WNC COVID Update: How bad is it & 4 other things you should know

January 8, 2021


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Friday, January 8, 2021


As more than 100,000 North Carolinians receive COVID-19 vaccines during the first phases of vaccine distribution, state and local health systems are experiencing record levels of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. This month’s report focuses on what healthcare providers can do to promote health safety now and vaccination as soon as it becomes available.


Five Things


In this month’s regional report you’ll find

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NC and WNC Trends

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COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

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Focus on Health Equity

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COVID-19 Practice Support

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NEW COVID-19 Resources and Trainings

WNC COVID-19 Trends


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Visit the NCDHHS COVID-19 dashboard for the most recent vaccine data.


North Carolina reported its highest daily number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on Jan. 7 with 10,398 new cases and 3,960 people hospitalized with the virus. The state also reported its highest percentage of tests returning positive to date with 17.8 percent on Jan. 6. These trends are expected to increase with the recent holidays and the spread of more contagious variants of the virus.

All but one WNC counties are experiencing critical levels of viral spread with some counties reporting positivity rates greater than 20 percent and 12 WNC counties reporting rates higher than 10 percent.

Given these trends, WNC healthcare professionals should continue to encourage basic public health measures including

  • mask wearing,
  • maintaining social distance,
  • washing hands frequently,
  • avoiding indoor spaces without masks and gathering outside the household,
  • observing the NC’s modified stay-at-home order, which has been extended through Jan. 29

Now is the time to educate patients about COVID-19 vaccines to address hesitancy and other COVID-19 concerns. This month’s regional report will help you get up to speed.


Vaccines Are Still Limited as NC Moves Into Phase 1b


Individuals 75 and older are now eligible to receive a vaccine, regardless of health condition, in addition to healthcare professionals fighting COVID-19 and long-term care facility staff and residents.

Although the federal government launched a new program this week to make vaccines available to high-risk groups through participating pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens, supplies are still limited. Eligible patients who are not part of the federal program can visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov or call the state COVID-19 Line at 877-490-6642 to identify their nearest vaccine provider.


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The most recent national COVID-19 vaccine survey by KFF found that healthcare providers are the most trusted source for information on COVID-19 vaccines. As a frontline healthcare provider or community health leader, you can help others make an informed decision about getting their shot when it becomes available.


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Here are a few ways you can help build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Get the facts
    • The NCDHHS website contains the state’s vaccination rollout plan, CDC guidance, fact sheets, FAQs, videos and more.
    • MAHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Guide contains the latest updates on vaccine research, distribution, administration and storage, online training, and patient guidance.
    • Be sure to explore the vaccine resources listed in this month’s report.
  • Share the facts
    • Scientists had a head start developing vaccines for similar viruses over decades
    • Vaccines are tested, safe, and effective
    • You can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine
    • There’s no cost to get your shot
  • Share your experience
    • Share your own vaccination experience to instill confidence in the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. Remember to share often and in a variety of settings.
    • Take a photo or video of your vaccination and post on social media and in other forms of communication. This NCDHHS tip sheet can help with planning.
  • Listen with compassion
    • Acknowledge concerns. While not all of them are based in fact, they all feel real to the person holding them.
    • Ask questions. Curiosity and openness can deepen understanding and build trust.
    • Know your history. Consider the reasons behind mistrust. This is particularly important for populations who have historically and currently experience health inequities.
    • Be willing to accept “no.” It is important that individuals who choose not to get the vaccine feel supported by their providers. In these cases, you can demonstrate your care by focusing on how they can stay safe.


Bridging the Trust Gap: COVID and Communities of Color


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In 2020, Indigenous, Black and Latino Americans were at least 2.7 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than their White neighbors. A very real history of health injustices contributes to many Black and Brown people being hesitant to choose to be vaccinated. While this may not be the only reason, it is an important consideration as we work together to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Making our way safely out of the pandemic may be as much (or more) about building trust as it is about building immunity. Which means working to understand and acknowledge the reasons for vaccine hesitancy, including historical trauma. In addition to recognizing implicit bias, equity-focused approaches to supporting communities of color during COVID include

  • Asking “What Matters to You?” and “what are your concerns?” then working collaboratively to provide support without a predetermined agenda or end result.
  • Practicing patient-centered care to help patients make informed health decisions based on their values and goals, regardless of whether they decide to get vaccinated or not.
  • Identifying trusted messengers to share COVID-related health information such as community leaders, community health workers, spiritual leaders, and educators from communities of color.


COVID-19 Practice Support


The following guidance has been added to MAHEC’s COVID-19 Library Guides and/or has been recently published.

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Be sure to check out new sections of our COVID-19 Library Guides including:


NEW Resources to Help You Serve Your Patients


Provider Resources

Patient Resources


NEW & Ongoing COVID-19 Virtual Trainings & Support


COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: Supply and Logistics Messaging, Public Health Communications Collaborative
Tuesday, Jan. 12 from 1:00 to 2:00 pm

QPR Suicide Prevention Training, Vaya Health
Tuesday, Jan. 12 from 9:00 to 11:00 am | Tuesday, Jan. 26 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm

MAHEC Project ECHO Primary Care Collaborative
Tuesday, Jan. 19 from 7:00 to 8:00 am

COVID-19 Vaccine Administration | NCDHHS & NC AHEC Clinical & Quality Series
Thursday, Jan. 21 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm

COVID-19 and Substance Use Disorder
Thursday, Jan. 28 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm

NCDHHS COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition
The first Wednesday of the month from 1:00 to 2:00 pm

WCMS Virtual Yoga and Meditation with Dr. Robyn Tiger
Thursdays from 11:15 am to 12:30 pm
Contact Robyn to register for classes

CVMS Orientation Training Session for Providers | NCDHHS
Archived webinar

What Every Clinician Should Know about COVID-19 Vaccine Safety | CDC
Archived webinar

What Clinicians Need to Know About the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines |CDC
Archived webinar

COVID-19 Vaccine: What North Carolina Practices Need to Know | NCAHEC & CCNC
Archived webinar


September 18September 4
August 21August 7
July 31July 24July 17July 10,  July 2

June 26June 19June 12June 5
May 29May 22May 15May 8,  May 1
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