COVID-19 listed as the cause of death on the death certificate for a Moore County resident.

COVID-19 listed as the cause of death on the death certificate for a Moore County resident.    

Seven new coronavirus-related deaths were announced Tuesday by the Moore County Health Department, bringing the countywide death toll to 66.

Among the deceased is a 46-year-old man who is the youngest county resident to perish since the start of the pandemic. He died Sunday after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, through community spread, according to the health department.

Matt Garner, public information officer for the department, said the man had "several underlying conditions, most notably some respiratory issues." 

Five of the deaths announced Tuesday involve elderly residents of Magnolia Gardens, an assisted living facility in Southern Pines. They all died over a month ago, with the earliest death reported on Oct. 8.

Garner said the announcement of their deaths was delayed because the residents, most of whom were older than 75, spent their final days in hospice care outside of Moore County. 

“There were two determinations that we were waiting on that were delayed,” Garner said. "No. 1 was what was their county of residence, being that they were in hospice care away from Magnolia Gardens at the time of their death. And then No. 2, if COVID-19 was indeed the cause of death because several (of the residents) had some other underlying conditions, as well. So we were waiting on that and that was the reason for the delay.”

A death is attributed to COVID-19 when an infected individual dies before recovering from the disease and no alternative cause of death can be identified. People with underlying medical conditions are most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19. 

The other death announced Tuesday involves an elderly resident of Quail Haven Village, a nursing home in Pinehurst. The man, who was older than 75, died Sunday, the health department said. 

Coronavirus outbreaks in long-term care settings like Quail Haven and Magnolia Gardens account for all but 20 of the county’s deaths. About 2 percent of the 2,757 coronavirus cases reported in Moore have been fatal. 

Governor Expands Statewide Mask Order

Citing worsening coronavirus metrics across the state, Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday expanded his executive order requiring people to wear face coverings in North Carolina.

The order, which comes with police enforcement powers, affects virtually every walk of life and activity. Unknown, however, is how strict enforcement will be with the new order. Police agencies to this point have treated Cooper’s prior mask orders with everything from antipathy to lukewarm compliance, but Cooper made clear more drastic measures could be in the offing if this newest order doesn’t affect the state’s trends.

“This Thanksgiving week, our state and the country are reporting record-high case numbers and hospitalizations,” Cooper said during a news conference. “I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: we are in danger.”

Cooper’s latest mandate gives law enforcement agencies the ability to enforce the state’s mask-wearing requirements against individuals. Police officers were previously only allowed to take enforcement actions against businesses and organizations.

Under the new order, people must wear face coverings in “any public indoor space even when maintaining six feet of distance; gyms, even when exercising; all schools public and private; and all public or private transportation when traveling with people outside of the household,” according to a news release. The mandate takes effect at 5 p.m. Wednesday and will remain in place until at least Dec. 11.

Gatherings are still limited to 10 people indoors for individuals who are not part of the same household. Outdoor gatherings remain limited to 50 people.

People are now required to wear masks in stores, while exercising at gyms and when not actively eating or drinking in restaurants. Face coverings are also required in most work settings, even if employees are spaced more than 6 feet apart.

Stores larger than 15,000 square feet must station an employee at the front of the building to monitor the number of people going in and out, and to ensure customers are wearing masks.

Students and faculty members at all schools — private and public — are now required to wear masks. Many private schools had been using masks, but now they are required. When it comes to high school sports, which just began in the past week, all players, parents, coaches and spectators older than 5 must wear masks indoors.

“This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus,” Cooper said. “Our actions now will determine the fate of many.”

FirstHealth Doctor Encouraged by Vaccine Findings

Dr. Gretchen Arnoczy, an infectious diseases physician with FirstHealth of the Carolinas, said she’s “very impressed” with the speed at which two promising vaccine candidates have been developed to curb the spread of the virus.

“The studies aren’t done, but so far it’s really good news,” Arnoczy said in a phone interview last week. “We’ve got two good candidates both showing high efficacy, both without major safety signals so far. That’s encouraging.”

Separate vaccines developed by the drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna have emerged as front-runners in the race to quell a pandemic that has killed more than 257,000 people in the United States. Pfizer said its vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19, while Moderna said its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective. 

That 0.5-percent difference is probably negligible, according to Arnoczy. What really separates the two candidates, she said, is their cold-storage requirements.

“One big difference between the two is that the Pfizer vaccination has pretty significant cold-chain concerns,” Arnoczy said. “The distribution of that vaccine requires a very cold freezer that you’re not necessarily going to find in rural hospitals.”

Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at about 94 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. If approved, the company plans on shipping it in special containers packed with dry ice.

