Active cases

The trend of active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County as of Nov. 23.

The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from Nov. 16 to Nov. 23.

Cases

Watauga County has reached 6,179 total COVID-19 cases as of Nov. 23 — an increase of 59 cases from the previous week. The active case count has dipped during the course of the week with 36 active cases as of Nov. 22.

AppHealthCare reported one death on Nov. 15 to bring the total 40 deaths. AppHealthCare also reported one death on Oct. 28 and one death on Nov. 1.

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 303 people are hospitalized, with 86 of those in the ICU as of Nov. 22. At Watauga Medical Center, there are five COVID-19 patients and four of them are unvaccinated as of Nov. 23.

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

  • Thunder Hill Residence Hall with 16 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Oct. 21, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
  • The Standard at Boone with 11 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Oct. 20, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
  • The Cottages of Boone with 16 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Nov. 5 and as of the last report two cases were active.
  • The Watauga County Detention Center with 8 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Oct. 23, and as of the last report zero cases were active.

The App State COVID-19 dashboard reports eight active COVID-19 cases among students and three among employees as of Nov. 22. For the week ending on Nov. 22, 1,024 COVID-19 tests were conducted with seven — or 0.7 percent — coming back positive. Since Aug. 1, the university has conducted 22,775 on-campus COVID-19 tests with 592 — or 2.6 percent — coming back positive.

Vaccines

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 32,668 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of Nov. 22. NCDHHS also reports 29,173 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County — up approximately 170 from last week — as of Nov. 22.

As of Nov. 22, 58 percent of the population in Watauga County has been at least partially vaccinated and 54 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.

App State reports 70 percent of students are vaccinated and 82 percent of employees are vaccinated as of Nov. 22.

State update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone 18 years or older who received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine get a booster six months after their second dose to help strengthen and extend protections against COVID-19. This comes after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the boosters for such use on Nov. 19.

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 booster was made available in late October and is recommended for individuals ages 18 and older who were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.

“I encourage all adults to get their COVID-19 booster for safer holiday gatherings with loved ones,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. “With the recent authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, now nearly everyone in the family can be vaccinated or boosted. Don’t wait to vaccinate.”

Additionally, fully vaccinated people who received their first COVID-19 vaccines outside of the U.S. or in clinical trials with a brand not currently authorized can now receive a Pfizer booster shot when they are eligible.

Those over 50 or at high risk should get a booster now, according to NCDHHS.

Recent studies indicate that while protection against severe disease and death remains strong for individuals who are fully vaccinated, people may be more likely to develop milder or asymptomatic COVID-19 over time.

Individuals can receive any brand of the COVID-19 vaccine for their booster shot. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. Limited preliminary evidence suggests that booster doses of one of the two mRNA vaccines — Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech — more effectively raise antibody levels than a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“If you are 50 or older, I urge you to get your booster as soon as you reach your six-month mark so that you are well protected, particularly as we head into winter and the holidays,” said Cohen.

Everyone who received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of age, should get a booster two months after their shots according to NCDHHS.

NCDHHS encourages individuals to speak with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist if they have questions about what booster is right for them.

Booster shots are available anywhere COVID-19 vaccines are available, and people do not need a doctor’s note to get a booster shot. Individuals who want to receive a booster will need to know the dates and brand of their past COVID-19 vaccine.

Paper vaccination cards are helpful but may not be necessary. Anyone who received their COVID-19 vaccine at a doctor’s office, independent (non-chain) pharmacy, health department or at a community event can access their vaccine information on the NCDHHS Access Portal. At-home vaccination and free transportation may be available.

In addition to boosters for adults, the CDC recently recommended children ages 5 to 11 receive a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to protect them from serious illness and complications from COVID-19.

“Parents should get their children vaccinated as a safe, tested way to keep them healthy and to get them back to safely being with their family and friends,” Cohen said.

North Carolina’s actions are based on authorization from FDA and recommendations from the CDC.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina or to find a vaccine location, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center for free at (888) 675-4567.

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