UPDATE (4:33 P.M.): County government has issued a statement about Dodson’s passing.

“It is with great sadness that I confirm my friend and fellow commissioner, Kevin Dodson, has passed away,” Amy Dalrymple, Chair of the Lee County Board of Commissioners, said in a statement. “Kevin was a dedicated public servant and small business owner in Lee County and he will be missed by many.  Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers and join me in offering sincere condolences during this very difficult time.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Kevin Dodson, the Lee County commissioner who was hospitalized in November with COVID-19, died from the disease Thursday morning, The Rant has learned from multiple sources.

Dodson, 60, had been moved from Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill in recent weeks.

Initially elected to an at large seat on the board of commissioners in 2016, Dodson first unsuccessfully sought a district seat on the board two years prior. First elected as a Republican, he switched parties in 2017 and went on to run for sheriff against incumbent Republican Tracy Carter in 2018. After losing that bid, he indicated plans to seek the office again in 2022.

He had not run for re-election to the board in 2020, and Monday’s meeting of that body would have been his last as a member.

Dodson was the owner of Carolina Firearms Training and Gun Sales in the Tramway area, and served stints as a deputy with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and as an officer with the Siler City Police Department. An online prayer vigil had been set up on Dodson’s behalf.

Without naming Dodson, the Lee County Health Department issued a notice Thursday indicating that a 32nd resident had died from the virus.

“I am saddened to report another COVID-19 death in Lee County,” said Lee County Health Director Heath Cain. “Please keep the friends and family of the individual in your thoughts and prayers as we offer our condolences during this difficult time.  COVID-19 continues to spread and threaten public health and safety in our communities. Please follow the advice of our public health institutions to slow the spread of this virus by wearing a mask, waiting six feet or more away from others, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.”

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Also on Thursday, the county reported 66 new cases of COVID since Monday. Of the 2,353 local residents who have tested positive, 185 remain active. Lee County’s rolling seven day average for new cases is now 17, and the percent positive rate is 8.8.