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Rise in COVID19 cases cause Swain Sheriff’s Department to operate with limited staff

A surge in COVID19 cases in Swain County has resulted in one school closure and the Swain County Sheriff’s Office being forced to close until further notice. 

The Swain County Health Department reported a total of 359 positive tests as of Monday, 25 of which are active. Swain County has had 5 COVID19 related deaths. The county also has 35 tests pending results. 

Last week, Swain County Schools announced that Bright Adventures Pre-K will be conducting remote instruction through Thanksgiving due to COVID-19.

The school system said the decision was made after having six staff members at Bright Adventures exposed to COVID-19. Two staff members have tested positive, and the others are self-quarantining due to close contact with the virus.

Swain County Schools Superintendent, Mark Sale said he worked with the Swain Board of Education making the decision to hold instruction at the Pre-K remotely until after the Thanksgiving Holiday. 

According to Sale, there have been no students identified as close contacts by the Swain County Health Department and no students who have tested positive at this point. 

Sale said that students are not considered close contact at this time because they are constantly moving and the CDC identifies close contact as being within 6 feet of someone exposed for more than 15 minutes. 

Late Sunday night, Swain County Sheriff Curtis Cochran announced via Facebook that the sheriff’s office will be closed until further notice due to a COVID19 cluster. 

Sheriff Cochran reported several deputies have been identified in a cluster outbreak of COVID-19 and in order to prevent public exposure to the virus, the Sheriff’s Office will remain closed until further notice.

Cochran said there will be a limited number of officers on duty until those infected are medically cleared. He stated that deputies who have not been exposed will still be working to answer and assist all emergencies.

According to Alison Cochran, Director of the Swain County Health Department, the health department is currently investigating reported cases to identify those who may be linked to one another at the Sheriff’s Department. 

Sheriff Cochran and Swain County Manager Kevin King did not return emails asking for additional information as of press time. 

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