Macon County’s COVID-19 numbers continue to increase, according to the most recent data reported by the public health department.
As of Tuesday, Macon County had 65 active positive COVID-19 cases, up from 40 active cases one week prior. The 65 active cases is the highest number in more than three months.
While the number of positives is on the rise, Macon County Emergency Services Director Warren Cabe noted that the healthcare system as a whole is handling the uptick well.
“Our positivity rate is increasing countywide, but our call numbers for EMS services are about where they would be for a normal year,” Cabe said. “Our hospitals are not overwhelmed to this point and we are able to meet the needs that we have. We still encourage everyone to wear their face coverings, maintain social distance and wash their hands as often as possible.”
Cabe added that Macon County was able to purchase some additional cleaning and sterilization equipment for each of its ambulances thanks to Cares Act funding earlier in the year. That equipment, combined with having an extra ambulance at each EMS station in the county, has made it possible to rotate ambulances following the transport of COVID-19 positive patients.
“We are following protocols that we set up in the spring as far as our cleaning and sterilizing of equipment, and of course our employees are masking up at all times while on calls,” Cabe said. “As a county we have always done a good job of being prepared for infectious diseases, which COVDI-19 is, so our employees are well trained in how to handle those transports.”
While no one could have anticipated the impact of COVID-19, Cabe noted that the timing of the pandemic may have been a fortunate break for the emergency services and healthcare industries.
“Because this virus came along in the spring, but then slowed during the summer months when folks could be outside and socially distanced, it gave us time to make sure we had the right amount of personal protective equipment, the right procedures in place, and things of that nature so we could be prepared for the coming winter,” Cabe said. “What we are hoping now is that citizens will take the proper precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19 and at the same time slow the spread of the flu.”
As of Tuesday, there have been 846 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Macon County since the beginning of the pandemic. There were 65 active positive cases, 773 patients declared recovered, and eight deaths.
Eckerd Living Center
Macon County Public Health identified two COVID-19 outbreaks in Macon Valley Nursing Home and Eckerd Living Center on Friday, Nov. 13.
Two individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 at both facilities. All four patients are well and isolated from others. Both facilities have been following the highest levels of Personal Protective Equipment standards while in their facility and especially when working with patients.
“The two positive test results from Eckerd Living Center were staff members who acquired COVID-19 outside of work,” Mission Health Public Relations Specialist Nancy Lindell said. “They are both now quarantining at home. Each resident at Eckerd Living Center has been tested and all are negative. Mission Health continues to take the highest level of precaution within the facility to keep our residents safe.”
Macon Valley Nursing Home, Eckerd Living Center, and Macon County Public Health have been working together and have verified that both facilities have all the necessary PPE, sanitizing, and monitoring supplies and guidance they need to assure that any spread is minimal.
Both facilities are now closed to visitors to slow the risk of spread within the facility and to the community. All residents and staff of both facilities have been tested and are awaiting results. All residents and staff will be tested every week until there are two consecutive weeks of all negative results. When two consecutive weeks of negative results for all come back, then facilities can begin to allow minimal visitation again.
Officials with Macon County Public Schools confirmed a second positive COVID-19 test at Highlands School on Friday, Nov. 13. The positive test is the second in as many weeks at the school.
According to information provided by MCS, the patient is under quarantine at home. Contact tracing is underway to determine any close contacts the patient may have had prior to their positive test.
North Carolina is under “Phase three” of Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan to reopen the state. Citing increasing case numbers statewide, Cooper announced additional COVID-19 related restrictions on Nov. 12. Those restrictions include limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people or less. Schools, businesses operating under an already reduced capacity, and religious services are exempt from that restriction.