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Buncombe COVID cases, rates, percent positivity remain high, health chief says: 14 deaths tallied; indoor face-covering requirement extended through Oct. 29
Saturday, 02 October 2021 11:37

From Staff Reports

While Buncombe County cases per 100,000 per week “decreased to 295 this week from 351 the week prior,” COVID cases, rates and percent positivity remain at high levels, Stacie Saunders, Buncombe's public health director, reported Sept. 21 in a community update.

Her biweekly coronavirus update focusing on Buncombe was unveiled during a meeting of the Buncombe Board of Commissioners.

“The percent positivity decreased slightly to 8.3 percent, from the mid-9 percent range for the past month. 

“Hospitalizations remain level but high. Currently 13.4 percent of inpatient hospital beds are occupied with COVID-19 patients, and 54 percent of ICU beds are occupied with COVID-19 patients. Last week, there were 14 COVID-related deaths reported in Buncombe County.

“Because of sustained high transmission levels, Buncombe County Health and Human Services recommended extending the indoor face covering requirement for indoor public spaces until the end of October,” Saunders noted

(To that end, the ommissioners voted to extend the requirement through Oct. 29.)

The public health director added, “To date, BCHHS has administered almost 100,000 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with about 3,000 of those coming in outreach settings. Currently 65 percent of the total Buncombe County population is partially vaccinated, and 73 percent of the eligible population is partially vaccinated.

“According to recent NC DHHS data, unvaccinated individuals have a risk that is four times that of their vaccinated counterparts in becoming ill with COVID-19. 

“Additionally, unvaccinated individuals have a risk of death that is 14 times that of their vaccinated counterparts.”

In mid-September, the FDA recommended COVID-19 Pfizer booster shots for individuals who received Pfizer and are:

• 65 or older

• At high risk of severe COVID-19

• At high risk of occupational exposure

The CDC and ACIP were expected to meet Sept. 22 regarding recommendations, Saunder said, adding that “when recommendations are finalized, BCHHS will announce booster vaccine opportunities using its emergency alert program. To enroll, text “BCAlert” to 99411 or go to

“It is also anticipated that Pfizer vaccines for children ages 5-11 will be announced soon.

“Currently, $100 incentive cards are still available through the NC DHHS extension while supplies last for eligible individuals (18 years and up) receiving their first dose of vaccine at the Buncombe County Vaccination 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. Individuals can also visit to find a vaccination site near you.

“If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, get tested and isolate from others while waiting for your test results,” Saunders urged. Testing locations may be found at Find My Testing Site NC. 

Beginning Sept. 27, StarMed will offer testing at Harrah’s Event Center in downtown Asheville, Saunders said in concluding her update.



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