COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

Information For Citizens & Visitors of
Franklin & Macon County NC

Macon County NC, Information & Resources

August 6 Update: 64 Active Cases of COVID-19 in Macon County, 402 Recovered, 3 Deaths | 469 Total Cases

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

Hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. If you are unable to call during these hours, please leave a message and it will be returned during normal operating hours.

North Carolina to Remain Paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 until at least through September 11, 2020 - STATEWIDE REQUIREMENT FOR FACE COVERINGS

» Read Executive Order 155 | » Read NCDHHS Interim Guidance of Face Coverings

August 6 - Macon County to Hold Community Testing in Franklin on Thursday, August 13th

Macon County Emergency Management and Macon County Public Health will be hosting a COVID-19 testing clinic for the community in Franklin on August 13th, 2020. The clinic will be held at Macon Middle School from 8AM to 11AM. Persons may get a COVID-19 test regardless of their ability to pay and do not need to schedule an appointment.

WHAT: COVID-19 Testing Clinic
WHEN: August 13th, 2020, 8AM until 11 AM
WHERE: Macon Middle School - 1345 Wells Grove Road - Franklin, NC 28734

For those who would like to receive a COVID-19 test, you are asked to fill out your paperwork ahead of time, which is available at the following link: CLICK HERE. You are also asked to bring your insurance card, if you have insurance. There is no cost for a COVID-19 test, with or without insurance.

July 31, 2020 Update - Macon County Schools

The Macon County Board of Education has approved Plan B for the 2020-2021 school year.

  • Students in the Franklin area (K-8) will alternate between A/B days. Group A will attend Monday & Wednesday and Group B will attend Tuesday & Thursday. All students will have remote learning on Friday.
  • Franklin High School will operate on A/B days with Freshman and Juniors attending on Monday & Wednesday and Sophomores & Seniors on Tuesday & Thursday. Friday will be remote learning for everyone.
  • Macon Early College will operate on A/B days. Group A will attend for face to face instruction on Monday and Wednesday. Group B will attend for face to face instruction on Tuesday and Thursday. Remote Learning for all on Friday
  • Nantahala School & Union Academy- All students on campus-social distancing requirements in place (M,T,W,T). Remote learning for all students on Friday.
  • September 7-11 will be remote learning for everyone (with the exception of the Labor Day Holiday). This will allow our district time to evaluate Plan B & adjust if needed.

Face coverings will be provided & required for all students & staff.

Our parent survey will remain open until Monday, August 3. If you have not completed the survey, please do so. If you have completed the survey, and would like to change your option for in-person instruction or virtual academy, please contact your child’s school.

Additional information & details will be forthcoming including the class lists for A day & B day. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all work together in the best interest of all our students.

July 28 - Macon County Reports Third Death Related to COVID-19

A Macon County resident diagnosed with COVID-19 has died. The person was over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions. To protect the family´s privacy, no further information will be released about this patient.

“This individual’s family and loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers,” stated Kathy McGaha, Macon County Health Director.

Mrs. McGaha continued, “With our second and third death occurring within a week of each other, our urgent message to the community continues to be: wear a mask, wash your hands, and wait 6 feet from others. Continue to practice social distancing and limit your trips outside your home to help to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

August 3 - Macon County Public Health Identifies a COVID-19 Outbreak

Macon County Public Health has identified a COVID-19 outbreak in staff and residents at Drake Cottage, a congregate living facility. Four individuals have tested positive for COVID-19. All positive patients are being isolated and are doing well. Drake Cottage has been following the highest levels of Personal Protective Equipment standards while in their facility and especially when working with residents.
All the residents and staff of Drake Cottage have been tested for COVID-19 at the direction MCPH’s Medical Director and Drake Cottage. All results have been received, and all residents and staff will be tested again later in the week. Drake Cottage and Macon County Public Health are working together and have verified that Drake Cottage has all the necessary PPE, sanitizing, and monitoring supplies and guidance they need to assure that any spread is minimal.

In addition to Drake Cottage staff and residents, 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.

July 10 - Macon County Public Health Identifies a Cluster in Farming Community

Macon County Public Health has identified a cluster of 9 people who have tested positive at Norton Creek Farms. Employees who have tested positive are isolated from others. All of the farm workers who have potentially been exposed to these individuals have been contacted and will be tested for COVID-19.

In addition to Norton Creek Farms employees, 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. MCPH’s Medical Director and Norton Creek Farms are working together to limit the spread of COVID-19 among farm workers and the community. Norton Creek Farm owner, Nathan Moss, has said of the farm’s precautions for COVID-19, “We have use the strongest precautions possible to keep our farm workers and community safe, and will continue to prioritize the health and safety of our workers and community.”

July 7 - Macon County Public Health Identifies Additional COVID-19 Case at Congregate Living Facility

Macon County Public Health was notified that a resident and employee at Macon Valley Nursing Home have tested positive for COVID-19. This brings Macon Valley Nursing Home’s outbreak to a total of 5; 4 staff members and 1 resident. The resident is asymptomatic and is isolated at Macon Valley and the staff member, who is also asymptomatic, has been isolated at home. None of the positive employees will 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 and procedures while in their facility and when working with patients. All the residents and staff of Macon Valley Nursing Home are being routinely tested for COVID-19 at the direction MCPH’s Medical Director and Macon Valley’s leadership team. 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.

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 8, 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.

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.

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.