As of 5 p.m. Dec. 28, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has recorded a total of 2,005 cases in Haywood County since the pandemic began. There are 351 people isolating with COVID-19. The health department is monitoring these cases.
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 26 (up five from last week) such uncooperative positive cases now who may be ignoring the advice to isolate from others.
“The weekly number of new cases was down slightly ahead of Christmas, but in the next few weeks, we will see how well Haywood did at limiting the spread of COVID-19 over the holiday. Looking ahead, New Year’s is our final hurdle for the holiday season. As with Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is our recommendation that you keep celebrations to only those people within your own household to limit the spread,” said Interim Health Director Garron Bradish.
Doses of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have begun to arrive in Haywood, with the first going to healthcare workers and first responders. Planning is underway for distribution to the public as more doses arrive. More information on vaccine scheduling will be available soon.
“Until the vaccine is widely available and case numbers are down significantly, reflecting high levels of immunity, mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand washing are still vitally important. It will be some time yet before the immunity levels are high enough to begin relaxing these measures,” said Bradish.
For more information on the vaccine and the general order of distribution visit: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines
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.”