Murphy Public Library, Andrews Public Library, Moss Memorial Library, and Graham County Library are holding Fall Coloring Contests for all ages including adults. Entries are due Tuesday, October 19th.
For more information, contact Bridget at 828-837-2025 or visit the library website at www.nrlibrary.org. Like Nantahala Regional Library, Murphy Public Library, Andrews Public Library, Moss Memorial Library, and Graham County Public Library on Facebook.
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The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today announced it is working with the United States Department of Agriculture to help prevent the spread of rabies by distributing oral rabies vaccine for wild raccoons along western North Carolina’s borders with Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia. The annual baiting program, administered by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, was first conducted in North Carolina in 2005.
Beginning on or about Oct. 5, 2021, more than 500,000 baits containing the oral rabies vaccine will be distributed by fixed wing aircraft in parts of Ashe, Alleghany, Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Swain, Transylvania, Wilkes and Yancey Counties.
Beginning on or about Oct. 6, 2021 approximately 56,700 baits containing the oral rabies vaccine will be distributed in greater Asheville, Burnsville, Mars Hill and Waynesville, N.C. by helicopter. In addition, ground teams will distribute approximately 6,100 baits by hand in the city of Asheville.
"The best way to prevent rabies is to avoid contact with wild animals and to vaccinate domestic animals against rabies," said NCDHHS Deputy State Public Health Veterinarian Erica Berl, DVM MPH. "This important program helps us prevent the spread of rabies among wild animals, which also prevents wildlife spreading rabies to people and their pets and other animals."
Baiting should be completed by mid-October, depending on weather and other factors.
The baits consist of a sachet, or plastic packet, containing the oral rabies vaccine. To make the baits attractive to raccoons, the packets are sprinkled with a fishmeal coating or encased inside hard fishmeal–polymer blocks about the size of a matchbox. When a raccoon bites into a bait, the vaccine packet is punctured, and the animal is exposed to the vaccine. This activates the animal’s immune system to produce antibodies that provide protection against rabies infection.
The vaccine does not contain the live rabies virus and cannot cause rabies in any animal. Anyone who comes into contact with the liquid vaccine should wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and call the phone number listed on the bait for further instructions and referral.
Rabies is most commonly found in wild animals in North Carolina. This poses a risk to people and domestic animals that my come in contact with wildlife. It is a fatal disease in mammals, including people. However, there are highly effective vaccines that prevent infection and illness in people and domestic animals. By North Carolina law, cats, dogs and ferrets must be vaccinated by four months of age and be kept up to date throughout their lives.
Although the oral rabies vaccine products are safe, the USDA Wildlife Services program has issued these precautions:
You can also find information on the USDA website at
For general information on rabies, please see https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html.
The Farm Service Agency is accepting Emergency Conservation Program applications from Cherokee and Clay counties
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is accepting applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) to address damages to farmland from Tropical Storm Fred last month in Cherokee County and Clay County. ECP signup began on Tuesday, September 14th, 2021, and will end on Friday, November 12th, 2021.
The approved ECP practices under this authorization include 1) debris removal from farmland; 2) grading, shaping, releveling, or similar measures; and 3) restoring permanent fences.
ECP assists producers with the recovery cost to restore the farmland to pre-disaster conditions. Approved ECP applicants may receive up to 75 percent of the cost of approved restoration activity. Limited resource, socially disadvantaged and beginning farmers and ranchers may receive up to 90 percent cost-share. A 25 percent advance payment will be allowed for repair or replacement of fencing.
Producers with damage from such events must apply for assistance prior to beginning reconstructive work. FSA’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and environmental compliance review process is required to be completed before any actions are taken. Applications submitted after reconstructive work has been completed may not qualify for ECP. Debris must be removed from the 100-year floodplain. Fences must be reconstructed or repaired to USDA standards, including but not limited to proper corner braces and proper number of strands of wire.
FSA county committees will evaluate applications based on an on-site inspection of the damaged land, taking into consideration the type and extent of the damage. An on-site inspection does not guarantee that cost-share funding will be provided.
