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Slight uptick in COVID-like illness noted in Buncombe; vaccines highly encouraged, county health chief reports
Sunday, 02 May 2021 13:46

From Staff Reports

COVID-like illness surveillance, an early indicator, showed a slight uptick in Buncombe County in the week ending April 10, county Public Health Director Stacie Saunders reported during her weekly COVID-19 community update during the April 20 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in Asheville.

In addition, Saunders emphasized that vaccines for everyone 16 and older are encouraged and available immediately to prevent increases in cases.

“As we continue vaccinate, I want to remind everyone that our best chance for the community, for each of us to get back to the things we love – travel, hugs with family, singing along with our favorite bands at our favorite venues and all the other things we’ve missed in this past year – is to get your shot,” Saunders said.

“We all now have a spot and there is vaccine supply in many locations. No need to wait – get your vaccine today and begin protecting yourself, your loved ones and our community and economy!”

Vaccine appointments are available immediately by going online to, or by calling 419-0095. 

“You can also visit to find a vaccine provider near you,” Saunders urged. “Pfizer is the only vaccine to have received EUA for use in 16- and 17-year-olds; these individuals should check with their preferred vaccine provider to confirm that Pfizer is available.” 

As for COVID-19 trends in Buncombe as of April 20, she reported the following:

• 17,051 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County since the pandemic’s start.

• 311 COVID-19-related deaths in “our community.”

• 97 new cases per 100,000 per week, up from 73 per 100,000 last week.

• Percent positivity, which remains below 5.0 percent, has bobbed between 4.0 and 4.5 percent for the last several weeks and is currently 4.1 percent.

• Regional hospitalizations continue to remain low.

Also, Saunders reported, “The percentage of ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is at levels so low and stable that our hospital system is no longer routinely updating this indicator, but will reinstate should the metrics change significantly.”

As for vaccine statistics as of April 20, Saunders noted that, since Dec. 22, BCHHS has administered more than 77,660 doses of the vaccine “with help and support from Buncombe County Emergency Services and other partners,” with 43,200 first doses, about 33,000 second doses and just under 1,500 single-shot doses.

Regarding Buncombe statistics for all providers per the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services  Dashboard shows 43 percent of people are vaccinated with at least one dose and 31 percent of people are fully vaccinated, she said.

As for site consolidation, Saunders noted that, beginning May 10, all Buncombe County Health & Human Services vaccine administration will take place at A-B Tech Conference Center, 16 Fernihurst Drive, Asheville.

“With the consolidation of the two sites, the needed human resources will be reduced at the fixed sites allowing us to build on our successful outreach with additional opportunities – particularly in small batch approach (about 100 doses or so) for populations at greater risk or limited access,” Saunders said. “These may include our historically marginalized populations, migrant farmworkers and others.”

In addition, beginning April 28, individuals wanting their first dose of vaccine may take advantage of walk-in availability at the A-B Tech location, which is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. Appointments also can be scheduled by visiting, or by calling 419-0095.



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