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Local leaders closely COVID19 surge; hospitals restrict visitors 

The Delta Variant of COVID19 is more transmissible and causing a resurgence of COVID19 cases across the country. While 95 percent of all new COVID19 cases have been found in unvaccinated individuals, the Delta Variant is showing up in individuals who have received the vaccine in isolated breakthrough cases. 

Friday afternoon the Macon County Department of Public Health reported 95 active positive cases, bringing the county’s total case count to 3,360 with 41 deaths since the beginning of the Pandemic. 

“We have received numerous questions concerning the Delta Variant in Macon County. Although we do not have exact data, the Delta Variant has been the most commonly circulating variant since the week ending June 26, 2021 in North Carolina. At this point, we are working under the assumption that all new cases are likely the Delta Variant, COVID Summary,” said Macon County Director of Public Health Kathy McGaha. “We continue to monitor the COVID metrics that indicate a substantial increase in transmission and cases.  It is likely that Macon County will be in the “Substantial” or possibly “Critical” impact in the NC County Alert System when the next report comes out. We ask residents to be diligent with the strategies we know that work to prevent future spread, vaccination, wearing of masks in indoor settings, and social distancing.  We will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC and Governors Executive Orders.”

As part of its effort to help more North Carolinians protect themselves against COVID-19 and the highly contagious Delta variant, North Carolina is now offering $100 Summer Cards at some vaccine sites across the state to offset the time and transportation costs of getting vaccinated. 

From Aug. 4 through Aug. 31, the $100 Summer Cards are available to anyone 18 and older who gets their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a participating site—while supplies last.

“Vaccination is how we end this pandemic and put our masks away,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “The Delta variant is highly contagious, and the vast majority of severe cases are among those who are not vaccinated. We are using every tool in the toolbox to get more people to get their shots— don’t wait until it’s too late.”

In addition to providing a $100 Summer Card to those who get their first dose of vaccine, North Carolina continues to offer $25 Summer Cards to those who drive others to their vaccination appointment. They receive a $25 card each time they drive someone to a first dose appointment at the completion of the vaccination. This helps offset the costs for those who help family, friends, and neighbors find their spot for a vaccine and drive them to their shots. There is no limit on the number of times someone can drive people to a vaccination appointment; however, a driver will only receive one card per visit.

Macon County Emergency Management Director Warren Cabe said that they assisted in a vaccination clinic this week, however, due to staff shortages moving forward EMS will be limited in their availability. 

“On behalf of Macon County EMS, we are continuing to use the same protocols for patient encounters and treatment that we have been for several months,” said Macon County Director of Emergency Management Warren Cabe. “EMS call volume, in general, has seen shifts of increased volume but we cannot directly relate that to COVID. Our staff is assisting with a vaccination clinic this week but we will be limited in the future due to employee shortages.”

More than 61% of North Carolina adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. However, those who are unvaccinated run a higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 and the Delta variant. They can protect themselves and others by getting fully vaccinated and practicing the 3 Ws until they do. 

All area hospitals are once again restricting visitors to avoid additional exposures of COVID19.

As of August 3rd, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital have updated their visitor guidelines to reflect the recent development in regard to COVID-19.

• Visitors are NOT allowed for high-risk, isolation, immunocompromised, or respiratory patients who are under observation or test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) unless that patient is gravely ill, receiving hospice care/palliative care, or requires a compassionate care visit (a compassionate care visit does not “count” as a patient’s “one visitor”. **

• Inpatients (Harris and Swain) will be limited to only one visitor per day, 18 years of age or older.

• Emergency Department (Harris and Swain) will have zero visitors until further notice. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

• ICU will enforce a zero-visitor policy until further notice. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

• Harris Labor & Delivery patients will be allowed two support persons. Masks are required for all visitors.

Mission Health announced changes to visitor policies for all hospitals which extends to Angel Medical Center and the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital last month.

“We will be elevating our visitor restrictions due to the rise in COVID-19 positives both across the state and in our hospitals effective Tuesday, July 27. Mission Health will now allow only one visitor per patient per day in our hospitals; we will continue to allow one visitor to stay overnight. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, there is no visitation for the COVID unit,” according to the press release.

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