ASHE COUNTY — The Ashe County Board of Commissioners met in an emergency session on Aug. 25 to vote on a mask mandate for all county employees in county buildings and to ask, but not require, that the public wear masks as well when in these buildings.

Chair Todd McNeill, Vice Chair William Sands, Chuck Olive, Jonathan Jordan and Jerry Powers all expressed their concern for the ever-growing pandemic and saw it fit that employees protect the public through a mask mandate. No state-wide mandate has been set by Gov. Roy Cooper, therefore the public can still operate on choice.

The 2021-22 school year has kicked off with nearly 260 total individuals, both students and staff, currently out of school due to positive testing and quarantine for COVID-19.

According to Superintendent Dr. Eisa Cox, 40 positive tests came back among students with 74 being quarantined in the first week of school beginning, Aug. 16. In addition, one staff member tested positive and seven are quarantined.

As of Friday, Aug. 20, one more staff tested positive, two were quarantined, an additional 17 students contracted the virus and 71 more were quarantined. 42 students are now awaiting test results.

The ACHS football team recently announced cancellations to Friday night football for two weeks, Aug. 27 and Sept. 3. Eight athletes tested positive at ACHS and 1 athlete tested positive at the middle school.

Cox said that outside of football, the positive cases are results of outside of school activities with the possible exception of one, which is yet to be confirmed.

Ashe County Schools is currently working on a webpage that will account for current and upcoming case numbers. No release date for the website has been released.

Throughout the county, AppHealthCare has reported 77 active cases as of Aug. 30; 235 individuals have been directed to quarantine and 52 cumulative deaths have been reported. Ashe has had a total of 2,723 positive cases since testing began.

In Watauga, there are 126 active cases, reported on Aug. 30. Thirty-seven individuals are quarantined and deaths are steady at 34. Alleghany has risen to 40 active cases with 72 individuals in quarantine. Deaths have remained at five.

The vaccination rate for Ashe County has increased to 48 percent who are partially or fully vaccinated. Fifty-two percent remain unvaccinated and only 22 percent is left to each the goal of 70; 13,169 vaccines have been administered by AppHealthCare alone according the the Aug. 27 situation update.

Ages 12-17 have seen a vaccination rate of 23 percent, 18-24 at 36 percent, 25-49 at 45 percent, 50-64 at 57 percent. 65-74 at 70 percent and 71 and up at 72 percent.

Ashe County remains in the “red” which represents a high level of community transmission.

AppHealthCare is continuing to encourage the community to get vaccinated, wear masks, wash their hands and watch their distance when possible.

According to NCDHHS, North Carolina has seen a total of 1,208,303 cases since testing began. 3,509 are currently hospitalized.

For more information on COVID-19 testing or vaccines, visit www.apphealthcare.com to make an appointment or call (336) 246-9449.

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