Spread of Coronavirus

Across the United States, as of Friday afternoon, Aug. 21, the number of people who are confirmed to have coronavirus is 5,623,512. Sadly, 174,141 people have died from the virus.
In North Carolina the number of people who are “laboratory-confirmed” to have coronavirus is 151,912. Currently, 1,015 people are hospitalized. To date, 2,494 North Carolinians have died from coronavirus. NCDHHS estimates that as of Monday 127,749 have recovered. 
Much more data is available at the NC DHHS “Dashboard”. See https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.
Locally, the number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Ashe County is 179. The number of Watauga County residents who have tested positive is 426. Of these cases, 126 are currently active. Twenty-four people in the district have been hospitalized at some point during the outbreak. The figure includes Alleghany County which is part of the local health department district, and which are not separated in the hospital count among counties. One person has died in Ashe County from coronavirus. In Ashe and Watauga Counties, 171 residents are currently being monitored as possibly having Covid-19.
You can get more local data from the AppHealth Care Dashboard at https://www.apphealthcare.com/covid-19-information/covid-19-data-dashboard/.
The active case count at App State as of Friday, Aug. 21, is 5 employees and 50 students. All are in isolation, according to the university. A cumulative count of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 is 22 employees, 119 students, and 41 subcontractors (workers on campus who were not staff or faculty). These figures are included in AppHealthCare’s daily updates
The site is updated regularly. Click on the link to view more details: https://www.appstate.edu/go/coronavirus/
Our prayers are with all these people affected by coronavirus along with their families.
Please follow public health officials’ guidance: Wear a face mask in public
settings. Wait 6 feet apart. Wash your hands frequently.

Please Cooperate With Contact Tracers If They Call You
Contact tracing is a proven, effective way to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing identifies people who have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This helps local and state officials more rapidly identify those who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and quickly get them the necessary supports and resources that can help protect them and their loved ones. 
Please respond positively with contact tracers if they call you. They have your health and well-being as their goal as well as the health of your community. For more information, click here: 

Blowing Rock Students Have Access to Free Wifi

The Blowing Rock Parks & Recreation and Blowing Rock Fire Department are offering free Wi-Fi to students during these difficult times.  Blowing Rock Parks and Recreation will be offering 5 Workstations for students Grade K-12. The Work Stations will be open Monday through Friday from 7:45 am-3:45 pm starting August 24, in the Rec Center. Students under 12 years old must be accompanied by a guardian at all times during their session. Upon entry, masks will be required at all times, the temperature of each individual will be taken, and health related questions will be asked. The Town Staff may ask you to leave if these requirement are not met.  Parks & Recreation staff will sanitize each Workstation at the end of each day. You may also access Town Park Wi-Fi anywhere inside Memorial Park for free. Please note that this is not a tutoring or child care service. Please call the Parks and Rec office at 828-295-5222 for any other questions. The Blowing Rock Fire Department is providing free outdoor Wi-Fi access for area school students to connect to the internet from the fire station parking areas.  Infection control measures will not allow access to the inside of the buildings so students will connect from outside in a vehicle. The Wi-Fi connection name is “Rockets” and the password is “Pioneers”.  Blowing Rock Fire Locations:              Station 1 – 8001 Valley Blvd.             Station 2 – 6165 HWY 221 S             Station 3 – 2409 Aho Road Please park away from the bay doors, and students or parents on site with connection questions can call (828) 773-6068. 

What You Need to Know About State Broadband Grants

Recently several counties across the state were fortune enough to receive GREAT grants through the NC Department of Information Technology to expand broadband in unserved areas. Currently the grants are awarded to Tier 1 economically distressed counties. Watauga is a Tier 3 county, and Ashe is a Tier 2 county, so they did not qualify for any funding this time around.
There is good news on the horizon, however. DIT will extend the grants to Tier 2 counties next fiscal year and are working on funding to also include rural areas of Tier 3 counties.
Several things to consider about the grants:Applications for funding actually come from area internet providers, not local governments, but local officials can get the ball rolling by approaching internet providers in their county to work on an application.DIT is happy to work with local officials and internet providers to complete the application and locate important assets, such as towers.
For more information on the GREAT grants program visit: https://www.ncbroadband.gov/grants/great-grant/great-grant-guidelines

How to Request an Absentee Ballot for the Nov. Election

Ashe County:https://nmcdn.io/e186d21f8c7946a19faed23c3da2f0da/9daed2ecce2a4df2845caa12db947e3d/files/NC-Absentee-Ballot-Request-Form.pdfNeed more information? Contact the Ashe County Board of Elections at asheelections@ashecountygov.com or call 336-846-5570.

Watauga County:http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOE/notices.aspxNeed more information? Contact the Watauga County Board of Elections at Matthew.Snyder@watgov.org or call 828-265-8061.

State BOE’s FAQ on Absentee Ballot Process in NC

Given the presence of Covid-19 in our communities, many people are considering voting by absentee mail-in ballot. Here’s a link to frequently asked questions about the process for North Carolina:https://s3.amazonaws.com/dl.ncsbe.gov/Outreach/Absentee/FAQs_Absentee_Voting_2020_FINAL.pdf

Help During the Pandemic
DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced recently the launch of a website that will assist those in need of things like help navigating the unemployment landscape, food assistance, or housing and shelter, among other things.
The NCCARE360.org website is now interactive for all 100 counties. Go to the website to request assistance from agencies in your area: https://nccare360.org/

If You have Coronavirus Symptoms…
If you believe you have symptoms of coronavirus and live in Watauga County:1) Call AppHealthCare at 828-264-4995 or (828) 795-1970 during regular business hours,2) Visit https://apprhs.org/covid19-screening/ online and follow screening instructions, or3) Call your primary care doctor.
If you believe you have symptoms of coronavirus and live in Ashe County call AppHealthCare at 336-246-9449 or call your primary care doctor.

More Information
Our public heath office, AppHealthCare, is the primary local source of information about coronavirus. See https://www.apphealthcare.com/covid-19-information/
For more information from our hospitals, see Appalachian Regional’s website at https://apprhs.org/COVID19/ or Ashe Memorial Hospital’s website at https://www.ashememorial.org/ for their updates.
For information specific to North Carolina, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) provides the latest information on COVID-19 at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/Also, North Carolina coronavirus updates are available by calling 888.892.1162 or by texting COVIDNC to 898211