WENTWORTH — Rockingham County’s 16 COVID-19 cases are believed to be connected to one church, the county’s Interim Public Health Director Susan Young said Friday during the county government’s weekly public access broadcast, “Rockingham County 411.’’

By Friday, the county’s case total had climbed to include two new patients, both in their 50s, Young said during the broadcast.

Using contact tracing, a public health investigatory technique that maps and tests all of an infected person’s associates, county health officials were able to identify the source for the respiratory virus.

“We kinda traced most of our cases back to a congregate area where there was people who, at the very beginning of this (the pandemic), attended some events … actually, a youth rally,’’ Young said during the broadcast. “And then it (COVID-19) kind of went into a church congregation and kinda rapidly spread that way, and that’s kinda where all our cases kinda had originated.’’

Young did not identify the church. She has said in recent weeks that the county’s positive cases include individuals who live all across the county, naming Reidsville, Stoneville and Madison as towns in which patients reside.

While the state does not require its 100 counties to conduct such contact tracing, Young said her staff has gone the extra step to identify coronavirus cases early. Most cases are identified after patients are admitted to area hospitals and test positive. From there, the county “tests around those positive cases, and we are finding other cases that way,’’ Young said.

“(Cases) are still increasing,’’ Young said. “But it does seem to be a plateauing period where we are not seeing a great big jump all at one time in our numbers,’’ she said, explaining that social distancing had likely helped slow the case load.

Two Rockingham Countians have died of the virus. Both suffered from multiple underlying medical conditions. One patient was in their 60s, while the other was in their 70s.

In last week’s COVID-19 county update, Young had described four new cases diagnosed over the Easter weekend as being individuals in their 20s and 30s. During the broadcast, however, she instead described those patients as being in their teens and 20s.

This week’s county statistics provided by Young detail the 14 active coronavirus cases as including seven patients between 19 and 41 and seven over age 41. Four of those patients are hospitalized, seven have recovered and three are asymptomatic, the report shows.

Encouraging strict adherence to social distancing guidelines and shelter in place rules from the state, Young further cautioned that vaping can make users more susceptible to respiratory infections – a hallmark and often lethal symptom of COVID-19.

Susie C. Spear is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. She can be reached at 743-333-4101 and on Twitter @SusieSpear_RCN.​

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