Following North Carolina’s move into phase two of Gov. Roy Cooper’s plan to reopen the state’s economy on Friday, the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Macon County increased by double digits.
On Sunday, Macon County Public Health officials identified a “cluster” of COVID-19 cases traced back to a local church in Franklin.
“Seven members of Evangelical Ebenezer’s congregation have tested positive, all members of the church are aware of their exposure and are being contacted for testing,” MCPH director Kathy McGaha said in a written statement. “All members of the congregation have also been given instructions to quarantine until they receive a negative test result. Those who test positive will be given isolation orders for 14 days.”
The North Carolina Division of Public Health defines a cluster of COVID-19 cases as, “a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14 day period and with plausible linkage between cases.”
MCPH officials are in the process of tracking down close contacts for each of the new positive patients. The Center for Disease Control defines close contact as anyone within six feet of a patient for a period of 10 minutes or longer.
As of Wednesday, May 20, Macon County had seven confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. That number jumped to 18 as of Wednesday, May 27. There has been one death as a result of the virus.
Statewide there have been 24,140 confirmed cases as of Wednesday morning. Of those, 754 patients have died.
Cooper moved North Carolina officially into phase two of his plan to reopen the state with a “Safer at home” executive order that took effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 22.
Under phase two of the plan, restaurants are allowed to reopen for dine-in service at 50 percent capacity and with additional cleaning and sanitizing practices in place. Breweries are also allowed to reopen under similar guidelines, as are personal care businesses such as barbershops and beauty salons.
Bars, gyms, entertainment venues, and various other types of businesses remain closed under the latest executive order.
While travel is no longer limited to essential trips, social distancing of at least six feet is still encouraged and the public is asked to avoid large public gatherings. Increased hand washing, surface cleaning/sanitizing and avoiding physical contact are also encouraged.