By Dave Russell


Jackson County recorded its eighth death due to COVID-19 last Wednesday.

The victim was between the ages of 25-49 years old and had underlying health conditions, according to Melissa McKnight of the Jackson County Department of Public Health. 

COVID-19 cases increased by 7.6 percent since last Tuesday. 

The county currently has 94 people isolating due to COVID-19 infection. That’s down from 100 last week.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the health department reported 1,225 cases among full-time residents, an increase of 86 cases from 1,139 a week earlier.

The county has had 275 cases per 10,000 residents, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS on Tuesday reported 297,442 statewide cases (up from 280,307 last week) and 4,660 deaths (up from 4,457 last week) in the state.

At a Tuesday briefing, Gov. Roy Cooper announced the limit on indoor gatherings would be reduced from 25 to 10. Phase III of the COVID reopening plan is to continue until 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4.

Nationwide, cases numbered 10,036,463 and deaths 237,731 as of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Western Carolina University’s dashboard ( reports 48 new cases among students and one new employee case for the week of Nov. 2-8.

The dashboard showed 36 new student cases the previous week.

Since July 1 there have been 368 cases among students, 10 among employees and five among sub-contractors.

WCU reports 195 students in self isolation/quarantine, including eight on campus. That’s down from 211 last week.

The Jackson County Public Schools dashboard ( tracks positive cases among staff and students. There have been 18 student cases, with four active, all at Smoky Mountain High School as of Wednesday morning. Two of the active cases are face-to-face learners , and two are remote learners.

The four fourth-grade classes at Cullowhee Valley Elementary School changed to remote learning on Monday for the next two weeks due to close contact with an intern who tested positive for COVID-19. This is a precautionary measure, the schools system said.

Of 10 total staff cases, two are active. One is at Jackson County Early College, and one is in the Central Office, according to Assistant Superintendent Jake Buchanan.

The Jackson County Department of Public Health last Wednesday announced a COVID-19 outbreak at Skyland Care Center. The N.C. Division of Public Health defines an outbreak in a long term care setting, like a skilled nursing facility, as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 within two incubation periods (28 days) in the same facility.

Two employees at the Skyland Care Center tested positive for COVID-19. All positive employees are following isolation orders, according to a release from the health department.

JCDPH and other local health departments are working to identify any additional close contacts of these employees.

Skyland Care Center continues to comply with all Secretarial Orders from DHHS to ensure the safety of its staff and residents. The orders include guidance on communal dining, in-person visitation and mandatory testing of staff.

Once the first positive case was identified, Skyland Care Center coordinated with JCDPH to determine next steps. Quarantine and testing were recommended for close contacts of the first positive case. To protect the residents, in-person visitation and communal dining were immediately halted; mandatory testing of staff increased in frequency. 

Upon identification of the second case, Skyland Care Center continued mandatory testing of staff, continued monitoring residents for any symptoms, and coordinated testing for all residents. The investigation is ongoing.

This is the second cluster identified at Skyland.