“FirstHealth has purchased a freezer that goes cold enough for the Pfizer vaccine,” Arnoczy said. “We have a large system and if that vaccine becomes available, we want to be able to house and distribute it.”

She said Moderna’s vaccine is “more exciting” because it can be stored at warmer temperatures, making it easier to distribute. Both candidates must still be authorized by the Federal Drug Administration.

“I think everybody is looking at the safety data because the last thing we want is to rush a vaccine if it’s not safe,” Arnoczy said. “So far the data on these two particular vaccines is encouraging, but it’s really important to finish the studies and get all the data as we’re moving ahead on this.”

On Monday, the drugmaker AstraZeneca announced that its vaccine was shown to be about 70 percent effective in late-stage clinical trials, bringing a third candidate into the mix. Because FirstHealth of the Carolinas is the area’s largest health care system, the company will play a major role in the local distribution of whatever vaccine is ultimately approved by the FDA.

“Our system began working on a playbook for distribution even before we knew which company’s vaccine was going to show efficacy,” Arnoczy said. “Vaccinating a large population of people in ideally a short amount of time is a big undertaking.”

FAQ: How to Safely Celebrate Thanksgiving

With trends worsening across the state and nation, health officials are concerned that Thanksgiving gatherings could exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus. Following are answers to some questions you may have about how to safely celebrate the holiday.

Is it safe to travel to a relative’s house for Thanksgiving?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against it.

“Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19,” the agency said in a statement on Thursday. “Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”

That sentiment was echoed by Garner.

“We ask that individual family units celebrate at home and limit your travel and contact with others,” he said during last week’s meeting of the Moore County Board of Commissioners. “If you do gather, keep it small and stay local. Try to avoid extraneous travel as much as you can.”

What if I decide to travel anyway?

There are still steps you can take to reduce the risk of infection, but they may be impractical for many families.

The CDC suggests bringing your own food and dining utensils. You should also wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking. Sit at least 6 feet apart from other guests, preferably in an outdoor setting.

Keep in mind that an outdoor feast might not be feasible based on the current weather forecast, which calls for a low of about 53 degrees and a 30-percent chance of rain in Moore County on Thanksgiving. If you’re forced to move the meal indoors, the CDC recommends letting in “fresh air by opening windows and doors.”

“You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window,” the agency said. “This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows.”

Should I get tested if I plan on traveling?

Yes. Because people can spread COVID-19 without experiencing symptoms, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting tested before visiting individuals who do not share the same household.

“A test can help someone know if they have COVID-19 even if they do not yet have symptoms,” DHHS said in a statement. “However, a test can miss some infections. Furthermore, a negative test only gives you information for that point in time.”

Where can I get tested?

Testing is also offered at the following places in Moore County, according to an online test-site finder maintained by Castlight Health.

• FirstHealth Convenient Care clinics in Pinehurst and Whispering Pines, where testing is available only to patients with symptoms or people who have been exposed to an individual who has already tested positive for COVID-19. For information, call 833-715-2819.

• CVS Pharmacy in Aberdeen, where an appointment is required and patients must register online at For information, call 866-389-2727.

• FastMed Urgent Care in Aberdeen, where a pre-test screening is required. For information, call 910-724-2334

• Seven Lakes Prescription Shoppe in West End, where an appointment is required and the $129 charge for testing cannot be billed to your health insurance provider. For information, call 910-673-7467.

What about Black Friday shopping?

Consider taking advantage of those post-Thanksgiving deals from the comfort of home.

“Obviously, you want to avoid larger crowds, especially those that are occurring indoors,” Garner said. “We know that Black Friday goes hand-in-hand with Thanksgiving, but we ask that you limit that activity as well. Try to do most of your shopping online, if at all possible.”

Robert Wittmann, director of the Moore County Health Department, urged residents to do their Black Friday shopping online with local retailers, many of which have struggled during the pandemic.

“Buy from them as much as possible to support them during these hard times,” he said. “And if you don’t feel like cooking, you might want to check with one of our local restaurants. Pick up the food and bring it to your family to help support them.”

He added: “We all look forward to the day when we can return to normal and our businesses can do better.”

(30) comments

German scientists are showing the same evidence of a scam-demic: “Nüchterne Zahlen zu Corona, die Sie nicht kennen sollen - Fakten statt Panikmache“ Translated: “Sobering numbers about Corona that you are not supposed to see - Facts instead of Fear-Mongering”. The German authorities are now taking the water cannons to protesters who question masks and shutdowns. Eerily similar to the 30s. Coming next to North Carolina?

