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MITCHELL COUNTY — Neighboring Mitchell County confirmed its first case of the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, according to a press release on Wednesday, March 25, from the Toe River Health District.

The Mitchell County Health Department, which is part of Toe River Health District that encompasses Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties, was notified at 8:30 p.m. on March 25 that a Mitchell County resident has tested positive for novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The individual is in isolation, according to the release.

“Mitchell County has been preparing for this reality and anticipated that our community would likely be impacted at some point. Public health staff have already initiated an investigation and will be identifying close contacts to contain the spread of disease. To protect individual privacy, no further information about the case will be released,” the release stated.

The Mitchell County Health Department also noted that it will announce any additional cases through local media partners, and added the emphasis of continued practices to curtail the spread of the virus.

“It is important for the community to understand that the identification of a case does not change our local strategies for preventing and reducing the spread of disease. Above all else, please isolate yourself at home if you are sick. Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you experience these symptoms, please call your healthcare provider and follow their advice. If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and inform the dispatcher that you have symptoms of COVID-19. Remember that 80% of coronavirus cases generate only mild symptoms,” the release stressed.

“It’s especially important to be proactive at this time and there is no need to be afraid,” Diane Creek, Mitchell County Health Director, said. “Everybody is worried and their lives have been disrupted. We are blessed in Mitchell County to have a strong community. Your public officials and county leadership have been working tirelessly to prepare for the impact of this virus. Community members can do their part not only by following the guidelines, but by remembering that we’re all in this together, and to support one another.”

The health department also emphasized advised precautions for dealing with the current crisis.

“Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, the Health Department urges everyone to take precautions to protect themselves from the spread of all respiratory illness, including flu and COVID-19:

• Stay home as much as possible

• Especially stay home when sick

• Avoid contact with persons that you know are sick

• Cover your cough (cough into the crook of your elbow; or use a tissue and throw in trash)

• Practice good hand hygiene (wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing)

• If you do not have access to soap and water use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol

• Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces with household cleaners

Routine use of these measures by everyone will decrease the spread of viruses and respiratory diseases in our community,” the release stated.

For more information, call the North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline at 1-866-462-3821 (staffed by nurses and pharmacists 24/7), or click to the Center for Disease Control’s website for information and frequent updates at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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