The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from March 23 to March 29. This weekly update will present the latest COVID-19 information as of publication.

Cases

Watauga County experienced an increase of 46 total COVID-19 cases since March 23 to reach 4,446 total cases as of March 29. The active case count has dropped during the course of the week with 43 total active cases as of March 29 — the lowest active case count since early July.

AppHealthCare reported no new deaths in the week of March 23 to March 29 with the last reported death on Feb. 16. Thirty-one Watauga County residents have died due to COVID-19 as of March 29.

As of March 29, AppHealthCare reports 141 people have been hospitalized in its three-county district that also includes Ashe and Alleghany counties. Last week AppHealthCare reported 137 people were hospitalized.

AppHealthCare reported 10 active clusters in Watauga County.

In its March 26 COVID-19 situation report AppHealthCare reported clusters at:

  • App State Raven Rocks Residence Hall with 13 total cases. The last positive came on March 13, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • App State Lovill Residence Hall with seven total cases. The last positive result came on March 8, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • App State Appalachian Panhellenic Residence Hall with seven total cases. The last positive result came on March 9, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • App State Cone Residence Hall with nine total cases. The last positive result came on March 9, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • App State East Residence Hall with eight total cases. The last positive result came on March 17, and as of the last report one case is active.
  • App State Thunder Hill Residence Hall with 15 total cases. The last positive result came on March 11, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • Cottages of Boone with 19 total cases. The last positive result came on March 8, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • University Highlands with 17 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on March 17, and as of the last report one case is active.
  • App State Living Learning Center Residence Hall with seven cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Feb. 19, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • App State Dogwood Residence Hall with eight cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Feb. 24, and as of the last report zero cases are active.

As of March 26, Appalachian State University has had 443 students and 37 employees test positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 1, 2021. Twenty-five students were active as of March 26.

Vaccines

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 14,236 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of March 29. NCDHHS also reports 10,558 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County.

As of March 29, roughly 25.3 percent of the population in Watauga County has been at least partially vaccinated and about 18.8 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.

On March 31, people living in a close group setting who have not been vaccinated are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 4. That includes people experiencing homelessness or living in a homeless shelter, and those living in a correctional facility, such as jail or prison.

App State hosted its second COVID-19 vaccine clinic on March 27. App State Chancellor Sheri Everts said the university vaccinated 300 students, faculty, staff and community members in just four hours.

“I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the many faculty, staff and students who have already taken the vaccine, or plan to do so,” Everts said in her weekly email update. “Every vaccine brings us closer to returning to the in-person working and learning environments we all miss.”

Everts also mentioned the university would receive more vaccine doses and would have more clinics during the week of March 30.

“Our students, faculty and staff have worked hard to remain safe and protect the safety of others throughout this pandemic, and our continued vigilance will see us through,” Everts said. “It is critical we continue to do everything we can to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19 until enough people have been vaccinated. Please continue to follow the three Ws and get your vaccine when the time comes.”

State COVID-19 update

To help reach those who are in need of COVID-19 testing, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with Labcorp, is piloting a program to provide 35,000 no-cost, home test collection kits to North Carolinians receiving Food and Nutrition Services and/or are disabled and experiencing barriers to getting tested.

Starting March 26, eligible North Carolina residents can request a Pixel by Labcorp COVID-19 PCR Test Home Collection Kit be shipped overnight directly to their homes. The request can be made at www.pixel.labcorp.com/nc?mc_cid=b195c9c9f7&mc_eid=89a423aea.

The test kit includes test supplies (nasal swab, sample container, etc.), detailed instructions and prepaid specimen return shipping materials to make mailing samples back to Labcorp for testing. Results are typically reported back to the individual within 24 to 48 hours from the time the specimen is received at the lab, according to NCDHHS. Once processed by Labcorp, test results are accessed by the customer via the Pixel by Labcorp website.

The program’s initial pilot is designed to provide testing resources to

individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been exposed and are members of the following eligible populations:

Beneficiaries of North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services (formerly called the Food Stamp Program), who may have difficulty accessing existing

  • state-funded testing sites and resources
  • Persons with disabilities such as cognitive/intellectual, physical and sensory, substance abuse, mental health and other disabilities that impact their ability to access COVID-19 testing sites

More information, can be found at www.pixel.labcorp.com/nc.

“As a North Carolina-based company that is committed to quality healthcare for all, we are delighted to collaborate on this important initiative. We believe this program will help protect some of our most vulnerable citizens and promote health and safety in our communities,” said Brian Caveney, chief medical officer and president at Labcorp Diagnostics.

NCDHHS said it is committed to expanding access to testing across the state to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help North Carolinians protect their communities and families safe.

The Pixel by Labcorp COVID-19 PCR Test Home Collection Kit is a molecular test that detects the presence or absence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

It is also known as a reverse polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), according to NCDHHS.

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