Polk suspects community spread

Published 12:31 pm Monday, April 6, 2020

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6 cases now in the county of COVID-19

POLK COUNTY—As 6 cases are now presumed positive in Polk County of COVID-19, the county is suspecting that there is presumed community spread. 

County officials put out a notice this week that the Polk County Health and Human Services Agency staff has determined through contract tracing that there is presumed community spread, meaning, at least one of the positive cases has no known source of transmission. 

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“Unfortunately, this is a reality of working with people who have been affected by this virus,” said Polk County Manager Marche Pittman. “Our community will get through this event by pulling together and taking care of one another.” 

Polk County HHSA Director Joshua Kennedy said that while county officials have been planning for such a scenario as community spread, it does not change the county’s original message and strategies of vigilance and self-monitoring. 

“We must all assume we are at risk and our actions should reflect this reality,” Kennedy said. “In addition to those with symptoms, we now know there are individuals who can feel 100 percent healthy without symptoms, but these individuals can be infected and transmitting the virus to unsuspecting community members.” 

As of Thursday, 6 people in Polk County had tested positive for the Coronavirus. There were no new cases as of press time Friday. 

County officials cannot release any information about the patients due to confidentiality laws, such as where they live or where they have been in the past couple of weeks. 

County officials said this week when someone tests positive for COVID-19, they are contacted by someone in the Polk County Public Health Division, who asks them who they have been in contact with and where they have traveled in the past 14 days. The public health representative then calls the individuals that person has been in contact with and asks those people if they are demonstrating any symptoms. Individuals who test positive are asked to self-isolate and anyone who lives in the same household with them may be asked to do the same depending on their symptoms and risk factors, according to county officials. Household members in this situation should try to physically distance themselves from each other, if possible.

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear from two to 14 days after exposure and can include fever, cough or shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control (https://bit.ly/cdcsymptomscovid19).

Citizens experiencing such symptoms should call their healthcare provider or the Polk County COVID-19 Message Line at (828) 722-5086 to speak with a registered nurse. In case of a medical emergency, citizens should dial 9-1-1. When calling for services through 9-1-1, all citizens are asked to answer questions comprehensively about their symptoms and travel history to protect others.

North Carolina currently is under a mandatory stay at home executive order from the governor at least until April 29 to slow the spread of COVID-19 (https://bit.ly/NCstayathomeorder).

In addition, all individuals traveling to Polk County, or each of the municipalities in Polk County, from areas experiencing community transmission of COVID-19 as listed by the CDC (especially including the states of California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington) or who have recently traveled in the last 14 days outside of the United States, must self-quarantine at their home or place of residence for a period of fourteen (14) days commencing immediately upon their arrival in Polk County or each of the municipalities herein before entering the community.

Citizens should stay at their residences and limit social interactions and travel for essential activities or essential business purposes. People should practice social distancing, refrain from nonessential travel, frequently wash their hands and take other precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to lessen the chances of exposure and spread (bit.ly/CDCprecautionsCOVID-19).

More details about North Carolina’s stay at home order can be found in this frequently asked questions document from the governor’s office: https://files.nc.gov/…/documents/files/200327_FAQ-SAH-Order….