County two new coronavirus deaths

A third confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in Moore County, Heath Director Robert Wittmann told the County Commissioners Thursday afternoon. Due to privacy concerns, Wittmann could only say the case is that of a person who traveled outside North Carolina.

“As we go forward, there will be more cases, but we are united in overcoming this,” said Wittmann. “I would first stay vigilant, stay home as much as possible, and stay away from sick people. If you become sick, stay away from others, practice good personal hygiene and wash your hands often.”

Wednesday’s case was found to be unrelated to the two previous positive cases from March 18 and 19, according to the Moore County Board of Health.

Moore County Health Department did not reveal the identity of the second person due to the patient’s right to privacy.

A doctor with Firsthealth of the Carolinas was the county’s second case. OB/GYN physician John Byron recently traveled to Germany. It is believed Byron, of Southern Pines Women’s Health Center, contracted the virus while he was overseas.

FirstHealth said he began to self-quarantine when learning “Germany was added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of high alert countries.” FirstHealth announced Byron’s positive result for transparency due to him being a provider.

Wittmann spoke at an unprecedented online virtual meeting of the County Commissioners held using video conferencing software that allowed Chair Frank Quis to run the meeting remotely. Other board members, staff and visitors connected via a webcam or called into the meeting. The practice of using video conferencing will be used for commission meetings for the foreseeable future. 

The new meeting format was decided on guidance from health officials to practice social distancing. The new policy adopted by County Commissioners states, “During this time, it may not be possible or prudent for these public bodies to physically meet in their regular meeting places.”

FirstHealth, with the cooperation of the county, continues to operate a local drive-thru testing location for people that have been referred by their medical providers. Anyone that has COVID-19 symptoms is urged to contact their local health care provider, who are the only ones that can authorize a test. 

According to Wittmann, as of Wednesday afternoon, 67 people had been approved for drive-thru testing. There is an ample supply of test kits reported, but lab results are taking longer than expected due to high demand across the state.
“Be assured that due to the outstanding community response to social distancing, and remaining at home as much as possible, as well as the strong response for our medical community, the incidents of positive cases are being kept to a minimum by allowing our hospital to continue it’s outstanding care for our most critically ill patients,” Wittmann said.

“I can assure you although things will get worse before it gets better, together as a community, we will get through this.”   

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.



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