COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

Information For Citizens & Visitors of
Franklin & Macon County NC

Macon County NC, Information & Resources

NEW! Do you have questions about COVID-19 or suspect you may have symptoms? Please call Macon County’s Community Resource Center at 828-349-0211 for information on the following:

- Questions about possible COVID-19 symptoms (fever, coughing, and difficulty breathing)
- Questions about state or local regulations
- Questions about unmet needs

The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm.

North Carolina Pauses in Safer At Home Phase 2, Adds Statewide Requirement for Face Coverings

» Read Executive Order 147 | » EO 147 FAQs | » Read NCDHHS Interim Guidance of Face Coverings

July 01, 2020 Update - 130 Active Cases of COVID-19 in Macon County, 155 Recovered, 1 Death | 286 Total Cases

June 25 - Macon County Public Health Identifies a COVID-19 Outbreak

Macon County Public Health has identified a COVID-19 outbreak in staff at Macon Valley Nursing Home. Two staff members of Macon Valley Nursing Home have tested positive for COVID-19. Both are asymptomatic and are isolating at home. Both employees will not return to work until they have two negative COVID-19 tests, taken 24 hours apart. Macon Valley Nursing Home has been following the highest levels of Personal Protective Equipment standards while in their facility and especially when working with patients. At this time, no patient in any Macon County nursing home or long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19.

All the residents and staff of Macon Valley Nursing Home are being tested for COVID-19 at the direction MCPH’s Medical Director and Macon Valley’s leadership team, and plans are in place to isolate any residents, should there be a positive result. Macon Valley Nursing Home and Macon County Public Health have been working together and have verified that Macon Valley has all the necessary PPE, sanitizing, and monitoring supplies and guidance they need to assure that any spread is minimal.

In addition to Macon Valley staff and patients, MCPH is working to identify any additional close contacts of these individuals. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with an infection with COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individual, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

Southwestern Community College officials confirmed on June 20 that a student has reported testing positive for COVID-19.

It’s the first case involving a student or employee at the college. The student was last at the Jackson Campus on Monday, June 15.  SCC  officials are working with local health department officials to locate anyone who may have come into contact with the individual.

All employees and students determined to have come into contact with the student have been notified and urged to get tested. Relevant classes have been canceled for Monday, June 22.

College administrators were made aware of the diagnosis directly by the student after 5 p.m. on Friday, June 19, and informed all students and employees via texts, calls and emails later that evening and Saturday morning.

Due to federal privacy laws, no information about the individual can be released at this time.

SCC  officials urge anyone who was at the college’s Jackson Campus on Monday, June 15, and is experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness (fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.) to isolate and contact a healthcare provider immediately.

Friday evening, housekeeping crews thoroughly cleaned and disinfected all locations where the student reported having visited.

Since the pandemic began,  SCC  officials have followed all protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services - as well as direction from N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper.

On March 24  SCC  primarily transitioned to a virtual college - other than a handful of programs designated as essential by state officials. Following Gov. Cooper’s phased reopening plan, designated employees began returning to campus for a soft reopening on May 26. While most summer classes are meeting online, classes that require face-to-face instruction began meeting on June 1.

Between March 24 and May 26, crews outfitted all  SCC  locations with plexiglass partitions, sanitizing stations and signage aimed at keeping employees, students and visitors safe.

Ongoing efforts to enhance those measures are still underway.

Macon County Public Health has identified a COVID-19 cluster in an area business.

NC DPH defines clusters of COVID-19 in workplace, educational, and other community settings as:
• A minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period AND
• Plausible linkage between cases;
where cases were present in the same setting during the same time-period (e.g., same shift, same classroom, same physical work area); that the timing fits with likely timing of exposure; and that there is no other more likely source of exposure for identified cases (e.g., household or close contact to a confirmed case in another setting).

Six employees of Wind River Construction have tested positive. All positive individuals have been issued isolation orders. All additional employees are aware of their exposure, and are currently being contacted for testing. All employees who are awaiting test results have also been given instructions to quarantine until they receive a negative test result; those who test positive will be given isolation orders for 14 days or until they receive 2 negative COVID-19 tests within a 24-48-hour period. In addition, management has been provided disinfection guidance.

June 08, 2020 - Macon County Public Health Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Macon County has identified that a Macon County Public Health employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is isolating at home and doing well. Close contacts of the employee have been notified, tested, and are quarantined until they receive their results. This individual has not had contact with the public as a part of their duties during the COVID-19 response.

Since March, Macon County has implemented strong infection control standards in all county facilities to protect employees and citizens. These measures include:
• providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees who need it,
• limiting access to county building and congregate areas,
• implementing a health screening process for all employees, such as taking temperatures before work,
• assuring that employees who work in an office-based setting are maintaining social distancing measures,
• moving to appointment-based services and limiting walk-in services, and
• implementing teleworking agreements for some personnel to work from home (should their job allow).

