Case of COVID-19 is in Highlands

As of press time, of the 1,100 tests and 1,000 samples taken for COVID-19, there are 40 confirmed cases in North Carolina spanning 16 counties.

A woman who was initially in self-isolation at Highlands Country Club, and who has subsequently tested positive with COVID-19, is now quarantined at the club.

Interestingly, however, she does not count as one of North Carolina’s 40 confirmed cases.
According to Kathy McGaha with the Macon County Public Health Center, it’s a matter of statistics when tracking communicable diseases.

“It is consistent with statistic policy to document all communicable disease carriers from the state they reside in. Communicable diseases are recorded by county of residence,” she said.

At the county commission emergency meeting Tuesday, McGaha reported that the individual in isolation in Macon County with the COVID-19 travelled via rental car on Friday, March 13 from Asheville to Highlands. Positive test results from the state lab in Buncombe County were issued on Sunday, March 15. The public was notified on Sunday. The individual had very little, to no contact with the public between being tested in Buncombe County and travelling to Macon County.

The woman 20-30 years of age, flew from New York to Asheville to visit her brother and his wife. While in Asheville, she developed symptoms and immediately sought care at Buncombe County Health & Human Services where she was tested for COVID-19.

She was instructed to go to where she could self-isolate until the test came back. Since she didn’t want to further jeopardize her brother’s family in Asheville, she allegedly traveled by Uber to Highlands where her family has a home at Highlands Country Club.

According to MaGaha, Buncombe notified Macon of the situation and the health departments have been backtracking her interaction since leaving New York and Asheville. MaGaha said she has had limited exposure to anyone since being tested in Buncombe County. Her brother’s family and the Uber driver are under observation.

According to Highlands Country Club General Manager Greg Crawford, she had a key to the residence and didn’t and hasn’t come in contact with anyone at the club.

“She immediately self-isolated in the residence and had food delivered to the front porch. Aside from the residence, she hasn’t been on the property or used any of the club facilities,” he said.

Sunday night, March 15, she was told that her test came back positive for COVID-19 and was told she was now in quarantine.

Crawford said she is being monitored by the Macon County Health Department, which is handling the case.

When there is an absence of fever (without use of fever-reducing medication), improvement in respiratory symptoms, and two negative test results conducted on specimens collected at least 24 hours apart, she will be free to go.

At that point, the health department will thoroughly clean and disinfect the residence.
Crawford said letters have been sent to all the members notifying them of the situation.

In response to COVID-19 in general, all the club facilities have been closed.

“Given the dynamic and nature of the club and the age profile of members, we felt it was important not to take any chances,” said Crawford.

The club closing took place after the woman’s arrival.

“There was already a Board of Governors meeting scheduled for Monday morning to discuss the potential action of closing the club. The confirmation of the confirmed coronavirus person on campus just made it a much more palatable decision,” he said.

MaGaha said there is no treatment for COVID-19. Patients are instructed to quarantine for 14 days, to take fever reducing meds and to hydrate until in a recovered state.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper

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