in preventing spread of the virus while also providing comfort and breathability,” Traxler said. ”We should regularly wash our reusable masks and properly dispose of temporary-use masks when they begin to show signs of wear.”

     While surgical grade N95 respirators provide the highest level of protection against the COVID-19, a close-fitting cloth mask made of cotton, polyester, polypropylene or cellulose can provide the best protection and the most breathability.

     Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend masks that have an exhalation valve or vent.

     Learn more about face masks and see a video for making one at home here.

Two new cases for Columbus?

     Incomplete data from North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services indicates either two or nine new COVID-19 case confirmations for Columbus County for Tuesday, with no newly confirmed deaths.

     Columbus County Health Department reports pandemic data each Monday and Thursday, DHHS updates its data dashboard daily.

     Health Department data Monday showed the county with 1,052 confirmed COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic, the DHHS data Tuesday showed, 1,054. However, Zip Code data from DHHS showed a total of nine new cases for Columbus, including three from the Tabor City area, one from Nakina and Cerro Gordo, two from Fair Bluff, and five from Whiteville.

     North Carolina reported 1,345 new COVID infections and 35 related deaths Tuesday, the pandemic total now 157,741 and 2,570 respectively.

     Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 were up by 52 from Monday, the total now 1,000. That brought the total of hospitalizations to four-digits for the first time since Friday.

Horry shows 34 new infections

     A two-day streak of fewer than 20 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases for Horry County ended Tuesday with 34 recorded, data from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control showed.

     Two of the newly confirmed COVID cases were in the Loris Zip Code, none in the Green Sea area. That brings the pandemic total of confirmed coronavirus cases for the Loris area to 532, 36 in Green Sea.

     Horry County has recorded 9,087 confirmed COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, and 168 deaths. There were no newly confirmed deaths for the county reported Tuesday, but DHEC is investigating one “probable” death related to the coronavirus, its data showed.

     Statewide South Carolina reported 909 new COVID cases and 18 new deaths Tuesday, the pandemic totals now 112,088 and 2,408 respectively.

     There were 1,025 COVID patients being treated in South Carolina hospitals Tuesday, that number up by 46 from Monday.

Updates

     Look for continuing coverage on local impacts from the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.