PUBLISHED ONLINE APRIL 7, 2020   •   VOL. 2, NO. 17

Stories and photos by Wingate Lassiter
unless otherwise noted
(click highlighted link to e-mail the editor)



Johnston now has four CORONAVIRUS
deaths; several infected at Clayton facility


The N.C. Department of Health & Human Services updated its numbers this morning (Tuesday), showing Johnston County with four deaths attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of cases has reached 47, according to the state's report. Four days ago we had 25.

The county's Public Information Office announced Saturday afternoon that three cases of COVID-19 "have been associated with a nursing and rehab facility in Clayton." Saturday night the county reported that a fourth case at Springbrook Rehabilitation Center is a staff member.

The News & Observer reported on Monday that an inmate and at least one staff member had tested positive for the coronavirus at Johnston Correctional Institute, a state-run prison located beside US 70 and the Neuse River between Selma and Wilson's Mills.

Here are the numbers for Johnston and neighboring Wake County as well as all of North Carolina, the nation, and the world:

CORONAVIRUS
BY THE NUMBERS
Cases
confirmed
Deaths
reported
Recovered or
in hospitals
JOHNSTON COUNTY
47
4
11 hospitalized
WAKE COUNTY
336
0
???
NORTH CAROLINA
3,221
46
354 hospitalized *
UNITED STATES
369,069
11,018
19,972
WORLDWIDE
1,365,004
76,420
292,467
Information from County of Johnston as of 5:15 p.m. April 6, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as of 10:15 a.m. April 7, Johns Hopkins University as of 10:53 a.m. April 7.

* Health and Human Services also reports 41,082 coronavirus tests completed in N.C.



Here's the setup for Monday's meeting of the County Commissioners as viewed on the Facebook live-streaming link provided by the county. It was held in the recently refurbished meeting room on the second floor of the Public Library in Smithfield.


County Commissioners get coronavirus
update, including number hospitalized


Dr. Marilyn Pearson, the county's director of public health, was the lead-off speaker at Monday's monthly meeting of the Johnston County Board of Commissioners --- held in the Public Library's meeting room with no more than 10 persons present at any one time: seven commissioners, the county manager, the board's clerk, and one staff member at a time making presentations.

Answering commissioners' questions, Dr. Pearson said nine of 40 Johnstonians with confirmed coronavirus cases at the time of the meeting were hospitalized, but "not all" are in UNC Johnston Health's hospitals in Smithfield and Clayton (latest reports show 11 of 47 infected Johnstonians in hospitals).

She said availability of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) devices like masks and surgical gowns "continues to be an issue" for hospital, Health Department, and Emergency Management workers.

Commissioners asked why more details have not been released about Johnston's coronavirus cases. The reason, Dr. Pearson explained, is HIPPA, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability passed by Congress in 1996 that includes strict rules protecting patient privacy.

"As we get more cases, we can release more information," Dr. Pearson added. Counties and states with larger numbers of cases are able to do that, she noted.

Near the close of Monday' meeting, Commissioner Tony Braswell issued another plea for Johnstonians to stay home until the crisis is over. "Traffic is enormous out there," he said. "If we don't (stay home), all we're doing is for nothing."

SECOND ATTEMPT AT LIVE-STREAMING BETTER THAN THE FIRST

The county live-streamed a commissioners' meeting in the main courtroom at the Courthouse on March 17, but both the audio and the video quality was poor. Monday's setting at the library worked better, especially the audio component.

Facebook showed a running count of how many viewers were watching throughout the session, which lasted an hour and 36 minutes. The number went up to about 150 at one point but tapered off as the meeting went along.

Viewers' comments were also posted. "Y'all need to spread out more," wrote one. "No masks and not six feet apart," said another.

Each staff member who addressed the board was reminded to wipe off the microphone before speaking. "And the person departing the mic should wipe it," one viewer advised.

Follow this link to the archived video of Monday's full session>

READ MORE reports from Monday's meeting of the County Commissioners>


Johnston schools suspending free-meal
program through the end of next week


Here's the official announcement from Johnston County Public Schools:

Beginning Wednesday, April 8, we will temporarily suspend service at our 13 school food-service sites and each of our meal-delivery locations.

At this time, the last day of service will be Tuesday, April 7. On this day, students will receive multi-day meal bags and information regarding food resources from other community partners.

