KENANSVILLE — As the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases are back on the rise across the state and the nation, Duplin County is no different.

Not long ago, the number of patients in isolation had shrunk to less than 50 people. Now, the numbers are back on the upswing. As of Friday, Nov. 13, when the Duplin County Health Department released its weekly update on the pandemic, 161 individuals were in isolation. The death toll had also climbed to 60 individuals.

According to the N.C. DHHS COVID-19 dashboard, Duplin County has seen 207 new cases in the past 14 days.

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays looming, those numbers are expected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

“New cases have averaged about 15 per day in Duplin County over the last several weeks,” said Health Department Director Tracey Simmons-Kornegay. “Daily totals are expected to rise due to the increase in indoor gatherings, due to cooler weather and the holidays.”

Last week, Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen encouraged individuals to limit indoor gatherings to less than 10 people. They also continued to stress the importance of the 3 Ws — wear a face covering, wait 6 feet apart and wash hands as frequently as possible.

Simmons-Kornegay echoed that advice, saying that the best ways to avoid contracting the virus are “wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, staying home if sick, and avoiding large crowds.”

“All individuals are encouraged to receive their flu vaccine as soon as possible to decrease the risk of co-infections,” she added.

N.C. DHHS has also released interim guidance for the Thanksgiving Holiday, which can be found at https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/guidance/NCDHHS-Interim-Guidance-for-Thanksgiving.pdf.

A number of drive-thru testing events continue to be held all over the county each week. For the most up-to-date testing events, visit the Duplin County Government Facebook page.

Abby Cavenaugh may be reached at acavenaugh@ncweeklies.com or 910-296-0239.