Buncombe COVID-19 case rates increase heading into holidays

Press release from Buncombe County:

For the second week in a row, Buncombe County saw the COVID-19 case rates increase. Upfrom 113 per 100,000 last week to 121 per 100,000 this week, the percent positivity has also increased to 4.7% this week from 4.4% last week. To date, 431 Buncombe County residents have passed away in COVID-19 related deaths, and the CDC continues to identify Buncombe County as an area of high transmission.

“The levels we are seeing now rival those of the summer 2020 and winter 2020-21 surges, and we still have the holidays yet to come,” said Public Health Director Stacie Saunders.

In Buncombe County, the greatest proportion of cases are in individuals ages 25-49. Case rates in individuals ages 0-17 has been stable at 21%. At the same time, 15% of the Buncombe County population ages 5-11 has received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the less than two weeks they have been eligible.

“That’s almost 2,800 kiddos who have become superheroes for their community,” Saunders said. “I got to meet some of these superheroes at our 40 Coxe location. I got to learn about dinosaurs and favorite foods from them, watch them color and be creative while also talking with some of their parents and caregivers who expressed their gratitude for the opportunity.” Saunders also noted that many adults were getting vaccine doses and boosters at the same time.

To date, about 65% of the total Buncombe County population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and approximately 74% of the eligible population 12 and older has received at least one dose. At the November 13 outreach event at Asheville Middle, 393 people received vaccines, with 246 of those being pediatric ages 5-11.

November – December Saturday School Outreach Events

· Outreach events will take place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the following Asheville City and Buncombe County schools:

o Nov. 20 – North Buncombe High School

o Dec. 4 – Clyde A. Erwin High (BCHHS) & T.C. Roberson High School (MAHEC/FEMA)

o Dec. 11 – Charles D. Owen High (BCHHS) & A.C. Reynolds High School (MAHEC/FEMA)

All vaccine types will be available at each event.

Outreach events are open to everyone 5 years and older, no appointment necessary. Recipients will be asked to complete a brief registration form upon arrival. Vaccines are available at no cost regardless of health insurance coverage or immigration status.

Currently, locally funded $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 HHS vaccination clinic or at any BCHHS pop-up clinic. Individuals can visit the Buncombe County Health Department at 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville Tuesday 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.

If you are having symptoms consistent with COVID-19, get tested. 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.

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Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email news@mountainx.com.

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