Sally Larson

Kent, I did what you said, copied and pasted the first sentence and this is what I got:

With the COVID-19 crisis sparking uncertainty, conspiracy theories are booming in Germany.

'Pandemic populism': Germany sees rise in conspiracy theories

The interesting thing researchers found was that "alternative media" are also basically reporting on the same, verifiable facts — but they lace these reports with speculation, such as positing that the virus was produced in a laboratory or that it is less dangerous than reports would suggest.

Do the actual cutting and pasting and stop pretending you have the truth.

Here’s another report you won’t like, from Johns Hopkins, yet another confirmation of wildly exaggerated Covid death counts: “ UPDATED: Johns Hopkins Study Saying COVID-19 Has 'Relatively No Effect on Deaths' in U.S. Spiked After Publication”

“Briand concludes that the COVID-19 death toll in the United States is misleading and that deaths from other diseases are being categorized as COVID-19 deaths.” Is Johns Hopkins now also accused of spreading conspiracy theories?

Sally Larson

Kent, if you would just take the time to verify what you report you would see this:

A student newspaper at Johns Hopkins has retracted an article claiming that COVID-19 has had “relatively no effect on deaths in the United States.”

Tommy McDonell

In the block of text that the Pilot suggests we follow, one says Be Truthful.

Why? Each week there are letters that some of us believe are not truthful and at least one letter that most of us know is not truthful.

I have never really questioned what abusive comments are.

Surely lying about Covid might be considered that?

I’m not complaining. I’m just interested in this block of suggestions.

Tommy B. McDonell, Ph.D.

Pinehurst NC


Comment deleted.
ken leary

Had this discussion with someone. I wanted to know whether if I had cancer and got hit by a bus should one consider that I was killed by the cancer or the bus? Seems obvious to me, but one could always postulate that chemo meds caused diminished judgment and a poor choice of stepping off a curb.

jimmie canabera

With rising numbers I wonder why some nursing homes, assisted living and independent living places are allowing visitors including those from out of state.

Tommy McDonell

The homes I know aren’t allowing visitors at all. You can see someone out a window. People get Covid from STAFF members.

The aunt of a friend of mine died last week of Covid. She was at Moore Regional Hospital. Yes she had underlying conditions. Don’t we all? She had Diabetes. Think of how many people have this.

I know and you know the people who think this is a hoax. I often write someone who posts here about that.

However, it will Not hurt people to wear a Mask. To me those who do not wear Masks, demonstrate that they only care about themselves. Not us.

Check with senior homes to see if visitors are allowed. Then find out if staff members had it.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be safe.

Tommy B. McDonell, Ph.D.

Pinehurst, NC


It is no coincidence that the sudden increase in reported cases and deaths, along with Shutdown Cooper’s latest tyrannical edicts, correspond with good news on the vaccine, the Dow breaking 30,000 and a mountain of evidence of widespread election fraud, all proof of President Trump’s historic popularity and effectiveness as a leader. Cooper’s erratic actions are eerily similar to the final chapter in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, when sheeple finally realize they have been lied to by their leaders. It does not end well for the sheeple and their leaders. Rand’s family suffered persecution under Russian Communists, so she knew well the early signs of tyranny, which begin with name-calling, progress to speech police and nuzzles, and end with gulags, gas chambers and firing squads - for those who do not see and oppose tyranny when it begins.

Sally Larson

Kent, you have described so well exactly how Trump has tried to bring down our country.  The conspiracy theories Trump has spread has attacked all aspects of our democratic society.  The market breaking 30,000 is in response to the Biden presidency finally bringing stability and respect back to the US.  Conspiracy believers like you are being left flapping in the wind and will soon wonder why your leader has been making up lies leading you into the abyss of confusion and denial. I'd love to see that mountain of evidence you and your cohorts keep talking about. 

Yes, how stupid of me. Investors just love socialists like Biden who have already stated plans got dictate to them. Can’t wait for the prosperity Biden’s friends in Cuba and Venezuela are enjoying, brought with the help of rigged Dominion voting machinery.

ken leary

The Dow is doing well because, according to Pam Martin's "once daily email" the government has pumped twenty-nine trillion dollars into the system since Sept 17, 2019. That's 29 trillion dollars. I got $1200.00.

ken leary

Correction: Since 2011

Mark Hayes

That was your money, or what was left of it . You paid for your own $1200.00, governments debt redistribution.

Tommy McDonell

Dear Kent And to the editors and publishers of the Pilot.

So much is said that is negative about FB and Twitter. However, I so wish that the Pilot would say something about people such as Kent who post information that is not true. As a former Adjunct Prof at NYU, I would be happy to cite where my information comes from, tho I would need to look up MLA and not APA.

