Harris Regional Hospital has established a Community Response Team providing coordinated testing for educational and workplace sites across Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties to rule out presumptive cluster activity of COVID-19.

The N.C. Division of Public Health defines clusters 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 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).

• Timing fitting with likely timing of exposure.

• No other more likely source of exposure for identified cases (e.g., household or close contact to a confirmed case in another setting).

Exposure, generally, is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being in the presence of a confirmed COVID-19 case contact within 6 feet lasting greater than 15 minutes.

Regional educational institutions and members of the business community should call 586-7000 and request the Community Response Team 24 hours a day to mobilize a coordinated testing response.

Testing will occur at educational sites at locations designated by K-12 schools, community colleges and the university.

Business community testing will occur at hospital sites convenient to employees, designated by the hospitals per community.

Employees/students will be partitioned at each testing site according to symptomatic/asymptomatic presentation.

Hospital staff will set up the response area, register individuals to be tested, and administer the tests.

Results will be reported to the individual’s home county health department.

Employee/student medical homes will be identified upon presentation.

The purpose of the Community Response Team is to provide coordinated testing for community organizations basing critical operational decisions on collective employee/workforce and student health. The Community Response Team approach is designed to provide efficiency, accuracy and mitigation of cost for COVID-19 testing in organizational settings.