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Posted on: August 6, 2021

8-6-21 COVID cluster among Haywood County Public Schools staff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2021

Haywood County Health & Human Services has identified a COVID-19 cluster among Haywood County Public Schools staff

Haywood County Health and Human Services has identified a COVID-19 cluster connected to the Haywood County Public Schools’ Maintenance Department. A total of nine positive cases are connected with this cluster including employees and their close contacts. 

“We are working closely with HCPS to identify close contacts to the employees affected by COVID-19. Our goal is to decrease transmission and keep our community safe. I want to encourage those who have not been vaccinated to consider doing so.  Teachers, staff, and students are encouraged to wear masks while indoors, maintain a safe distance when possible, and practice good hand hygiene. We are also encouraging those with COVID-19 symptoms to remain home and see their healthcare provider for testing. Community spread is on the rise and we all need to protect ourselves and those around us,” said Sarah Henderson, Haywood County Public Health Director.

Statement from Haywood County Public Schools: “We appreciate the fine work and ongoing support of our partners at Haywood County Health and Human Services,” said Dr. Bill Nolte, superintendent of Haywood County Schools.  “We are working with local public officials and our employees to address the cluster associated with our Maintenance Department.”  

The North Carolina Division of Public Health (NCDPH) defines clusters of COVID-19 in workplace, educational, and other community settings as,  1) A minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period AND, 2) 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).

Symptomatic individuals who test positive will be required to remain in isolation under the following conditions: 1) At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND, 2) At least 24 hours have passed since the last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND 3) Symptoms (like cough and shortness of breath) have improved. Asymptomatic individuals who test positive will be required to remain in quarantine under the following conditions: 1) At least 14 days have passed since their positive test assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test.

Haywood County Public Health is working to identify any additional close contacts of people identified in this cluster. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person infected with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, without wearing a face covering, during the period in which they are contagious.  Based on the information provided during contact tracing, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed, quarantine, and/or testing.

This link: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/guidance#node-71 contains information and guidance for business owners and customers of all types of businesses in North Carolina.

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