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COVID-19 cluster at the Waynesville Police Department

The Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency has identified a COVID-19 cluster connected to the Waynesville Police Department. Six employees, at all levels of the department, have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Statement from Waynesville Police Department: “The Waynesville Police Department has taken the necessary steps to identify those affected and exposed. We are thankful that those that have been affected are home recovering and getting the care they need. While navigating these cases, there has been no lapse in service or impact on our ability to serve this community. Law-enforcement and other first responders continue to answer calls and interact with the public in a very uncontrolled environment. That role requires us to enter into persons’ homes, have direct physical contact with people, and transport individuals in our vehicles. While continuing to perform our duties, in a variety of situations and scenarios, we will continue to do so in the safest manner possible and do our part in limiting the spread of this virus.” 

Several Waynesville Police Department members took part in the COVID-19 vaccination clinic held Wednesday, receiving their first doses of vaccine. Officers were also instrumental in the success of the event, helping direct and manage traffic flow.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health (NCDPH) defines clusters of COVID-19 in workplace, educational, and other community settings as,  1) A minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period AND, 2) plausible linkage between cases where cases were present in the same setting during the same time period (e.g., same shift, same classroom, same physical work area); that the timing fits with likely timing of exposure; and that there is no other more likely source of exposure for identified cases (e.g., household or close contact to a confirmed case in another setting).

“Not being vigilant about wearing a mask in the workplace at all times not only leads to more spread but also causes loss of workforce that can have dire effects on essential businesses,” said Garron Bradish, Interim Haywood County Public Health Director.

Symptomatic individuals who test positive will be required to remain in isolation under the following conditions: 1) At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared AND, 2) At least 24 hours have passed since the last fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, AND 3) Symptoms (like cough and shortness of breath) have improved. Asymptomatic individuals who test positive will be required to remain in quarantine under the following conditions: 1) At least 14 days have passed since their positive test assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test.

Haywood County Public Health is working to identify any additional close contacts of people identified in this cluster. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person infected with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more, without wearing a face covering, during the period in which they are contagious.  Based on the information provided during contact tracing, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed, quarantine, and/or testing.

This link: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/guidance#node-71 contains information and guidance for business owners and customers of all types of businesses in North Carolina.

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