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BOONE — For their first meeting of the month, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners kept it short, hearing an update on the COVID-19 pandemic before looking at a handful of actionable items.

The Tuesday, Sept. 7, meeting featured a report from AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene on the COVID-19 pandemic. Greene did not mince words.

“I know everyone in health care is tired. We are getting inundated with cases every single day, and every case has contacts that we’re trying to protect and slow the spread,” Greene said. “Lots of people want testing, which is great, but it’s more and we have people coming in everyday, thankfully, to get vaccinated. I just want to tell you it’s really hard, and it’s wearing on some of us to see people that we know in the hospital. I really want people to know that the reason we’re asking them to get vaccinated is not to trick anybody, it’s not to coerce you, it is truly because we want what’s best for you. We want you to be healthy.”

In her report, Greene noted that Watauga is considered to be a “high transmission” area, and that case numbers are increasing across every age group.

Greene noted that some people questioned why COVID-19 was being considered a “big deal” compared to the flu.

“In 16 months, North Carolina has lost 14,468 people to COVID-19,” Greene said. “In the prior 10 years, it lost 1,275 to the flu. That’s why we care, because it can be severe and certainly has shown to be more impactful.”

Next for the board was an application for property tax exemption that was initially denied due to “untimely filing,” according to County Tax Administrator Larry Warren.

According to Warren, the property at 935 State Farm Road in Boone belongs to High County Community Health and was eligible, but had to be denied due to the application being sent in late. He recommended the board approve the exemption, adding that it would have been approved originally with no issue.

The board unanimously approved the exemption.

Also presenting was Emergency Services Director Will Holt, who came to the board with two purchase requests.

The first was for the renewal of the Priority Dispatch software that is used for processing fire, emergency medical service and law enforcement calls with a list of questions that “allows for standardization and prioritization of emergency calls.”

The renewal would be for the first of a three-year deal. The renewal cost was listed at $16,800, wholly funded by 911 surcharge funds, and was unanimously approved by the board.

The other request was for the purchase and modification of a Ford F-250 pickup truck, a replacement for one currently in service with the Watauga County Fire Marshall’s office. The truck itself is slated to cost $34,539 from Modern Ford in Boone, while the “upfit” would cost an additional $11,806.42.

The upfit would include lights, graphics a radio system and other items needed for the office’s work.

The board unanimously approved the request and its total cost of $46,345.42.

The next meeting of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners will be Sept. 21.

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