SPRUCE PINE – “Nothing has changed with COVID-19,” Director of Toe River Health District Diane Creek said on Wednesday, June 17.
Creek acknowledged many people are feeling as if the coronavirus pandemic has lessened in severity, but warned the virus has not disappeared.
“I think people are tired of staying home and the governor opening up the state and other states opening up definitely adds to that,” she said. “But, nothing has changed at all. It’s exactly how it was two months ago, except more people are getting it now.”
In the past week, Mitchell County has seen an increase in cases, with eight announcements from Wednesday, June 17 to Wednesday, June 24. This brings the total for Mitchell County to 26 positive cases. Of those 26 cases, 12 are recovered and 14 are active.
According to Creek, one of the cases involves a person who works at a grocery store.
Creek would not comment on which store, but she acknowledged many people in the community know the specific details regarding the case.
In response to concerns regarding grocery stores, Creek urged residents to take proper precautions in a Facebook post on the Mitchell County Health Department page on June 18.
“Our choices of places to shop are limited but most of us do have some sort of choice,” she said. “Please take as many precautions as you can when you do shop.”
Some of her advice included sanitizing hands afterward, shopping with your eyes, avoiding crowded aisles and going to the store as little as possible.
Creek acknowledged many people have trouble wearing masks and gloves, but said if a person can, they should try to.
“If you know how to wear gloves, please do, but it really is a talent. I can’t do it. I tried. I touch my face, push my hair back, touch my phone, I do everything wrong,” she said.
“So I just go in bare handed and sanitize when I get back out to my car.”
Creek also pointed out some ways people might be contracting the virus, including at work, through social gatherings and vacations.
“People are going to the beach and on vacations,” she said. “When they go to the beach or wherever, they are going out to eat and not social distancing, because when you’re on vacation, you don’t think about that kind of stuff.”
While the main symptoms of COVID-19, like fever and cough, have been consistent, Creek noted the list of symptoms has lengthened.
“There are so many symptoms for this virus,” she said. “Yes, cough and fever, but some people are having major intestinal issues, like diarrhea, and a loss of taste and smell.”
Creek said there are still many people who are asymptomatic, so people should take as many precautions as possible until strides are made in terms of treatment and prevention.
“Pretty much, until there’s a vaccine, people need to be safe and smart,” she said. “Wear a mask, wash your hands and limit travel. Watch out for your fellow man.”
NC Gov. Roy Cooper will decide this week whether to extend the safer-at-home order, which expires June 26, or move toward Phase 3 of reopening the state.
Under the current order, restaurants, barber shops and hair and nail salons are allowed to open at reduced capacity.
Bars, movie theaters and gyms remain closed.