Coronavirus cases steady in Swain County


‘Active’ cases provide better picture

  • A close up of coronavirus
    A close up of coronavirus

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 has remained steady in Swain County, averaging about 10 or fewer new cases a week for the last month. The total number of cases in Swain County hit 100 last Wednesday.

As of Monday, there were 106 total cases for the county and two deaths.

Over the weekend, North Carolina and the United States as a whole saw daily reported cases drop.

Similarly, the number of people hospitalized in North Carolina with COVID-19 began to drop.

According to N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, the rate of positive tests in the state is at about 7 percent. Last week, Swain County Health Department reported the local rate at about 3 percent.


‘Active’ cases provide better picture

Just recently, the Swain County Health Department began including ‘active’ cases, which followed numerous requests from the public to release the ‘recovered’ cases.

The active cases represent those who are currently under isolation orders, said Amber Frost, SCHD assistant health director. She points out this number can fluctuate as some people begin and others may end isolation on any given day.

While the department has declined to put a number of recovered cases, the active numbers do paint a clearer picture.

“‘Recovered’ insinuates something that is concrete, which is why we felt that reporting individuals as recovered may be slightly misleading. After an individual tests positive for COVID-19 they are required by law to isolate until released by public health. The current criteria to discontinue isolation of positive individuals is at least 10 days have passed from the positive test date or symptom onset plus at least 24 hours with no fever plus improvement in other symptoms. Therefore, it is difficult to say that a person is fully recovered.”

The department continues to conduct contact tracing for every positive case reported in the county. Frost also addressed some of the requirements when it comes to what the department reports to the public overall.

Contract tracing will begin with an interview with the patient who tests positives and questions, such as where that person works and whom they have come in contact with would be included.

“This information is then utilized so that we can keep track of any cases that may be linked to workplace, educational, or other community settings,” she said.

Health departments would only be publicly identifying locations, such as work places, to the public if there is a cluster at that location, with five or more positive cases or an outbreak at a specific location.

“If a cluster is identified in Swain County a public notice will be released by the health department,” Frost said, adding: “It is important to continue taking precautions and follow the 3 W’s in all settings.”

She notes that with community spread present in Swain County and other surrounding counties, the potential for exposure exists among public settings.

Businesses and other settings must follow specific guidelines from the CDC and NCDHHS if an employee or visitor is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19.

In general, the employer must screen all employees for symptoms on a daily basis, including taking temperatures.

If an employee has symptoms, has tested positive or has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, they are to self-isolate. The business would then follow cleaning and disinfectant guidelines.

Some businesses have additional and specific guidelines. For example, restaurants and bars must notify health officials and the staff of any cases among employees and those who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed are to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms.