Craven County has 183 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 11 a.m. on May 24, 2020, up two in the last 24 hours and continuing a steep upward trajectory caused by a single outbreak cluster that started showing up in laboratory testing nearly two weeks ago.

Here are some points to ponder:

Active cases greatly outnumber recovered cases, and it’s getting worse

The number of active cases increased by two over the past 24 hours, and is now at 132 lab-confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, the number of recovered cases has barely changed during the course of this cluster spike.

There were 32 recovered cases on May 1 with 45 recovered cases by May 24.

Even worse, just 13 people recovered in the past three weeks, while the number of active cases went from six to 132 during that same period. Ten times more people got sick than got well.

With so many new cases, why are so few hospitalized?

Of the 132 active cases, three are hospitalized and the remaining 129 are quarantined and recuperating at home.

The cluster was first reported by health officials on May 13 when the total number of cases jumped by 10 in one day. Between May 13 and Sunday, known transmissions increased from 69 to 183 — 114 new cases.

During the 11-day period that the cluster has been growing, only eight people have been reported as recovered, while the number of total active cases increased by 106.

This is the kind of spike that causes virologists to lose sleep at night. It is the reason for isolation and social distancing … to keep the number of cases as low as possible in order to prevent cases from overwhelming local hospitals.

Puzzling, however, is the number of hospitalizations and the number of deaths — both of which have stayed relatively low (four deaths, with the first on April 9 and the fourth on April 24; and right around four hospitalizations during that period).

Health department officials, bound by federal privacy laws, release as little information about the cluster as possible.

We know most live in the 28562 ZIP code. We know they live and work in close proximity and commute to work. We know the source of the contagion came from a neighboring county

We can conclude that they are young and relatively fit, but also conclude that they lack health insurance and may not be citizens.

All those factors may play a role in whether they seek hospitalization if they need it and why the death rate (half that of the state as a whole) remains relatively low (although third highest in the region).

The cluster is isolated but frighteningly contagious

Three quarters of Craven County’s COVID-19 cases are contained entirely within this cluster of family, friends, and co-workers.

Continuing on with speculation, we suspect that it is a tight-knit group that stays to themselves. (With that many people sick, you would think SOMEHOW the word would get out about who they are.)

That might give everyone else an artificial feeling of safety. Of the 183 confirmed cases in Craven County, only 26 have caught the virus from unknown sources, a number that has remained relatively flat for a month and a half.

Then again, a few people brought the virus home from work, and before long, it spread to more than 130 family, friends, and co-workers in the space of about two weeks.

Anyone who still thinks COVID-19 is like the flu or a common cold, think about that.

No matter how isolated these people are, they or their symptom-free, untested relatives still have to venture out and shop for groceries — just about the only businesses that were open during the first two months of the lockdown.

And now we’re in Phase 2. Have you SEEN how close people have been and how large crowds have been over the long Memorial Day weekend?

* * *

Here’s the boilerplate info from the Craven County Health Department’s Sunday report.

Out of the 183 confirmed positive cases, 45 of those individuals have recovered, are doing well, and are out of isolation. The recovered cases completed the necessary isolation requirement and have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for at least 72 hours.

Of the 183 cases, seven have been related to out of state travel, 26 are from community transmission, and 150 are a direct contact with a previously confirmed positive case.  There have been four deaths related to COVID-19. Three of the active COVID-19 cases are currently hospitalized.

Craven County citizens are encouraged to use reputable sources of information to learn more about COVID-19 cases in Craven County and North Carolina.  Reputable sources of information include the Craven County Health Department and NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) websites.

When using the NCDHHS COVID-19 site to stay up to date, please keep in mind that county case numbers may change once residency is verified. Therefore, the total number on the county map may differ from the number of Craven County Cases.

Total Confirmed Cases Craven County

Active Cases

Craven County


Craven County


Craven County

Currently Hospitalized 

Craven County







The Craven County Health Department works with state, commercial, and private labs to track the number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Craven County. Health care providers determine which lab they send their COVID-19 tests to. There are multiple hospital and commercial labs that conduct COVID-19 tests. These labs manage their own supplies and operate independently from the Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health.

Craven County will continue to track and post the number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases; however, it is important to recognize there are many people with COVID-19 who will not be included in daily counts of laboratory-confirmed cases, including:

  • People who had minimal or no symptoms and were not tested.
  • People who had symptoms but did not seek medical care.
  • People who sought medical care but were not tested.
  • People with COVID-19 in whom the virus was not detected by testing.

The number of laboratory-confirmed cases will increasingly provide a limited picture of the spread of infections in Craven County as COVID-19 becomes more widespread and the number of infected people who are not included in the daily counts of laboratory-confirmed cases increases.



The last 24 hours have been relatively calm, with “just” 12 new cases and no new deaths in the eight-county region in and around Craven County. Here’s the overview:


Here are the latest reports from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.







  1. Thank you for your responsible reporting of this crisis, especially now that New Bern has been “opened up”. On Saturday evening it was so disappointing to see few wearing face masks as they walked around and little regard for distancing from others..I am especially disappointed that the Sun Journal has not focused on the nature of the large cluster case and has not specifically encouraged people to follow CDC guidelines in order to safely reopen. Your statement that “the cluster is isolated but is frighteningly contagious” indicates your thoughtful reporting.

  2. The New Bern Post has the most current and accurate information in town. Thank you for keeping us well informed.

  3. The Post is a breath of fresh air! Current information is shared thoughtfully and clearly. Thank you.

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