In addition to the measures above, Macon County Public Health staff is encouraged to be routinely tested as a precaution. Macon County Public Health is confident the risk of exposure for employees and citizens is minimal, and by implementing these measures, the county has been and will continue to provide services safely. The County Maintenance department has performed the necessary steps to disinfect the affected area.

As local businesses open, Macon County leadership encourages all businesses to implement measures to keep employees and customers safe while visiting their establishment. Count On Me NC is a public health initiative that empowers guests and businesses to help keep everyone safe from COVID-19, to access the free training visit https://countonmenc.org/.

Positive cases are increasing in Macon County. Macon County recommends that business owners consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on what employers and employees should do if they have been exposed to COVID-19. Macon County leadership is committed to remaining transparent with the public and encourages businesses to be open with the public as well. For more guidance about employee exposure, visit the CDC website.

It is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like Macon County Public Health, CDC, and NCDHHS. For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which will also include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

June 04, 2020 - Macon County Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Macon County has identified that a Macon County employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is isolating at home and doing well. Close contacts of the employee have been notified, tested, and are quarantined until they receive their results. The County Maintenance department has performed the necessary steps to disinfect the affected area.

Since March, Macon County has implemented strong infection control standards in all county facilities to protect employees and citizens.

These measures include:
• providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees who need it,
• limiting access to county building and congregate areas,
• implementing a health screening process for all employees, such as taking temperatures before work,
• assuring that employees who work in an office-based setting are maintaining social distancing measures,
• moving to appointment-based services and limiting walk-in services, and
• implementing teleworking agreements for some personnel to work from home (should their job allow).

Macon County is confident the risk of exposure for employees and citizens is minimal, and by implementing these measures, the county has been and will continue to provide services safely.

As local businesses open, Macon County leadership encourages all businesses to implement measures to keep employees and customers safe while visiting their establishment. Count On Me NC is a public health initiative that empowers guests and businesses to help keep everyone safe from COVID-19, to access the free training visit https://countonmenc.org/.

Positive cases are increasing in Macon County. Macon County recommends that business owners consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on what employers and employees should do if they have been exposed to COVID-19. Macon County leadership is committed to remaining transparent with the public and encourages businesses to be open with the public as well. For more guidance about employee exposure, visit the CDC at: https://bit.ly/critical_workers.

May 29, 2020 - 42 Macon County Residents Test Positive for COVID-19 in Last 48 Hours

Macon County Public Health has identified 42 positive cases of COVID-19 in the last 48 hours. This brings Macon County to a total positive count of 63: 59 active, 3 recovered, and 1 death. All individuals who test positive are required to isolate for 14 days. Of the 42 positive cases, MCPH has identified a 6-person cluster at Old Edwards Inn in Highlands. The Old Edwards Inn cases were identified from contract tracing efforts from previous cases. Old Edwards Inn is working with MCPH to ensure health and safety for both staff and guests.

MCPH Communicable Disease staff is following up with active cases on a daily basis to monitor symptoms. All 42 positive case were identified through MCPH’s contact tracing efforts related to recent positive cases in our community. The recent identification of clusters of COVID-19 cases confirm there is community spread in Macon County.

“Based on the large amount of positives that we have received over the last week, we have determined that there is community spread in Macon County. We encourage everyone who is able to stay home, to do so. For those who still have to make essential trips, we remind you to practice the 3W’s: Wear, Wash, and Wait,” said Dr. Dewhurst, MCPH Medical Director.

MCPH is reminding community members to practice the 3W’s: wear a mask, wash your hands, and wait 6 feet apart from others. MCPH is also recommending businesses, churches, and community gathering places to take temperatures of all employees before the start of their shift, implement flexible sick leave policies to allow for employees to take time-off if they or their immediate family is ill, encouraging the disinfection of high-touch surfaces (like doorknobs, keypads, tablets, etc.) and to require masks for all employees.

MCPH is working to identify other close contacts of these individuals. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with an infection with COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

May 24, 2020 Update - Macon County Public Health Identifies a COVID-19 Cluster in a Local Church

NC DPH defines clusters of COVID-19 in workplace, educational, and other community settings as:
• A minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period AND
• Plausible linkage between cases; where cases were present in the same setting during the same time-period (e.g., same shift, same classroom, same physical work area); that the timing fits with likely timing of exposure; and that there is no other more likely source of exposure for identified cases (e.g., household or close contact to a confirmed case in another setting).

Seven (7) members of Evangelical Ebenezer’s congregation have tested positive; all members of the congregation are aware of their exposure, and are currently being contacted for testing. All members of the congregation have also been given instructions to quarantine until they receive a negative test result; those who test positive will be given isolation orders for 14 days. In addition, church leadership has been provided disinfection guidance. This brings Macon County to a total of 16 positive cases: 13 active, 2 recovered, and 1 death.

