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State Reports 5 COVID-19 Cases In Transylvania


Last updated 4/1/2020 at 5:18pm

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As of Wednesday morning, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources reported Transyl-vania County had five confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The state was also reported 26,243 (***) completed tests in the state, 1,584 (*) confirmed COVID-19 cases and nine (**) deaths, including one in Buncombe County. Two hundred and four patients were currently hospitalized.

*This number reflects cases that were tested and returned positive, including the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all hospital and commercial labs. All data are preliminary. Not all cases of COVID-19 are tested, so this does not represent the total number of people in North Carolina who have or had COVID-19.

**This number reflects deaths reported to public health in persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. Deaths will be included in this count after confirmation by local public health departments.

***This number reflects testing completed by the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial laboratories.

According to the state, Henderson County has 18 and Buncombe County has 20 cases.

During Tuesday’s special-called Transylvania County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, Public Health Director Elaine Russell said the situation is “beyond the control phase” in North Carolina and the state is now “fully in the stage of mitigation.”

“The actions we take are actions to flatten the curve,” she said, so that hospitals can be able to respond.

As of Tuesday, she said, in the county there had been 77 COVID-19 tests, with 41 coming back negative, 30 still to be determined and five confirmed cases.

Russell said her department is in routine contact with the long-term care facilities in the county to provide guidance and support.

“This is one of our greatest areas of vulnerability,” she said.

Russell has assigned two nurses exclusively to that work. Her department also has a COVID-19 hotline, where nurses can answer questions or hear concerns. Other work includes daily messaging to county and city employees, communicating with Transylvania Regional Hospital on “surge capacity” issues and staff is working on producing short educational videos.

County Manager Jaime Laughter also provided an update at the meeting. The following are some of her comments.

“Policy is being developed in real time,” she said.

She said the situation is unprecedented at the federal, state and local levels.

In other times, Emergency Management departments could pull resources from other places but this situation is presenting “unique challenges,” she said. Everyone is struggling with getting resources.

“It’s highlighted some weakness as a country and as a state,” she said.

Laughter said they are hearing from the state level that they don’t really know what the federal plan is and are only hearing “parts of it.”

The public wants to know how many people can be expected to get sick and whether communities are 100 percent prepared.

The reality, Laughter said, is there is a certain level of “uncertainty.”

She also noted the importance of getting legal advice and making sure the county is following the law with its policy decisions.

Laughter said the county is working with HCA, the owner of Transylvania Regional Hospital, directly. Health care systems are being instructed to work with Emergency Management to make sure their needs are being met. If they are not being met, they can go to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services but this is creating “confusion,” Laughter said.

There is currently no testing going on in the county and people are being told to stay at home unless they need “higher levels of care.”

COVID-19 will go through the community, Laughter said, but everyone has the “power to slow its spread” by staying home, providing enough time for health care workers to deal with treatment.

Supplies continue to be a challenge because there is an “untested system” on how to manage it, she said. Locally, the county is trying to be “creative,” she said. It is getting donations to get supplies, while the public is also being asked to drop off supplies, such as masks, at the library and to make masks, under CDC guidance.

The county is continuing to provide essential services, she said, and is providing day care for those working in critical areas.


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