The use of ECP funds is limited to activities to return the land to the relative pre-disaster condition. Conservation concerns that were present on the land prior to the disaster are not eligible for ECP assistance.
For more information on ECP, please contact the Murphy USDA Service Center at 828-837-2721, extension 2, or visit farmers.gov/recover.
Youth Conservation Corps rehabs trail, offers training for careers in natural resources
The U.S. Forest Service, in partnership with the Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy, Southeast Conservation Corps and Macon County Schools, announces the successful completion of the first Youth Conservation Corps summer program. Three students from Macon County, one student from Swain County and two out-of-state students graduated from the four-week program where they performed trail maintenance along 9 miles of the Bartram Trail in North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest.
“We couldn’t be happier with the work these students accomplished in our first season of this partnership,” said District Ranger Troy Waskey. “The Youth Conservation Corps has provided students with career skills and knowledge on National Forests, trail building, teamwork and much more all while giving back to public lands in our community.”
With guidance from two crew leaders from Southeast Conservation Corps, the six students spent three weeks working from Sawmill Gap to Cheoah Bald and one week between Tessentee Camp and Jones Gap. The crew focused their efforts on tread repair and clearing hazards from the trail but also assisted with a bridge replacement at Ledbetter Creek.
“This work has meant a lot to me,” said Tara Henderson, crew member. “It's difficult but cool to look back on what we’ve done. Hikers have walked by us a couple times and have been extremely grateful. We obviously don’t do it for the thanks but it’s nice to see that if affects them positively.”
In addition to sponsorship from Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy and Southeast Conservation Corps, Macon County Schools Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program promoted the Youth Conservation Corps to encourage student interest in outdoor education.
“The Macon STEM program appreciated the flexibility of the partnership in that a professional was able to join the crew once a week to talk about their career path,” said Jennifer Love, Macon County Schools STEM Coordinator and Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy Board Chair. “Firefighters, researchers, naturalists and entrepreneurs all visited our students during their summer program. Whether our students decide to pursue a career in natural resources or not, this experience has helped clarify the direction they might want to take.”
The Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy is currently raising funds for two North Carolina crews and one Georgia crew to take part in the program next summer with an overall goal to inspire a new and diverse generation of trail maintainers, board members and volunteers. Applications for the four-week summer program are typically released in March at https://southeastconservationcorps.org/.
Love says they are currently recruiting students to participate next summer through Macon Youth Trail Corps workdays. This event consists of four workdays where Macon County student volunteers can get out on the trail and see if they enjoy the work. Interested students can register here.
The Bartram Trail was established shortly after the Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy was originally formed in 1977. After reaching an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, the conservancy began building the 114-mile trail which stretches from northern Georgia to Cheoah Bald in North Carolina.
Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. provided an update on the state’s COVID-19 key metrics and trends.
In an open letter to faith leaders, Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen expressed their gratitude for the faith community’s support throughout the pandemic response and asked for their help reaching North Carolinians who have not yet been vaccinated.
“Getting vaccinated is one of the deepest expressions of our shared values to protect human life and love our neighbor. It is an act of love to our families and our communities. While we have made much progress in the state, too many people are needlessly getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying. Our hospitals are strained, and in other states we’ve seen that care is not readily available for people experiencing non-COVID life-threatening health crises. We need your help,” Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen wrote.
The letter outlines three actions that faith leaders can take, including directing their congregation and faith community to trustworthy sources about COVID-19 vaccines, serving as vaccine ambassadors, and hosting vaccination events.
Faith leaders from all religious backgrounds can be trusted figures in their communities. Their word can go a long way in encouraging people to talk with doctors and understand that these vaccines are safe and effective. The NC DHHS Healthier Together team is working with houses of worship to sponsor their own vaccine clinics.
Governor Cooper also highlighted a milestone reached this week in North Carolina’s vaccination progress. Ninety percent of North Carolinians age 65 and older have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
To date, North Carolina has administered over 11 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 63 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. Sixty-eight percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 90 percent of North Carolinians 65 and over.
Learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at myspot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). Use NCDHHS’ online tool Find a Vaccine Location to find a nearby vaccine site. Call the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 888-675-4567. Ask your doctor about Monoclonal Antibodies or call the Combat COVID Monoclonal Antibodies Call Center at 1-877-332-6585 (English) or 1-877-366-0310 (Spanish).
Swain County Department of Social Services and Together We Rise of Swain County to hold 2nd Annual 5K SPOOK Run on Oct. 30th
The Swain County Department of Social Services non-profit support organization called "Together We Raise of Swain County" needs your help in their effort to support the needs of foster children and adult dependents in Swain County!
On October 30th, Together We Rise of Swain County will be having their 2nd Annual 5K SPOOK Run at 5:00 PM at Darnell Farms in Bryson City, NC. If you would like to participate, you can sign up on the day of the event or register early at www.runsignup.com. Registration fees are $25.00 till October 25th and $30.00 after that. You can also support the run virtually by signing up and running wherever you are.
If you are interested in participating in this event with a donation, please get in touch with Carole Maennle at 828.488.6921 Ext 2061 or email email@example.com.
COVID-19 Clusters Increase Among Middle and High School Sports Teams; NCDHHS Encourages Vaccination, Strong COVID-19 Protection Measures
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is seeing a sharp increase in COVID-19 clusters among school sports teams. For the period between July 1 and Sept. 2, 2021, clusters among school sports teams accounted for 45% of all clusters in North Carolina middle and high schools, despite most school sports activities not beginning until August as schools began the fall semester. School sports teams are urged to follow NCDHHS guidance for youth sports.
There is increasing urgency for everyone ages 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible. For the week ending Sept. 4, children age 17 and under made up 31% of the state’s new COVID-19 cases. That is the highest percentage since the pandemic began.
"We need everyone, including our student athletes and their coaches, to increase layers of prevention to fight this more contagious Delta variant: Don’t wait to vaccinate and urge others to do the same," NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer and State Health Director Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, M.D., MPH. "Tested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are the best tool for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Student athletes who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after a close contact with someone with COVID-19."
Between July 1 and Sept. 2 there have been at least 42 athletics-related clusters in North Carolina public, charter and private middle and high schools, with a sharp increase in August coinciding with the start of the school year. Only four athletics clusters occurred in July. While NCDHHS data cannot distinguish how people were exposed in these clusters, past public health investigations in other states have shown that spread among teammates often happens off the field, including during practice. To protect students’ privacy, no other identifying information, including county or school, will be released.
Elementary schools are excluded from this breakdown since many do not have school athletics but schools with students K-12 are included. The athletics classification is made when NCDHHS receives the initial cluster report so these numbers most likely do not include clusters that later impacted a team. All data is preliminary and is subject to change.
The COVID-19 vaccines authorized and approved in the United States continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. Teens ages 12 to 17 can get the Pfizer vaccine. To find providers with the Pfizer vaccine, go to MySpot.nc.gov and filter for Pfizer. Young people 18 and older can get the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. TeenVaxFacts.com sends a clear, fact-based message to teens and parents: Don’t wait to vaccinate.
In addition to getting vaccinated, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities, NCDHHS recommends everyone wear a mask in indoor public spaces if they live in an area of high or substantial levels of transmission as defined by the CDC until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases. In North Carolina, that is currently all 100 counties.
In addition to wearing face masks in indoor settings, NCDHHS also recommends sports programs practice social distancing when possible, disinfect equipment frequently and avoid sharing water bottles. Teams should also consider working out, including weight training, in groups or pods to limit exposure should someone become sick. Sports in which participants have frequent and prolonged contact, such as basketball, football, cheerleading, wrestling and others, are higher risk. Additional recommendations can be found in NCDHHS’ Interim Guidance for Administrators and Participants of Youth and Amateur Sports Programs.
