Coronavirus Community Update for Nov. 16, 2021

November 16, 2021

Buncombe County COVID-19 Case Rates Increase Heading into Holidays

For the second week in a row, Buncombe County saw the COVID-19 case rates increase. Up from 113 per 100,000 last week to 121 per 100,000 this week, the percent positivity has also increased to 4.7% this week from 4.4% last week. To date, 431 Buncombe County residents have passed away in COVID-19 related deaths, and the CDC continues to identify Buncombe County as an area of high transmission.   

“The levels we are seeing now rival those of the summer 2020 and winter 2020-21 surges, and we still have the holidays yet to come,” said Public Health Director Stacie Saunders.

In Buncombe County, the greatest proportion of cases are in individuals ages 25-49. Case rates in individuals ages 0-17 has been stable at 21%. At the same time, 15% of the Buncombe County population ages 5-11 has received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the less than two weeks they have been eligible.

“That’s almost 2,800 kiddos who have become superheroes for their community,” Saunders said. “I got to meet some of these superheroes at our 40 Coxe location. I got to learn about dinosaurs and favorite foods from them, watch them color and be creative while also talking with some of their parents and caregivers who expressed their gratitude for the opportunity.” Saunders also noted that many adults were getting vaccine doses and boosters at the same time.

To date, about 65% of the total Buncombe County population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and approximately 74% of the eligible population 12 and older has received at least one dose. At the November 13 outreach event at Asheville Middle, 393 people received vaccines, with 246 of those being pediatric ages 5-11.

November – December Saturday School Outreach Events

Outreach events will take place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the following Asheville City and Buncombe County schools:

  • Nov. 20 – North Buncombe High School
  • Dec. 4 – Clyde A. Erwin High (BCHHS) & T.C. Roberson High School (MAHEC/FEMA)
  • Dec. 11 – Charles D. Owen High (BCHHS) & A.C. Reynolds High School (MAHEC/FEMA)

All vaccine types will be available at each event.

Outreach events are open to everyone 5 years and older, no appointment necessary. Recipients will be asked to complete a brief registration form upon arrival. Vaccines are available at no cost regardless of health insurance coverage or immigration status.

Currently, locally funded $100 incentive cards are available while supplies last for eligible individuals (18 years and up) receiving their first dose of vaccine at the Buncombe County HHS vaccination clinic or at any BCHHS pop-up clinic. Individuals can visit the Buncombe County Health Department at 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to receive a vaccination. Individuals can also visit www.yourspotyourshot.nc.gov to find a vaccination site.

If you are having symptoms consistent with COVID-19, get tested. Testing locations can be found at Find My Testing Site NC. StarMed offers testing at Harrah’s Event Center Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on Sundays at A-B Tech from noon until 4 p.m.

Nov. 9, 2021 Update: Buncombe County COVID Trends Show No Major Change- Vaccination Remains Critical to Keep Moving in Favorable Direction

Buncombe County saw the COVID-19 case rate increase from 107 last week to 113 per 100,000 this week. The percent positivity has remained fairly constant for several days and is now at 4.4%, which is a decrease from 4.7% last week. It is likely that these trends will continue to go up and down with some plateauing as we continue the slow decline in transmission.

The death rate decreased with 4 deaths in Buncombe County residents reported in the last week, bringing the death rate per 100,000 to 1.5, down from 2.7 deaths last week. Hospitalizations continue to be low and are trending favorably at this time.

Please continue to monitor your symptoms and get tested if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. StarMed offers testing at Harrah’s Event Center Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on Sundays at A-B Tech from noon until 4 p.m. Testing locations can be found at Find My Testing Site NC.

Here in Buncombe County, the vaccination rate for total the population continues to slowly increase with 64% of the total population partially vaccinated and 61% fully vaccinated. With the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization and last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation that children 5 to 11 years receive a lower dose Pfizer vaccine. Buncombe County HHS and many other providers in our community began vaccine administration to 5 – 11 year olds last week with many providers coming online and outreach events scheduled for the coming weeks. BCHHS administered about 180 first doses to children 5 – 11 years old and an additional 90 parents/caregivers/adults received their first, second, or booster dose on Friday at the BCHHS COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic located at 40 Coxe Avenue.

Vaccine is available, including at doctor’s offices, hospitals, local pharmacies and grocery stores. COVID-19 vaccines are free, regardless of insurance and immigration status and the only thing required for the pediatric dose is parental consent.

Stacie Saunders, BCHHS Public Health Director, urges parents to get their children vaccinated as cases of COVID-19 among children in the U.S. rose approximately 240% during the most recent surge. “The vaccine provides a safe, tested way to help keep school-aged children healthy and can help get kids back to safely being with their family and friends which will be especially important during the upcoming holidays.” Please visit www.buncombeready.org for more information on local vaccination events and make plans today to get your children vaccinated.

Buncombe County Health & Human Services Vaccine Clinic

The clinic will be open every day this week except for Nov. 11 in observance of the Veterans Day Holiday. Please bring your parking ticket with you to your appointment so you can get it validated on the way out. Next week, the clinic will be open Tuesday-Friday, 9 am – 4 pm.

November – December Saturday School Outreach Events

Outreach events will take place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the following Asheville City and Buncombe County schools:

  • Nov. 13 – Asheville Middle School
  • Nov. 20 – North Buncombe High School
  • Dec. 4 – Clyde A. Erwin High (BCHHS) & T.C. Roberson High School (MAHEC / FEMA)
  • Dec. 11 – Charles D. Owen High (BCHHS) & A.C. Reynolds High School  (MAHEC / FEMA)

Outreach events are open to everyone 5 years and older, no appointment necessary. You will be asked to complete a brief registration form upon arrival. If you need your booster, please bring your vaccination card so your booster can be documented appropriately. All vaccines will be available at these events. Please bring your insurance card if you have one. Anyone who still needs a vaccine can use the NCDHHS Vaccine Finder by visiting www.yourspotyourshot.nc.gov.

Tonight at 5:30 p.m., BCHHS will host a parent-led “Let’s Talk: Pediatric Vaccines” to answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines for young people. The event can be viewed in English on Buncombe County Government’s Facebook page and real time in Spanish on the BCHHS Facebook page.