The good news: We are seeing a slowing of new positive cases this week in Haywood County after an acute, disturbing spike in cases recently.Some of us stepped back and teased out the data and it reveals the majority of our cases come from the big outbreak at Silver Bluff and a few clusters at workplaces in Haywood and Jackson, with spread from staff to family and friends (along with some of the “usual” travel cases).That’s why we keep emphasizing our concern about get-togethers, even small ones. If you are going to have a get-together please wear a mask. Hopefully more widespread mask usage is starting to pay off. Let’s hope so.The bad news: The COVID working number and, unfortunately, the number of deaths continued to rise. According to our most recent conversations with administrators, the outbreak at Silver Bluff now includes a total of 96 residents and 53 staff members.Sadly, there have also been 23 deaths at the facility. So far 17 residents and 34 staff have recovered. This is a facility that has done everything right in terms of infection control and limiting exposure, and they are still experiencing a tragic outbreak. This is the awful part of community spread.A care worker who has done everything within their power to follow guidance to keep themselves and their patients safe can still be exposed by a careless person outside of work. This is the reason we stress that EVERYONE needs to practice the 3 W’s.It’s our collective responsibility to do everything we can to protect congregate living facility staff and their residents. In a pandemic environment, casual carelessness by a few can have wide ripple effects. Our thoughts and support go out to the Silver Bluff residents, staff, and the families of both during this extremely challenging time.Better information: COVID working numberHaywood County has a new, more user-friendly COVID-19 dashboard interface. You can find it here: You’ll notice that we now have the COVID Working Number at the top of the dashboard, and it has its own chart. The working number reflects how many people are currently in isolation after testing positive, plus people currently in quarantine after being identified as a close contact of a positive case.The COVID Working Number shows how many people are currently being monitored by our COVID-19 response and contact tracing team.If you look at the COVID Working Number chart on the dashboard, you can see that this number has been increasing rather dramatically, which increases our staff workload. It helps to understand that the working number isn’t a static group of cases, either. Each day there are new people going into isolation and quarantine, while others have met the requirements to be released. There are countless moving parts, phone calls, documentation, and record submittals behind each of the numbers.Kudos to the Public Health COVID-19 team, who have responded by quickly developing some new methods and systems to streamline processes and improve efficiencies. We have also received much-needed aid from other parts of the Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency. Staff members from Environmental Health and Economic Services have graciously stepped in to assist with necessary phone calls to positives and contacts. To those co-workers: THANK YOU from the bottom of our Public Health hearts! You’ve made a huge difference.Speaking of recognizing hard work, the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce awarded the Haywood County Health and Human Services Agency with their Business of the Month Award for August, 2020, in recognition of our COVID-19 response work.We are extremely proud. With everything that’s happened in the last few weeks, this recognition was a boost that couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you, Chamber.