PEOPLE, NOT NUMBERS:
- Things continue to be extremely busy at the Health Department. One month ago on November 17, we had an 8-month cumulative total of 900 cases. One month later on December 17, our cumulative total is 1691. That’s 791 cases in a month. That’s not quite double the total cases we accumulated from April 1 – November 17, but it’s uncomfortably close. The virus activity is high right now. Please consider modifying your holiday plans and celebrate with people who live in your household. Stay safe this year so your loved ones are still here to celebrate next year.
- As a reminder, in response to the surge in cases, we have modified our processes. We continue to conduct case investigations on positive cases. As we currently lack the capacity to track and monitor close contacts, we ask positive cases to notify their close contacts and encourage them to quarantine and get tested 6 days after exposure. The exception is positives among students and school employees; school nurses are still notifying and monitoring close contacts in the school system.
- Vaccine rollout has begun. The attached infographic provides a basic rundown of distribution priorities. Things are moving at an extremely accelerated rate. The state has developed an electronic COVID-19 vaccine management system and is in the process of fine-tuning it. As we wait for Haywood County’s branch of the statewide system to be finalized, planning and coordination is underway for providing the first vaccination dose to healthcare and emergency workers who fall under the 1A category. We anticipate beginning the first round of 1A vaccinations within the next few weeks. If all goes according to plan, the first round of vaccinations for 1B populations will quickly follow, and we will continue to work our way down the chain of vaccine priorities, as well as scheduling and administering the second doses to those populations who have passed the appropriate amount of time from their first dose. The CDC will be resupplying the vaccine as we use it.
- While the vaccine rollout is great news, it’s important to remember that everyone, even those who have received the vaccine, needs to continue practicing the 3W’s. While the vaccine helps to prevent symptomatic illness and severe disease, research is still being done as to whether those who are vaccinated can still be an asymptomatic carrier and spread the illness to others even after vaccination. It’s estimated that about 70% of Americans need to be vaccinated before we reach herd immunity through vaccination. That would mean that enough people have the immune protection that the virus won’t spread anymore.
- With the holidays just around the corner, please do everything you can to not be a close contact. Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth any time you’re around people who don’t live in your household. Keep six feet of distance. Stay home if you’re sick and get tested if you become symptomatic for COVID-19.
- There will be no COVID message next week. Have a safe and happy holiday.
Garron Bradish, Interim Public Health Director