Spread of Coronavirus

Across the United States, as of Friday afternoon, Sept. 25, the number of people who are confirmed to have coronavirus is now 7,204,980. And sadly, the number who have died now stands at 207,893.
In North Carolina the number of people who are “laboratory-confirmed” to have coronavirus is has topped 200,000 and now stands at 204,331. Currently, 903 people are hospitalized. To date, 3,409 North Carolinians have died from coronavirus. NCDHHS estimates that as of Monday 176,422 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 269. The number of Watauga County residents who have tested positive is 952. Of these cases, 187 are currently active. Thirty-six 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 364 residents in Ashe and Watauga are currently being monitored as possibly having Covid-19.
Two Ashe County residents have died from coronavirus. Seven Watauga County residents have died, all at Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation. They were all in their 70s and 80s and had underlying medical issues. 
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 109 students. All are in isolation, according to the university. A cumulative count of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 is 462 students, 26 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 6 feet apart. Wash your hands frequently.
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 September and 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 onto your phone. 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

WCS Going from All-Virtual Classes to Hybrid Plan for K-3

The Watauga County Board of Education voted unanimously recently to implement a plan that will reopen in-person learning in Watauga County Schools in grades K-3.
Beginning Oct. 5, kindergarten through third grade students will be able to return to school in-person on the 2×3 Plan B Flex Schedule. Under the plan, half of students will attend school on Monday and Tuesday, while the other half attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday would be reserved as a remote learning day for all students. In total, students would have three days of remote learning at home each week.
Read more about the new scheduling plan: https://www.wataugaschools.org/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=4&ModuleInstanceID=18&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=8405&PageID=1
Ashe County Schools have not released a change in its current schedule on its website.

Appeal Expected in Census Deadline Ruling

A federal court has ordered the Trump administration to abandon last-minute changes to the 2020 census schedule and extend the time for counting for an additional month.
The preliminary injunction issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California requires the Census Bureau to keep trying to tally the country’s residents through Oct. 31.
Read more: https://www.npr.org/2020/09/24/912071784/court-orders-census-counting-to-continue-through-oct-31-appeal-expected
If you haven’t done so yet, you can respond to the US Census in three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. Connect with the US Census website: https://2020census.gov/en.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