The Highland County Health Department announced two COVID-19-related deaths in their Wednesday, Oct. 21 update.

“Unfortunately, we are reporting two new deaths today related to COVID-19,” health commissioner Jared Warner said.

The pandemic’s death toll now stands at 10 in Highland County, including four deaths reported Oct. 16 and one death confirmed on Sept. 16, Aug. 19, Aug. 12 and May 4.

Another major announcement by the Health Department Wednesday is the first scheduled pop-up testing event in Highland County, set for Oct. 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Highland County Fairgrounds.

“Increased testing availability is one of the most effective ways that we can control the spread of COVID-19 in Highland County,” Warner said. “It is likely that our local numbers will increase as a result of this testing, which in this case is a good thing. If we are able to better identify cases in the community, our health department staff will use our isolation and quarantine procedures to prevent cases in the future.

“We continue to aim for a level-headed and calm approach to our COVID-19 response, and I want to emphasize that this testing event is a proactive step meant to help our population have better access to testing. We are also trying to get ahead of recent case increases by improving our ability locally to see and understand where disease transmission is happening in the community.”

(Check back to highlandcountypress.com for more information on the testing event as it becomes available.)

For an update on other COVID-19 totals, recoveries went up significantly. “Many” patients from one of the nursing homes experiencing an outbreak have been classified as recovered this week, according to Warner. The 365 recovered patients reported Wednesday is an increase of 58 individuals over the past two days and up by 91 in the past week.

The county also saw a drop in active cases from their most recent update. The 93 currently sick patients is down 15 from Monday and down six from last Wednesday.

Warner said that there are currently 88 patients associated with local nursing home outbreaks (65, 16 and seven), but not all of those patients are accounted for in their reporting system yet.

In addition, quarantines have decreased in recent days, with 331 individuals being monitored by the health department. This a decrease of 17 from Monday, although there are still 84 more individuals in quarantine compared to the previous Wednesday.

Total hospitalizations (38) increased by one in the past two days, while active hospitalizations (three) decreased by three since Monday and by six compared to last Wednesday.

The county has seen a total of 468 cumulative COVID-19 cases, up from 423 reported Monday and 377 listed last Wednesday.