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AppHealthCare COVID-19 Situation April 23 Update for Watauga County: Anyone 16 and Older Eligible for Vaccine

This document is intended to provide a regular update on the local response to COVID-19 in our communities and timely, trended data related to COVID-19. This report will be published on Fridays.

Who is eligible for vaccines?
COVID-19 vaccine appointments are open for those who want a vaccine within the age requirements. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people age 16-17 and older and all other vaccines are approved for 18 and older. Vaccine appointments will be added to our website as they are available based on vaccine supply so continue to check back regularly for additional appointments to be added.

Johnson & Johnson Pause
On April 13, the CDC and FDA recommended pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while they review data involving six reported cases of a rare type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. We will pause administering Johnson & Johnson while we await additional guidance from CDC and NC DHHS. We take this very seriously and will be watching carefully for additional guidance as CDC reviews the data. We do have Moderna vaccine available if you are interested in receiving this vaccine.

How is equity around vaccines being addressed in Watauga County?
Equity is an important and significant factor to address during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as it pertains to the COVID-19 vaccine. In Watauga County, those who need help with transportation can use the AppalCart to get to and from vaccination locations. For those who are in need of interpreters, we have interpreters available to help with your vaccine appointment. Also, some people are unable to leave their homes due to lack of accessibility, location, disability, etc. and we are able to offer vaccinations at someone’s home by scheduled appointments.

How does AppalCart help me get to my vaccine appointment?
Individuals who do not have access to transportation can sign up to use Appalcart to get to your vaccine appointment. Once you have a confirmed vaccine appointment, contact AppalCart for free assistance to and from your vaccine appointment. Contact the AppalCart dispatch office at (828) 297-1300 or visit their website at www.appalcart.com/news-updates for more information.

Case Updates
For the weeks of April 11-17 (graphs below), the number of new cases decreased and the number of individuals in quarantine increased.

The number of COVID hospitalizations remained steady, in single digits, this week. We continue to watch this closely to ensure capacity for those who may need hospital care for things like a heart attack, stroke, car accident, etc.

NC DHHS County Alert System Notes Moderate Impact for Watauga County
In the latest update, Watauga County is LIGHT YELLOW which notes moderate impact. This system outlines actions we can take to lessen the impact and spread in our community.

We continue case investigation and contact tracing efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you receive a call from a member of our case investigation or contact tracing team, we urge you to cooperate and provide information that will help us conduct response efforts. You may receive a call from (844) 628-7223 or (828) 264-4995. It may also show up as “NC Outreach” or “Contact Tracing.” Your cell phone carrier may flag the call as spam. It is so important to answer the call of a contact tracer. It is a key tool in slowing the spread of this virus.

Active outbreaks and clusters

Data is provided for outbreaks and clusters that are active and ongoing. The number of cases for outbreaks and clusters are current as of each Thursday at 9:00am. The case counts vary day by day as new cases are identified and as cases are moved in and out of isolation. This data may not match other reported data since this is a point in time. As we conduct outbreak and case investigations, the data included in this report are subject to change. For a current case count, visit the AppHealthCare data dashboard, which is updated Monday through Friday by noon.

An outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory confirmed cases. A cluster is defined as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases. An outbreak or cluster is considered over if 28 days have passed after the latest date of symptom onset in a symptomatic person or first date of specimen collection from the most recent asymptomatic person, whichever is later. Additional information on the definitions of outbreaks and clusters is provided by the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services. NC DHHS also provides regularly updated information on outbreaks and clusters.

App State’s COVID-19 vaccine clinics are free of charge and open by appointment to anyone in North Carolina ages 18 and over. Registration is available at App State’s COVID-19 vaccine information page. App State’s testing events remain a strong component of the university’s COVID-19 management strategy. The university continues to provide free COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff each Wednesday and Saturday from noon – 5 p.m. For students, daily testing continues to be available in Student Health Service, and targeted testing with specific student populations is also provided as needed. To date, App State has conducted more than 56,000 COVID-19 tests, with an overall positivity rate of just under 2% for 2021. With national, state and local efforts to return students to classrooms underway, and a nationwide increase in COVID-19 vaccine supply, App State is preparing for the full return of students, faculty and staff to campus for the fall 2021 semester. The university’s dedicated COVID-19 website continues to provide guidance, testing schedule information, vaccine information, and regular data updates for the App State community.