State reports COVID death of Vance jail staff member

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Oct. 16—HENDERSON — Local and state health officials say a staff member of the Vance County Jail has died because of COVID-19, as part of an outbreak there that's seen eight other staff members and 15 prisoners test positive for the infection.

Confirmations came via the N.C. Department of Health and Human Service's weekly online reporting on COVID outbreaks in nursing homes, assisted-living centers, jails and other congregate-living facilities, from Granville-Vance Public Health Director Lisa Harrison and from DHHS spokeswoman Kelly Connor.

"Sadly, I can confirm the data on the [DHHS] website is correct," Harrison said via email.

"It is critical that everyone continue to take COVID-19 seriously and enforce personal and workplace mitigation efforts like mask-wearing, hand-washing, distancing and of course, vaccination," she added. "We know vaccination against COVID-19 reduces hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Workplaces and families should do all they can to protect life and promote health."

Sheriff Curtis Brame referred questions to health officials and the "patient medical provider," after initially saying he would "have to investigate."

It was not clear, from the DHHS report, whether the victim was a sworn law enforcement officer or a civilian, or whether he or she was a resident of the Tri-County.

As of Friday, the virus has claimed the lives of 225 residents of Vance, Granville and Warren counties.

The toll includes 98 residents of Vance County, five more than were being reported at the end of September. Four deaths of Granville County residents have been reported this month, raising the toll there to 99. And in Warren County, 28 residents have succumbed, one of them this month.

DHHS is tracking outbreaks — two or more positives for COVID in the last 28 days — at a trio of Vance County nursing homes. They include two staff members at the Senior Citizens Home, two staff members at Pelican Health of Henderson, and five staff members and a resident of the Kerr Lake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. There are no fatalities associated with any of those outbreaks.

In Granville County, there are active outbreaks at the Brantwood Nursing and Retirement Center in Oxford, and at the Murdoch Developmental Center in Butner.

The Brantwood outbreak has produced COVID cases affecting five staff members and 36 residents. Three of the residents have died.

The Murdoch outbreak involved 44 staff members and a resident. None of those cases have involved a fatality.

In Warren County, there are outbreaks at the Warren Hills nursing home and the Alpha Magnolia Gardens assisted living facility. Two Alpha Magnolia residents have died, having been among the 28 residents and seven staff members who tested positive for the virus. The Warren Hills outbreak involves one staff member and one resident.

As for COVID clusters in local schools, the situation hasn't changed all that much.

In the Vance County Schools, DHHS is monitoring an eight-case cluster among children at E.M. Rollins Elementary Schools. In Warren County, there's a cluster of seven cases among students of Warren County High School and Warren County Middle School.

And in the Granville County Schools, there's been a seven-case cluster involving students of J.F. Webb High School and another associated with Mount Energy Elementary School's pre-K program that involves two staff members and three children.

Local school officials have stressed that the DHHS cluster reporting involves cases where there's a "plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases." It's possible for schools to have a sufficient number of COVID case to qualify for inclusion in the agency's reporting, but still not appear in the report because public health officials don't think the cases are linked.

As of Friday, five inmates and 20 staff members of the Butner federal prison had active cases of COVID-19. There were no active cases among prisoners of the state's Granville Correctional Institution — the former Polk Correctional Institution — or the Warren Correctional Institution.

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