Buncombe COVID-19 trends remain stable, Monkeypox vaccinations a priority for public health

Press release from Buncombe County:

Since our last COVID-19 update in June, Buncombe County has been in a moderate level of COVID-19 illness in the community. This wave has been relatively constant over the summer, however, within the last 4 weeks there has been a consistent week over week decline. The current case rate in Buncombe County is 132 per 100,000. Early indicators such as COVID-like illness surveillance have been decreasing across the state and hospitalizations have remained relatively low during this COVID-19 wave. While deaths have slowed and remain low week over week, sadly we have lost 636 of our Buncombe County family and neighbors in COVID-19 related deaths thus far.

This particular wave has been fueled by the more transmissible BA4 and BA5 subvariants, and while far more contagious, the cases are not translating to higher rates of hospitalizations, severe illness and death. Updated COVID-19 booster vaccines are now available. The most recent boosters provide better protection against the BA4 and BA5 subvariants that currently are causing most cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The updated boosters are recommended for those who completed their primary vaccine series or initial booster at least 2 months ago. Specifically, Pfizer’s updated booster is recommended for those 12 years of age and older while Moderna’s updated booster is for those 18 years of age and older. BCHHS began administering both updated vaccine boosters today, and many other vaccine providers, including pharmacies, have begun administering them as well.

Vaccines have and will continue to help us reduce COVID-19 in our community, protect from severe illness and prevent deaths. Find your preferred vaccine provider and consider getting your vaccine booster today if eligible. Check https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines for providers.

September is National Preparedness Month. We urge the community to use the tools and knowledge gained during the pandemic to continue to stay prepared for future waves and surges of COVID-19.

BC HHS has some simple ways for everyone to stay prepared, including:

-Stay up to date on vaccines
-Know your testing locations
-Have at-home test kits on hand
-Keep masks available for times of higher transmission
-Identify locations for treatment, if eligible, ahead of time

Monkeypox Update:
In addition to COVID-19, public health is responding to the global outbreak of monkeypox. Buncombe County has identified 6 cases of monkeypox. Anyone can get monkeypox as proven by the known history of monkeypox in other countries and other outbreaks. If you have been exposed to a known or suspected case of monkeypox or you have unexplained sores, blisters, or bumps on your body, have a health care professional assess and seek testing if necessary. Testing is encouraged and available throughout the state and in our community.

As of last week, BC HHS has received 1,430 vials of vaccine. BC HHS has transferred a little over 350 vials to other providers in the area. In addition, BC HHS has administered almost 1,100 doses of vaccine to neighbors through our health department clinic and outreach events. The Mobile team has added Monkeypox response to their line of service, in addition to COVID-19 testing and vaccine. To date, they have provided six outreach events with three more scheduled in the coming week.

For more information on COVID-19 and monkeypox vaccinations in Buncombe County, visit www.buncombecounty.org/hhs.

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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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