The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from July 13 to July 20. This weekly update will present the latest COVID-19 information as of publication.
Watauga County experienced an increase of 21 total COVID-19 cases since July 13 to reach 4,795 total cases as of July 20. The active case count has increased during the course of the week with 16 active cases as of July 20.
AppHealthCare reported no new deaths the week of July 13 to July 20. The agency did report one new death during the week of July 6 to July 13 bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Watauga County to 32.
As of July 20, AppHealthCare reported 150 people have been hospitalized since the pandemic started in its three-county district that also includes Ashe and Alleghany counties.
AppHealthCare reported zero active clusters in Watauga County as of its last situation update on July 9.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 28,691 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of July 19 — an increase of less than 100 doses from last week. NCDHHS also reports 26,957 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County — up less than 100 from last week.
As of July 19, 51 percent of the population in Watauga County has been at least partially vaccinated and about 48 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.
As of July 1, 77 percent of staff at state-operated health care facilities are fully vaccinated according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities — a state-operated health care system comprised of 14 facilities with more than 10,000 employees. In addition, 93 percent of residents in the state’s six congregate living facilities are fully vaccinated. The announcement came on July 14.
“Our facilities are leaders in caring for people with complex needs, and our staff have heroically protected the people they serve and each other from day one of this pandemic,” said Chief Deputy Secretary for Health Kody Kinsley. “I am proud of our facilities for making vaccination a priority and our team for doing all that they can to protect themselves and those they care for.”
DSOHF set the goal of having 75 percent of facility staff vaccinated earlier this year, consistent with a target established by leading national health care and long-term care associations. Nationally, staff vaccination rates vary across health care settings. Among long-term care facilities, the national average is below 56 percent.
Throughout the pandemic, DSOHF has prioritized safeguarding the health and wellness of facility staff and those they care for by taking preventive steps such as implementing rigorous infection control procedures and providing enhanced personal protective equipment. Making safe and effective vaccines available at each facility since December2020 is a continuation of that commitment, NCDHHS stated.
Consistent with what North Carolina is seeing more broadly, the increase in vaccination rates among staff in DSOHF facilities is strongly correlated with decreasing cases of COVID-19.
“By choosing to get vaccinated, our staff are delivering on our mission and protecting each other,” said State Health Director and NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson. “With new and more contagious variants emerging, achieving this level of vaccination among both staff and patients is especially important in stopping the spread of the virus not only in these facilities, but also among their families and loved ones and in their communities across the state.”
The 14 facilities comprising DSOHF consist of state psychiatric hospitals, alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers, and two types of congregate living facilities — developmental centers for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and neuro-medical treatment centers for older adults requiring specialized nursing care.
Vaccination in these facilities is voluntary. DSOHF continues to work with staff and residents to help those who want a vaccine to get one and to provide information for those wanting more information about the vaccines.
NDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen also announced July 15 the second round of winners of the state’s Your Shot at A Million Summer Cash Drawing and Summer Cash 4 College drawings at the State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh.
Natalie Everett of Pineville received a $1 million prize as the state’s second Your Shot at A Million Summer Cash Drawing winner. Sixteen-year old high school student Jessica Klima of Greensboro won a $125,000 scholarship for post-secondary education, according to NCDHHS.