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Polk County Local Government update about travel-related spread of Covid-19

As of June 29, 2020, Polk County has counted 71 cases of COVID-19 and 4 deaths. In comparison to larger counties, a total of 71 cases may seem small but the per capita (per 10,000) is 35, whereas in Buncombe County the per capita is much lower at 23 cases per 10,000 people, according to the North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services COVID-19 dashboard.

“Our team is dedicated to supporting local businesses and organizations in keeping their staff, customers and the community at-large safe and healthy during the pandemic,” said Joshua Kennedy, Director of the Polk Health and Human Services Agency. “Our increased testing options are part of that effort so we can quickly identify positive cases and isolate them before they are able to transmit the virus to others. We are doing this because we know people are the drivers of the economy, but for them to continue driving they need to be healthy enough to go to work and healthy enough to care for their families.”

“Unfortunately, we are observing a worrisome trend in not just the increase in raw totals but also the per capita increase, which can be an indicator of the stress that local resources could be under for emergencies and support services,” Kennedy said. “We are also seeing an increase in regional and state hospitalizations.”

Currently, North Carolina is under the Phase II reopening and as more people return to work or travel, there is an increased opportunity to transmit the virus to others, especially if people are asymptomatic. Without a vaccine to stop the spread, community members must rely on distance and physical barriers as an age-old method to prevent communicable diseases such as COVID-19 from spreading.

“In addition to the observed increases, we are able to determine that 61% of the positives from the past two weeks were travelers to Polk County,” Kennedy said. “These additional positive counts are not included in the weekly Polk County totals because they are not permanent residents but are associated with their home state and county of residence.

“This is likely the same scenario for our Polk County community members who are traveling to other locations outside the state, as well,” he said. “This virus does not care about geographic boundaries; it simply looks for easy access to viable hosts. Don’t make it easy for COVID-19. If we intend to keep the economy healthy, we need to keep each other healthy. Hand washing (or sanitizer), face coverings and social distancing will keep you and your family safe whether you are here in Polk County or vacationing/traveling to other destinations.”

As a reminder, those with COVID-19 may experience a variety of symptoms (listed below) or may be completely symptom free, but in either situation it is possible to spread the virus to others. Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or believes they may have been exposed are encouraged to get tested to help prevent the spread of the disease. Tests are now available from several vendors for at-home testing often with no upfront cost for those who are uninsured or insured, your current healthcare provider, or through the Polk County COVID-19 Testing drive-thru that occurs weekly. Call the Polk County Message Line at (828) 722-5086 for more information about testing.

The CDC indicates people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported –ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after

exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. CDC will continue to update this list as we learn more about COVID-19.

Polk County Health and Human Services Agency urges all residents to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus:

  • Wear a cloth face covering, Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time, Wait at least 6 feet apart from others.
  • 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.

For more information about the coronavirus, the latest guidance on keeping yourself and others safe and where to get tested, visit www.polknc.orgwww.ncdhhs.govhttps://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/about-covid-19/testing/covid-19-testing-locations or call the Polk County Message Line at (828) 722-5086.

Submitted by PolkNC.info