RALEIGH — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen outlined a timeline for Group 3 frontline workers becoming eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, beginning with anyone working in child care or in PreK – 12 schools, on February 24 during a media briefing on February 10.

To be considered a frontline essential worker in child care or schools, an individual must be in-person at their place of work, including staff who anticipate an imminent return to an in-person work setting. Under the timeline outlined, the state plans to move to additional frontline workers on March 10.

Avery County announced last week the acquisition of a pair of mobile units that will be utilized to ramp up vaccination efforts in the county as it continues the vaccination process.

County health officials report that recipients eligible for second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine do not need to set an appointment for their scheduled second dose for the dates of Feb. 17, 18 and 19, and eligible patients are encouraged to return for their second dose anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the date indicated on the card they received upon getting their first vaccine dose.

Appointments for a limited number of first doses of the vaccine are still required through the county health department, and state-allotted first-dose COVID-19 vaccines were still available for the week of Feb. 15 to 20, according to the county government website. Interested residents should call the vaccine line at (828) 733-8273 between 9 and 11 a.m. for additional information or to reserve their spot to get their shot.

First-dose vaccines will be available for anyone 65 years or older at the Agriculture Extension Center (661 Vale Road above Ingles in Newland). Those getting a vaccine should bring their insurance card and wear appropriate clothing for easy access to have the vaccination in the upper arm. Masks are required. Anyone with a bleeding disorder should contact their physician for written documentation to receive the vaccine.

According to the NCDHHS COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, a total of 1,780,687 doses had been administered statewide as of Feb. 15, with 1,617,025 doses administered through NC providers and 163,662 doses administered through the federal long-term program. NCDHHS data also indicated that a total of 16.19 percent of Avery County residents had received their first-dose vaccine as of Feb. 15, with just 5.81 percent of the overall county population having received a second-dose vaccination.

“Percent of population metrics are calculated using the entire North Carolina population (i.e., all ages). When a county has a population of fewer than 500 individuals for a specific demographic group, some data are suppressed to protect patient privacy. The state’s dashboard is the source for the most accurate and timely information for vaccine data for the state,” stated NCDHHS on its Dashboard homepage. “North Carolina’s information on people vaccinated comes from the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS), a secure, web-based system provided for free to all who administer COVID-19 vaccinations. It helps vaccine providers know who has had a first dose of which vaccine to make sure people get the second dose of the same vaccine at the right time. It also helps people register for vaccination at the appropriate time and allows the state to manage vaccine supply. First Doses Administered data include all first doses administered, regardless of whether the individual has also received a second dose of the vaccine. Second Doses Administered data include individuals who have completed the vaccine series. Information on vaccinations is confidential health information that is carefully managed to protect patient privacy. Information will not be shared except in accordance with state and federal law.”

Click to https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines for more information on the vaccines and vaccine distribution statewide, and to learn more about North Carolina’s vaccine rollout, click to YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.

Local, state and national statistics

As of Monday, Feb. 15, dashboard data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the total number of coronavirus cases rose by more than 25,000 cases statewide over the previous week, with the state reporting 824,352 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The state experienced another overall weekly decrease in hospitalizations over the past week, as NCDHHS reported on Feb. 15 that 1,941 individuals were hospitalized, an overall decrease of 398 patients.

NCDHHS reports that deaths in the state attributed to the virus have topped the 10,000-person mark as 10,501 people have passed away in connection with COVID-19, including 510 North Carolinians who have died related to the virus over the past week.

NCDHHS reported on Feb. 15 that Avery County has reported a cumulative total of 1,781 positive community cases, an increase of 49 cases from the previous week. The department reports Avery with 18 deaths associated with the virus.

According to Toe River Health District’s most recent release of county case data reported on February 4, Avery County totaled 1,537 total positive cases, with 161 new positive cases over the span of time from Jan. 14 to Feb. 3, with 37 active positive cases and 1,473 total county residents having recovered from the virus. The agency reports 24 total deaths in the county attributed to COVID-19.

