By Tim Gardner
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to be rampant, although not as bad as in previous months and weeks in the North Carolina High Country counties of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey.
According to the most recently updated statistics released by the Toe River Health District, which governs health departments in the three counties as of Wednesday, February 3, Avery County had 37 active positive cases and has had 27 COVID-related deaths. Mitchell County has 20 active positive cases, and like Avery, has suffered 27 COVID-related deaths. Yancey County has 15 active positives and has had 25 COVID-related deaths.
As of January 30th, neither of those counties was classified as a Critical Red COVID-19 county by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. This means that they are not at the active or highest level of active cases (Red Tier). Avery and Yancey counties are listed as Substantial/Orange counties, meaning they are in the second highest classification. Mitchell County is classified as Yellow Tier, meaning there is significant community spread, but at the lowest level of the three classification stages.
All three counties have been classified as ‘red tier’ signifying the highest level of critical community spread. At one interval, Avery was rated at the top of North Carolina’s 100 counties as having the most active COVID-19 cases per population.
According to NCDHHS statistics, 61 of North Carolina counties are currently in the ‘Red’ compared to January 21st when 86 counties were considered ‘Red.’
North Carolina is still only vaccinating people in Groups 1 and 2, which includes frontline healthcare workers and people age 65 or older.
To help people understand the state’s vaccination process, the NCDHHS has launched the online tool ‘Find My Vaccine Group’ where citizens can determine what vaccine group they are in, where they can get a vaccine and can be notified once they are eligible. The online tool can be accessed at findmygroup.nc.gov.
For more information about COVID-19, including new variants, updates and guidance, log online to cdc.gov.
The County of Avery and the Avery County Health Department has announced that the COVID-19 FIRST DOSE vaccine appointment call center has reopened. Its phone number is: (828) 733-8273 and it will be staffed from 9:00 am until 11:00 a.m. The state will only allot a minimum number of First Dose vaccine to the county for the week of February 8th -12th. Appointments for the first dose are required. First dose vaccine is only available to those age 65 or older. Those wanting vaccinated should bring their insurance card and wear appropriate clothing for easy access to have the vaccination in their upper arm. Mask-wearing is required.
SECOND DOSE vaccines FOR THE 75 AND OLDER GROUP is still underway for February 9th-12th. Those in that age group should plan to attend either of those clinic days for their second vaccine dose as noted on their paperwork. No appointment is needed for the SECOND DOSE.