MCPH is working to identify additional close contacts of these individuals. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with an infection with COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individual, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

The entire state of North Carolina is under a “Safer at Home” executive order, currently under phase two. Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19; however, anyone of any age can become infected with this illness. Therefore, we ask that community members strictly follow the governor’s orders and continue to practice social distancing, as well as safe hygiene measures such as hand washing and frequently cleaning touched objects and surfaces. The public can monitor the different phases of re-opening and learn more about the restrictions by clicking here.

It is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources. For more information, please visit the CDC’s website and NCDHHS’ website, which also includes future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

MCPH regularly updates our Facebook page with accurate and current information regarding COVID-19; we encourage the public to check our Facebook page by clicking here for up-to-date information.

Symptoms for COVID-19 are fever, cough, other lower respiratory illness (shortness of breath). If you believe that you may have COVID-19, please call the Health Department at 828-349-2517. The call center is open Monday through Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm, until further notice.

May 23, 2020 Update

Three Additional Macon County Residents Test Positive for COVID-19

Macon County Public Health has identified three additional positive cases of COVID-19. All three are unrelated to the positive essential workers at an area business. One of the three individuals is under the age of 18.

MCPH is working to identify other close contacts of these individuals. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with an infection with COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individual, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

May 21, 2020 Update

Multiple Macon County Residents Test Positive for COVID-19

Macon County Public Health has identified two additional positive cases of COVID-19. One individual acquired the virus unrelated to other identified positive cases. The other individual is believed to have acquired the virus via a positive case that had previously been identified by MCPH. This individual is an essential employee at a local business. We are working with the business and their staff to test all employees for the COVID-19 virus. Due to the nature of their work, these essential employees are unable to perform social distancing measures to the degree necessary to prevent exposure to COVID-19.

At this time, MCPH does not believe that the general public who may have been at the store needs to be tested, as they are more likely to have been practicing the necessary social distancing required to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask, washing your hands, and remaining 6 feet apart from others. COVID-19 is not believed to spread to individuals by just passing one another, so long as no aerosolized products (like sneezing or coughing) are exchanged. Members of the public are still encouraged to contact MCPH at 828-349-2517, if they believe that they have COVID-19 or are experiencing cough, shortness of breath, or fever greater than 100.4º F.

MCPH is working to identify other close contacts of these individuals. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with an infection with COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individual, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

Macon County repeals, cancels and ends County COVID-19 Pandemic Regulations effective May 8, 2020 - 5PM

Regulations imposed in Macon County (Less the Towns of Franklin and Highlands) by the Macon County Emergency Management Coordinator in connection with the COVID-19 Pandemic will be repealed, cancelled and ended effective May 8, 2020 at 05:00PM.

** Executive Orders of the Governor of the State of North Carolina are still valid and remain in full force and effect, including limits on mass gatherings, and retain social distancing requirements. **

The Governor of the State of North Carolina recently shared information about how North Carolina can gradually and safely reopen over three (3) phases beginning approximately May 8, 2020. The Macon County Health Department has also made recommendations for a reopening of Macon County in phases consistent with the plan released by the Governor.

With the number of COVID-19 positive patients having a minimal impact to date on the healthcare system in Macon County and with provisions available to pause reopening actions or take further actions deemed necessary and appropriate in the future, the regulations so imposed by the Emergency Management Coordinator are deemed no longer necessary as of May 8, 2020 at 05:00PM.

Macon County residents and visitors to our county are strongly urged to follow the state's standards for social distancing. All businesses should also follow recommended social distancing and hygiene practices.

» GO TO MACON COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH WEBSITE

A Message from Macon Transit

In light of the recent COVID-19 situation, Macon County Transit would like to let you know some of the ways we are serving the community during this challenging time.

• Vehicles are cleaned and disinfected multiple times per day in order to keep our passengers safe.
• Signage has been added to the vehicles asking passengers to observe social distancing while being transported.
• The maximum number of passenger on our vehicles is five so that social distancing can be observed.
• Transportation to medical appointments inside the county is available.
• Transportation is being provided to essential personnel for employment.
• Transportation to the grocery store is available.
• The Mountain Gem route operates on hourly loops, rather than half-hour loops. Hours of this service is 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday.
• In partnership with the Crawford Senior Center, we are assisting with delivery of meals to elderly citizens within the county.
• The shuttle service to the Appalachian Trail is available but operation is slightly different. The vehicle goes to Rock Gap & Winding Stairs at approximately 9:00 a.m. The vehicle remains at Winding Stairs for approximately 30 minutes or until five passengers have boarded. The vehicle returns to Franklin for the hiker(s) to resupply or arrange to get off the trail. The hikers are given information on the recently imposed regulations in place for Macon County. Should they need transportation TO the Asheville airport, every effort is made to take them and drop them off there.
• NO passengers are being picked up FROM the airport and transported to Franklin.
• NO requests are being accepted for out of county appointments until further notice.
• Exceptions will be made to provide transportation to out of county medical appointments when request is made by the Physician’s office as a medical necessity.

The office staff and drivers at Macon County Transit would like you to call our office at 349-2222 if you have any questions or concerns.