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Macon, Clay Counties Call For Changes To COVID-19 Restrictions

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Lilly Knoepp
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Clay and Macon Counties have a combined total of eight positive COVID-19 cases and one death. Meanwhile the counties' respective neighbors Cherokee and Jackson Counties both have over 20 positive COVID-19 cases.

Macon and Clay Counties have joined Cherokee County in starting to roll back COVID-19 restrictions. 

Macon County’s Emergency Management Team has announced that restrictions on lodging accommodations and the request that non-residents self-quarantine for 14 days in the county will be rolled back on May 8.

All statewide stay-at-home orders and business closures are valid. Additionally, declarations by the Town of Franklin and Town of Highlands are also still in place at this time.

“Things are basically the same in Macon County. People need to abide by the executive orders from the governor,” explains Emergency Management Director Warren Cabe. “If people stop with social distancing and stop with proper hygiene or if we have issues with retail businesses who can’t abide by social distancing, then we might start to trend upwards (in COVID-19 cases) and we might have to pause our reopening efforts.” 

Cabe says the low numbers of positive cases in Macon County and the preparedness of local healthcare facilities factored into this decision.

“We put some of these restrictions in place to start with to make sure that our healthcare system could handle an influx of patients and we think that we can do that now,” says Cabe. “We’ve got some PPE that has been coming in so we have some stocks in supply. We haven’t had many cases in Macon County so there has been little impact on our healthcare facilities.”

There have been three positive COVID-19 cases and one death in Macon County.  The third case was announced today. Macon County Public Health reports that the individual is between the ages of 25-49 and had contact with a known COVID-19 case outside of the county.

Separately, Clay County Board of Commissioners released aletter today to Governor Roy Cooper asking that local governments be able to make their own choices about reopening businesses.  The letter explains that the county has proven its ability to test and trace COVID-19 because of the low impact of the virus in the community.

 

“The leadership in Clay County believes in protecting lives and livelihoods. That is what we are prepared to do,” states the letter signed by Commission Chair Rob Peck. 

 

The county has five positive cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths.

The current statewide stay-at-home order for North Carolina lasts until May 8. Even if it is not extended past that date, the three-phased approach Governor Roy Cooper outlined last week for re-opening the state's economy includes a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people for a minimum of two weeks.

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.
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