ASHE COUNTY — As cases decrease among the citizens of Ashe County, the vaccination rate has increased as more become available and the schools hold clinics.

As of Feb. 15, AppHealthCare reported that there were 90 new positive cases reported in the last five days. Ashe now has 77 deaths and a total of 5,715 cumulative cases. In Watauga County, there have been 209 new cases in the past five days, 55 deaths and a total of 10,789 confirmed cases overall. Alleghany has had 37 new cases in the past five days, 12 deaths and 2,765 cases overall.

In the Feb. 11 situation update from AppHealthCare, they reported that from Feb. 3 to Feb. 9, there were 160 new cases in Ashe County. The positivity rate has decreased to 25.7 percent, current regional hospitalizations have decreased and the vaccination rate has risen to 57 percent.

On Feb. 10, NCDHHS announced updates to the StrongSchoolsNC toolkit for K-12 schools to focus on the most effective strategies to keep students in school and recommends students only be excluded from school when they are sick or test positive for COVID-19. Similar updates will be made for childcare settings. Updates for both toolkits will go into effect Feb. 21. The toolkit can be found at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/media/164/download.

Currently, there is a rate of 43 percent of citizens who are unvaccinated in Ashe County. AppHealthCare has administered 15,599 vaccines in the county alone. On Feb. 11 Ashe County High School held a vaccination clinic in which they administered vaccines to 33 students. According to Director of Communications and Compliance Melissa Bracey, the majority of the vaccines were boosters.

“One of our top priorities is to promote vaccines, including boosters and make them available to the community,” said Bracey. “Mobile vaccines clinics is one way we can reduce barriers someone may experience by having vaccines available at a place where they are spending a lot of their time like work or school. The large majority of individuals who are dying or getting severely ill from COVID-19 are unvaccinated. The vaccines provide a lot of protection from severe illness, hospitalization and death. This is even more important for older adults and people with underlying health conditions. This is outlined further by CDC. For individuals who are fully up-to-date with their recommended COVID vaccinations, including a booster, they have additional support against severe illness, hospitalization and death. When more people are up-to-date with immunization recommendations, we protect our community and reduce the risk of higher levels of transmission of the virus.

“Vaccinations continue to be our best tool to get us back to normal. We believe the updates to the NC DHHS Strong Schools Toolkit are well-informed and allow for us to prioritize keeping children in school. When families choose to vaccinate their children, we further offer protection to stay in school since people who are sick or test positive still must isolate at home. We do have the tools to deal with COVID-19 so we encourage people to get vaccinated and boosted if they are eligible and regularly practice other prevention measures like getting tested and staying home when sick, wearing a face mask in indoor public settings while we have high transmission as we do today and washing hands often.”

Ages five to 11 are now 19 percent vaccinated, ages 12-17 are 32 percent vaccinated, 18-24 have a rate of 49 percent, 25-49 are at 54 percent, 50-64 are at 63 percent, 65-74 are 74 percent and ages 75 and up are 81 percent vaccinated.

AppHealthCare is continuing to offer testing and vaccinations, Monday through Friday with testing from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and vaccinations from 1 to 4 p.m. To make an appointment, call (828) 795-1970.

NCDHHS reported on Feb. 14 that there has been a total of 2,540,372 cases in North Carolina since testing began. At the time, there were 3,094 patients hospitalized.

Globally, as of Feb. 14, there have been 410,565,868 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,810,880 deaths, reported to WHO. A total of 10,227,670,521 vaccine doses have been administered.

To learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.apphealthcare.com or call the Ashe clinic at (336) 246-9449.

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