This difficult decision was made to protect the health and safety of the students, their families, and our staff, and to provide the school nutrition department time to replenish supplies and train staff on additional safety protocols. After Spring Break which ends April 17, all factors will be re-evaluated and meal services may
resume, if feasible.

Last week, the school system reported distributing more than 13,000 meals daily to school children throughout Johnston County.

READ about a meal-distribution effort in East Smithfield on OBSERVATIONS>




It's okay that Beth and Benton Sawrey, Erin Evans, Amber Straley, and Hadley Lee (left to right) were celebrating in close quarters at this year's Raise the Booty Fundraiser. Held in early March, it took place before the coronavirus shutdown.

Partnership for Children's "Raise the Booty"
benefit netted almost $60,000 (pre-coronavirus)


Story & photo from Christina Peterson, Partnership for Children

On March 7th the Partnership Pirate Ship docked at the Country Club of Johnston County to celebrate annual Raise the Booty Benefit Fundraiser for the Partnership for Children of Johnston County.


Nearly 200 supporters attended, playing exciting games, opening treasure chests, and bidding on an array of silent and live auction items ranging from home decor and sports packages to vacation trips and a personal dinner for six with Chef Nate Roby from Simple Twist.


This year’s event raised almost $60,000.

 

"I could not be more excited about the evolution of this fun event!" said Dwight Morris, the Partnership's executive director.


"Johnston County is very fortunate to have many individuals and businesses who generously give their time and resources to better our community," he continued. "No matter the challenges, we are a strong county because of you all. A great, big, heartfelt 'thank you mateys' to everyone who made this year’s Raise the Booty our greatest success yet!"

 

Each year a special Fund-a-Need auction takes place. Raising nearly $17,000 this year, Fund-a-Need will allow the program to build a Story Walk at the Partnership for Children Park in Smithfield and four additional story walks throughout the county.  Each story walk will consist of 15 to 20 displays along a walkway or nature trail to promote early literacy and active lifestyles. Stories will be changed each month to encourage families and childcare providers to return on a regular basis.

 

Proceeds from Raise the Booty fund early-literacy programs such as: Reach Out and Read, a partnership with local pediatricians; Little Free Libraries; and the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a community effort to increase the number of children in Johnston reading at grade level by the end of third grade.




   
"IF IT'S

REALLY CLEAN,
IT'S PARRISH
CLEAN!"

 
919-934-5898

www.parrishclean.com



Who will be closed for the Good Friday holiday?

The usual list: state, county, and municipal offices and services but not federal agencies, including the Post Office.

Banks will be open Friday, but the stock markets will be closed.

The state's ABC liquor stores will be open, even though North Carolina is one of just 11 states that observe Good Friday as an official holiday.

The Town of Smithfield's Sanitation Department will not collect household waste and yard debris this Friday, moving up those scheduled collections to Wednesday. The town's recycling center on Hospital Road will be closed Friday and Saturday.

The County of Johnston's landfill and solid-waste convenience centers will be closed Friday but will be open Saturday as usual.



DEATHS & FUNERALS

Each week we post links to obituaries about persons who have died during the past week. We monitor the websites of local funeral homes to compile our list, and we welcome links provided by readers to obituaries of persons with Smithfield connections who have died outside our immediate area....

CYNTHIA CLINE TORRES, 56 - died April 4

JANA WARD DRIVER, 46 - died April 2

THOMAS GRAYLAND WATSON III, 62 - died April 1

CLAUDIOUS ALBERT (BUD) STALLINGS JR., 77 - died April 1

NANCY RICHARDSON LEE, 76 - died March 31

JOHN ANTHONY (ANDY) WADSWORTH, 67 - died March 31

ROWDY STEVENSON (SHOT) HILL, 70 - died Month 28





GONE FISHIN' ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON

The Town Commons boat ramp on the Neuse River at Smithfield was a busy place this past Sunday as several fishermen as well as kayakers put in their crafts to take advantage of a perfectly lovely day. Further down the greenway were others casting lines into the murky water from the banks. Didn't stay around to see if anybody caught anything....



LINKS TO ADDITIONAL PAGES IN THIS EDITION

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS' REPORT
  Items addressed other than coronavirus

OBSERVATIONS
No "neighborhood school" for these kids

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