By Tim Gardner
As of Friday, April 9, according to available dashboard data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), the total number of coronavirus cases rose statewide to 926,897 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12,224 have died from the disease since March 2020.
The NCDHHS reported on April 9 that Avery County has eclipsed the 2,000 cumulative-case mark, with a report of 2,016 total positive community cases. The department reports Avery with 20 deaths associated with the virus.
In comparison, the other two counties besides Avery that comprise the Toe River Health District—Mitchell and Yancey—reported fewer cases. Mitchell County reported a total of 1,335 positive cases and 16 deaths, while Yancey County has had 1,537 total cases with 27 deaths.
Also, according to NCDHHS Dashboard data on April 9, Avery reported 33 cases per 10,000 residents over the previous 14-day period. Mitchell County had 23 cases per 10,000 residents, while Yancey County had 18 cases per 10,000 residents.
“Public health staff officials are working to complete the investigations and they are contacting close contacts to contain the spread of disease,” the Toe River Health District (TRHD), which governs Avery, Mitchell and Yancey County health departments 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 such as High Country Press (hcpress.com.)”
NCDHHS data indicates that Avery County has administered a total of 5,610 first doses of vaccine, or 32 percent of Avery County residents who have received their first-dose vaccine as of April 9, with 23.8 percent of the overall county population, or 4,179 individuals, having received a second-dose vaccination.
The NCDHHS announced a breakdown of classifications within the County Alert System, separating the previous yellow “significant impact” into levels for “significant impact” and “moderate impact.”
A total of 11 counties elevated from significant impact into the “orange” substantial zone, including Alamance, Currituck, Dare, Davie, Edgecombe, Franklin, Iredell, Nash, Person, Polk and Sampson counties.
Avery County, as well as Bladen, Camden, Gaston, Granville, Lee and Pender counties, moved from the lower-impact orange zone in the previous report into the “yellow” significant spread zone. Watauga County is classified as significant spread in the latest state system rankings, while Ashe, Mitchell, Yancey and Ashe counties are all classified under the new lighter-shaded yellow “moderate” spread category.
Alleghany County is the only county classified statewide in the green, “low impact” classification.
The level of risk and its color classification is determined by multiple factors, including new cases in the county per 100,000 residents over the previous 14-day period, the percent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive, and the hospital impact within each county.
The NCDHHS reported 2,087 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, up from 1,380 the day before.
Twenty-three additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Wednesday. Deaths don’t all occur on the day the state reports them, and the state health department revises its daily figures as information becomes available.
At least 1,004 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Thursday, down from 1,025 on Wednesday. As of Tuesday, the latest day for which data is available, 5.1 percent of coronavirus tests were reported positive. State health officials have said 5 percent or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
More than 2.2 million people in North Carolina have been fully vaccinated (both doses). That includes more than one-quarter of the state’s adult population and one-fifth of all North Carolinians, health officials added.
Approximately one-fifth of North Carolina adults have indicated they will not take a COVID-19 vaccine, a new poll found. However, residents are increasingly likely to get vaccinated against the disease, results from the Elon Poll show. In the most recent poll, 38 percent of respondents had received their shots and 25 percent planned to get vaccinated — up 30 percentage points from October.
High school students in North Carolina could be required to be tested for COVID-19 before attending graduations and proms.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and N.C. Department of Public Instruction are encouraging schools to use free rapid tests to screen anyone who will be attending those spring events. Testing decisions would be made by each local Board of Education or respective governing body.
Updated news and information on the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s response can be found by clicking to covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.