Two days after North Carolina’s highest daily COVID-19 case increase yet — 2,481 new cases on July 18 — the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled an expanded dashboard detailing hospital capacity in different parts of the state. Of the 1,086 North Carolina patients hospitalized for COVID-19 on July 19 (the latest date for which information is available), 41 were in Western North Carolina, with 69% of regional hospitals reporting.
The expanded data breaks hospitalization statistics into eight regions. The Mountain Area Healthcare Preparedness Coalition, which includes North Carolina’s 17 westernmost counties, has consistently reported fewer hospitalized COVID-19 patients than any other region over the past month.
The new dashboard further outlines suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients admitted to adult inpatient hospital beds within the last 24 hours, as well as the number of intensive care unit beds filled by adults with COVID-19. In the MAHPC region, which serves 17 hospitals, 38 admitted patients were suspected to have the coronavirus and two patients confirmed to have COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, as of July 19. Regionally, 11 individuals with COVID-19 were in intensive care unit beds.
The Metrolina Healthcare Preparedness Coalition, which includes the city of Charlotte, currently leads the state in all three of those metrics, with 105 suspected and 23 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the past 24 hours and 84 patients in the ICU.
Statewide ventilator supply, inpatient hospital beds and ICU beds have not yet reached capacity. In the MAHPC region that includes Asheville, there remain 119 unused ventilators, 507 empty but staffed inpatient beds and 63 empty but staffed ICU beds.
Aston Park COVID-19 outbreak officially over
The COVID-19 outbreak at Buncombe County’s Aston Park Health Care Center — the largest outbreak at a county skilled nursing home — is finally over, according to data released July 17 by NCDHHS. Since the facility’s first reported case on May 13, 52 staff members and 83 residents have contracted the coronavirus, and 30 residents have died.
A COVID-19 outbreak is considered over after 28 days with no evidence of continued disease spread within the facility, said Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, the county’s interim health director, during a July 9 press conference. An outbreak at Carolina Pines at Asheville, which infected six staff members, is also considered over.
Unfortunately, Buncombe is still experiencing outbreaks at six nursing homes and three residential care facilities, according to NCDHHS data. Outbreaks have recently been reported at Givens Health Center, with two staff cases, and the Brooks-Howell Home, with three staff cases.
Outbreaks continue at Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center (three staff, two residents); Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation/Weaverville (two staff, one resident); Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community’s Simonds Health Care Center (10 staff, one staff death, four residents, one resident death); Stonecreek Health and Rehabilitation (five staff, eight residents); Harmony at Reynolds Mountain (two residents); Marjorie McCune Memorial Center (two residents) and the Richard A. Wood, Jr. Assisted Living Center at Givens Estates (three staff).
“The increase in outbreaks at these facilities is a reflection of the increased [viral] spread we are seeing in our community,” Mullendore said at a July 16 press conference.
In other news
- All Ingles Markets locations will require customers to wear a face covering beginning Tuesday, July 21. The requirement will not apply to young children or customers who cannot wear a covering due to medical conditions.
- The N.C. State Board of Elections issued a COVID-19 emergency order on July 17 to help protect voters from infection by reducing the likelihood of long lines and crowds at polling locations. All North Carolina voters have the option to vote absentee by mail, in person at early voting sites or in person on Election Day.
- A-B Tech Community College will begin its fall semester on Monday, Aug. 24 under a hybrid plan: 75% of academic classes will be virtual, while 25% will have an in-person component for “hands-on training, clinical settings and labs.”
- The Buncombe County Register of Deeds office will be closed for decontamination until Wednesday, July 22, due to a confirmed staff case of COVID-19.