Jan. 4 active trends

The active COVID-19 case trend in Watauga County has ticked up during month of December.

The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4.

Cases

Watauga County has reached 7,028 total COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 4 — an increase of approximately 273 cases from Dec. 28. The active case count has increased during the course of the week with 135 active cases as of Jan. 4. Forty-one people have been directed to quarantine as of Jan. 4.

No new deaths were reported in the Jan. 4 update in Watauga County. AppHealthCare reported two deaths in its Dec. 28 update to bring the total number of deaths among Watauga County residents to 45. AppHealthCare also reported one death on Dec. 9, another death on Dec. 10 and another one on Dec. 14.

The Triad HealthCare Preparedness Coalition region — which includes Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Catawba, Davie, Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin — reports 712 people are hospitalized, with 168 of those in the ICU as of Jan. 3.

AppHealthCare reported five active clusters in Watauga County as of its last situation update on Dec. 17. In its COVID-19 situation report, AppHealthCare reported clusters at:

  • The Hospitality House with five cumulative cases. The last positive result was on Dec. 3 and as of the last report zero cases were active.
  • The Cottages of Boone with 17 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Nov. 22 and as of the last report zero cases were active.
  • Thunder Hill Residence Hall with 17 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Nov. 23, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
  • The Standard at Boone with 13 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Dec. 1, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
  • The Foley Center with three cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Dec. 8, and as of the last report two cases were active.

The App State COVID-19 dashboard reports 13 active COVID-19 cases among students and eight among employees as of Dec. 10. For the week ending on Dec. 10, 545 COVID-19 tests were conducted with 7 — or 1.3 percent — coming back positive. Since Aug. 1, the university has conducted 24,845 on-campus COVID-19 tests with 632 — or 2.5 percent — coming back positive. The dashboard will be updated again on Jan. 18.

Vaccines

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 33,152 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of Jan. 3. NCDHHS also reports 30,938 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County as of Jan. 3.

As of Jan. 3, 59 percent of the population in Watauga County has been at least partially vaccinated and 55 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.

App State reports 71 percent of students are vaccinated and 84 percent of employees are vaccinated as of Dec. 10. The App State COVID-19 dashboard will next be updated on Jan. 18.

State update

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced Jan. 3 that the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program will expand to include all low-income households needing assistance in paying their water bill.

LIHWAP was created in December 2021 after the State of North Carolina was awarded more than $38 million in federal funds to establish a new water assistance program for households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, households with a current water/wastewater bill can begin applying for LIHWAP assistance if they meet the eligibility requirements, whether or not their water service has been disconnected. Households that have had their services disconnected or are in jeopardy of having their services disconnected can continue to apply.

“Due to the pandemic and its impact on our economy, many households are struggling to maintain their water service,” said Tara Myers, NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Employment, Inclusion and Economic Stability. “LIHWAP will continue to help families in North Carolina keep their water running, a basic human need that’s critical for good sanitation and better health.”

LIHWAP is a temporary emergency program that helps eligible households and families afford water and wastewater services. The program provides a one-time payment for eligible low-income households directly to the utility company. LIHWAP runs through September 2023 or until the funds run out.

Individuals can apply online at epass.nc.gov. Individuals can also apply by printing a paper application from epass.nc.gov and dropping it off at or faxing it to their local county Department of Social Services or by calling their local county Department of Social Services to apply by phone.

To be eligible for LIHWAP, a household must have at least one U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen and:

  • Have income equal to or less than 150% of the federal poverty level
  • Have household services that are disconnected, in jeopardy of disconnection or have a current outstanding bill
  • Be responsible for the water bill
  • Households can apply through Sept. 30, 2023, or until funds are exhausted.

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