Buncombe COVID-19 cases rising, health officials urge caution over holidays

Press release from Buncombe County:

Cases and percent positivity are rising in Buncombe County. The local case rate increased from 121 per 100,000 per week to 132 per 100,000 in the prior week. Additionally, after three weeks of stable percent positivity below 5%, Buncombe County is now at 5.1%.

“After seeing a high level of plateau for some weeks, there is a discernable increase in cases and percent positivity this week,” stated Public Health Director Stacie Saunders. “Rising cases and a major holiday only a couple days away means we need to be thinking carefully about how to reduce risk and spread during our gatherings.”

Public health officials offer the following tips and recommendations as people prepare for Thanksgiving and future holiday events:

– If you are fully vaccinated:
o Wear a mask when visiting indoor public spaces and at crowded outdoor events if you are visiting an area with high transmission levels.
o For all individuals, please remember that Buncombe County has a face covering requirement for all indoor public spaces at this time.

– For unvaccinated individuals:
o Wear a face covering in indoor spaces and outdoor spaces.
o Keep distance between you and others to reduce exposure.
o If you are attending a holiday event, consider getting tested before your gathering.

– If you are hosting an event:
o Move activities outside, if possible. If not possible, open windows and doors as much as possible to improve ventilation.
o Encourage guests to get tested prior to your event if they are not vaccinated.
o Encourage guests to wear face coverings at your event and keep distance if you are hosting a comingled (vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals together) event.
o Have hand sanitizer and handwashing opportunities throughout your home or event space.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended booster vaccine shots for all adults 18 and older to help strengthen and extend protections against COVID-19. If you received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you can get your booster six months after your second shot. If you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you can get your booster two months after your shot. Anyone over 50 or at high risk, as well as those 18 or older who were vaccinated more than two months ago with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, should get a booster dose now.

There are many options for getting vaccinated if you haven’t already. Visit www.yourspotyourshot.nc.gov to find a vaccination site near you. Individuals can visit the Buncombe County Health Department at 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville Tuesday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to receive a vaccination. The BCHHS vaccination clinic will be closed on Thursday and Friday of this week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. The next upcoming school-based vaccination clinics will be at Erwin High and TC Roberson on December 4 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

If you are having symptoms consistent with COVID-19, get tested. Testing locations can be found at Find My Testing Site NC.

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