By Tim Gardner
The Northwest North Carolina High Country counties that encompass the Toe River Health District had a major increase in confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. But mainly because Avery is now factoring in congregate setting cases in its over-all totals.
Those three counties—Avery, Mitchell and Yancey- have had 590 total cases as of this morning, (September 8), compared to 482 a week ago. Counts of those afflicted with the disease have been tabulated, updated and publicly released since early March 2020 when COVID-19 became a pandemic in the United States. But this is the first week that Avery County has publicly released congregate setting cases in its tabulations.
A congregate setting is an environment where a number of people reside, meet or gather in close proximity for either a limited or extended period of time. Examples include homeless shelters, assisted living facilities, group homes, prisons, detention centers, schools and workplaces.
The Toe River Health District released the following details of those positive case counts, including those during the past week:
*Avery County-181 positive community cases, 68 congregate setting positive cases for a total of 249 total positive cases. 142 of those patients have recovered, 106 of those cases remain active and one death has occurred in the county.
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-150 positive cases, with 140 patients recovering from the disease. 6 cases remain active and Mitchell has had four COVID-19 deaths.
Mitchell County includes the townships and communities of Spruce Pine, Bakersville, Penland, Minpro, Estatoe, Ledger, Red Hill, Poplar, Pigeon Roost, Loafers Glory and Buladean.
*Yancey County-191 positive cases. 163 of those have recovered and 27 cases remain active. Yancey has had one death from COVID-19.
Townships and communities in Yancey County include: Burnsville, South Toe, Micaville, Newdale, Bald Creek, Cane River, Egypt, Ramseytown, Green Mountain and Pensacola.
A most positive consideration to those totals is that 455 of those 590 inflicted with COVID-19 in Avery, Mitchell or Yancey County have recovered—a whopping 77.1 percent.
As with all COVID-19 cases in the Toe River Health District (TRHD), its representatives and Avery, Mitchell and Yancey health department officials are working to complete investigations and are in the process of contacting close contacts to those diagnosed with COVID-19 to try to help contain the spread of disease, according to Jessica Farley, Public Relations Director for the TRHD.
For legal reasons, no further information about those afflicted with COVID-19 will be released. But the TRHD and Avery, Mitchell and Yancey County Health Departments has, and will continue to keep the public informed by announcing any additional cases and information about such that public record laws permit through local media partners such as High Country Press (hcpress.com).
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. A large majority (approximately 80 percent) of coronavirus cases generate only mild symptoms.
Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, medical professionals urge everyone to take precautions to protect themselves from the spread of all respiratory illness, including flu and COVID-19. Those include: Stay home as much as possible-especially stay home when sick; practice social distancing (at least 6 feet); wear a mask when out in public; avoid contact with persons that you know are sick; cover your cough; practice good hand hygiene by washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol; and cleaning frequently touched surfaces with household cleaners often.
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 are requested to call its local health departments:
Avery Co. Health Department (828)-733-6031
Mitchell Co. Health Department (828)-688-2371
Yancey Co. Health Department (828)-682-6118