Spread of Coronavirus

Across the United States, as of Friday afternoon, Oct. 2, the number of people who are confirmed to have coronavirus is now 7,517,675. And sadly, the number who have died now stands at 213,058.
In North Carolina the number of people who are “laboratory-confirmed” to have coronavirus now stands at 214,684. Currently, 921 people are hospitalized. To date, 3,608 North Carolinians have died from coronavirus. NCDHHS estimates that as of Monday 184,422 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 319. The number of Watauga County residents who have tested positive is 1,198. Of these cases, 321 are currently active. Forty-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 is not separated out in the hospital count among counties. AppHealthCare reports that 474 residents in Ashe and Watauga are currently being monitored as possibly having Covid-19. Two Ashe County residents have died from coronavirus, and 13 Watauga County residents have died.
Note: You may notice some discrepancy between AppHealthCare numbers and those on the NCDHHS website. This is because AppHealthCare utilizes rapid-results testing, and it takes a few days for the data to be entered into the state database. AppHealthCare is the most up-to-date source for data on Covid-19 in Ashe and Watauga counties.
You can get more local data from the AppHealthCare Dashboard at https://www.apphealthcare.com/covid-19-information/covid-19-data-dashboard/.
The active case count at App State is 187 students and 10 employees. All are in isolation, according to the university. A cumulative count of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 is 684 students, 36 employees, and 41 subcontractors (workers on campus who were not staff or faculty). These figures are included in AppHealthCare’s daily updates, although it should be noted that students who physically reside in Ashe or Watauga County (in a dorm, apartment, or house) are counted in AppHealthCare’s totals. If a student physically resides in neighboring counties (and commutes from there to school), their data is counted in the home county. Likewise, employees who live outside Ashe and Watauga are counted in their home counties on the AppHealthCare website.
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 six feet apart. Wash your hands frequently.

President Trump, First Lady Test Positive for Covid-19

The White House announced last night that President Trump and his wife have tested positive for Covid-19. I wish them well in their recovery in the days ahead. Their symptoms are reportedly mild.
Every new infection, and indeed every one of the 200,000-plus deaths so far in the United States, reminds us the importance of the three W’s: Wear a face mask; wait six feet apart in public; and wash your hands frequently. To this I would add a fourth component: Don’t attend large gatherings, especially if others are not adhering to the three W’s.

NC Moves Into Phase 3, Some Restrictions Still in Place

NC Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday that the state can move into Phase 3 starting today at 5 pm under a new executive order that will remain in effect through Oct. 23.
The order means that:Outdoor amusement parks such as Tweetsie Railroad may reopen at 30 percent capacity. The park’s webpage has announced that Tweetsie Christmas will open on Nov. 13. Visit their website for more information.Bars may open but only for outdoor service. They may reopen at 30 percent capacity or 100 seated guests, whichever is less.Movie theaters and conference centers may reopen at 30 percent capacity or 100 seated guests, whichever is less.Outdoor arenas with a capacity of 10,000 seats or more may open at 7 percent capacity.Smaller outdoor arenas may open at 30 percent capacity or 100 seated guests, whichever is less.
Read more: https://www.wral.com/n-carolina-moves-to-phase-3-but-covid-progress-is-fragile/19313722/
Grant Program to Help Minority-Owned Small Businesses

Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) are vital to the community and economy in North Carolina. These businesses are at-risk of permanent closure as a result of COVID-19. The RETOOLNC program will help address the challenges that certified NC HUBs and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms are facing as they work to recover from the pandemic.
HUB’s may apply for $10,000 to $25,000 in grant funds. Businesses owned by women fall under the umbrella of HUB.
To qualify for the grant, a business must be certified by HUB. To review the certification process, visit: https://ncadmin.nc.gov/businesses/hub/hub-certification
To apply for the grant and learn about other Covid-relief resources for HUB’s, visit: https://theinstitutenc.org/retoolnc/

Extra Credit Grant Provides Relief to Parents/Guardians
As part of the Covid-19 relief aid recently signed into law, the State of N.C. is now awarding grants of $335 to eligible individuals with at least one qualifying child. If you filed a state income tax return and reported a qualifying child, no further action is required. If you did not file, you can apply by October 15. 
For more details or to apply: https://www.ncdor.gov/extracredit

App State: New Covid Clusters, Cancels Football Game
Appalachian State University officials reported seven new active COVID-19 clusters and 19 new positive cases associated with members of the football and volleyball teams. As a result, Wednesday’s football game against Louisiana, slated to be played in Boone, has been postponed.
Read more: https://www.appstate.edu/go/coronavirus/updates/10-01-20-confirmed-cases/

App State Offering Free Testing to Students, Faculty, Staff
Appalachian State University is offering free COVID-19 tests for App State students, faculty, and staff at “pop-up” testing events each Saturday in October from noon – 5 p.m. in the Rivers Street Parking Deck. Both walk-up and drive-up testing will be available. No appointments required; however, you will be asked to show your AppCard.
Visit the university’s COVID-19 Testing page for information on upcoming testing events and on-going testing for students, faculty and staff.

Download App to Protect Yourself and Family from Covid
Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community – simply by using your phone. Download the SlowCOVIDNC app. It’s free and it will allow you to find out if you’ve been unknowingly in contact with others who report they have the virus. The app is available on the Apple App Store or Google Play. I’ve got it on my phone and I’m comfortable with the privacy settings it provides. No personal data is required to sign up.
To find out more about the app and peruse FAQs visit: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/slowcovidnc

Restraining Order on Polling Site at ASU Campus Denied
A Wake County Superior Court judge has denied a temporary restraining order that would have halted plans for an election polling site at the Appalachian State University Plemmons Student Union.
Read more: https://www.wataugademocrat.com/election/temporary-restraining-order-to-stop-student-union-voting-site-denied/article_a19fed88-2946-5ce5-b5ba-5c1506f52415.html

Early Voting Locations and Schedule Released

Ashe Countyhttps://www.ashecountygov.com/departments/board-of-elections

Watauga Countyhttp://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/BOE/notices.aspx

Mail-In Absentee Ballots

Registered voters may request an absentee ballot through the online Absentee Ballot Request Portal (https://votebymail.ncsbe.gov/app/home) or fill out a North Carolina Absentee Ballot Request Form (https://s3.amazonaws.com/dl.ncsbe.gov/Forms/NCAbsenteeBallotRequestForm.pdf) and return it to their county board of elections.
The form is due to your local Board of Election no later than Oct. 27 for them to send you your ballot, but please remember that your ballot must be received or postmarked by Election Day (Nov. 3).
To review Frequently Asked Questions about absentee voting, visit: https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-mail/faqs-voting-mail-north-carolina-2020

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