Spread of Coronavirus

Across the United States, as of Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 1, the number of people who are confirmed to have coronavirus is 6,218,003. Sadly, 187,902 people have died from the virus.
In North Carolina the number of people who are “laboratory-confirmed” to have coronavirus is 169,424. Currently, 946 people are hospitalized. To date, 2,741North Carolinians have died from coronavirus. NCDHHS estimates that as of Monday 145,884 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 209. The number of Watauga County residents who have tested positive is 541. Of these cases, 92 are currently active. Thirty 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 is not separated out in the hospital count among counties. I am sad to report that an additional person has died in Ashe County from coronavirus, bringing the total to 2. In Ashe and Watauga Counties, 218 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 is 1 employee and 46 students. All are in isolation, according to the university. A cumulative count of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 is 25 employees, 188 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.

Governor Announces Ease of Restrictions in Phase 2
Gov. Roy Cooper today announced that after a summer of hard work to slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina will take a modest step forward by moving into Phase 2.5 starting this Friday, Sept. 4, at 5pm. Mask mandates and other prevention methods remain in effect and are even more important to contain the virus, Cooper said. 
Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, shared an update on North Carolina’s data trends and explained that North Carolina has recently seen stability in the state’s key metrics. 
Phase 2.5 means the following for North Carolina:
Mass gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors from the current limit of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. Playgrounds may open. Museums and aquariums may open at 50% capacity. Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts, and rock climbing, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, volleyball etc., may open at 30% capacity. Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment facilities, amusement parks, dance halls will remain closed. Large venues remain subject to the mass gathering limits. Children ages 5 and older must wear a face mask in public.
In addition, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen issued a Secretarial Order allowing for outdoor visitation at nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. To participate, nursing homes must meet several requirements, including, but not limited, not having a current outbreak, having a testing plan and updated written Infection Control or Preparedness plan for COVID-19, and having adequate personal protective equipment. 
Read more about the Phase 2.5 easing of restrictions: https://www.wral.com/coronavirus/cooper-moves-nc-into-phase-2-5-allowing-more-businesses-to-reopen-but-expanding-mask-mandate/19265311/
Read the full Executive Order: https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO163-New-Phase-2.5.pdf

Back in Session: Allocating CARES Act Funds
Session begins again tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 2) in Raleigh. On the agenda is determining how to spend the remainder of $900 million in federal CARES Act funds designated to help offset the economic stress of Covid-19 restrictions.
Gov. Roy Cooper has already outlined his comprehensive budget proposal for spending the money. Read the full budget proposal here:https://files.nc.gov/ncosbm/documents/files/BudgetBook_web2020.pdf

Early Voting Locations and Schedule Released

Ashe County
Thursday, Oct. 15 – Saturday, Oct. 31 
Location & Hours Ashe County Agriculture Building134 Government Circle, Jefferson, NC 28640(First Floor Conference Room)Board of Elections Phone Number: (336) 846-5570 8 am – 7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 15 – Friday, Oct. 16 8 am – 6 pm Saturday, Oct. 17 8 am – 7:30 pm Monday, Oct. 19 – Friday, Oct. 238 am – 6 pm Saturday, Oct. 248 am – 7:30 pm Monday, Oct. 26 – Friday, Oct. 308 am – 3 pm Saturday, Oct. 31  ** Voter Registration for the November 3rd General Election will close on Friday, Oct. 9, at 5 pm.

Watauga CountyLocations:
Watauga County Administration Building, Commissioners’ Board Room, 814 W. King Street, Boone, NC 28607Appalachian State University – Student Union Blowing Rock Town Hall, 1036 Main Street, Blowing Rock, NC 28605Deep Gap Fire Department, 6583 Old 421 South, Deep Gap, NC 28618High Country Vacation Homes (Foscoe), 520 Church Road, Boone, NC 28607Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US HWY 421, Sugar Grove, NC 28679
8 am-7:30 pm Oct. 15 until Oct. 30 Weekdays8 am-6 pm Saturday, Oct. 17, and Saturday, Oct. 248 am-3 pm Saturday Oct. 31
We will soon provide in newsletter format a more comprehensive guide to voting in the district.

Possible Help for Sole Proprietorship Businesses
Many business owners who had contract employees or no employees were left out of CARES Act funding relief and federal PPP loans that other businesses were able to take advantage of after Covid-19 closed businesses in March.
The governor’s budget proposal sets aside grant money to assist sole proprietorship businesses in three possible ways:
$50 million in aid to businesses for rent, mortgages, and utilities.$33 million for Historically Underutilized Businesses (minority or women-owned) that have been left out of other relief programs.Conversion of unused NC Rapid Recovery Loan program funds from Golden LEAF to a grant program for businesses.

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