COVID MESSAGE#21, JULY 17 2020
· In Haywood County today, July 17, we have 47 people in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 and 80 people in Quarantine because they’ve been identified as close contacts of positive cases. Combining those two today equals 127. That is what we are now calling our COVID-19 working number. It’s a reflection of the COVID-19 burden in our County on any given day. In May our COVID-19 working number was in the 40’s. In early July it was in the 90’s. It’s been slowly rising all month long.
- In the first 15 days of July, we have had 53 new cases of COVID-19 among Haywood County residents. This trend reflects the rapid increase in cases that we are seeing in western NC and across the southeast. This is not the scenario that we want to see just before school starts. As economic pressures continue to push us forward into continued openings and increased togetherness, it’s crucial to remember the 3W’s and your COVID I.Q.:
- The attached Endurance op-ed ran in The Mountaineer today. The basic message is that we are going to be stuck in this COVID cycle until at least 80% of the population participates in masking and social distancing. It’s no fun, but we have to endure and persist if we are ever going to return to anything resembling “normal.”
· What happens when people get together WITHOUT masking or social distancing? Catawba County Public Health put together a great report illustrating how many people in the community were ultimately affected by one family’s decision to have a gathering and ignore recommendations about masking and social distancing.
- Attached is an interesting article about studies relating to the fact that most people infected with COVID don’t pass it on to others, while a small number of individuals infect large numbers of people (like above.) The issue seems to be situational rather than related to individual biology. “Superspreader” events are generally associated with parties, bars, workplaces, music concerts, and other situations where considerable numbers of people may not be observing appropriate precautions. In such a situation, a single pre-symptomatic COVID carrier can infect substantial numbers of people, who, not realizing they’ve been infected, go on to spread the virus to others. It’s best to always assume that you and everyone around you may be infected and carrying the virus. The precautions are so simple but so effective and potentially life-saving.
- We’ve had a lot of calls from people concerned because they know somebody who knows somebody who tested positive for COVID-19. I keep thinking about the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game, based on the idea that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart from one another. The game is to figure out your six degrees of separation from actor Kevin Bacon. The notion of “degrees of separation” are helpful when addressing concerns about exposure and contact tracing. I’ve attached a graphic that helps to show the degrees of separation and testing requirements in contact tracing. If Kevin Bacon tests positive for COVID-19, he’ll be asked to identify close contacts. Close contacts are people who have recently spent 15 minutes or longer within 6 feet of Kevin Bacon while not wearing a mask. For our purposes, these close contacts are only the first degree of separation from Kevin Bacon. What about the people who are 2 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon; people who don’t contact the actor, but know an individual from the 1 degree of separation group? Do these 2nd-degree folks need to be concerned about COVID testing and self-quarantining? No. They only need to be concerned if their friend who is one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon winds up testing positive and identifies them as a close contact. Use the attachment to understand contact and non-contact to a case.