The number of active COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Macon County continues to grow as the number of citizens tested nears 2,700.
According to information provided by Macon County Public Health officials on Tuesday, there have been 231 cases of COVID-19 in Macon County. Of those, 211 are active cases, 19 are deemed recovered and one person has died.
There are currently 175 tests pending results.
Macon County leads the seven Western North Carolina counties in cases, with 191 more cases than Swain County’s 39 total. The virus is considered community spread both within the county and across the region.
A third “cluster” of cases was identified in Macon County on Saturday, when according to MCPH officials six employees of Wind River Construction each tested positive for the virus.
“All positive individuals have been issued isolation orders and all additional employees are aware of their exposure and have been called for testing,” MCPH Director Kathy McGaha said in a written statement. “All employees who are awaiting test results have been instructed to quarantine until they receive a negative result.”
McGaha added that outside of the business, MCPH staff members are working to identify close contacts of the patients who tested positive.
The cluster at Wind River Construction is the third cluster in Macon County since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Previously clusters were identified at Ebenezer’s Evangelical Church in Franklin and Old Edwards Inn in Highlands.
The Center for Disease Control defines a cluster of cases as a minimum of five cases with illness onset or positive test results within a 14-day time period and with a plausible linkage between cases.
North Carolina is currently in “phase two” of Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan to reopen the economy, which allowed some businesses previously considered non-essential, to reopen at limited capacity.
Bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, bowling alleys, skating rinks, playgrounds and fitness centers remain closed.
Public gatherings are currently limited to 10 people or less if the event is indoors, and 25 people or less if the event is outdoors. Social distancing of at least six feet is encouraged, as are face coverings in public.
Cooper indicated when he moved the state into “phase two” of his plan that the state could move to “phase three,” which would further relax restrictions on June 26 or any time after that date. A decision regarding when “phase three” might begin is expected in the next 7-10 days.