By Nathan Ham
AppHealth Care’s most recent COVID-19 infection update shows that Ashe County now has 27 positive cases with 22 of those being active. Alleghany County has 11 positive tests with five being active and Watauga County has had nine positive tests with only one current case.
Data from AppHealthCare also shows that 31 people in Ashe County are being “actively monitored” in quarantine for COVID-19 symptoms. Alleghany and Watauga both have six people being actively monitored and nine people that reside outside the three counties are being monitored.
Wilkes County is home to one of the worst hot spots in the state for the coronavirus with a recent outbreak at the Tyson Foods Inc. facilities in North Wilkesboro. As of 6:30 a.m. Monday morning, Wilkes County has 423 confirmed cases with nine of those currently hospitalized. 59 percent of these positive tests are men and 47 percent of these positive tests are between the ages of 26 and 50 while 37 percent are age 51 and over.
Farmworker outbreaks are also growing across the state. According to N.C. Representative Ray Russell, who represents Ashe and Watauga counties, the most recent cases in Ashe County are all among farmworkers.
Case numbers will most likely continue to increase as the number of tests is increasing across the state. Rep. Russell says that North Carolina conducted over 17,000 tests last Thursday and Friday.
This week, the North Carolina Legislature will be back in session and numerous COVID-19 proposed bills will be up for a vote. Some of those include:
HB1122 Provide Affordable Broadband Access to NC. This bill allocates $50 million for grants to local education agencies to establish mobile wifi hotspots across the state. It is a “all hands on deck” approach to rapidly expanding broadband across North Carolina. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1122v0.pdf
HB1127 UNC Student Lease Hold Harmless. This bill would provide relief to student who signed leases for off-campus housing for the fall semester in the event classes are canceled or held virtually. The bill also provides relief to landlords impacted. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1127v0.pdf
HB1068 Emergency Arts Council Funding. Provides money for arts councils negatively affected by the pandemic. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1067v1.pdf
HB1071 State/Federal Funds for School Connectivity. This bill would appropriate state funds in order to maximize eligibility for the federal School Connectivity Initiative. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1071v1.pdf
HB1075 Unemployment Insurance Modifications/Increase Benefits/Funds. The number of weeks for unemployment eligibility would be 26 weeks, rather than calculated from a complex formula analyzing past unemployment rates. The bill would change regulations for certain kinds of eligibility. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1075v1.pdf
HB1085 Frontline State Employee Hazard Pay. This bill would mandate and appropriate hazard pay funding for mandatory state workers during such crises as COVID-19. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1085v1.pdf
HB1117 Protect Child Care Workers/COVID-19 Pandemic. This bill provides $121.4 million to aid child care workers with such things as bonuses, free testing, and cleaning supplies and PPE. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1117v0.pdf
HB1133 Unemployment Insurance/Flexibility for Interstate Work. This bill commissions a study of how best to determine unemployment eligibility when the person works in multiple states. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1133v0.pdf
HB1134 Housing and Foreclosure Prevention Assistance. This bill seeks to provide financial assistance from CARES Act money for individuals affected by the covid-19 pandemic to prevent foreclosures and homelessness. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1134v0.pdf
HB1135 Housing and Utilities Assistance/COVID-19. This bill provides funds from the CARES Act to assist individuals at risk of losing housing and provide assistance with utilities dues to the covid-19 pandemic. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1135v0.pdf
HB1139 Local Boards of Education Budget Flexibility. This bill would provide budget flexibility for local boards of education for next year amid planning challenges created by the covid-19 pandemic. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2019/Bills/House/PDF/H1139v0.pdf