The Highland County Health Department strongly recommended that all county schools implement a mask requirement and pause all group sports practices for two weeks, according to a Wednesday update from health commissioner Jared Warner. He also said indoor events should be rescheduled where possible.
Warner said the county is seeing one of the highest COVID-19 rates the community and schools has seen. He said both school staff and students are getting sick in “increasing numbers” and many of the illnesses have been tied directly to exposures happening in the school setting. He also said the health department has seen “several” examples of COVID-19 being taken home from school and infecting other homes.
Warner said multiple schools have said they have seen more close contacts in schools become symptomatic this year, also stating that wasn’t something observed as often last year.
“The final decision belongs to your school system, but I ask you and your school parents to consider the impact that this decision also has in our community,” Warner said. “I don’t want my kids to be in masks any more than you do, but we are now looking at one of the highest rates of infection that this county has ever seen from COVID-19, and we owe it to our vulnerable individuals and our health care system to do our part at controlling the rate of disease spread in Highland County. This is going to upset some people, but it is the right thing for us to do for our community.”
In other news, COVID-19 cases have continued to increase in Highland County, according to the update, with the county’s seven-day sum of new cases per 100,000 residents currently at 382.
Highland County is seeing 26 new COVID-19 cases each day, according to The New York Times COVID Tracker, which was last updated Thursday. This is an increase compared to Tuesday, Aug. 24, when it was 24 new COVID-19 cases per day.
Highland County has continued its stay in the highest risk category in terms of community transmission, according to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) COVID Data Tracker, which was last updated Monday. There are four different levels of community transmission – Low, Moderate, Substantial and High. Highland County is currently in the “High” designation.
The CDC said the data for this tracker comes from two different indicators of categorization: The total number of new cases per 100,000 people within the last seven days, and the percentage of positive diagnostic and screening nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) during the last seven days.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.