At least one additional inmate at Southern Correctional Institution has tested positive for COVID-19, as well as a second deputy and other emergency services personnel. The total number of cases as of press time was 65, which is an increase of 19 cases in one week. Three people have died from the virus in Montgomery County.

Emergency Services Director Robbie Smith said tests have been offered to some of the emergency services personnel due to the recent increase. State mandated testing is expected to begin next Tuesday as well as contact tracing. The county is being told to test 45 individuals a day, with that number’s being determined by the county’s population. Montgomery County Health Director Mary Perez-Baldwin recently said, “This testing effort will not go into effect until all North Carolina counties receive an appropriate supply of testing materials, PPE (personal protective equipment), and contact tracing staff and contact tracers are in place. Testing can not and will not be increased until all of the above is in place.” As of press time Perez had not responded if she had the necessary items in place or not.

Perez-Baldwin also noted recently, “Symptomatic and asymptomatic persons (particularly those who are close contacts to a positive case) will be eligible for testing.”

Perez went on to note that “Currently the State Lab is only accepting:  tests collected from those who are immuno-compromised, first responders, healthcare workers, and post mortem and those in congregate living settings such as nursing homes from health department labs at this time. At this time the health department requires an order from a local provider or the health department provider to test for COVID-19.”

Perez-Baldwin expressed concern earlier in the week stating, “As a health director I have a concern related to people in our county not wearing masks when they are in public places,” noting in particular grocery stores and restaurants. “Wearing a mask is the simplest way people can protect themselves and others,” stated Perez-Baldwin.