Haywood County continues to see between three to five cases of COVID-19 each day, said Haywood County Public Health Director Patrick Johnson, and this week two Haywood businesses were impacted.
In one business with three employees, one employee went to a bar where a band was playing. Mask-wearing was not practiced by the employee or others at the establishment, Johnson said, and that is where the person believed she picked up the virus.
Then, her coworkers became infected, as did a family member.
The second business had more than three employees and in this case, an infected employee spread the virus to a customer.
“This shows we still have community spread in Haywood County, so people need to be aware that employees can spread the virus to their co-workers and customers,” Johnson said.
Johnson also spoke how of a person who became infected at work unwittingly began a chain of events that ended up with six individuals testing positive for COVID-19, with two ending up in serious condition at Mission Hospital.
Johnson used the example during his report to the Haywood County commissioners this week as he presented a slide titled, “It only takes one.”
The person who became infected at work then unknowingly infected a friend who worked at the home of an elderly person and did not wear a mask, Johnson said.
That person became infected and ended up on a ventilator at Mission, Johnson continued. Before she became really sick, her son visited, and he, too, became seriously ill. Before he got sick, he infected his wife before he ended up in the hospital on a ventilator.
“The last three cases did not even know who the first case was,” Johnson said. “Case No. 1 wasn’t even that sick, but cases 4 and 5 were pretty darn sick.”
County Medical Director Dr. Mark Jaben asked people to examine what they really want.
“If you want the economy to be fully open, schools to open and remain open, and live less under the shadow of this virus, we know what it takes,” Jaben said. “The hammer is the lock-down phase. The dance follows and we now know the dance has two steps.”
The first dance step, Jaben said, is to behave in a way to not become infected. That means wearing a face mask, avoiding crowds, especially indoor gatherings.
The second step is being considerate of family, neighbors and friends by behaving responsibly and acting in a way to not infect others, he said.
Jaben said health officials are watching case numbers and hoping there isn’t a spike following the Labor Day holiday as there was after July 4.
He also expressed concerns about events that are being scheduled in the county and asked town and county leaders who are involved in permitting them to request safety compliances regarding social distancing and mask-wearing.
“The rules are critical, but that won’t be enough,” Jaben said. “Something we need to really stress is how we can help them be adherent to what is necessary. A key factor is what people do when they are at an event and how the event planners will make sure people follow the rules.”
In other COVID-19 rules:
• There is an ample supply of hand sanitizers, gowns and cloth masks, but a shortage of small N-95 masks;
• Playgrounds are open and very popular, but attendance at the Waynesville Recreation Center is less than expected for now;
• Government offices are beginning to open, or plan for opening. The tax, register of deeds and land records offices are now open in the Historic County courthouse, while most functions at the health and human services offices are serving the public in-person when needed.