Hollie Thompson-Lloyd covid vaccine

Hollie Thompson-Lloyd, a critical care paramedic at Mountain Park Urgent Care in Sylva, on Tuesday receives the first shot of her COVID-19 vaccine at the Jackson County Department of Public Health. “We are vaccinating while moving,” Deputy Director Melissa McKnight said, as the department moves into its refurbished quarters on Scotts Creek Road.

By Dave Russell


Cases of COVID-19 among Jackson County residents increased another 233 over the last week, from 2,216 as of 5 p.m. last Tuesday to 2,449 Wednesday morning.

The county has had 557 cases per 10,000 residents, up from 504 last week, and cases increased by 10.5 percent since last Tuesday.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services dashboard Wednesday morning, Jackson County has a testing positivity rate of 19.5 percent, which is tied with Macon for the eighth highest in the state.

The dashboard continues to list 18 deaths.

The COVID-19 vaccine has reached Jackson County, where 275 people have received the first shot of the two-stage vaccine.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office closed Monday and will reopen on Jan. 11, according to the agency’s Facebook page, citing a rise in COVID-19 cases. 

“Anyone that has civil papers to drop off at the Sheriff’s Office or questions concerning a gun permit should call 586-4355,” the post said. “If you have a scheduled appointment to be fingerprinted during this time a representative from our office will be in contact with you to reschedule.”

“It is just the lobby access, not the entire Sheriff’s Office said department spokesman, Major Shannon Queen. “We do have a couple of confirmed cases across the Sheriff’s Office as a whole, but the increased numbers in the community and the close person to person contact that was required during lobby visits for services made the need for the temporary closure, and it was purely a precautionary closure.”

The Jackson County Public Schools dashboard (jcpsnc.org/covid) reports there have been 50 student cases, with nine active as of Wednesday morning. The active cases are at Cullowhee Valley Elementary School (one), Fairview Elementary School (five), Smoky Mountain High School (two) and Smokey Mountain Elementary School (one).

There are six active staff cases in the school system, part of 27 total staff cases reported. Those cases are spread across Scotts Creek Elementary, SMES, FES and CVES.


State cases rise rapidly

DHHS is reporting new state records for COVID-19 key metrics for Jan. 1 and Jan. 2.

On Jan. 1, North Carolina reported its highest one-day number of COVID-19 cases with 9,527 new cases reported, exceeding the state’s previous highest day set on Dec. 18 by almost 1,000. Cases remained high on Saturday, Jan. 2, with 9,365 new cases reported.

Records were also set for the percent of tests that were positive and hospitalizations. On Jan. 2, 15.5 percent of tests were positive, the highest rate since the start of the pandemic. In addition, 3,479 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 783 people were in intensive care units.

The surge is to be expected.

Ten days after families gathered for Thanksgiving, on Monday, Dec. 7, Jackson County reported its highest total of cases to date – 95 – and went on to highs of 101 and 93 the following Mondays. Weekend positives are reported on Mondays. 

The trend held the weeks following Christmas, when some families gathered against medical professionals’ advice. Jackson County COVID cases reported to DHHS numbered 68 on Saturday, Jan. 2.

Another spike could be reported 10 or so days after New Years Eve due to bacteria spread during parties and other gatherings.

DHHS on Tuesday reported 575,396 statewide cases (up from 524,279 last week) and 6,996 total deaths (up from 6,574 last week) in the state.

The state is still under the Modified Stay at Home Order issued Dec. 8 after a rapid increase in key COVID-19 trends. The order requires people to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and is in place until at least Friday.

Nationwide, cases numbered 20,732,404 (up from 19,232,843 last week) and deaths 352,464 (up from 334,029) as of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. New cases over the last seven days number 352,464.


COVID around Jackson 

Here’s a look at how Jackson County compares to surrounding counties, according to the DHHS.

As of Wednesday morning: 

• Haywood County has had 2,370 cases, 68 deaths and 380 cases per 10,000 residents.

• Macon has had 1,570 cases, nine deaths and 438 cases per 10,000 residents. 

• Swain has had 734 cases, eight deaths and 514 cases per 10,000 residents.

• Transylvania has had 993 cases, 11 deaths and 289 cases per 10,000 residents.

Sampson County leads the state in cases per 10,000 residents with 804.


Long-term issues

The notion that a high survival rate of COVID-19 does not mean the illness should not be taken seriously, according to the CDC. In addition to symptoms at the onset of the disease, there are a whole range of short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19. 

“As the pandemic unfolds, we are learning that many organs besides the lungs are affected by COVID-19 and there are many ways the infection can affect someone’s health,” the agency said.

“Most COVID-19 patients recover and return to normal health, some patients can have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery from acute illness. Even people who are not hospitalized and who have mild illness can experience persistent or late symptoms.” 

The most commonly reported long-term symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, and joint and chest pain.

Other reported long-term symptoms include difficulty with thinking and concentration (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”), depression, muscle pain, headache, intermittent fever and fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations).