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People urged to comply with contact tracing efforts

People urged to comply with contact tracing efforts

County health officials are urging residents to comply with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts if contacted by the health department. 

Haywood County Health and Human Services reported the county’s 43rd COVID-19 death on Tuesday. COVID-19 was listed as the primary cause of death for this individual who was a resident of Autumn Care and was between the ages of 60 and 65. 

“We at Haywood County Health and Human Services extend our deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones during this time of loss,” said Interim Health Director Garron Bradish. “COVID-19 is a serious and sometimes deadly illness, and case numbers are rising rapidly in our community. We urge everyone to be vigilant about masking and social distancing any time you’re going to be around anyone who doesn’t live in your household. Wash your hands regularly and stay home if you’re not feeling well. Now, more than ever, we need everyone in the community using every tool in the intervention toolbox to help slow the spread.”

Between Dec. 1-3, Haywood County received notice of 79 new cases of COVID-19. 

There are now outbreaks at five long-term care or assisted living facilities. These outbreaks only represent about one-third of current Haywood County cases, though. The rest are cases of community transmission, COVID-19 in the workplace, or friends and family sharing it amongst themselves. 

Another trend that is becoming apparent is people being reluctant to work with contract tracers when contacted. If you get a call from the Health Department or other contact tracers, pick up the phone and participate. Contact tracing is an important tool in breaking the chain of virus transmission. It is a safe and confidential way of reaching out to people who have come into close contact with anyone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. 

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“If people who are positive don’t share their close contact information, we can’t notify or offer testing, safety information, and support resources to the close contacts. Without contact tracing, close contacts may not be aware that they’ve been exposed and could be actively spreading the virus in their homes and communities, leading to more cases and potentially more deaths. Our COVID team is currently upgrading and streamlining some of our tools and processes to make the contact tracing interviews less time-consuming for everyone involved.  For contact tracing to work, everyone must do their part,” said Bradish.

As of 5 p.m., Dec. 3, Haywood County’s COVID-19 working number, representing individuals who are in isolation or quarantine due to exposure is up again, to 492 people. Of these, 219 cases are in isolation after testing positive (up 42 from Tuesday) and 273 people are in quarantine, having been identified as a close contact of a known case during contact tracing. All are being monitored by the Haywood County COVID-19 contact tracing team.


Macon Middle suspends in-person classes

In-person instruction at Macon Middle School has been suspended beginning Wednesday, Dec. 9 through Friday, Dec. 11. 

The suspension of instruction is due to the loss of staff to quarantine and COVID-19 related symptoms. A positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed within Macon County Schools support staff as well. The individual is currently under quarantine. Contact tracing is underway through the Macon County Health Department. 

The school system has also had recent positive cases at Mountain View Intermediate School, Cartoogechaye Elementary School, Franklin High School, Iotla Valley Elementary School and Macon Middle School. 

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