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The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will release its new COVID-19 alert Tuesday and it will show Halifax County is considered a red county in terms of community spread, health department Director Bruce Robistow said this afternoon.

“We are a red county as of this weekend’s numbers,” he said. “It means we are at a critical community spread level.”

Factored into this are the positive case rate, the percent of tests that are positive and the hospital impact.

There are currently 14 people in the hospital with COVID-19 and two that were in the emergency room with COVID-like symptoms, he said.

Speaking before Halifax County commissioners today, Robistow said the county board of health has directed him to seek an updated= amendment to the emergency declaration by Governor Roy Cooper issued on November 25 which requires everyone to wear a mask in public or inside whether 6-feet apart or not.

The board of health has requested he arrange a ZOOM meeting of all county leaders, administrators and law enforcement heads to have an in-depth discussion regarding the county’s pandemic situation and to combine resources to focus on a county-wide effort to reduce the numbers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. “The way to accomplish this is through a united approach to both education and enforcement which will be the intent and purpose of the meeting,” he said.

Robistow said the point the county is at now is one in which he will tell the leaders, “We need to treat this like a massive gang has infiltrated our county and it’s going to take reallocation of resources, strict enforcement of executive orders designed to reduce and mitigate and to run this pandemic out of our county. It’s an invisible threat.”

He said he has noted that stores are placing employees at entrances but they are not enforcing the executive order and continue to allow people to come in unmasked. “Walking around not wearing a mask, what that does to people trying to do the right thing is put them at risk because of those not following the guidelines. Stores are allowing that to happen. The person at the store doesn’t have to argue with them. All they have to do is reach out to law enforcement to have them trespassed. This is a massive public health issue in which people are carelessly and knowingly spreading the virus. This cannot and should not be allowed.”

He said he wants to have the ZOOM meeting as quickly as possible, hopefully by the end of the week “to organize all leaders to combine forces and resources to get ahead of this pandemic and its spread.”

Today’s trend line, he said, is, “reflective of the sustained and increasing number of positive cases which have resulted from Halifax County moving from an orange state to a red state.”

The report for today shows 59 new positive cases reported since Friday’s update and adds the 38th related death.

The total cumulative positives since March 25 now stands at 2,152.

The 38th related death, according to the NCDHHS COVID-19 dashboard, is from the Scotland Neck area and is the fifth to be reported from within that ZIP code.

The breakdown of related deaths is as follows: 20 within the Roanoke Rapids area ZIP code; five within the Enfield area ZIP code; five within the Scotland Neck area ZIP code; three within the Weldon area ZIP code; two within the Halifax area ZIP code; two within the Littleton area ZIP code; and one within the Hollister area ZIP code.