The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from Aug. 31 to Sept. 7.
Watauga County experienced an increase of 133 total COVID-19 cases since Aug. 31, to reach 5,442 total cases as of Sept. 7. The active case count has dropped during the course of the week with 93 active cases as of Sept. 7.
AppHealthCare reported one new death from Aug. 31 to Sept. 7. AppHealthCare reported one death on Sept. 1. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Watauga County is at 35.
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 899 people are hospitalized, with 233 of those in the ICU as of Sept. 7.
AppHealthCare reported two active clusters in Watauga County as of its last situation update on Sept. 3. In its COVID-19 situation report, AppHealthCare reported clusters at:
- Watauga County Detention Center with five cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Aug. 29, and as of the last report two cases were active.
- Thunder Hill Residence Hall with seven cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Aug. 30, and as of the last report seven cases were active.
- Watauga County Parks and Recreation Summer Camp with 11 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Aug. 9, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
The App State COVID-19 dashboard reports 112 active COVID-19 cases among students and six among employees as of Sept. 4. For the week ending on Sept. 4, 1,421 COVID-19 tests were conducted with 80 — or 5.6 percent — coming back positive. Since Aug. 9, the university has conducted 3,728 on-campus tests with 296 — or 7.9 percent — coming back positive.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 30,583 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of Sept. 7. NCDHHS also reports 28,175 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County as of Sept. 7.
As of Sept. 7, 54 percent of the population in Watauga County has been at least partially vaccinated and about 50 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.
App State reports 52 percent students are vaccinated and 89 percent of employees are vaccinated as of Sept. 4.
Wilkes County EMS suffered a loss on Sept. 6, when Paramedic John Thomas Ring succumbed to complications from COVID-19. He was 35-years-old.
He was affectionately known as “Ringo” by his friends and co-workers. Ringo became an instant family member at WCEMS when he began working there on Dec. 1, 2017. During his four years there, he worked to advance his training and knowledge base.
“Ringo displayed traits that we all should strive to have,” Wilkes County EMS Director Timothy Pennington stated. “A humble and faithful public servant to all no matter the situation. Never a negative word towards anyone, always positive. Always wanting to be better. Always wanting to learn more. Always willing to help others. Always dedicated to his family and work family. Always pushing himself to be better. Always deeply cared for his patients. Always enjoyed talking and spending time with everyone. Always a friend to anyone. Much more not named here. Ringo taught us all lessons that will never be forgotten.”
In other state COVID-19 news, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, Cone Health and Novant Health hospitals in the region have seen a surge in recent weeks of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, very similar to the surge earlier this year before vaccines became widely available. More than 90 percent of these patients are unvaccinated, more are younger and many are from communities with low rates of vaccination and resistance to mask wearing, according to the health care agencies.
These health systems strongly urge the unvaccinated to take responsibility to not only protect their own health, but also protect the lives of their loved ones and neighbors.
Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and countless other health care workers have been fighting for 18 months – fighting the pandemic, fighting to keep themselves and their family healthy, and fighting to save the lives of their patients – and they are exhausted.
The health care agencies stated that these health care workers have made incredible sacrifices and they need the support of the community now more than ever before. Being responsible and getting vaccinated, along with practicing other measures to slow the spread of the virus, helps ensure that those who require hospitalization, regardless of the circumstance, have a hospital bed and a medical team to care for them.
Vaccination is the best defense against COVID-19. Rigorous clinical trials among thousands of people have proven that the vaccines are safe and effective. Almost 200 million Americans have been safely vaccinated and confirmed adverse events following vaccination are rare. According to the CDC, the vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.