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Buncombe COVID-19 incident rate? High-but-steady, cases in young people rise, local health chief reports
Thursday, 16 September 2021 18:31

From Staff Reports

Transmission rates remain high, and while new cases have slowed, Buncombe County COVID-19 rates mirror those in mid-January, when the previous record for cases was set, county Public Health Director Stacie Saunders reported during a weekly coronavirurs community update on Sept. 7.

“The weekly metrics indicate that current percent positivity is 9.6 percent, the same as a week ago,” Saunders stated during a meeting of the Buncombe Board of Commissioners in Asheville.

“The incidence rate is currently 366 cases per 100,000 per week, similar to the previous week’s rate, but still more than twice the incidence rate seen at the beginning of August,” she noted in her report. “Individuals ages 25-49 years make up the highest rates of new cases.

“There have been 23,001 total cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, and 351 Buncombe County residents have died related to COVID-19. 

“The rate of death has increased to 3.1 per 100,000 per week, up from 1.1 per 100,000 per week on Aug. 31. Unvaccinated individuals have a risk of COVID-19 related death that is 15 times that of those who are vaccinated.”

She also reported that 63 percent of Buncombe residents are partially vaccinated, and 60 percent are fully vaccinated. 

“Buncombe County Health and Human Services has administered more than 98,900 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine since December 2020,” Saunders noted.

At-home and homebound vaccination services are available through Buncombe County Health and Human Services. Interested individuals may call 419-0095 to get more information or to schedule a visit, she said.

“In the recent weeks, we have seen a slight uptick in vaccination administration across the county and also in our clinics,” Saunders asserted. “Vaccination is one of our greatest tools, and at this time of very high transmission, it will take vaccination and other layered approaches to succeed in controlling and managing COVID-19.”

In addition to current vaccine administration, BCHHS is actively planning for anticipated boosters, she noted.

“While no official guidance or directive has been given, community members can sign up to receive vaccine booster updates to their phones by texting ‘BCALERT’ to 99411, or by going to 

“The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recently recommended a third additional dose for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Individuals must self-attest that they qualify for the additional dose, which can be accessed at the BCHHS vaccine clinic.

“Individuals can visit the Buncombe County Health Department at 40 Coxe Ave., Asheville, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to receive a vaccination at no cost. 

“Individuals can also visit to find vaccination opportunities throughout North Carolina. 

“A limited number of N.C. Department of Health and Human Services incentive cards are available through Sept. 13 to people 18 and over who are receiving their first dose ($100) or who transport individuals receiving their first dose ($25).

“If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, get tested and isolate from others while waiting for your test results. Testing locations can be found at

“Please continue to take COVID-19 seriously by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, washing your hands, and getting tested if you have been exposed or have symptoms,” Saunders said in concluding her update./ “Visit for more information on COVID-19 in Buncombe County.”



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