Virus claims sixth victim in Sampson

Sampson County’s sixth death attributed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was reported Monday. It is the second virus-related death in the county reported in the past four days, following Friday’s report of the fifth such fatality.

As of Monday, there had been 2,793 tests conducted in Sampson, resulting in 1,491 negatives to go along with the 890 positive patients, according to numbers provided by the Sampson County Health Department.

The county conducted 521 COVID-19 tests as part of a drive-thru testing site open to the public on June 13. While some of those results have been reflected in Sampson County Health Department reports toward the end of last week, there were still 412 tests listed as pending in Sampson as of Monday.

Of the 890 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Sampson, 586 have been listed as recovered, a figure that is up 123 from Friday’s figure.

Statewide as of Monday morning, there were 53,605 positive cases and 1,223 deaths due to COVID-19, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

Currently, 870 individuals are hospitalized due to the virus, the agency reported. That hospitalization number has continued to rise as testing has spiked, however the number of deaths has leveled off, at least over the past week. NCDHHS recorded three deaths across the state on both Saturday and Sunday after seven on Friday, according to the daily lab-confirmed deaths total on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

There had been 757,345 COVID-19 tests conducted as of Monday morning. That figure grew by 45,000 since Friday’s morning report.

Late last week, NC Governor Roy Cooper vetoed House Bill 594, which was passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill sought to temporarily authorize existing indoor or outdoor exercise and fitness facilities, gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers to open and resume operations, provided specific conditions are met.

Those facilities have been closed for the past three months. Cooper said opening those facilities would be “tying the hands” of health officials.

“Tying the hands of public health officials in times of pandemic is dangerous, especially when case counts and hospitalizations are rising,” Cooper said in a prepared statement, explaining his veto. “State and local officials must be able to take swift action during the COVID-19 emergency to prevent a surge of patients from overwhelming hospitals and endangering the lives of North Carolinians. The bill could restrict leaders who need to respond quickly to outbreaks and protect public health and safety.”

On Friday, Duplin County’s total number of laboratory confirmed positive COVID-19 cases reached 1,331 residents, up 163 in the past week. Of those confirmed positive cases, 347 are currently in isolation and 956 have met clinical criteria to be released from isolation. Duplin’s death toll stood at 28 fatalities related to COVID-19.

Health officials in that county only report COVID-19 statistics every Friday. The NCDHHS updates Duplin totals, but the numbers between the county and the state have not always been the same. Duplin held its fifth COVID-19 drive-thru testing event on Monday.

Both Sampson and Duplin health officials have continued to urge residents to be cautious.

“As our numbers continue to increase, it is important that citizens also do their part,” Sampson County reiterated throughout this week. “Remember these three things as we stay strong and continue to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. If you leave home, practice your Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash.”

That includes wearing a cloth face covering if you will be with other people; waiting 6 feet apart; and washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

For more general information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website at and NCDHHS’ website at To receive twice daily updates about COVID-19, send a text message with COVIDNC to 898211. To learn more about the COVID-19 response in North Carolina, visit

Those interested can also call the NC 211 Hotline for general inquiries by dialing 211 or 888-892-1162, or the State of NC COVID-19 Call Center at 866-462-3821.

Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.

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