Buncombe County Coronavirus (COVID-19) Community Update for Aug. 3, 2021

August 4, 2021

With Rapid Transmission, COVID-19 Infection Rate Doubles

Overwhelming majority of cases in younger, unvaccinated individuals

In the two weeks since the most recent Buncombe County Health and Human Services COVID-19 update, the COVID-19 incidence rate has more than doubled. “I’m coming here today with a sense of urgency,” said Public Health Director Stacie Saunders. “Everyone has heard by now that the Delta variant is incredibly contagious. With reports that it spreads as fast or faster than small pox, the 1918 Flu, or chicken pox, individuals with the Delta variant can infect between six and eight people.”


The current rate of incidence is 7.2%, up from 3.4% two weeks ago. BCHHS is seeing about 50 new cases per day and 151 cases per 100,000 per week. Most cases were in those not fully vaccinated.

In Buncombe County, the average age for people with new cases is 39. “Vaccination is working to protect our elders who grew up in a time when they saw their classmates and childhood friends deeply impacted by infectious diseases, some that would permanently disable children and others that would ultimately kill children,” said Saunders. “They were also the generations that began to see the first impacts of widespread vaccinations and they began to experience childhoods without the threat of common infections of the time because of vaccines. These vaccines are our best shot at cutting off the virus’ supply chain and limiting its ability to change further.”


To date, BCHHS has administered almost 97,000 total doses of vaccine to date, and 55% of the total Buncombe County population has been at least partially vaccinated.  

Incentive cards


This week, Buncombe County will begin offering incentive cards through the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Summer Incentive Program. Individuals who are 18 and over and are receiving their first dose of the vaccine will receive $100, and those providing a ride to individuals getting a first dose will receive $25. These incentives will be available at the BCHHS vaccine clinic at 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville and at BCHHS outreach events. A public announcement will be made when the Summer Incentive Program cards have arrived and are available.
In the update, Buncombe County Public Health officials made the following recommendations for action to stop the spread of COVID:

  • Buncombe County Government implement a County employee vaccine policy to ensure the workforce is protected and will limit the spread to the community
  • All public indoor spaces require masks indoors, regardless of vaccine status, while transmission rates are increasing
  • Universal masking for all students and staff in K-12 settings
  • Mask-wearing by everyone in all public indoor spaces, regardless of the business or facility’s requirements, during this time of high transmission

COVID vaccines in Buncombe County

Buncombe County Health & Human Services vaccine administration takes place at the Buncombe County Health Department, 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville. Walk-in vaccines are available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments can be scheduled online at www.buncombeready.org. Additional vaccine providers can be found by visiting https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
“Please honor the sacrifices of our emergency services responders, nurses, public health workers, restaurants workers, business owners, teachers, and school-aged children by getting your vaccine,” Saunders concluded. “Don’t squander the hard work of our entire community by choosing to let this virus use our bodies. We can all take steps to shut down COVID-19 through vaccination and masking.”  


Visit the Find my Testing Place website 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.

2021 Recent Community Updates

July 24

COVID Infection Rates Show “Clear and Steady Increase”, 92% of Cases in Individuals Not Fully Vaccinated

Average age of individuals testing positive is 39

On Wednesday, July 21, Buncombe County Public Health Director Stacie Saunders provided an update on the recent rise in COVID cases.

In the last week, on average, 16 new cases have entered the daily workflow, up from fewer than eight cases a day. About 92 percent of all new cases in Buncombe County are among individuals who are not fully vaccinated, and the average age of those individuals is 39.
“In the last two weeks, there has been a clear and steady increase in cases each day,” said Saunders. “With the more transmissible Delta variant growing exponentially and now being the predominant strain in our state, the greatest risk is for our younger, unvaccinated friends, family members and neighbors.” In Buncombe County, 54 percent of individuals ages 25-49 are fully vaccinated.

Statistics

  • 18,349 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County since the pandemic started
  • Cases per 100,000 per week have increased from 34 to 51 in the past week
  • Percent positivity, which had been consistently under 2.0 percent just a few weeks ago, has grown to 3.4 percent, indicating increased viral community transmission
  • There have been 327 COVID-19 related deaths
  • Roughly 80 percent of adults 65 and older in Buncombe County are fully vaccinated
  • 54 percent of total Buncombe County population is partially vaccinated, 52 percent fully vaccinated

“The more the virus spread amongst us, the more we give it the opportunity to create additional mutations and possibly more variants,” said Saunders. “When we are not vaccinated, we act as factories for the virus, but the good news is, we can limit that viral supply chain and limit the productivity of the virus with vaccines.”

Buncombe County Health & Human Services vaccine administration takes place at the Buncombe County Health Department, 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville. Walk-in vaccines are available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments can be scheduled online at www.buncombeready.org. Additional vaccine providers can be found by visiting https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
Individuals who are not vaccinated should practice precautions like mask-wearing and social distancing.

Testing

Visit the Find my Testing Place website 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 will provide an additional COVID update to the Board of Commissioners at its Aug. 3 meeting.

For more information about COVID-19 and vaccines in Buncombe County, go to www.buncombeready.org.