The Sylva Herald, By Dave Russell

Jackson County COVID-19 cases rose by 22.1 percent over the last week.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the Jackson County Department of Public Health reported 376 cases of full-time residents and 8,203 tests reported to the agency. The county has had three deaths from COVID-19.

Last Tuesday, the health department reported 308 cases of full-time residents and 7,416 tests performed.

The county has 86 cases per 10,000 residents, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS on Tuesday reported 116,087 cases and 1,820 deaths in the state, with 1,663,540 tests conducted.

Nationwide, cases number 4,280,135 and deaths 147,672 as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Jackson County currently has 71 people isolating due to COVID-19 infection.

Cluster in Cashiers

The Jackson County Department of Public Health has identified a COVID-19 cluster in a county church.

The N.C. Division of Public Health defines clusters of COVID-19 in workplace, educational and other community settings as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period.

Eight individuals who attended a three-day revival on July 12-14 at the Cashiers Church of God have tested positive for COVID-19. All positive individuals are following isolation orders, JCDPH said. The investigation is ongoing. 

“If you or someone you know attended the three-day revival on July 12-14, 2020 at the Cashiers Church of God, you may have been exposed to COVID-19,” the JCDPH said in a release. 

The department urges anyone in that situation to watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms; stay away from others; and seek testing for COVID-19.

Businesses re-open

Bogart’s Restaurant which closed for a period due to an employee testing positive, is open for carryout orders only. No one will be allowed in the building, a Facebook post said. All orders will be brought to customers’ car.

Colima Mexican Restaurant in the East Sylva Shopping Center closed for testing as “an abundance of caution,” but is now open for dine-in and carryout service.

Not the time to slack off

Though businesses and other concerns are opening up, the public still needs to be vigilant, said Melissa McKnight, deputy health director.

“Now is not the time to ease back,” she said. “We continue to stress our best public health tools to prevent this virus – handwashing, wearing masks and staying away from others as much as possible.”

The wearing of face masks seems to be increasing, she said. 

Autumn will bring a new threat, McKnight said.

“Flu season will be upon us soon,” she said. “Flu vaccination will be so vitally important this year especially. COVID-19 and influenza are both respiratory illnesses and you can contract both at the same time. We must take all necessary precautions available to maintain health.”