COVID-19 RESPONSE IN JACKSON COUNTY

The Jackson County Department of Public Health (JCDPH) wants to make sure that our community has accurate information from reliable sources to help prepare for and prevent COVID-19.  Know that the health and safety of our community is our top priority. 

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Some coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States and usually cause upper respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose, although some can cause more serious illness. The 2019 novel (new) coronavirus causes the illness coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that was identified in Wuhan, China, and is now being spread throughout the world. People are encouraged to take common sense precautions to prevent the spread of all infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

How does COVID-19 spread and what are the symptoms?

Coronaviruses like COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands. Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how COVID-19 spreads and how to protect yourself and your community from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or believe that you have been exposed to COVID-19, you may need to seek medical attention.  Call your healthcare provider or the Health Department.  Describe your symptoms and how you may have been exposed to the virus.  Your healthcare provider or the Health Department will tell you what steps to take next.  In the event of an emergency, call 911.

PREVENTION & CURRENT COMMUNITY RECOMMENDATIONS

What are steps that my family and I can take to stay healthy?

  1. Practice Common Sense Hygiene Tips: There are some common sense measures everyone can take to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory illnesses including COVID-19.
    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are ill
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
    • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
  1. Stay Home as Much As Possible: Now that we have evidence of community spread in North Carolina, we should be staying home as much as possible to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.  This is even more important for people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.  People at high risk include people who are over 65 years of age, people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, and people with other high risk conditions.  People who are pregnant should be monitored sine they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk.
  2. If You Need to Go Out, Practice Social Distancing: To slow or stop the spread of disease, all Jackson Country residents should limit travel to meeting basic and essential needs (i.e. going to the grocery store, medical appointments).  If you need to go out, you should create physical space between you and other people to prevent disease from spreading from person-to-person and avoid gathering in crowded public places.  If you have to be around people, keep 6 feet between you and others when possible.  
  3. Develop or Review Your Household Plan of Action: The CDC recommends households have a plan of action to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak. People should think about having daily necessities and medications to last about two weeks, in case they need to isolate. Massive stock piling of supplies is not necessary.  Individuals and families should have a plan in case they need to miss work due to illness or need to care for a sick family member. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also released a list of cleaning products to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

TESTING AND TREATMENT

What COVID-19 testing options are available in Jackson County?

The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health (NCSLPH) can now perform testing for COVID-19 which allows the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to promptly identify and respond to any potential cases. North Carolina is using the test kit developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  JCDPH is able to submit specimens to the NCSLPH with a doctor’s order.  Other healthcare providers in Jackson County can submit specimens to the NCSLPH as well.

COVID-19 tests are available as needed and it is not necessary for everyone to be tested for COVID-19 at this time.

If you have been tested for COVID-19, please talk to the healthcare provider or laboratory that performed the testing about when and how you will receive your test results. 

NCDHHS has expanded testing criteria for COVID-19. Only those who meet the following criteria should ask their healthcare provider about being testing for COVID-19 through the NCSLPH:

  1. Have fever or lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days; OR
  2. Have fever and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and a negative rapid flu test and no other more likely diagnosis

Individuals who meet the criteria should follow CDC guidelines to prevent further spread and immediately contact their healthcare provider.  At that time, their healthcare provider will decide if a COVID-19 test is appropriate.

Some commercial labs other than the NCSLPH are now conducting tests. CDC provides recommended criteria to guide decisions on testing, but healthcare providers will be able to order COVID-19 testing through these labs as they see fit.

This information is changing regularly and will be updated as necessary.

Is a vaccine available?

Currently there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 but there is work underway to develop a vaccine.

What treatment is available?  

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Most people with illnesses caused by coronaviruses like COVID-19 will recover on their own. However, there are some things you can do to relieve your symptoms, including:

  • Taking pain and fever medications (caution: do not give aspirin to children).

  • Using a humidifier or taking a hot shower to ease a sore throat and cough.

  • Drinking plenty of liquids and stay home and rest.

  • Follow the instructions given to you by your healthcare provider.

TRAVEL

What are the latest travel recommendations?  The U.S. Department of State provides information to help travelers assess the risks of international travel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides things to consider before traveling within the US.

What do I need to know if I have recently traveled?

At this time, travel restrictions and entry screening apply only to travelers arriving from some countries or regions with widespread ongoing spread of COVID-19. US policies are subject to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

If you are coming from a country or a region with widespread ongoing transmission of COVID-19 (Level 3 Travel Heath Notice), you may be screened when you arrive in the United States. After you arrive home, take the following steps to protect yourself and others:

  • Stay at home. Do not go to work, school, or leave your house for 14 days. Discuss your work situation with your employer.

  • Monitor your health. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever (temperature of 100.4°F or higher). Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.

  • Practice social distancing within the home. Avoid contact with other people for the 14 days. Maintain distance (approximately 6 feet) from family members and others in the home when possible.

If you are coming from a country with ongoing community transmission (Level 2 Travel Health Notice), take the following steps to protect yourself and others:

  • Monitor your health. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever (temperature of 100.4° or higher). Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.

  • Practice social distancing. Stay out of crowded places and avoid group gatherings. Do not go to shopping malls or to the movies. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet). Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during this time.

This information is changing rapidly and will be updated on the CDC’s Travel website.