The Transylvania Times -

COVID-19 Is County's Top Priority


Last updated 3/18/2020 at 2:56pm

COVID-19 is a serious health issue and deserves serious attention by Transylvania County citizens. While we have no reason to believe our county is unusually vulnerable, it is prudent to make all necessary preparations. By remaining calm and working together, our community can adapt to changing circumstances and persevere through the upcoming weeks and months, if need be.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness for which there is no current natural immunity or immunization, and it is relatively easily transmitted from person to person. It is also a new strain of virus; thus our experience with it and understanding of it is limited.

For these reasons, COVID-19 merits special attention and special mitigating actions. We have seen many of these already, including the cancellation of many events that draw large crowds into one space.

The goal of the various prevention actions is to slow the spread of the virus, so that our health care facilities can better manage the demands which will be placed on them. This is referred to as “flattening the curve” -slowing the rate of citizens requiring medical attention.

It’s important to understand that these preventive actions will not keep the virus from affecting Transylvania County. Our county will experience cases of COVID-19 in the weeks and months ahead. This is expected and county officials are working with state and federal officials to prepare for this eventuality.

Experience in other countries indicates COVID-19 is fairly benign for the overwhelming number of people. In fact, many people have the virus without even knowing it. Others have mild flu-like symptoms. But some, especially those with existing respiratory or other health issues, can experience life-threatening illness.

To emphasize the point, in the upcoming weeks and months we will see some of our friends and neighbors contract this virus, with a range of effects. So what can we do about it?

From the government end, this issue is at the top of our list of priorities. County staff across numerous functional areas – notably public health, public safety and emergency services – have been in daily contact with regional, state and federal partners to deal with the many aspects of COVID-19. Much remains to be done, and there are gaps that need to be filled, but our staff will continue to be focused on doing everything we can during this time.

On the individual end, we can do what Transylvania County is best at – taking care of each other. In the coming weeks, let’s all make a special effort to support each other. Check in with your neighbors, especially those with health issues. Make grocery trips for especially vulnerable friends. Keep in touch with shut-ins; isolation can be a contributing cause to depression and other mental issues which can be just as harmful as any virus.

Live your lives with common sense precautions. Go about your daily business. Don’t panic shop; there are currently no supply chain problems that might cause shortages of basic goods. Practice social distancing while in the public and patronizing local businesses.

Finally, please join me in thanking the selfless health care professionals who work on our behalf every day. They are angels among us and our gratitude for their service is unsurpassed.

The next few weeks and months will be different and challenging, but we will come through it. Know that your Transylvania County government will be working constantly with state and federal officials to manage this public health situation moving forward.

(Mike Hawkins is Chair of the Transylvania County Board of Commissioners.)


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