UPDATED Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 -- Local COVID-19 death count up

by Cristin Parker cristin@thecherokeean.com
From the Cherokee County Public Health Department From the Cherokee County Public Health Department

Cherokee County’s Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related deaths have reached double digits.

Officials with the Cherokee County Public Health Department have reported 10 deaths, as of 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 31, in relation to the virus – case numbers of which continue to rise across the county.

“At the Health Department, we know that citizens of Cherokee County take their health seriously,” CCPHD officials stated on the department’s Facebook page. “As such, we are pleading with everyone to remain diligent in your fight against COVID-19.

“In the past several weeks, Cherokee County has experienced a tremendous surge in new cases of this deadly virus. Therefore, we are asking the public to take this threat seriously. Continue to practice good hand hygiene, observe social distancing protocols and wear a facial covering when visiting public places. Studies have shown that the use of facial coverings greatly reduces the spread of the virus and can significantly reduce the instance of community spread.

“Hang in there. We’re in this together!”

Number of total active cases as of Monday, Aug. 31, was 196. Total cases reported in Cherokee County since March is 1,424 – 1,216 of which recovered.

To date, Jacksonville has suffered the bulk of the county’s cases and deaths, with 663 total cases since the pandemic began in March and five deaths. Rusk is second in cases with 218 total cases since March and three deaths. Wells reported the first death and currently has 14 total cases. Bullard also reported one recent death and 65 total cases.

Maydelle -- the last city in the county to report a case -- didn’t report any cases until Aug. 3 and has held steady at only one reported case since the virus hit Cherokee County.

“We’re not an incorporated town so a lot of our physical addresses are listed as Rusk and Jacksonville addresses, so that count may not be entirely accurate,” Maydelle Volunteer Department Chief Jody Gray explained. “That being said, we’re still very blessed and lucky to have a very conscientious community who are doing their part with social distancing and other precautionary measures.”

In a related matter, CCPHD Infectious Disease Branch Manager

Jason Cavazos, RN reported the CCPHD is currently suspending all sexually transmitted infections testing due to a shortage of an ingredient used in some STI tests.

“The same facility that makes the reagent for gonorrhea and chlamydia testing also is the primary supplier for the various labs for the reagent for COVID-19 testing,” Cavazos posted on the CCPHD’s Facebook page. “Their resources are being used primarily in that area, rather than STI testing.

“So these tests are suspended until additional reagent is made available, an alternate laboratory is obtained, or an alternative means of diagnosis is made available to us.

“This does not mean 1) you can blame the fact you caught gonorrhea because of COVID-19; 2) you are immune from STIs because of COVID-19; 3) everyone will take steps to ensure they do not catch STIs because of their concern for COVID-19.

“You are the only person who can ensure that you are safe. Do not put your health at risk based on someone else’s habits.

“Protect yourself! We will update as soon as our situation changes and testing options become available.”