Covid-19 Cases Drop for Third Straight Week in Buncombe County

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For the third straight week, Covid-19 cases continue to decline in Buncombe County, and the percent positivity is 6.7%, down from the mid-9% range a month ago.

As transmission rates decrease, hospitalizations have also decreased. However, with 397 COVID-related deaths, Buncombe County is closing in on a grim milestone. Cases per 100,000 per week is now 216, and school-aged children make up approximately 24.5% of new cases.

“We anticipate children ages 5-11 to become eligible very soon, but until then, the rest of us need to do our part to keep our youngest protected,” said Public Health Director Stacie Saunders. “This means eligible populations who are not yet vaccinated should consider vaccination now. The more we as a community are protected, the better we build a shield around those who cannot be vaccinated, including our younger children.”

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Because of sustained high transmission levels, the indoor face covering requirement for indoor public spaces has been extended until the end of October.

To date, BCHHS has administered more than 100,000 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with about 3,000 of those coming in outreach settings. Currently 59% of the total Buncombe County population is partially vaccinated, and 62% of the total population is partially vaccinated, which are slightly lower than previous reports. The Department of Health and Human Services released a statement on Friday that federal doses (like those administered by the Veterans Administration or a federal prison) that were submitted by the CDC to be added to the state vaccine dashboard had been submitted by county of administration and not county of residence. The CDC has since corrected this data submission to the state, and the dashboard has been updated to reflect all providers including those federal doses by county of residence.

Of note, 71% of the eligible Buncombe County population (residents 12 and older) has received at least one dose of vaccine and 67% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.

Saunders also encouraged community members to get flu vaccines: “Many providers have flu vaccine readily available now and you can visit your local pharmacies, grocery stores, primary care providers or us at the health department. Additionally, the measures that help reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure, will also help reduce your risk of flu and cold exposure. Like wearing a face covering over your mouth and nose, keeping distance, and washing hands.”

According to recent NCDHHS data, individuals who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 have a risk that is 4 times that of their vaccinated counterparts in becoming ill with COVID-19. Additionally, unvaccinated individuals have a risk of death that is 16 times that of their vaccinated counterparts.

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.

It is anticipated that Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11 will be announced soon.

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.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, get tested and isolate from others while waiting for your test results. 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.

Prepared by Buncombe County.