Lee County’s first confirmed death related to COVID-19 was announced Friday.

According to a press release from the county, the patient was hospitalized at Central Carolina Hospital. The identity of the deceased person was not released.

“We are incredibly saddened to report Lee County’s first death related to COVID-19,” said Lee County Health Director Heath Cain. “This is heartbreaking news for our community and we offer our deepest sympathies and prayers for the individual’s family and friends.”

The Health Department has kept in close contact with CCH throughout the pandemic to share information and provide support as the virus spread in the community. CCH alerted the county Health Department early this morning that a patient had passed away from complications associated with COVID-19.

At the time of the announcement, Lee County was still reporting 169 confirmed Coronavirus cases – the same number as yesterday. It was unclear whether further cases would be announced later in the day, and with the rate at which cases have been increasing, it seems unlikely that there are no new cases. The last day without a new case announced was April 9.

20 of the cases have recovered 148 continue to be monitored.

“We have seen the number of cases in the county grow significantly in recent weeks,” Cain said. “But we also believe that our efforts to slow the spread of the virus are working.  With the support of community health partners, like CCH, we continue working to protect our community during this pandemic and we strongly urge the public to continue following the recommendations put forth by our state and federal partners at NCDHHS and the CDC.”