Cases spiking in Graham


Robbinsville – By Graham County’s standards, the number of positive COVID-19 cases has spiked.

After sitting idle since June 30 – when the county confirmed just its 10th case – Graham has recorded 10 cases in the last week alone. 

Still, Graham County can boast the lowest numbers statewide and has yet to record a death. The second-lowest positive tests – according to data released Tuesday by the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services – belongs to Madison County, which has reported 32 coronavirus cases.

When discussing Graham’s ability to keep the positive case count down, county Health Director Beth Booth pointed to a variety of factors.

“We test by request, target by symptoms, and we have no manufacturing or large farming operations,” Booth said in a July 17 email to The Graham Star. “We have not yet done community testing, as the funding for this has not been made available by the state. It is always something we will consider; however, access to testing has not been a barrier for us.

“Anyone who wants to be tested, can be tested.”

Booth later addressed a need for patience with the county’s reporting on testing in a open letter posted to Facebook on Monday.

“As the disease progresses, those infected are getting sicker,” the second half of the letter begins. “We have our first hospitalization, and those around us are seeing deaths. This will not resolve. There is no cure, and supportive care is the treatment.

“We hear you when you are requesting more and more information on COVID in Graham County. We understand that you feel you have a right to this information. Please also consider why you need this information. Will it result in a change in your life? Will it affect or impact you in any way?

“These are important, because while they may seem simple, providing information is not as simple as the click of a button. We ask that you understand that information isn’t available without more dedicated time from a staff that is now beyond capacity.

“Collection of additional types of information will take time away from those phone calls from the public, and those infected or potentially infected with COVID. There is only so much we can do, and only so many hours in a day. The staff works seven days a week to support the community, and has been doing so since the start of COVID.

“Please remember public health in your thoughts and prayers. We have been here, and we will always be here for this community. We are effective. We are resourceful. We are weary. Support each other. Make things easier for those around you … not more difficult. Be patient. Be kind.

“We will continue to provide you with the public health resources and information available to us. We ask that you all be understanding that we are doing the absolute best job possible during these unprecedented times. Give us grace and please be patient.”