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COVID-19 in Buncombe remains in the ‘low community level (green),’ health chief says notes
Thursday, 12 May 2022 12:28

From Staff Reports 

The Buncombe County COVID-19 case rate — as of the last week of April — was 136 per 100,000, which marks an increase from the previous week’s case rate of 94 per 100,000, county Public Health Director Stacie Saunders said May 3 during her monthly Buncombe coronavirus community update.

“This coincides with an incubation following spring break and holidays, where increased in-person interactions likely occurred,” Saunders told the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners during her presentation.

“Buncombe County remains in ‘low community level,’” she added. “Current recommendations include staying up-to-date on vaccinations and seek testing if symptoms or exposure. We may see our community level change to medium (yellow) if the case rate continues to rise during these weeks following Easter.

Regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, Saunders said, “While there has not been much change in the overall proportion vaccinated amongst the different age groups, each week we do continue to see total number of vaccinations administered increase. 

At that point, she reminded the community to take action to protect against getting and spreading COVID-19. “Be aware of symptoms or exposure to those with COVID-19 and get tested if you have been exposed or feel ill. If you are high risk for severe illness, talk to your provider about COVID treatment options,” Saunders said.

“All COVID-19 vaccines, boosters and second boosters (for eligible populations) are available at the Buncombe County Health Department Immunization Clinic at 40 Coxe Ave. This clinic is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and COVID-19 vaccines are available on a walk-in basis. Visit for additional vaccine providers near you.

As for COVID-19 testing and treatment, the health director said, “While case rates are declining, it is important continue to stay home and away from others if you are symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID-19 to keep from spreading it to others. Testing is available in many locations.

“Please visit for more information on available treatments and providers in our area.

“The federal government Test to Treat program has expanded to include urgent cares and local pharmacies. Through this program, people are able to get tested and if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them, receive a prescription from a health care provider, and have their prescription filled all at one location. 

“To find local Test to Treat locations, go to

Concerning the Ready Team, she said, “Due to low call volume, the Ready Team line at (828) 419-0095 has been phased out, which means that the community should call (828) 250-5000 with questions about COVID or to access other HHS supports. COVID-19 updates to the Board of Commissioners have transitioned to a monthly basis, and the COVID-19 newsletter will follow that schedule.

“The next COVID-19 newsletter will be released tomorrow, May 4.” 

Regarding Buncombe’s COVID-19 Community Level, Saunders noted, “Buncombe County uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Community Level tool to help monitor COVID-19 by county and inform safety guidelines and prevention. The Buncombe County COVID-19 Community Level status remains low (green), meaning that the community recommendations at this time are to stay up to date on vaccines and get tested if experiencing symptoms or after exposure.”

In her review of Buncombe’s expanded metrics, Saunders said, “Overall, the COVID-19-like illness surveillance continues to show low levels of activity. Buncombe is in Region 6, indicated by the yellow line. 

“Though harder to discern, there is a slight uptick at the tail of this curve indicating slightly more activity in this past week than previous week in almost all regions in the state. 

“This is consistent with the information above and may be impacted by recent spring break travel to and from our county as well as holiday gatherings and events.

“Today (May 3), the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will issue a proclamation in recognition of National Nurses Week, which is May 6th through May 12th. This proclamation serves as a reminder of the essential roles that Public Health Nurses play within the healthcare system — from investigating communicable diseases and working to prevent their spread through education, testing, treatment and vaccination; to providing individuals with sexual and reproductive health care that is free from judgment, bias or coercion; to working alongside parents and their children, helping them access information and services that improve their health outcomes. Thank you to all of our Public Health Nurses for their tireless work to improve the health of our community,” Saunders said.



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