The Transylvania Times -

County COVID-19 Cases Growing, But Not 'Spiking,' Yet – Transylvania County, NC


Last updated 11/18/2020 at 6:17pm

Cases of COVID-19 in Transylvania County are growing but are not "spiking" like they are in some places, according to Tara Rybka, the public information officer with Transylvania Public Health.

"We have had an average of three-and-a-half new cases per day since mid-October, and the number of new cases has been increasing from week to week at around 5 percent," she said. "However, our percent of positive tests remains higher than we would like."

Transylvania Public Health reported four additional cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, for a total of 493 cases and nine deaths among county residents, since the pandemic started. As of Wednesday, 21 county residents were in isolation for COVID-19 (within 10 days of symptom onset or 10 days of a positive test).

"Based on data released Tuesday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), as part of the COVID-19 County Alert System, Transylvania County currently has a 'substantial' number of new cases reported in the past two weeks, but only five other counties have a lower rate of new cases per capita, and we are seeing less overall impact compared to many other counties in North Carolina," Rybka said. "However, keep in mind that the number of new cases in North Carolina has continued to trend up since September, and we are seeing new records in the number of cases and hospitalizations statewide. We may be doing 'better' than other counties, but it's still not great, and people need to be diligent about taking precautions to slow the spread.

"We know that this virus spreads more easily when people gather in groups, especially when they are indoors, not wearing face coverings and not staying 6 feet apart. So, we do expect to see a spike in cases whenever people participate in these types of activities without taking proper precautions."

COVID-19 County Alert System

The COVID-19 County Alert System identifies counties with the highest levels of viral spread and offers specific recommen-dations to bring numbers down. The system is based on White House Coronavirus Task Force metrics and NCDHHS key metrics. Counties are categorized as Critical/Red, Substantial/Orange or Significant/Yellow Community Spread.

Counties with Critical Community Spread/Red have a case rate of more than 200 new cases per 100,000 people (or at least 42 new cases) in the past 14 days and either a percent of positive tests over the past 14 days above 10 percent or a high impact on hospitals that serve the county.

Counties with Substantial Community Spread/Orange have a case rate between 100 and 200 new cases per 100,000 people (or at least 21 new cases) in the past 14 days and either a percent of positive tests over the past 14 days between 8 percent and 10 percent, or a moderate impact on county hospitals.

Hospital impact is a composite score based on percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, COVID-related visits to the emergency department, staffed open hospital beds and critical staffing shortages over 14 days.

According to these metrics, Rybka said, Transylvania County is currently designated having Significant Community Spread/Yellow based on 151.2 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days, 6.9 percent of positive tests over the past 14 days and low impact on hospitals that serve the county.

Although the number of new cases is high enough to place the county in the Orange category, the percent of positive tests and hospital impact are not severe enough to meet the criteria for orange, she said.

The COVID-19 County Alert System report will be posted on the NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard and updated on the second week of each month at

Transylvania County Health Director Elaine Russell also had a message for county residents.

"COVID case numbers for Transylvania County continue to rise, although not as quickly as surrounding counties," she said. "As we enter the holiday season, it is critical for our community to continue upholding their good work around masking, social distancing, and hand washing."


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