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COVID-19 update from Haywood Health

Between Dec. 18 and Dec. 21, Haywood County Public Health has received notice of 129 new cases of COVID-19. 

As of 5 p.m. Dec. 21, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has recorded a total of 1,820 cases in Haywood County since the pandemic began. In the last week, the county has added 201 new cases. There are 302 people isolating with COVID-19. The health department is monitoring these cases.

“A steadily high number of new cases are happening whenever people gather — at school, church, work — without masks. Even if your mask-wearing is consistent most of the time, taking it off to eat around others, pulling it below your nose or chin, or even handling the mask unnecessarily can be a method of contraction,” said Interim Health Director Garron Bradish. “It is a pattern we see over and over again.”

Another cause for concern continues to be people who refuse case monitoring or contact efforts. The health department has begun tracking this number in order to know whether this is a growing trend. There are 21 such uncooperative positive cases now who may be ignoring the advice to isolate from others.

“With Christmas just days away and the weather not looking promising for outdoor gatherings, it is important to consider the options for your family to avoid sharing COVID-19. Regardless of risk level, the safest option is to gather only with members of your own household or with those who have been strictly quarantining for at least two weeks prior to gathering to avoid pre-symptomatic sharing of the virus,” said Bradish.

For holiday guidance visit: https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/guidance/Winter-Holidays-Flyer.pdf

“As vaccines begin to roll out across the country, hope is in sight, but mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand washing are still critical to limiting the spread. It will be some time yet before the immunity levels are high enough to begin relaxing these measures,” said Bradish.

During this period of increased caseload,  the health department has suspended monitoring cases in quarantine, and therefore will not report a COVID-19 working number until further notice. The health department is continuing to conduct case investigations and monitoring of positive cases and asks that the positives notify their close contacts of exposure. A close contact is identified as anyone who spent more than 15 minutes within 6 feet of a positive while not wearing a mask, within the time frame of 2 days prior to symptom onset (or test date if asymptomatic) to the date that the positive person goes into self-isolation.  

“If you have tested positive and you have friends or family that meet the close contact criteria, encourage them to self-quarantine and get tested 5-6 days after their exposure to you. Our end goal is to reduce community spread, so one day we can all be together again,” said Bradish. “Since we have placed a hold on monitoring close contacts, we can’t currently provide quarantine documentation for employers. Businesses need to be mindful that having quarantined employees to return to work too quickly could cause a cluster of cases in the workplace. We ask that employers rely on the honor system and encourage employees who have been exposed to quarantine for the recommended time frame of 14 days from the date of exposure to help us reduce the spread during this surge of cases.”

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