Press release from Buncombe County:
On Tuesday, April 20, Buncombe County Public Health Director Stacie Saunders provided the latest vaccine information and COVID rates during a COVID-19 community update. Of note, COVID-like illness surveillance, an early indicator, shows a slight uptick in the week ending April 10.
Saunders encouraged vaccines for everyone 16 and up to prevent increases in cases: “As we continue vaccinate, I want to remind everyone that our best chance for the community, for each of us to get back to the things we love – travel, hugs with family, singing along with our favorite bands at our favorite venues and all the other things we’ve missed in this past year – is to get your shot. We all now have a spot and there is vaccine supply in many locations. No need to wait – get your vaccine today and begin protecting yourself, your loved ones and our community and economy!”
Vaccine appointments are available immediately by going to www.buncombeready.org or by calling 419-0095. You can also visit myspot.nc.gov to find a vaccine provider near you. Pfizer is the only vaccine to have received EUA for use in 16- and 17-year-olds; these individuals should check with their preferred vaccine provider to confirm that Pfizer is available.
COVID-19 trends in Buncombe County as of April 20:
– There have been 17,051 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County since the pandemic’s start.
– There have been 311 COVID-19-related deaths in our community.
– There are 97 new cases per 100,000 per week, up from 73 per 100,000 last week.
– The percent positivity remains below 5.0 percent has bobbed between 4.0 and 4.5 percent for the last several weeks and is currently 4.1%.
– Regional hospitalizations continue to remain low.
– The percentage of ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is at levels so low and stable that our hospital system is no longer routinely updating this indicator but will reinstate should the metrics change significantly.
Vaccines Statistics as of April 20
Since December 22, Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) has administered more than 77,660 doses of the vaccine with help and support from Buncombe County Emergency Services and other partners, with 43,200 first doses, about 33,000 second doses and just under 1,500 single-shot doses.
Buncombe County statistics for all providers per NC Department of Health and Human Services Dashboard: 43 percent of people are vaccinated with at least one dose and 31 percent of people are fully vaccinated.
Beginning May 10, all Buncombe County Health & Human Services vaccine administration will take place at A-B Tech Conference Center, 16 Fernihurst Drive, Asheville.
“With the consolidation of the two sites, the needed human resources will be reduced at the fixed sites allowing us to build on our successful outreach with additional opportunities – particularly in small batch approach (about 100 doses or so) for populations at greater risk or limited access,” said Saunders. “These may include our historically marginalized populations, migrant farmworkers, and others.”
In addition, beginning April 28, individuals wanting their first dose of vaccine my take advantage of walk-in availability at the AB Tech location. Current hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 12-7 p.m. Appointments can also be scheduled by visiting www.buncombeready.org or by calling (828) 419-0095.
Visit the Find my Testing Place website or visit starmed.care to register for COVID-19 testing in Buncombe County. Individuals who are showing symptoms or believe they have had close contact to COVID-19 should get tested.
Saunders took a moment to honor the volunteers who have been assisting vaccine operations: “This week marks National Volunteer Week, and I want to recognize all the volunteers across our county, our region, and our state who are assisting with vaccine operations and throughout the pandemic response. Particularly for the dedicated and compassionate volunteers that assist in our Buncombe County operations, the vaccine team and I appreciate you and value the work you do each day – everything from decontaminating chairs to guiding visitors as to where to go to actually administering a shot into an arm – we are delighted to have you a part of our team.”
Buncombe County residents can stay up-to-date on emergency situations by signing up for BC Alerts by texting “BCAlert” to 99411 or by clicking here. Users can select which type of notices they’d like to receive, the languages for the communications, and even TTY options. These alerts include key information about COVID vaccines and waitlists as well.
If residents have previously signed up for BC Alerts, they will need to re-register in order to continue receiving them due to a change in emergency alert providers. Visit www.buncombecounty.org to learn more.
Please continue to practice the 3Ws to stop transmission of COVID-19, even if you’ve received a vaccine. It will take the vaccine and these important preventative measures to get our families back to a sense of normalcy. For more information about COVID-19, vaccine appointments, and COVID testing, go to www.buncombeready.org.
The next COVID update will take place during the May 4 Board of County Commissioners briefing.