Three Wilkes County residents died last week from complications associated with COVID-19, the Wilkes County Health Department stated.

Four Wilkes residents have now died from causes related to COVID-19. The three most recent deaths occurred at hospitals in Winston-Salem.

The most recent COVID-19-related death occurred May 22 and was a person in his/her late 60s. It was reported Tuesday morning.

The death of a person in his/her 90s on May 20 was reported May 21. Another COVID-19-related death, a person in his/her late 80s, occurred the morning of May 20 and was reported that afternoon.

To maintain privacy of surviving family members, the health department didn’t specify the gender or other details about these three Wilkes residents.

Wilkes Health Department Director Rachel Willard said that on behalf of her department and county government, “we extend our deepest sympathy to the family.”

Wilkes County’s first death related to COVID-19 was a woman in her late 60s who also was the county’s first confirmed COVID-19 case. The woman died on March 31, a day after the health department announced the case. She was a patient at Wilkes Medical Center in North Wilkesboro when she died.

As of Tuesday evening, Wilkes had 482 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 448 people had recovered from the virus and seven people were hospitalized. Tuesday morning, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services was reporting 24,140 cases, 621 hospitalizations and 766 deaths related to COVID-19 statewide.

The health department stated that people with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should be tested.

“This means if you are sick with a fever, cough or other mild symptoms, call your health care provider or Wilkes Health. Please don’t just show up to a doctor’s office without calling first. This will help your provider prepare should you need to be tested and lessen the potential exposure to others. Call 911 immediately if a medical emergency exists,” stated a health department press release.

“Community transmission (of COVID-19) is happening in Wilkes County. Every person is a potential carrier, even if no symptoms are present, so it’s urgent that every person -sick or healthy- stay home to the fullest extent possible and help break the chain of transmission,” the release said.

“If you go out you should practice the three W’s: Wear, Wait, and Wash: wear a face covering, wait six feet apart from other people and wash your hands often.”

COVID-19 signs and symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms, including fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

People at high risk include anyone with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, heart disease with complications, compromised immune system, severe obesity or other underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease. They also include people 65 or older, nursing home or long-term care facility residents and pregnant women.

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