Montgomery County’s ranking as number one or two for COVID-19 cases has dropped to number five over the past week, with nearby Scotland and Robeson counties seeing a surge in their cases. Duplin County continues to see high numbers, as does Sampson County. These are the top five counties in the state for the highest case count on a per capita basis.

While Autumn Care and Sandy Ridge are seeing their numbers level off and Southern Correctional Institute reporting a total of 10 cases, with only one of those being an active case, Montgomery County Jail is now considered to have an outbreak of COVID-19 with two inmates, two staff and one contract employee testing positive for the virus. One of the inmates was released by the judge and the second inmate is being quarantined at the facility.

In an email to county officials Sheriff Chris Watkins outlined the procedures he is taking in response to the outbreak:

1.    Restricting inmate movement outside of assigned dorms

2.    Quarantined staff and inmates with symptoms or close contacts with those who tested positive

3.    Provided mask to all inmates

4.    Required mask to be worn by all inmates and staff when outside of cells / offices

5.    Aggressive cleaning

6.    Purchased a germicide fogging device for chemical cleaning

7.    Started chemical cleaning of 100% of detention center every other day

8.    100% inmate and employee testing on 10/12/2020

9.    Stop transporting inmates from jail to court as of 10/12/2020 and informed court officials of the situation

Seventy-five staff and inmates have been tested with results not expected until early next week. Watkins stated, “On a positive note it does appear that the outbreak is within one dorm at the detention center.”

As of late Tuesday afternoon county officials did not have any updated information on the county numbers, but stated new testing will begin in Candor due to the large concentration of cases in that area of the county. A release about the program states, “Montgomery County, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, is pleased to have been selected for expanded no-cost COVID-19 virus testing capacity as part of a recently announced partnership between the state of North Carolina and OptumServe. These new community testing sites build on North Carolina’s ongoing work to increase access to testing and slow viral spread in key locations. Testing is a core element of North Carolina’s response to this pandemic, and that means making sure cost and access challenges never act as a barrier to a needed test. As we continue expanding free community testing options, we’re helping North Carolinians to stay informed about their health and help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

“The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services selected locations for the testing sites based on epidemiological trends and reports from local health departments. Key considerations included the acceleration and overall rate of case growth, the share of new cases among historically marginalized populations and current levels of testing access. Anyone who meets the virus-testing criteria can be tested, including underinsured, undocumented and homeless individuals. Symptoms of COVID-19 can be found on the state website.

“Testing will begin on October 14 at 1 p.m. at 145 S. Depot St., Candor. While walk-ups are accepted, we encourage residents to register and schedule an appointment at https://lhi.care/covidtesting.  Testing will be available Monday thru Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. thereafter. If you fit the testing criteria and are interested in getting a virus test, you may register and make an appointment by visiting https://lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling (877) 562-4850. Please note that phone registration should only be used for people without internet access or are registering a minor for a test.”