Spread of Coronavirus
Across the United States, as of Friday afternoon, Sept. 4, the number of people who are confirmed to have coronavirus is 6,339,918. Sadly, 191,197 people have died from the virus.
In North Carolina the number of people who are “laboratory-confirmed” to have coronavirus is 172,209. Currently, 858 people are hospitalized. To date, 2,803North 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 222. The number of Watauga County residents who have tested positive is 564. Of these cases, 106 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. Two Ashe County residents have died from coronavirus. AppHealthCare reports that 207 residents in Ashe and Watauga 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 50 students. All are in isolation, according to the university. A cumulative count of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 is 25 employees, 201 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.

Covid-19 Relief Bill: How the Funds Were Spent
The General Assembly approved its final round of COVID-19 relief of the year this week (HB 1105), unless additional funding is appropriated by the federal government. I will summarize what is good in the bill, what is bad in the bill, and what should have been included but was left out.
The Good
$50 increase in weekly unemployment insurance compensation (more on this in the “What’s Missing” section)$335 tax credit for families with children$52 million in funding for public schools (more on this in the “What’s Missing” section) $30 million in additional grants to expand high-speed Internet access$20 million in funding to stabilize operations at North Carolina museums, zoos, and other cultural attractions$6 million in direct assistance to food banks and nutritional programs$14 million for personal protective equipment (PPE)$13 million in assistance to farmers$13 million in funding for the UNC System$5 million in funding for community colleges$41 million for early childhood services $38 million for mental health services$59 million to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing$23 million for aging adult services$3.5 million for small business grants (More on this in the “What’s Missing” section)
The Bad
In a bill that is supposed to deal with the many challenges posed by COVID-19, we fund and expand private school vouchers.Pork projects. Millions of dollars are diverted away from COVID-19 relief to legislative leaders and their key allies.HB 1105 was drafted in backrooms by a few GOP leaders with no input from the public, Democratic legislators, or Governor Cooper. GOP leadership prevented lawmakers from offering any amendments to the bill. That’s not how representative democracy should work.
What’s Missing
Medicaid Expansion. Medicaid Expansion means billions of dollars come to NC from the federal government. We use that money to expand health care access and create health care jobs and infrastructure. That sounds like a pretty good idea anytime, but particularly during a global pandemic and recession. It’s now a decade and counting of failing to expand Medicaid, costing us lost jobs, lost lives, and lost investment.Pay increases or bonuses for teachers and public school employees. HB 1105 does $0 for public employees. Governor Cooper’s proposal included $2,000 for teachers and principals, $1,000 for other public school employees, and $1,500 for community college and university employees.Significant investment in public schools needed to satisfy our state constitutional guarantee of a sound public education to all students as required by recent court orders.Assistance to small businesses most impacted by COVID-19, such as restaurants, bars, gyms, etc.Fixing the long-term problem that NC’s unemployment system is the worst in the country for unemployed workers.Significant assistance to local governments.
I ultimately voted Yes on HB 1105 because we have a strict deadline to finish spending the federal money we received for COVID-19 and the there is much in the bill that is good and badly-needed right now. However, the items we failed to do are critically important and remain the top of my “Must Do” list for when we return to Raleigh in 2021.
Read press coverage of the passing of HB1105.General Assembly approves $1B federal virus relief packageWRALNC virus relief aid heads to Cooper as General Assembly endsWLOSCooper says COVID-19 bill doesn’t do enough for North Carolinians in need, should expand MedicaidCBS-17

Childcare Hotline Continues to Operate
North Carolina families in need of childcare can call the child care hotline 1-888-600-1685 to be connected with child care options in their communities for school-age children up to age 12.
The hotline is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Licensed child care professionals meeting the NCDHHS health and safety guidelines are available to provide care through this service. 
For more information about child care during COVID-19, visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov/information/child-care/child-care-information-families

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.

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