In the past two weeks in Haywood County, we have had COVID-related deaths, a significant outbreak at a skilled nursing facility, and a COVID cluster at a place of business. We’ve also seen our case numbers rise dramatically in July. When we take a closer look at our cases, we do see patterns and connections that help give perspective.
- The outbreak at the long-term care facility accounts for many cases since it has affected both residents and staff. Some staff have infected family members.
- Outbreak Definition: One case of COVID-19 in Long Term Care Facility is a serious public health concern. Two or more patients or staff in a Long Term Care Facility with COVID-19 discovered to be linked defines an outbreak.
- The cluster at a business has had the same, albeit smaller, effect (5 positive staff infecting family and friends)
- Cluster definition: The North Carolina Division of Public Health (NCDPH) defines clusters of COVID-19 in workplace, educational, and other community settings as: 1) A minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period AND, 2) plausible linkage between cases where cases were present in the same setting during the same time period (e.g., same shift, same classroom, same physical work area), that the timing fits with likely timing of exposure, and that there is no other more likely source of exposure for identified cases (e.g., household or close contact to a confirmed case in another setting).
- We mostly see new cases related to existing cases (family or work spread.) We still have cases pop up where the individual has no idea how they were exposed, which is an indicator of community spread.
As our case numbers continue to increase, our number of close contacts identified through contact tracing also continues to rise. One concerning trend is that approximately 1/3 of the close contacts identified are refusing to participate in contact tracing, testing or self-quarantine, which increases the risk of transmission for the rest of the community. Just one more reason to continue practicing the three W’s and the 4C’s:
- WEAR a mask any time that you’re going to be within 6 feet of anyone who doesn’t live in your household (including outdoors), particularly if that close contact will be longer than 15 minutes.
- WAIT six feet apart if you’re in public. Slow down when you’re shopping or walking down the street and give people a chance to make space.
- WASH your hands frequently.
- Avoid CROWDS, avoid CONFINED SPACES, avoid physical CONTACT, and make wise CHOICES.
- We have heard about some big events happening in Haywood County this weekend. We urge folks to pay attention to our advice above. School starts in August!
People, not numbers:
If you still think that COVID-19 is something that healthy young people don’t need to worry about, please read the attached article. It details the experiences of the U.S. Women’s Olympic rowing team, a group of young people in top physical condition. One-third of the team was infected with COVID-19 by a physical therapist. Their experience with the virus was not easy.
As always, please be sure to check reliable sources for COVID-19 information.