NC Department of Public Safety reported on Feb. 15 that the local prisons have 512 total positive cases between Mountain View Correctional and Avery/Mitchell Correctional facilities, with 408 cases having recovered and three active cases.

Avery and Watauga counties are listed as two of 33 counties listed as an orange county, indicative of “substantial spread” in association with the NCDHHS County Alert System, which identifies the highest levels of community transmission of COVID-19 statewide. Mitchell County is listed as one of six yellow counties, indicative of “significant spread.” The COVID-19 County Alert System as of its Feb. 4 update classifies 61 counties as red counties, denoting critical spread within their borders.

According to NCDHHS Dashboard data on Feb. 15, Avery reports 55 cases per 10,000 residents over the previous 14-day period. In comparison, Mitchell County reports 49 cases per 10,000 residents, while Yancey County reports 36 cases per 10,000 residents. Watauga County reports 66 cases per 10,000 residents, while Ashe County has 39 cases per 10,000 residents during the same 14-day period.

“Public health staff is working to complete the investigations and they are contacting close contacts to contain the spread of disease,” TRHD reported. “The Yancey, Mitchell and Avery County health departments will keep the public informed by announcing any additional cases that may arise through our local media partners.”

According to latest NCDHHS Dashboard data on Feb. 15, Mitchell County reported a total of 1,222 positive cases and 15 deaths. Toe River Health District reported on Feb. 4, however, that Mitchell County possessed 1,244 total cases, with 146 new positives over the time span of Jan. 14 to Feb. 3. TRHD reported 37 active positives, with 1,473 total recovered patients and 27 deaths.

NCDHHS reports Yancey County with 1,400 total cases as of Feb. 15 with 23 deaths. Toe River Health District’s latest published report on Feb. 4 notes Yancey County possessed 1,437 total cases, with 127 new positives over the time span of Jan. 14 to Feb. 3, with 15 active cases and 25 deaths.

Nationwide, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine has eclipsed 109 million worldwide cases, as the center reports more than 109.2 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with the U.S. totaling 27.69 million cases in the nation as of Feb. 15. Johns Hopkins reports the United States with 486,334 deaths nationwide attributed to the virus.

The N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health, reporting hospitals and commercial labs report 9,660,088 completed tests as of Monday, Feb. 15, according to N.C. DHHS.

The estimate of people presumed to have recovered from the virus as of Feb. 15 is more than 765,456 statewide, with the estimate provided each Monday afternoon by NCDHHS. NCDHHS estimates a median time to recovery of 14 days from the date of specimen collection for non-fatal COVID-19 cases who were not hospitalized, or if hospitalization status is unknown. The estimated median recovery time is 28 days from the date of specimen collection for hospitalized non-fatal COVID-19 cases.

In neighboring counties, Watauga County reports 3,969 positive tests, with 113 active cases and 30 deaths among residents, while Ashe County reports 1,968 positive cases, with 40 active cases and 44 deaths as of Feb. 15, according to AppHealthCare data.

Caldwell County has 8,376 positive tests as of Feb. 15 with 62 deaths, while Wilkes County has 5,811 reported cases and 97 deaths, according to NCDHHS Dashboard data.

NCDHHS reports McDowell County with 4,636 cases and 55 deaths. Burke County reports 8,937 cases and 125 deaths attributed to the virus, according to NCDHHS.

In Tennessee, Johnson County reports 2,133 cases with 37 deaths, while Carter County reports 5,838 cases and 147 deaths as of Feb. 15, according to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Statewide, Mecklenburg County has reported the most total positive cases with 93,048. Wake County is reporting 71,463 cases and Guilford County reports 38,291 cases, according to Feb. 15 NCDHHS statistics. NCDHHS data reveals that a total of 89 of North Carolina’s 100 counties report more than 1,000 total positive COVID-19 cases.

The reported testing numbers could be incomplete due to differences in reporting from health departments and other agencies. Sources include Toe River Health District, AppHealthCare, NCDHHS, Caldwell County Health Department and Tennessee Department of Health.

Updated news and information on the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s response can be found by clicking to covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

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