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As of Tuesday afternoon, Burke County has not had a positive case of COVID-19.

But the virus has invaded counties around Burke. McDowell County reported two positive cases and Caldwell County reported one positive case on Tuesday.

The 53 COVID-19 tests results the Burke County Health Department has received so far have been negative. The county has tested 66 people so far, with continual testing as testing kits are available, said Lisa Moore, health education supervisor for the Burke County Health Department.

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 398 positive cases of COVID-19 across the state. There have been 8,502 tests given in the state, according to the department.

McDowell County Emergency Management said Tuesday that public health staff have already initiated an investigation and will be identifying close contacts of the two people who tested positive to contain the spread of disease. McDowell County officials said it is important for the community to understand that the identification of a case does not change its local strategies for preventing and reducing the spread of disease.

Caldwell County had tested 324 people as of Tuesday afternoon. Testing numbers in Caldwell are cumulative from both the UNC Caldwell health care system and the county health department. Of those tested in Caldwell, its hospital system had tested 195 people, according to information from Rebecca McLeod, director of the Burke County Health Department said.

As for the difference in the number of those tested, McLeod said she cannot attest to what happens in other counties. The Burke County Health Department is testing by the guidelines of the state lab with limited quantities and to those that are sent to the department for testing from the provider offices, she said. She said the department has been using its tests as it has them on hand.

In Burke County, the criteria to be tested for the virus is:

» Fever of 100.4 or more or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) in any person, including health care workers, who has had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset. Close contact is defined as close to someone less than 6 feet and for 10 minutes or longer.

» Fever and signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and negative flu test (rapid or PCR) and no other more likely diagnosis.

» And the recommendation of people older than 65 with a fever of 99.6 or higher from the Admiral of Public Health Commission.

Of the nearly 400 people who have tested positive in the state, 104 of them are in Mecklenburg County, according to NCDHHS on Tuesday. That county has surpassed even Wake and Durham counties in the number of positive cases.

On Tuesday, Mecklenburg County issued a Stay at Home Order that will begin at 8 a.m. Thursday.

While Gov. Roy Cooper hasn’t yet issued a similar statewide order, the local health care system took stricter measures to protect its patients and workers.

Starting today, Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge announced it is enacting a no visitor policy.

“We will work with families who have special circumstances, such as a critically ill or injured family member, on a case-by-case basis after consulting the patient’s care team and physician,” a release from the health care system said.

It said the policy is temporary but will stay in place until further notice. The health care system is encouraging people to use phone calls and video chats to stay in touch with patients while the policy is in place.

“Please use these alternatives whenever possible,” the release said. “Thank you for understanding our position in keeping our patients, our staff and the public safe during these trying times.”

Cooper issued an executive order on Monday that restricts all visitation and non-essential health care personnel to long-term care facilities, except for certain compassionate care situations.

A public information line is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those with questions can call 828-764-9388. After hours, questions can be directed to the NC Public Information Line at 866-462-3821.

Sharon McBrayer can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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(1) comment

MC

Stay home. Stay apart. Can't get here unless someone brings it.

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