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Jackson's coronavirus count holds steady

For the second day in a row, there has been no increase in the tally of COVID-19 cases in Jackson County.

Today’s count reports 20 cases among residents, two cases among part-time residents and 20 cases among non-residents. That is the same count as those released May 5 and May 4.

The 20 non-resident cases include 13 cases associated with the Apodaca Science Building construction project at Western Carolina University, where approximately 229 people are working. In total, 938 people have been tested in Jackson County. The health department began releasing counts for non-residents who were diagnosed by Jackson County providers after a worker on the site tested positive April 22.

Last week, a person who works for The Hermitage Assisted Living & Memory Care tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the Jackson County Department of Public Health to coordinate a testing clinic of all residents, employees and others with access to the facility.

On May 4, the health department received word that every single test had come back negative.

“We are both elated and relieved,” said Nursing Director Gretta Phillips. “We know that an outbreak in a long term care facility is a serious public health concern and wanted to do everything in our power to protect our most vulnerable. The Health Department is thankful for the partnership provided by the staff at The Hermitage and their continued commitment to keeping their residents, staff, and our community safe.”

“The safety of our residents and our staff is always our top priority,” said Misty Day, Executive Director for The Hermitage. “We are so proud of the heroic team members here who give their all each and every day to care for our residents. The staff member who tested positive followed each and every procedure recommended by the CDC at the first sign of symptoms. With our strict infection-control measures in place and the help and partnership of the Jackson County Health Department, we were able to stop the spread of this virus in our building. We feel so blessed to be able to say that our residents remain safe and healthy, and we are thankful for the continued support of our families, friends and the public throughout this time.”

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