News Flash

Health Department

Posted on: August 6, 2020

Wilkes Health Monitors New Outbreak

As of 4:00pm on 8/6/20, Wilkes Health has tested a total of 1,032 individuals at our testing site. Our total positive cases for Wilkes County since testing began is 770. Currently there are 653 cases recovered, 11 confirmed deaths and 55 confirmed hospitalizations- 5 currently hospitalized.

Wilkes Health is currently monitoring 2 active outbreaks, one at Westwood Hills Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Wilkes County Jail. There is currently 1 active COVID-19 cluster. Additional demographic information related to these cases is available at www.wilkeshealth.com.

The latest outbreak is at Wilkes County Jail, located at 502 Courthouse Drive, Wilkesboro, NC 28697. Wilkes County Jail is a minimum custody facility that houses up to 240 adult males and females. In a correctional facility, a COVID-19 outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases. Across the state there have been 40 outbreaks in correctional facilities with 2,520 positive cases, and 36 deaths.  An outbreak is considered over if there is no evidence of continued transmission within the facility within a 28-day period. Wilkes County Jail has reported 3 positive cases. Correctional and detention facilities can include custody, housing, education, recreation, healthcare, food service, and workplace components in a single physical setting.

Wilkes County Jail has taken measures to protect detainees and employees to decrease the chance of person to person transmission throughout the facility. Temperature and symptoms checks twice a day and monitoring other medical information beyond what is normally required since March 2020. The facility is reinforcing the importance of staff staying home when sick or to meet childcare needs, as well as restricted visitor access the center. The center implemented a zero (0) visitor policy beginning in March 2020. They are also providing personal protective equipment and employing social distancing policies where possible.

“Wilkes County Jail has already been working to closely follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in mitigation steps taken at the center” said Rachel Willard, Health Director Wilkes Health. Willard added that “Our Communicable Disease Team has been in constant communication with the center and they have been given all the necessary guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and NC DHHS. Wilkes Health has been speaking when needed with the center regarding employee and detainee health and any new recommendations that are developed.” Wilkes Health has worked with the facility to identify a process for how to manage confirmed cases and close contacts to cases.

The 3 persons with COVID-19 are now in self-isolation. The facility can house up to 240 adult males and females.

“We feel that this is an isolated incident. All persons who came in contact with the positive cases were immediately put on self-isolation”, said Major Logan Kerr of the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office.

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