COVID-19 Count Increases To 40 People, 3 Deaths

Changes Implemented For Fire Department First Responders

School Nurses Included In Emergency Operations Plan

SMITHFIELD – Johnston County Commissioners received an update on the COVID-19 pandemic this morning during their regularly scheduled monthly meeting.  The meeting was moved to the Johnston County Library to allow for social distancing.  The public was not allowed to attend but the meeting was streamed live on Facebook.

Health Director Dr. Marilyn Pearson said Johnston County had 40 confirmed coronavirus cases as of this morning. The death rate remains at three.  Dr. Pearson said the average age of those diagnosed is 55.  Pearson said HIPPA laws and regulations prevent additional information from being released to the public about the patients.  She said the number of coronavirus cases has drastically increased within the past week.

Dr. Pearson announced that Johnston County does have a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health department staff, EMS and hospitals.

When Will Peak Occur?
The Health Director said there are many different models being used to track COVID-19. Some project the peak number of cases to occur in April, while other models suggest the peak will not occur until May or June.

Johnston County Emergency Services Director Kevin Hubbard told commissioners there has been “no major increase” in call volumes due to the coronavirus, however first responders are in critical need of PPE’s.  The county is awaiting a delivery from the state, but those supplies have not arrived.  Hubbard said donations are being accepted from anyone who may have PPE’s.

Hubbard said changes were implemented over-the-weekend for fire department first responders.  There are not enough PPE’s to distribute to fire crews responding to medical calls, so first responders are being limited to some of the calls they would normally be dispatched.

School Nurses
County Manager Rick Hester received unanimous approved from commissioners to immediately update the Johnston County Emergency Operations Plan. The change will allow the use of school nurses in the event of emergencies.