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A rise in COVID-19 cases prompts a reminder for caution from public health officials

The Center for Disease Control
The Center for Disease Control website shares Community Levels and Community Transmission levels (right and left) for the United States. To learn more about how both are defined on the CDC Covid Tracker.

A bump in COVID cases across North Carolina has prompted state and local health officials to issue public reminders about vaccines, testing and treatment.

“Cases are on the rise with this latest BA.5 variant so I encourage all North Carolinians to know their risk and take steps to protect themselves,” said Governor Roy Cooper in a statement issued on Tuesday. “While Covid variants continue to infect people, we have the tools to protect ourselves from the most serious effects of this virus,”

Health officials in Haywood County issued a similar message on Monday. The Haywood County Health and Human Services says over the past two months new infections have been on the rise, with more than 100 new cases. Health officials note that the number is probably higher because positive home tests results are not counted.

A news release notes that COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the county are up as well – although not at the levels seen in past surges.

According to the Center for Disease Control website, 4 percent of inpatient beds at the local hospital have COVID-19 and 6.4 percent of ICU beds are being used by COVID-19 patients in Haywood County.

Haywood County Health Department’s press release lists a number of reminders and recommendations.

“If you have no symptoms and want to visit someone high risk or go to a gathering, test 48 hours before the event and again the morning of. If both are negative, you can feel comfortable proceeding,” said the health department spokesperson in the press release.

Another recommendation: don't rely on the CDC community levels to estimate your risk of infection. They indicate the risk of regional hospitals becoming overwhelmed due to COVID, not when it’s time to take action for individual protection, especially in crowded, indoor spaces.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issues updates on COVID-19 variants every two weeks. The most recent report released for the weeks of June 19th – July 2nd shows an increase in the BA 4 and BA 5 variants.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shares the surveillance of variants every two weeks.

About NC’s COVID-19 Variant Surveillance: According to NCDHHS surveillance is based on specimens from labs that report whole genome sequencing (WGS) results to GISAID.

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.