By Nathan Ham
The omicron variant of COVID-19 has brought the positivity rate to just over 20% in Watauga County, meaning that of all the COVID-19 tests that were conducted from December 26 to January 1, 20% of them were positive for the virus.
According to the weekly COVID-19 update from AppHealth Care, from the end of October through the end of November, the positivity rate never got above 4.58%. As the omicron variant began to spread across the country, those numbers in Watauga County also began to climb. The positivity rate from November 28 through December 4 jumped to 7.48%. The following week, December 5 through December 11, the number dipped back to 5.20%. The next three weeks, however, saw the percentages climb significantly. From December 12 through December 18, the positivity rate was 9.93%. The following week (December 19 – December 25) the rate was 13.21% before peaking at 20.13% heading into the new calendar year.
As of Monday morning, January 10, the active case total has declined to just 23 cases in Watauga County, eight in Ashe County and eight in Alleghany County. The three-county area has reported 124 deaths from complications due to COVID-19.
Appalachian State’s COVID-19 numbers will be updated on January 18 once students have returned to class.
On January 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new recommendations for a Pfizer booster shot for children ages 12 to 15. The CDC is also recommending a third dose of Pfizer for children ages 5 to 11 who have compromised immune systems.
“The new recommendations by the CDC reinforce the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters — and the urgency of getting vaccinated and boosted to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death,” said Kody H. Kinsley, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Hospitalizations are rising nationally and in North Carolina. Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that intensive care units in the state are at 85% of capacity.