The following COVID-19 information is compiled from local and state agencies from March 29 to April 6. This weekly update will present the latest COVID-19 information as of publication.

CasesWatauga County experienced an increase of 75 total COVID-19 cases since March 29 to reach 4,521 total cases as of April 6. The active case count has risen slightly during the course of the week with 46 total active cases as of April 6.

AppHealthCare reported no new deaths in the week of March 29 to April 6 with the last reported death on Feb. 16.

As of April 5, AppHealthCare reports 142 people have been hospitalized in its three-county district that also includes Ashe and Alleghany counties.

AppHealthCare reported 10 active clusters in Watauga County in its last situation update March 26. The agency did not provide a situation update on April 2 due to the Good Friday holiday.

In its March 26 COVID-19 situation report AppHealthCare reported clusters at:

  • App State Raven Rocks Residence Hall with 13 total cases. The last positive came on March 13, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • App State Lovill Residence Hall with seven total cases. The last positive result came on March 8, and as of the last report zero cases are active.

App State Appalachian Panhellenic Residence Hall with seven total cases. The last positive result came on March 9, and as of the last report zero cases are active.

  • App State Cone Residence Hall with nine total cases. The last positive result came on March 9, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • App State East Residence Hall with eight total cases. The last positive result came on March 17, and as of the last report one case is active.
  • App State Thunder Hill Residence Hall with 15 total cases. The last positive result came on March 11, and as of the last report zero cases are active.

Cottages of Boone with 19 total cases. The last positive result came on March 8, and as of the last report zero cases are active.

  • University Highlands with 17 cumulative cases. The last positive result came on March 17, and as of the last report one case is active.
  • App State Living Learning Center Residence Hall with seven cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Feb. 19, and as of the last report zero cases are active.
  • App State Dogwood Residence Hall with eight cumulative cases. The last positive result came on Feb. 24, and as of the last report zero cases are active.

As of April 5, Appalachian State University has had 501 students and 39 employees test positive for COVID-19 since Jan. 1, 2021. Twenty-four students were active as of April 5.

Vaccines

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports Watauga County has administered 15,312 first dose COVID-19 vaccines as of April 5. NCDHHS also reports 12,513 people have completed the vaccine series in Watauga County.

As of April 5, roughly 27.3 percent of the population in Watauga County has been at least partially vaccinated and about 22.3 percent — up about 5 percent from last week — of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to NCDHHS.

App State hosted another vaccine clinic on March 31 and April 1, the university administered 1,970 vaccines to students, faculty, staff and community members.

“You have heard me say that every vaccine brings us closer to returning to the in-person working and learning environments we all miss, and I am so encouraged by the response we have had to our vaccine clinics so far,” Everts said in an email to campus on April 1.

State COVID-19 update

Through the NCDHHS COVID-19 Support Services Program, more than 35,000 households received relief payments, food, transportation to and from testing sites or additional supports to help them isolate or quarantine during the pandemic, the agency announced March 29.

The program — which was set to end when all available funds were spent — is winding down, which means no new services can be requested. As the program ends, NCDHHS is celebrating its partners and the results of this innovative initiative.

The Support Services Program launched in August identified COVID-19 “hot spots” throughout the state, with a focus on serving historically marginalized populations — which have been hardest hit by COVID-19. Originally in 20 counties, the program expanded to 29 counties, providing assistance such as home-delivered meals and groceries, financial relief payments, COVID-related supplies (such as masks or hand sanitizer), transportation to medical or vaccine appointments and medication delivery to individuals who needed support to be able to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19.

“Through this work, tens of thousands of North Carolinians were able to quarantine and care for themselves and their families. I am proud of my colleagues and grateful to our partners, without whom the Support Services Program would not have been successful,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. “NCDHHS is committed to addressing nonmedical drivers of health, including food, housing, transportation, employment and interpersonal safety, because we know taking a whole person approach is what will really improve health and well-being in North Carolina. Though this program is winding down, we will continue to focus on whole-person initiatives moving forward.”

NCDHHS stated that anyone who tests positive for or who has been exposed to COVID-19 needs to quarantine or isolate, meaning they need to separate themselves from others, including anyone in their household. But many North Carolinians struggle to safely quarantine and still meet basic needs.

Four vendor partners across the state — ADLA Inc, Duke University Health Systems, Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency, and Quality Comprehensive Health Center — operationalized the program across the 29 counties.

In a survey to NCDHHS, Duke University Health Systems (DUHS) shared an example of one of the people the DUHS team helped: “A man who tested positive for COVID-19 needed food, COVID-19 supplies and financial assistance. His truck had been repossessed, his water was cut off and his electricity was about to be cut off.”

DUHS and a Community Health Worker got him food and COVID-19 supplies immediately and worked quickly to get the man’s water turned back on the same day.

“When I called to tell him, he said tearfully, ‘You saved my life,’” said DUHS in the survey.

The COVID-19 Support Services Program is built on NCDHHS’ long-standing, nationally recognized work to address non-medical drivers that impact a person’s health and the department’s focus on equity in its COVID-19 strategy and work.

Prior to launching the Support Services Program, NCDHHS launched its Community Health Worker Program to establish trust and support within each community.

The Community Health Worker Program employs community health workers in 55 counties to connect North Carolinians with medical and social supports such as diagnostic testing, behavioral health services, education about vaccines in addition to vaccine registration. A community health worker is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of the community, often bilingual, and has a close understanding of the community served. This program, which has served 350,000 North Carolinians to date, will continue through June 30.

“We know and serve our community every day, which allowed us to quickly reach and support those who needed us the most during the pandemic,” said Kathy Norcott, executive director of Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency. “Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency shares NCDHHS’ commitment to addressing social determinants of health and serving historically marginalized communities in North Carolina, and we have been proud to partner on the Support Services Program.”

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