COVID outbreaks reported at Boy Scouts camp, 2 senior living facilities in NC county – Charlotte Observer

Three COVID-19 outbreaks were reported in Haywood County in Western North Carolina on Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Three COVID-19 outbreaks were reported in Haywood County in Western North Carolina on Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP) AP

Health officials in a Western North Carolina county reported three COVID-19 outbreaks on Friday.

The outbreaks were reported at Haywood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Waynesville, Spicewood Cottages in Clyde and Camp Daniel Boone in Canton, which was forced to temporarily shut down activities in response, according to the Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency.

The outbreaks come as Haywood County has started to see an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases reported for the first time in weeks. Between June 29 and July 6, the county saw one new COVID-19 case, health officials said. But between July 6 and July 13, health officials reported 13 new cases.

“This can be attributed to rising numbers statewide and localized outbreaks that are being monitored,” Haywood County Public Health Director Sarah Henderson said in a news release.

Health officials, however, said most of the cases are among those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. Roughly 44% of people in the county are fully vaccinated and 46% have received at least one dose as of Friday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Vaccination is the most important method we have to slow the spread of these new, more contagious variants,” Haywood County health officials said.

Camp Daniel Boone outbreak

Haywood health officials said they identified a COVID-19 cluster among three out-of-state attendees at Camp Daniel Boone Scouts Camp last week.

The camp said in a statement it notified health officials of the three positive cases on Wednesday and “informed all individuals who attended camp during that time of their potential exposure.”

It said its “mitigation measures” — which included screenings and temperature checks, social distancing, a mask requirement and cleaning efforts — helped limit the spread of the virus.

But the outbreak “inhibited our ability to safely run the remaining sessions” the camp said. This week’s camp sessions, which were the last ones scheduled for the season, were also canceled.

“All registrants will receive a full refund, and we look forward to providing them and all other Scouting families with incredible camping opportunities this fall,” the camp said.

Health officials say they are working to identify the close contacts of those who tested positive and that the camp will be “thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.”

“I want to commend the staff at Camp Daniel Boone for their cooperation during this time,” Henderson said. “They have made every effort to provide us necessary information while continuing to provide quality care to their campers. They are following public health guidelines and recommendations.”

Outbreaks at congregate living facilities

Eight residents and three staff members at Spicewood Cottages, a retirement and assisted living facility, had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday, health officials said.

The facility said it was notified July 11 that a family member visiting the week before tested positive for COVID-19.

“Although all our residents and staff working that building had been fully vaccinated, we began testing all involved parties the next morning,” Spicewood Cottages said in a statement. “Much to our surprise and disappointment, several tested positive. Most of which were asymptomatic.”

Haywood County health officials are helping the facility with contact tracing and “coordination efforts.”

“They have made every effort to provide us necessary information while continuing to provide quality care to their residents,” health officials said of the facility. “We recognize that an outbreak within a facility is no one’s fault and that the caregivers are putting forth a tremendous effort to keep the number of positive cases low. They are following public health guidelines, have increased testing and cleaning procedures, and limited visitors.”

A COVID-19 outbreak was also reported at Haywood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where two staff members tested positive, health officials said Friday.

“As soon as we were made aware that two of our employees tested positive for COVID-19, we informed them that they could not return to work until they completed the quarantine period,” the facility said in statement. “The center has completed one round of testing at this time, and there were no additional cases.”

It said it’s continuing its “infection control practices” and encouraging residents and staff to get vaccinated.

“COVID is still prevalent in our community,” Henderson said of the outbreak. “It is not gone and this is not over. We continue to see positive cases as people gather in groups and remain unvaccinated. I encourage everyone to practice good hand hygiene, to maintain a safe distance in large gatherings, and to wear your mask in settings where social distancing isn’t feasible. Be safe for yourself and for those around you.”

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Bailey Aldridge is a reporter covering real-time news in North and South Carolina. She has a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.