By Tim Gardner
The Toe River Health District, which comprises health departments in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey, NC counties has again commenced reporting coronavirus (Covid-19) numbers again. The number of persons infected with the potentially fatal virus sharply declined this spring after one year of a consistent rise in cases throughout the region. But during the past five days, the number of positive cases is again growing and at an alarming rate.
On Friday, July 21, Yancey County had nine new cases and Avery County had three. While Mitchell County reported zero cases on Friday, it had five cases during the past five days (July 19-23). In the same five-day time period, Yancey County had 18 new cases of the disease, while Avery County reported 15 and Mitchell County had five.
Avery County includes the townships and communities of Newland, Banner Elk, Elk Park, Beech Mountain, Linville, Invershield, Pineola, Crossnore, Ingalls, Pyatte, Hughes, Minneapolis and Cranberry.
Mitchell County includes the townships and communities of Spruce Pine, Bakersville, Penland, Minpro, Estatoe, Ledger, Red Hill, Poplar, Pigeon Roost, Loafers Glory and Buladean.
Townships and communities in Yancey County include: Burnsville, South Toe, Micaville, Newdale, Bald Creek, Cane River, Egypt, Ramseytown, Green Mountain and Pensacola.
Toe River Health District Director Diane Creek indicated that residents of, and visitors to the region, should be on alert and resume practicing the 3 W’s: Wear a mask; Maintain at least a 6-foot distance from other individuals; And wash their hands with soap and water regularly.
But she added the most important way to combat the disease is to get the two recommended vaccinations–either two doses approximately a month apart of either Moderna or Pfizer.
According to the Nation Center for Disease Control, both vaccines are 95 percent effective against coronavirus.
Moderna is the vaccine given by the three Toe River District Health Departments.
Creek commented: “These COVID-19 cases hit quickly and it’s absolutely vital to be vaccinated. Earlier this week, our health district had under 5 cases in each county. During the five-day time span, it ended with 38 cases. Across the district, a lot of these cases have been from high exposure events, like summer camps, summer school, funerals, church events and work places. Our health department representatives aren’t pointing fingers at those specific venues, just reporting the facts as they’re coming in to our health departments. Ages across the district of those infected are 6-73. The majority of those are in their 30’s and 40’s. However, there is a significant number of people infected under age 18.”
Creek then added that the return of COVID-19 may be its most feared variant—Delta– infecting so many so fast.
The Delta variant is considered the most contagious, fastest-spreading and worst of coronavirus.
“We (health district and health department employees and other medical professionals) aren’t sure if the current COVID-19 cases are the Delta variant. But we suspect that it is, indeed, the Delta one. The State of North Carolina has been warning us that the Delta variant would be the main form of Covid soon.
“Be sure to stay quarantined if you’re having COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to anyone with the disease. Again everyone, particularly those in high-risk groups such be vaccinated. These are the best ways to avoid developing this horrible and potentially deadly ailment.”
Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste, loss of smell, diarrhea, nausea, headache, sore throat and body aches. If you experience these symptoms, please call your healthcare provider and follow their advice. If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and inform the dispatcher that you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Those wishing to be tested for COVID-19 can do so at the local health departments (free of charge) or at a hospital. There is no charge for testing.
The Toe River Health District will continue reporting COVID-19 cases until further notice, Creek indicated.
The Avery, Mitchell and Yancey County Health Departments are providing Moderna vaccinations to those wanting inoculated. If you’re a resident of, or a visitor to either of three counties in the Toe River Health District and have questions about COVID-19, you’re requested to call its local health departments:
Avery County (828) 733-6031
Mitchell County (828) 688-2371
Yancey County (828) 682-6118.