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March 23, 2020


March 23, 2020

To the citizens of Cherokee County:

Today I am declaring an official State of Emergency for Cherokee County. It is important to understand what that means and, just as importantly, what that doesn't mean. A State of Emergency is a tool which gives government some flexibility in responding to unusual circumstances. I believe this is merited in our current COVID-19 response execution, due to the complexity of the response planning which is taking place.

In declaring a State of Emergency, Cherokee County joins 90 other North Carolina counties, along with the Federal and State governments. All those entities decided this action was a prudent part of their COVID-19 response planning.

These are important points to understand. There is no reason for additional concern by our citizens. This is simply a case of adding an additional tool to our toolbox, should it be needed.

On behalf of Cherokee County and the dedicated staff of Cherokee County government, thank you for your response to this challenge. The outpouring of initiatives from the government, businesses, non-profits, and the faith-based community has been inspirational. We have no doubt the partnerships that we are building today will remain long after this COVID-19 pandemic is gone.

As we enter the mitigation phase of our COVID-19 response the North Carolina Department of Public Health now has the following recommendations to further support recommended preventative actions:

Persons that are high-risk should continue to practice social-distancing to the degree possible to decrease the chance of infection. Those at high risk include persons over 65 years old or individuals with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or weakened immune systems.

If a person has been in close contact with an individual who is known to have COVID-19, it is recommended that the person stay home to the extent possible and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days from their last contact. Close contact is defined as being less than 6 feet from a person for greater than 10 minutes.

It is important that we are individually aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 which are fever, cough and shortness of breath.

If a person becomes sick with a respiratory illness during the 14-day self-monitoring period OR if a person becomes sick with a respiratory illness and they haven’t had contact with a COVID-19 case that they are aware of, it is recommended that they stay home and self-isolate until the following criteria are met:

• At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared; and
• At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).

If a person has a worsening respiratory illness that has progressed to the point of needing urgent or emergent medical care, the individual should call the health care provider office or inform emergency services of symptoms prior to arrival. Having this information before your arrival will allow the clinician to assess, test if indicated, and treat under proper medical guidelines.

It is also recommended that persons who have had close contact with a person with any type of respiratory illness are encouraged to stay home to the extent possible and monitor themselves for symptoms.

The CDC recommends routine preventive actions to help prevent the spread which include:

• Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with alcohol content of 60% or greater
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick (less than six feet)
• Stay at home when sick by following the recommended guidelines
• Cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue or elbow to reduce spread of droplets
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces.

For further information please call the Coronavirus hotline at 1-866-462-3821 or go to the following websites to review State or Federal information concerning the response to the novel coronavirus.


Roy Dickey, Chairman
Cherokee County Board of Commissioners

Letter from Chairman-State of Emergency
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