COVID-19 Coronavirus Infections Viruses

WENTWORTH — Rockingham County health officials reported the second COVID-19-related death in two weeks on Monday, a seventh death by Wednesday, and health authorities shared new information about how they believe patients are contracting the coronavirus.

The sixth Rockingham victim of the coronavirus is described as age 80-95 and suffering from underlying health conditions, said Susan Young, interim director of the county’s public health department. Details about the seventh deceased patient were unavailable Wednesday afternoon. Privacy laws prohibited officials from disclosing the patient’s name.

County case numbers climbed roughly 6.5% from Friday to Wednesday when lab-confirmed COVID-19 patients tallied 446.

Health investigators known as contact tracers have interviewed 371, or  about 84%, of the county’s patients, to try and understand how they were infected. Officials were unable to obtain information from the 75 patients who make up the balance of the reported cases, Young explained.

Most transmission has happened within families, the tracing study shows. Out of 371 patients, 109, or about 29%, are believed to have contracted the virus from a family member.

Health officials attribute illness in 28 patients, or about 7.5% of the group, to exposure to COVID-19 while on vacation. Social contact caused 45 infections, about 12% of known cases, data showed. While 66, or 17.8% of patients, were infected from an unknown source, 10 cases, or 2.7%, were linked to religious institutions.

As the state and nation grapple with steep case numbers and high hospitalization rates, Rockingham County is witnessing a steep increase in infection, as well.

For instance, since July 17, when cases numbered 356, the county of 91,000 has seen about a 24% surge in diagnosed patients. Since June 23, when the county’s sick roster numbered 177, cases have grown by about 149%. Infectious disease experts estimate that for every diagnosed case of COVID-19, there are likely 100 more that have yet to be identified.

Meanwhile, Rockingham’s neighboring Guilford County, as well as bordering Virginia counties, have seen case spikes and infection in nursing and daycare centers.

Of the county’s 442 patients, 259 have recovered, while 159 are at home recovering quarantined.

Nine patients are hospitalized, a higher than average number for the rural county that typically sees one or two COVID-19 inpatients per week. The county reports no known asymptomatic patients.

The five other Rockingham Countians who have died from COVID-19 were over 60 and each had preexisting medical conditions, according to data from the Rockingham County Department of Health and Human Services.

County testing centers and doctors’ offices have administered 8,143 coronavirus tests, discovering a positive rate of roughly 5%, statistics show. The relatively high rate is likely due to the fact that the county has done far less testing than larger urban areas where positive rates compute much lower.

While 223 of the county’s patients are over 40, RCDHHS statistics show 215 are younger.

Statewide, 116,087 people have contracted COVID-19 and 1,820 have died from the highly contagious disease.

Individuals who suspect they might be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should call their primary care provider to discuss their symptoms so appropriate steps can be taken to protect themselves and others. Testing sites are available throughout the county.

For more information from the Rockingham County Health Dept., visit: www.rockinghamcountydhhs.org.

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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