Press release from Buncombe County:
Buncombe County COVID-19 infection rates have grown precipitously in the last two weeks. In the last week alone, cases have risen approximately 40%. Currently, the case rate is 913 new cases per 100,000 per week. This is coupled by an increasing percent positivity. The current percent positivity is 20.2 compared to 13.7 one week ago.
“This is a very rapid increase in cases over the last few weeks,” stated Public Health Director Stacie Saunders. “This is the time for people in the community to think about how to reduce your risk and protect your health. This should include a layered approach and limiting interactions with others, when possible.”
Hospitalizations are continuing to increase with 9.9% of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and ICU utilization has increased in the last week to more than 26%.
Public health officials are reminding the community that there are ways to reduce your risk:
- Vaccinate: Vaccinate yourself, if not already, and get boosted when eligible.
- Test: Get tested if you have ANY symptoms of COVID-19 or know you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- Mask: Wear a mask correctly in all public indoor spaces, even if you are vaccinated.
Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone 5 and older, and boosters are available for everyone 12 and older. Go to MySpot.nc.gov to find a vaccine location near you. Individuals eligible for a booster are recommended to get their booster as soon as possible. Even with the new variant, boosters are showing to provide a significant level of protection. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, vaccines and boosters continue to provide the strongest protection against COVID-19 serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. Unvaccinated individuals make up 80% of hospitalizations and 88% of COVID-19-related ICU admissions in North Carolina.
To ensure the Buncombe County community and students are up to date on the COVID-19 vaccine, Buncombe County Health and Human Services will partner with Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools to host several school-based vaccination clinics. All vaccines will be available and free at the following dates and times.
- Asheville Middle School: January 22, 2022 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- North Windy Ridge Intermediate School: January 29, 2022 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- TC Roberson High School: February 5, 2022 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
If you are having symptoms consistent with COVID-19, get tested. Many community partners are providing testing and home kit options are available. These locations and resources are listed at ncdhhs.gov/GetTested. If you know you need an appointment, confirm your testing opportunity by booking an appointment in advance. Please do not visit a hospital emergency department for a COVID-19 test.
“Our community is working hard to support testing and vaccination needs,” said Saunders. “We are thankful for the partnerships with our public school systems, Harrah’s Cherokee Center, and AB Tech for providing resources for these critical aspects of the COVID-19 response.”
To answer questions about the local COVID-19 metrics, Buncombe County Health and Human Services will host a virtual media Q&A on Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. for credentialed media outlets. Buncombe County Public Health Director Stacie Saunders will be available to answer questions related to the COVID-19 response in Buncombe County. To participate in this Media Q&A, please reply firstname.lastname@example.org. Zoom details will be sent out by 1:45 p.m.