Highland County’s active COVID-19 cases, quarantines and hospitalizations continue to reach their highest points since the pandemic began, as evidenced by the Health Department’s Friday, Oct. 9 update.

According to Health Commissioner Jared Warner, the Health Department closed to the public early Friday, and staff worked on contact tracing until 7 p.m. as the department is dealing with several different COVID-19 clusters in the county.

Warner said those clusters include two separate “large indoor gathering” exposures, each with two cases confirmed and others being tested; one “small congregate setting” cluster with four cases; two school system clusters, accounting for a combined four cases and 89 quarantines; and three separate nursing home staff/patient clusters, which are responsible for a combined 50 cases.

“Cases and patient information is still settling out, so these numbers are likely to change as we get updated addresses and contact information over the next few days,” Warner said. “A big thank-you goes out to the health department staff who stayed until 7 p.m. on a Friday evening to answer questions from school parents and contact every last person connected to these new cases.”

As of Friday, including all the cases from various clusters, there are 83 active COVID-19 cases in Highland County. Cases increased by 29 in two days and by 56 cases in the past seven days.

There are 230 individuals in quarantine being monitored for symptoms, an increase of 89 in a two-day span and a triple-digit jump since last Friday, as the quarantines increased by 108 individuals.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 337 total combined cases, including 314 lab-confirmed and 23 probable cases. The number has increased by 33 since Wednesday and by 68 since last Friday’s update.

The 250 recoveries mark an increase of four in the past two days and 12 since last Friday.

Also in the past two days, total hospitalizations (34) and current hospitalizations (seven) have each increased by three.

Highland County currently stands at four COVID-19-related deaths, but the health commissioner indicated that number could be changing in the coming days.

“We are currently waiting to see how doctors are going to classify deaths for several recent patients,” Warner said. “‘This was not a good week for COVID-19 in Highland County.”