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COVID-19 deaths in western counties continue to rise

Although the seven-day rolling average of positive COVID-19 tests continues to trend downwards across the state of North Carolina, western counties are beginning to see huge upticks in both cases and deaths. 

“If you have symptoms such as headache, fever, cough, shortness of breath or loss of sense of smell don’t wait, get tested,” said Haywood County Public Health Director Patrick Johnson in an Aug. 7 press release. “If your doctor isn’t providing testing, contact one of the local urgent cares. Call first for pre-emptive screening and to find out what the current protocols are for when you arrive. It’s also important to understand that anyone tested for COVID-19, even as a standard pre-operative precaution, needs to stay home and self-quarantine away from other family members as able until test results are received, and then follow instructions according to the test results.”

In that same release, county health officials reported 107 cases for the week, a new high. The prior week, 74 new cases were logged. 

NCDHHS was also reporting an outbreak at a Haywood County nursing home; last week, a story in The Smoky Mountain News noted almost 40 cases at Silver Bluff Village. Several of those have now resulted in deaths, including five more in the past week alone, bringing the countywide total to 12. 

Three of those deaths list COVID-19 as the underlying cause of death, while two list COVID-19 as the primary cause. The individuals were all over the age of 80 and most had underlying medical conditions. 

“We extend our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones,” Johnson said. “This is a sad reminder that COVID-19 is a serious and sometimes deadly illness.  We urge all citizens to do their part by observing social distancing, wear masks and practicing good hygiene.”

In congregate living settings like nursing homes, a COVID-19 outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases. By that measure, NCDHHS has also logged nursing home outbreaks in Cherokee, Clay, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Transylvania counties. 

As of press time on Aug. 11, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services was reporting 435 total cases for Haywood County, along with 12 deaths. Jackson County had reported 447 cases and five deaths. Macon County reported 463 cases and two deaths. Swain County had 119 cases and two deaths. 

Presenting those figures as the number of cases per 1,000 residents, Haywood had seven, Jackson had 10.3, Macon had 13.1 – highest west of Buncombe County – and Swain had 8.4.

To stay up to date on COVID-19 in Haywood County visit www.haywoodcountync.gov/684/Coronavirus-Covid-19-Information or call 828.356,2019, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. Information for other counties in North Carolina is also available at the DHHS website, www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov.

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