The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from May 18 to May 25. This weekly update will present the latest COVID-19 information as of publication.
Watauga County experienced an increase of 27 total COVID-19 cases since May 18 to reach 4,729 total cases as of May 25. The active case count has risen slightly during the course of the week with 18 total active cases as of May 25.
AppHealthCare reported no new deaths in the week of May 18 to May 25. The last reported death was on Feb. 16.
As of May 25, AppHealthCare reported 149 people have been hospitalized since the pandemic started in its three-county district that also includes Ashe and Alleghany counties.
AppHealthCare reported four active clusters in Watauga County in its last situation update on May 21. AppHealthCare reported clusters at:
- Hospitality House with 15 total cases. The last positive result came on May 19, and as of the last report 15 are active.
- Watauga County Detention Center with 38 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on May 10, and as of the last report two cases are active.
- Cottages of Boone with 21 total cases. The last positive result came on April 26, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
- App State women’s soccer team with six total cases. The last positive result came on April 21, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 25,073 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of May 24. NCDHHS also reports 23,172 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County — up nearly 500 from May 25.
As of May 24, roughly 44.6 percent of the population in Watauga County has been at least partially vaccinated and about 41.2 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.
NCDHHS, in partnership with the NC Department of Public Instruction, announced May 19 the expansion of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program to provide benefits to eligible children under the age of six who are in households receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS). This expansion will provide benefits to families with young children and infants who need extra help buying food.
The P-EBT program helps families with children who are receiving FNS benefits and whose access to meals or buying food has been impacted by COVID-19. The program provides a benefit on an EBT card that can be used to buy food at authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores. P-EBT is a program authorized and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Food insecurity for families has increased significantly during the pandemic. This program is one way that we can support young children and their families who have been particularly hard hit,” said NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary for Opportunity and Well-Being Susan Gale Perry. “Having access to nutritious meals is vital to young children’s healthy development and well-being.”
There is no application process to receive P-EBT benefits for children under age six. Eligibility will be determined through circumstances of the child and the public schools in the county where the child lives.
The benefit amounts for children under 6 years of age are the same as for school-aged children, and the amount a child receives will be based on the learning mode of public schools in the school district(s) of the county where the child lives. If one or more public schools in the county of residence is in a fully remote learning mode (100 percent virtual instruction) for the month, the eligible child will receive a benefit of $115.94 for that month. If no public schools in the county are operating fully remote, but one or more schools are operating in a hybrid learning mode for the month, the child will receive a smaller benefit amount.
Households with eligible children under 6 six years of age who receive FNS will receive their P-EBT benefits on their existing FNS EBT card. P-EBT benefits received in May will be for the months of October 2020 through March 2021. Following the initial issuance, P-EBT benefits will be a monthly allotment that will be issued each month.
Since March 2020, NCDHHS in partnership with NCDPI has issued more than $1 billion in benefits to the families of more than 1 million children. Through this expansion of P-EBT, NCDHHS anticipates issuing an additional $120 million in P-EBT benefits to families of eligible children under the age of 6 who are receiving FNS benefits.
If someone has lost or destroyed their EBT card, they can order a new card at www.ebtedge.com, on the EBT Edge mobile app or by contacting the North Carolina EBT Call Center at 1 (866) 719-0141. More information about the P-EBT program can be found at www.ncdhhs.gov/PEBT.
Those who are not currently receiving FNS benefits and believe they may be eligible can learn more information about income eligibility and how to apply at tinyurl.com/swu9n3ej. Families who apply for FNS and meet the eligibility criteria can receive P-EBT benefits back to the date of eligibility.