2019 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Burke County now leads surrounding county in positive cases of COVID-19.

And county officials are pleading with residents to stay at home.

Burke County Commissioner Chairman Johnnie Carswell conducted a briefing on Monday, saying 28 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported to Rebecca McLeod, director of the county health department.

The county reported that of the 28, 14 of the cases are at Grace Heights Health & Rehabilitation. One positive case is at another long-term care facility, Autumn Care of Drexel, according to county officials. One person in Burke County died of the virus on Saturday.

Valerie Kelly, director of nursing for the Burke County Health Department, said Monday the state approved testing all of the patients that hadn’t been tested at Grace Heights, as well as the employees who had close contact with positive cases before they started wearing protective gear last week.

“I cannot impress upon you enough the seriousness of this virus and the complications associated with it and I strongly encourage all Burke Countians to comply with these orders and limit your contact with others especially those that are at a high risk of complications from the virus,” Carswell said during the briefing.

Carswell has previously signed a State of Emergency for Burke County with additional restrictions that include the Pisgah National Forest and the Linville Gorge and travel into the county by visitors.

Scott Mulwee, commissioner vice chairman, asked people to stay at home, particularly those who don’t feel well. He also asked people to limit the number of times they leave home and make a list of essential items needed before going out, as well as limiting the number of family members, including children, to get essential needs. If children need to go, have another adult stay with them in a car.

Mulwee said people should also limit the amount of time in a store to as short as possible and when in stores, limit the number of times you touch things and clean items purchased when you get home. He also implored people to not buy more than they need and to consider others’ needs.

All of the positive cases in Burke County are in isolation, according to county health officials.

During the briefing Monday, Lisa Moore said just like Americans did when terrorists attacked the United States in 2001, everyone needs to work together to support and help each other and keep everyone healthy.

“Today, the terror is a virus called COVID-19 and it is killing people across the U.S. and the world,” Moore said.

Moore said COVID-19 is easily spread from person to person through droplets from someone infected. Between people who are within 6 feet for 10 minutes or longer, it spread through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks and when droplets land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. It also can be contracted if someone touches surfaces that someone infected has touched and then they touch their eyes, nose or mouth before washing their hands or using hand sanitizer, Moore said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some people have not had symptoms but carry the virus and spread it, Moore said.

Moore said the newest recommendation from the state is for people with mild symptoms, the focus is on managing the symptoms, hydrate and isolate at home. Residents are encouraged to call their health care provider but they don’t need to get out in the community because they could spread it to the more vulnerable.

If symptoms become worse, then people need to seek medical care, she said.

The county said the CDC is recommending that people wear masks or cloth face coverings in public settings where social/physical distancing cannot be done like grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, etc., especially in areas with a lot of community spread of the infection.

The CDC is advising the use of cloth coverings for the general public and those can be made from common household materials, according to Burke County.

Moore released on Monday directions on how to wear a face covering.

The directions are:

» You must wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer before putting the mask on

» It has to fit snugly around the face, around the nose and down under the chin

» Needs to be secured with ties or ear loops

» It should include several layers of fabric but allow for breathing without restricting air flow

» Be able to be washed and machine dried without damage to the fabric or change in shape. And should be routinely washed

» It is extremely important that you do not touch the outside of the mask when you are wearing it and do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth while wearing the mask

» It is also very important not to touch the outside of the mask when you are taking it off. Grasp the ear loops only and throw away in a closed trash can if it a disposable mask or put in a separate container from other clothes or surfaces until it is washed and ready to wear again

» Then wash your hands again with soap and water or use hand sanitizer

» Face coverings should not be used on children less than 2 years of age, or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove the face covering without help.

Carswell said he wants residents to feel comfortable in knowing that the decisions county officials make daily are based on the best data that is available to them and to remember that this data is fluid.

“We all have family in this county and we totally understand the gravity of COVID-19 and it is and will continue to be our goal to keep Burke County safe as much as possible.”

Carswell implored residents to strongly scrutinize the information that is being posted on social media to determine if it is the truth.

“We certainly do not need unsubstantiated rumors being posted on social media causing havoc in our lives,” Carswell said.

Catawba County reported 25 positive cases and it has received 370 negative test results as of Monday afternoon. Catawba has had one death so far from the virus. The state reported that McDowell County has 10 cases, Rutherford County has 17, Cleveland County has 18 and Alexander County has two cases as of Monday. Caldwell County reported 11 positive cases on Monday.

The state reported 33 deaths and 2,870 positive cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Of the 2,870 positive cases, the state figures said 270 were currently hospitalized across 89 of the 100 counties in North Carolina.

Burke County has set up a public information line that is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Anyone with questions about COVID-19 can call 828-764-9388. For after hours questions, call the NC Public Information line at 1-866-462-3821.

Visit the Burke County COVID-19 webpage at www.burkenc.org/COVID-19.

People having a medical emergency should call 9-1-1 and inform the dispatcher that you have symptoms listed for COVID-19.

To see the Burke County briefing on Monday, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MrU_tobYPE.

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