The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from Oct. 5 to Oct. 12.
Watauga County has reached 5,790 total cases as of Oct. 12. The active case count has decreased slightly during the course of the week with 71 active cases as of Oct. 12.
AppHealthCare reported no new deaths from Oct. 5 to Oct. 12. AppHealthCare reported one death on Sept. 17 and one death on Sept. 20 to bring the total deaths due to COVID-19 among Watauga County residents to 37.
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 508 people are hospitalized, with 133 of those in the ICU as of Oct. 11.
Watauga Medical Center has 12 COVID-19 patients as of Oct. 11 with 11 of those unvaccinated.
AppHealthCare reported eight active clusters in Watauga County as of its last situation update on Oct. 8. In its COVID-19 situation report, AppHealthCare reported clusters at:
- Hospitality House with seven cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 22, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
- The App State baseball team with 10 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 23, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
- Watauga County Detention Center with seven cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 20, and as of the last report one case was active.
- Thunder Hill Residence Hall with 14 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 30, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
- The Standard at Boone with nine cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Oct. 3, and as of the last report two cases were active.
- The Cottages of Boone with 11 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Oct. 5, and as of the last report two cases were active.
- The App State wrestling team with 10 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 13, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
The App State COVID-19 dashboard reports 17 active COVID-19 cases among students and zero among employees as of Oct. 11. For the week ending on Oct. 11, 1,909 COVID-19 tests were conducted with 10 — or 0.5 percent — coming back positive. Since Aug. 1, the university has conducted 14,496 on-campus COVID-19 tests with 506 — or 3.5 percent — coming back positive.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 31,520 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of Oct. 11. NCDHHS also reports 29,336 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County — up approximately 200 from last week — as of Oct. 11.
As of Oct. 11, 56 percent of the population in Watauga County has been at least partially vaccinated and about 52 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.
App State reports 63 percent students are vaccinated and 94 percent of employees are vaccinated as of Oct. 11.
Nearly all 10,000 employees at state-operated healthcare facilities are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and compliant with a mandatory vaccination requirement, according to the NCDHHS. The department’s Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities, a state-operated health care system comprised of 14 facilities, moved to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in July.
Sixteen individuals were dismissed for non-compliance with the policy’s vaccination deadline of Sept. 30. Approximately six percent of DSOHF employees received exemptions from the policy with medical, religious, and other reasonable accommodations consistent with implementation of Equal Employment Opportunity standards under the American with Disabilities Act.
“We could not be prouder of our employees for recognizing the essential role vaccination plays in protecting everyone in our facilities. For the work they do and the challenges they continue to overcome, they are nothing less than heroes,” said Chief Deputy Secretary for Health Kody H. Kinsley. “The small number of employee dismissals is a testament to the fact that vaccine mandates are an effective tool to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”
At the end of June, DSOHF had voluntary COVID-19 vaccination rates higher than 75 percent for its 10,000 employees. This was the culmination of a vaccination campaign organized around education, equity, universal access and person-centered outreach.
Shortly after North Carolina health systems and leading health care organizations announced the need for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, DSOHF established its own mandatory vaccination policy, with Sept. 30 as the deadline. DSOHF implemented a supportive disciplinary process to maximize both employee compliance and retention. As a result, DSOHF has dismissed 16 employees.
“Our system is a safety-net in every sense of the term,” said Carrie Brown, chief medical officer for Behavioral Health and Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities for NCDHHS. “We care for patients and residents with some of the most complicated combinations of physical and behavioral health conditions, including those affected by social determinants of health, such as lack of health insurance. It is essential we do everything in our power to protect those we have the privilege of serving, as well as our extraordinary colleagues who have dedicated their lives to this work.”
COVID-19 vaccines offer significant protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death. People who are not fully vaccinated are more than 18 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people who are fully vaccinated.
Free COVID-19 vaccines are widely available across the state to anyone 12 and older. To get a vaccine nearby, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call (888) 675-4567.