By Dave Russell


It’s a time for family and gratitude for most of the country.

For health officials across the country, it is also a time for concern about a resulting spike in reports of COVID-19 as Americans gather to celebrate and eat.

Nationwide, numbers are already trending up even before families gather indoors to celebrate the holiday.

The seven-day moving average of cases has increased from a recent low of 63,857 on Oct. 24 up to 91,021 on Nov. 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

North Carolina is faring better, the seven-day average reaching 1,786 on Nov. 4 and dropping to 1,217 as of Nov. 21.


New treatments considered

A second treatment has been developed and could be available soon.

Pfizer last week asked the Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency authorization for a new antiviral oral COVID-19 treatment. A study found patients who took the Paxlovid pills were less likely to end up in the hospital.

The pharmaceutical giant asked the  FDA to grant permission for the medication that would treat mild to moderate patients at a higher risk of hospitalization or death. Pfizer released data showing the pills reduce the risk of hospitalizations and deaths by 89 percent.

Merck last month submitted a request to the FDA for emergency authorization of molnupiravir, which also comes in pill form.


JCDPH expands clinic calendar

The Jackson County Department of Public Health has extended its series of clinics across the county.

The clinics offer shots for residents 5 and older.

“While these clinics were scheduled to ensure access for second doses, they will be open to first, second and booster doses,” said Anna Lippard, health department spokeswoman. “No registration is required, walk-ins are accepted. Pediatric Pfizer and Adult Pfizer will be offered.”


The schedule is as follows:

• Nov. 29-30, Smokey Mountain Elementary School cafeteria from 4-7 p.m.

• Dec. 4, First United Methodist Church gymnasium from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

• Dec. 6, 7 and 8, Smoky Mountain High School front lobby, 4-7 p.m.

• Dec. 9, Blue Ridge School library, 4-7 p.m.

• Dec. 11, Sylva First United Methodist Church gymnasium, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

• Dec. 12 and 13, Cullowhee Rec Center meetings rooms, 4-7 p.m.

For more information, call 586-8994.


By the numbers

As of Wednesday morning, Jackson County Public Schools reported two staff and non-staff cases, one each at the Central Office and Smokey Mountain Elementary.

JCPS reports six student cases, two at Fairview Elementary (up from one), and four at Smokey Mountain Elementary, up from zero.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports 5,834 total cases in the county through Nov. 19, up 37 from 5,797 reported last week.

The county has had 1,328 cases per 10,000 residents, up from 1,319.6 last week. DHHS reports 72 deaths in the county, the same as last week.

As of Wednesday, the DHHS Dashboard shows 21,937 people in Jackson County have been fully vaccinated with 24,107 at least partially vaccinated.