Kent how about if you Also cite your sources of the information. Don’t cite Trump. Cite legitimate sources.

For the most part I like The Pilot. I think it has done a good job at trying to keep us updated on Covid and Moore County.

I don’t want to report Kent and so I don’t. I and others write him instead.

However, I am not the publisher nor editor. We need a local paper. We also need one that discusses the truth versus the rumors and lies.

I think the Pilot owes this to its readers.

Tommy B. McDonell, Ph.D.

Pinehurst NC


Dr. Tommy. I always post the headlines of the reports I cite. All you need to do is cut and paste these and read them. Search though in DuckDuckGo, not Google, as they censor many facts. Go ahead and report me if you don’t like peoples opinions that disagree with yours. That would put you right in the same category with the speech police that started most tyrannies in recent history. There are many other ways to get information to thinking people than The Pilot. Wuhan.

Tommy McDonell

Kent I don’t report you. Google may not censor things. They just maybe don’t report things that are not reputable. But I’ll look at your weird search engine.

If UNC or NYU would allow me to cite the information you tell us it would be interesting.

But it does seem you side with reports that are not true. Hence I asked for reputable source material. Oh well.

It appears the Pilot per se doesn’t bother.

Tommy McDonell, Ph.D


Yes, the governor indeed shows signs of mental instability. For months he has issued one edict after the other concerning lockdowns and mask wearing, although a mountain of evidence exists that proves neither work. Statistics from his own NCHHS show they don’t work. Yet he continues to issue these orders thinking something will change. As long as Covid tests give 80% false positives and Covid deaths are wildly exaggerated by his own people, things won’t change. See the flat line statistics on ICU beds and ventilators contrasted with supposed rising hospitalization. And why are hospitalization numbers rising with all his rules concerning masks, social distancing, schools, etc. ? It remains a desperate effort from those who still won’t accept the 2016 election results and attempt to scare people in order to throw elections. Look what NC Democrats are attempting in the Beasley / Newby recount. Elena Ceaușescu also loved using her Ph.D. title to impress others.

Tommy McDonell

I don’t use it to impress people. I use it because I earned it and it is how I sign my name everywhere along with my website which I don’t put here but from time to time I do put my FB, Twitter and Instagram account name.

And my degree isn’t in science or medicine. I leave that to my brother. It is in TESOL and technology based language learning.

But it did require a research paper and stats.

My science background is more the idea that my father was a surgeon and my brother did breast cancer research in PQ in Canada.

I believe in facts.

Patricia Bryan

I printed out the entire Governor's order and I noted that it said "What are the consequences for not following the orders?

Law enforcement can now enforce these mask mandates against individuals and businesses or organizations that aren’t enforcing the rules. The penalty for violating the new mask mandate is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of up to $1,000 or active punishment." I particularly noted the "can now enforce," but did not say it "must now enforce," so I wonder how they plan to force them to enforce them. Apparently in New York there are some nasty arguments from folks not permitted into stores without a mask that then requires law enforcement to handle. The sheriff here initially said that was the only thing that would require deputies to respond to. I thought the NC legislature had to pass a law in order for it to have this much force. But anyway, my reaction to one person highly objecting to it all (and it wasn't Kent) is that I was afraid this could end in serious injury or death for an individual employee of a store to attempt to enforce, which is where the initial responsibility for enforcing it begins. That's worrisome and a shame. I understand the need for it, and I have no problem complying with any of it since I leave home one day a week, but I don't see how it is going to work. Might be a free-for-all for criminals while law enforcement is out trying to settle arguments peacefully.

Our wise Sheriff does not support tyranny and has better things to do than enforce a useless muzzle edict from a clearly mentally unstable Governor. Repeating the same action but expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.

Tommy McDonell

Now this is something I wish I felt I could report. “Mentally unstable Governor?” Definition of “insanity”?

Kent you and I clearly disagree but I try hard not to say things in print such as this.

Isn’t it possible that you might try to do the same? I am more than willing to send you a link to a thesaurus so that you might be more polite.

Tommy B. McDonell, Ph.D. (Yep Kent I worked hard for this degree and I’ll put it with my name.)

Pinehurst NC.

Comment deleted.
Barbara Misiaszek

Kent, are you going to get a vaccine when one becomes available?

John Misiaszek

Comment deleted.
Sally Larson

Kent, again your need to believe in conspiracy theories is warping your thinking. Just because the patient had underlying conditions didn't mean he wouldn't have lived for a long time. When he got the virus he wasn't able to fight it and ended up dying from the virus, not his underlying conditions.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Comments that violate any of the rules above are subject to removal by staff.

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