Community Coronavirus Update for Jan. 18, 202

January 18, 2022

Buncombe County COVID-19 Infection Rates Reach New Record High

Buncombe County continues to see COVID-19 cases rising, reaching levels not previously seen in the pandemic. Currently, the local case rate is 1,152 new cases per 100,000 per week. This is an increase from 913 new cases per 100,000 last week. Additionally, the percent positivity continues to increase with rates at 20.2% last week and now at 22.9%

“Omicron is certainly showing us its power to infect our community and communities across the US,” stated Public Health Director Stacie Saunders. “I am hopeful that as quickly as Omicron cases have surged, we may see them recede in the coming weeks. We can play a role in reducing cases by staying up to date on vaccines, isolating when we have symptoms and remembering to wear a mask and keep distance when interacting with others.”

The majority of new cases, 43.5%, have been in ages 25-49 years. Children ages 0-17 make up the second largest proportion of cases at 21.3% after seeing a decline in previous weeks.

Hospitalizations increased from about 10% to over 13% in the last week with ICU utilization reaching about 30%. Deaths remained stable last week. Hospitalization and ICU utilization rates among the unvaccinated remain much higher than vaccinated individuals statewide.

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
  • Isolate: Stay at home if you have any symptoms regardless of your test results
  • Mask: Wear a mask in all public indoor spaces, even if you are vaccinated

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.

To ensure that our community and students are up to date on their 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. Please check for confirmation of these events as the weather forecast in the coming weeks may necessitate rescheduling clinics. 

  • 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.

COVID Testing:

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 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. Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. To request free at-home tests, go to