The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5.
Watauga County experienced an increase of 122 total COVID-19 cases since Sept. 29, to reach 5,858 total cases as of Oct. 5. The active case count has increased slightly during the course of the week with 94 active cases as of Oct. 5.
AppHealthCare reported no new deaths from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5. 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 601 people are hospitalized, with 170 of those in the ICU as of Oct. 4.
AppHealthCare reported eight active clusters in Watauga County as of its last situation update on Oct. 1. 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 two 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 12 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 13, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
- The Standard at Boone with eight cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 26, and as of the last report one cases was active.
- The Cottages of Boone with nine cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 27, and as of the last report one case was active.
- The App State wrestling team with ten cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Sept. 23, and as of the last report zero cases were active.
The App State COVID-19 dashboard reports 24 active COVID-19 cases among students and three among employees as of Oct. 4. For the week ending on Oct. 4, 2,020 COVID-19 tests were conducted with 48 — or 2.3 percent — coming back positive. Since Aug. 1, the university has conducted 12,587 on-campus COVID-19 tests with 496 — or 3.9 percent — coming back positive.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 31,448 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of Oct. 4. NCDHHS also reports 29,161 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County — up approximately 200 from last week — as of Oct. 4.
As of Oct. 4, 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 60 percent students are vaccinated and 94 percent of employees are vaccinated as of Oct. 4.
North Carolina’s Community Health Worker Initiative will expand as part of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Community Health Workers for COVID Response and Resilient Communities initiative. NCDHHS was awarded a total of $9 million with $3 million per year distributed over the next three years.
“Community health workers have been vital in addressing health outcomes and equity prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maggie Sauer, director of the NCDHHS Office of Rural Health. “They have been invaluable, trusted members of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing to integrate these trusted, frontline public health workers into the statewide health system will help improve health outcomes and equity in access to care in communities across North Carolina.”
A community health worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of the community or who has a close understanding of the community. This trusting relationship enables CHWs to serve as a link between health, social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.
The COVID-19 CHW program initially supported community health workers in 55 counties to connect North Carolinians with medical and social supports such as food and financial relief, diagnostic testing, behavioral health services and education about vaccines. This spring, NCDHHS committed to expanding the program to all 100 counties. The $9 million in CDC funding will help the state do that by developing a sustainable infrastructure for CHWs that builds on the pandemic response.
NCDHHS plans to expand, strengthen and integrate a statewide community health worker infrastructure by integrating CHWs into the Healthy Opportunity pilots as part of the Advanced Medical Home model, Medicaid and other programs to improve health outcomes. NCDHHS will also partner with the newly created N.C. Community Health Worker Association as they create an accreditation process and work with state community colleges to develop core competency trainings.
To date, the COVID-19 CHW Program has connected more than 112,000 people to social supports, provided vaccine education to more than 420,000 people and scheduled more than 33,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments. CHWs also use technology to connect people with resources and have created more than 350,000 telehealth appointments. In addition to the CHW Program, support also continues to be available to North Carolinians through the NCCARE 360 platform.
NCDHHS is one of 69 organizations receiving funding from the CDC to support communities hit hardest by COVID-19. The funding, awarded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will be used to address:
- Disparities in access to COVID-19 related services, such as testing, contact tracing and immunization
- Factors that increase risk of severe COVID-19 illness, such as chronic diseases, smoking and pregnancy
- Community needs that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, such as health and mental health care access and food insecurity
The amount each organization received was determined by population size, poverty rates and COVID-19 statistics.