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COVID-19 Cases Continue to Surge in Toe River Health District Counties: Avery Hardest Hit

By Tim Gardner

As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to climb across most sections of the United States, the same holds true for North Carolina High Counties governed by the Toe River Health District (TRHD). In the most recent statistics obtained for those counties of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey for the past week (Thursday, November 26 running through Wednesday, December 2), there have been 237 new cases in those counties combined. Over-all, there are 270 active coronavirus cases in the counties combined.

Avery was the last county among the 100 in the State of North Carolina to have a confirmed coronavirus case. That first case was confirmed on May 18. But in recent weeks Avery has risen to a red alert county for cases as designated by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources (NCDHHR). Mitchell County has also been declared as such by the NCHHR. Red alert means these counties are having “critical community spread” of coronavirus.

According to statistics compiled and released by NCDHHS from that Nov. 26 to Dec. 2 time period, Avery County experienced an increase of 871.4 cases per 100,000 residents, and approximately 13.5 percent of tests conducted during that period have returned positive.

Mitchell County had an increase of 895.5 cases per 100,000 residents, with a 17.8 percentage of tests confirmed as positive.

The cause for the recent and rapid spread of COVID-19 in Avery and Mitchell counties varies. According to Toe River Health District Director Diane Creek, the approaching winter season is one cause as people are staying inside more, making it difficult to social distance. Additionally, she said there has been an increased fatigue over following health and safety guidelines for so long as the pandemic has raged on.

“People have become very COVID-19 weary,” Creek said. “Many are getting tired of wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. But this absolutely is not the time to give up or not to wear a mask or not to practice social distancing. Some of us have been following the guidance for a very long eight months. But we must keep following it because COVID-19 is more widespread than ever. And cases may continue to rise throughout the winter.”


Total statistics updated on Dec. 2 and released by the TRHD for Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties include:



Total Tests Done       Not Available

Total Positive Cases   738

New Positive Cases     96

Active Positives       116

Total Recovered         609

Total Deaths           13



Total Tests Done          6340

Total Positive Cases       553

New Positive Cases         61

Active Positives           71

New Recovered             35

Total Recovered           468

Total Deaths               14



Total Tests Done     7592

Total Positive Cases 640

New Positive Cases   80

Active Positives     83

New Recovered         60

Total Recovered       554

Total Deaths         3

The NCHHR reports the following state-wide COVID-19 statistics as of 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 3: 5,409,434 tests have been completed. 2,101 persons are currently hospitalized in the state. There have been 371,594 total COVID-19 cases in the state, including 5,637 new cases. And there have been 5,410 deaths resulting from the disease. The daily percent of positive cases is 10.1.