Of the 125 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Craven County, seven have been related to out of state travel.

The first case of community-spread COVID-19 was reported on March 30, and the last out-of-state-contracted case was reported on April 6, topping out at seven cases.

Since that time, just 24 cases were contracted within Craven County from unknown sources within the community, or so-called community transmission.

By far the fastest growth has occurred from direct contact with previously confirmed positive cases.

As of Sunday, direct contact cases totaled 94.

A spike in those cases began early last week within a group of family, friends, and co-workers. Public health officials have not released further details about the group, and have not reported racial or ethnic statistics since the cluster emerged.

The spike lab-confirmed cases since Monday has totaled 68 cases, more than doubling the number in Craven County in one week, the number of cases that had previously accumulated since mid-March.

Though it would be helpful in preventing further spread, and even comforting to Craven County residents, if health officials would provide more details about this cluster, they are restricted by HIPAA privacy requirements.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was enacted by the 104th United States Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

HIPAA was created primarily to modernize the flow of healthcare information, stipulate how Personally Identifiable Information maintained by the healthcare and healthcare insurance industries should be protected from fraud and theft, and address limitations on healthcare insurance coverage.

Health officials shared race and ethnicity data about Craven County cases in an earlier report, but not in the past two weeks.

This most recent cluster, due to its high number, would presumably make identifying members of the cluster easy to identify due to demographics in the over-all report.

Health officials have been diligent in reporting statistics about the pandemic. Presuming that members of this cluster are being isolated to prevent further spread, statistics released over the next two weeks will show whether those measures are effective.

All of these cases pre-date Phase 1 relaxation of state-required isolation orders.

But a severe spike in new cases comes at a time when more people are getting out and about, when stores are reopening, and when county sheriffs and federal judges are saying that church congregations can resume in-place worship services,

It will be interesting to see what the numbers show in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, local health care providers are doing a good job at keeping local COVID-19 patients alive (just four deaths and half the state’s death rate, with no deaths since mid-April) and well enough to be able to stay at home (just one hospitalized as of Sunday).


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