Since July 1, there have been more than 9,500 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Buncombe County and more than 80 COVID-19 related deaths in this same timeframe. While cases have declined slightly, transmission remains high, and 412 Buncombe County residents have died as a result of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. The percent positivity as of Oct. 18 was 6.1%.
“I wanted to take a moment to highlight vaccination status on COVID-19 outcomes,” said Public Health Director Stacie Saunders in a briefing to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. “As we are moving through this Delta surge, vaccination status has mattered. In particular, those who were unvaccinated had a risk over four times that of the vaccinated to become ill. Additionally, the overwhelming majority of hospitalizations (over 85%) and ICU utilizations (90%) were in the unvaccinated, showing us that the COVID-19 vaccine that is widely available to us right now is reducing our risk of becoming ill, reducing the risk of serious illness should someone become ill and significantly reducing the risk of need for ICU intervention. Lastly, most recent data from NC DHHS indicates that the risk of dying for the unvaccinated is almost 20 times than of an unvaccinated individual.”
In Buncombe County, 73% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 71% of the eligible population ages 12 and up has been at least partially vaccinated. To date, Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) has administered 102,483 doses of the vaccine, including 231 to homebound individuals.
Saunders also warned about cold and flu viruses, which are also spreading and can present with some similar symptoms: “If you are having any symptoms consistent with COVID-19, which sometimes are the same as a cold, please get tested. Don’t assume it’s a cold.” Testing locations can be found at Find My Testing Site NC. StarMed offers testing at Harrah’s Event Center Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on Sundays at A-B Tech from noon until 4 p.m.
With fall events and celebrations approaching, BCHHS recommends the following attending outdoor or virtual events where the risk for spread of COVID-19 is lower. If you are planning to attend in-person, indoor events with groups of people:
- Get your COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already and encourage others attending your gathering to do so. Pfizer boosters are available via a drive-through at Biltmore Church – Arden between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. until Oct. 22
- Have guests wear a face covering and maintain physical distance from others when they are indoors
- Move events and activities outdoors to reduce the risk of spread
The FDA is scheduled to meet on Oct. 26 about vaccines for children ages 5-11, and it’s anticipated that vaccine eligibility to begin for that age group in early November.
Stay up-to-date about vaccine opportunities using the Buncombe County emergency alert program. To enroll, text “BCAlert” to 99411 or go to www.buncombecounty.org/codered.
Currently, locally funding $100 incentive cards are available while supplies last for eligible individuals (18 years and up) receiving their first dose of vaccine at the Buncombe County Vaccination Clinic or at any BCHHS pop-up clinic. Individuals can visit the Buncombe County Health Department at 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to receive a vaccination. Individuals can also visit www.yourspotyourshot.nc.gov to find a vaccination site near you.