Anyone who has symptoms of or has been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested as soon as possible. To find a testing site in your community, go to www.ncdhhs.gov/GetTested. People who are not experiencing serious symptoms should not go to the emergency department for routine COVID-19 testing. People should seek medical attention immediately for serious symptoms such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.
While vaccines provide the best protection from COVID-19, treatment options such as monoclonal antibodies may be available if you have had symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days or less or have been exposed to COVID-19. If taken early, they can reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. Monoclonal antibodies are authorized for use in patients ages 12 and older. Ask your doctor about monoclonal antibodies or call 1-877-332-6585 (English) or 1-877-366-0310 (Spanish).
For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at 888-675-4567. You can also text your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine locations near you.
Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital (EWCH) has partnered with Prestige Transport to provide patient transfers to and from facilities in outlying counties. This partnership will relieve the strain on local Emergency Medical Services (EMS), allowing them to stay within their communities in the event there is an emergency situation to which they must respond.
Prestige Transport is available to provide transfers for EWCH patients who require care at an outlying facility. This service is also offered to patients who are discharged from outlying facilities who need transportation back to the western North Carolina area.
“Our new partnership with Prestige Transport will allow local EMS teams to stay within their respective counties, providing essential emergency response services to local residents,” said EWCH Senior Manager of Facilities and Support Services Wesley Phillips, CHFM. “This is a win for EWCH, local EMS and the western North Carolina community.”
Prestige Transport employs 22 local individuals whose qualifications include basic emergency medical technician (EMT), advanced EMT, paramedic and critical care paramedic. The Prestige team will also participate in skill practices within specific locations at EWCH so they can assist the hospital staff in times of need.
Governor Cooper Signs Executive Order Expanding Access to Monoclonal Antibody Treatment for COVID-19
Today Governor Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order to make it easier for North Carolinians to access treatment for COVID-19. The Executive Order authorizes and directs State Health Director, Dr. Betsey Tilson, to issue a statewide standing order to expand access to monoclonal antibody treatment, which if taken early can decrease the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. The Order will be in effect through November 30, 2021.
“Expanding access to monoclonal antibody therapy will help more patients across the state get this highly effective COVID-19 treatment,” said Governor Cooper. “In addition to getting more people vaccinated, we need to do all we can to save the lives of people who become infected.”
The Governor has previously directed, and affirmed the State Health Director’s authority to direct, the issuance of statewide standing orders to facilitate COVID-19 vaccination and testing efforts, most recently in Executive Order No. 229.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (“NCDHHS”) reports that while they have seen an increase in the number of providers who are administering monoclonal antibody treatment, there is still limited capacity to administer this medication among the state’s primary care providers and providers not associated with a health system. A statewide standing order for monoclonal antibody treatment will make it easier for people with COVID-19 symptoms, particularly those with less access to a regular health care provider, to get this potentially life-saving treatment. Under the order, treatment could be provided in a medical supervised community setting, such as part of COVID-19 testing sites.
“We want to do everything possible to help people recover from COVID and keep them out of the hospital,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Get tested right away if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Treatment for COVID must be given within 10 days of symptoms starting and before someone becomes sick enough to need the hospital."
While vaccines provide the best protection from COVID-19, treatment options such as Monoclonal Antibodies are available if you have had symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days or less or have been exposed to COVID-19. If taken early, they can reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. Ask your doctor about Monoclonal Antibodies or call the Combat COVID Monoclonal Antibodies Call Center at 1-877-332-6585 (English) or 1-877-366-0310 (Spanish).
Monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in a laboratory to fight infections, in this case, the virus that causes COVID-19, and are given to patients directly with an IV infusion or a shot. Some early evidence suggests this treatment can reduce the amount of the virus, or viral load, that causes COVID-19 in a person's body. Having a lower viral load may reduce the severity of symptoms and decrease the likelihood of hospitalization.
The Order received concurrence from the Council of State.
Read the Executive Order.