State officials concerned over rising coronavirus cases in Duplin County

The county has confirmed over 1,200 cases of COVID-19.
Updated: Jun. 16, 2020 at 10:43 PM EDT
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KENANSVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - North Carolina health officials are showing concern over the rising number of cases coming out of Duplin County. In a press conference Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen announced it would be giving more resources to nine counties across the state, including Dupin, that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

“We are now drawing on these capabilities as we respond to the increase of COVID-19 that we are seeing across our state. Including ramping up testing in harder hit communities,” said Cohen.

Those counties also include Durham, Mecklenburg, Wake, Johnston, Alamance, Guilford, Forsyth and Lee Counties. Duplin County officials said they’ll be using those resources to ramp up testing, but that they have already been testing at a higher rate.

“We are doing a lot more testing than some of our surrounding areas which is one reason maybe we have some more positives than maybe some other counties around us,” said Duplin County Manager Davis Brinson.

The county has at least two confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks at meat-packing plants Butterball and Villari Foods, although health officials have not revealed how many of the confirmed cases have come out of the plant. Brinson added that he’s confident the plants are doing what they can do keep their employees safe, and attributes the spike in cases to other factors.

“That has something to do with some socio-economic barriers some health disparities in the county and also some outbreaks at some of our congregate living facilities,” said Brinson.

WITN News asked Duplin County Health Director Tracey Simmons-Kornegay how many tests they have administered since the beginning of the pandemic, and she said the department did not have a record of that information.

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