ASHE COUNTY — In its weekly COVID-19 situation update on Friday, Nov. 20, AppHealthCare reported a continued increase in active cases and quarantines from Nov. 8-14 in Ashe County.

As of Monday, Nov. 23, there were 97 active cases in Ashe according to AppHealthCare, with a further 178 individuals being monitored and a cumulative case count of 846. There has been 15 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Ashe County according to AppHealthCare.

Nine deaths in Ashe were linked to an outbreak at Forest Ridge Assisted Living.

“For the week of Nov. 8-14, there were levelings in active cases and for those who are in quarantine but the numbers remain too high and are a continued concern.,” AppHealthCare’s situation update read.

“With the Thanksgiving Holiday, we encourage everyone to be mindful of the fact that this virus is still with us and there are actions we can all take to avoid and lessen our exposure and a potential spike that could overwhelm our healthcare system.”

Outside of Ashe, AppHealthCare has reported 150 active cases and 16 deaths in Watauga County and 27 active cases and two deaths in Alleghany County. Across the state, there have been 5,039 deaths, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

North Carolina had 336,775 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of noon on Monday, Nov. 23, according to the NCDHHS. This is more than 19,000 more cases than the same time a week earlier.

The NCDHHS released a County Alert System to give counties another tool and a classification for their COVID-19 status.

In their report published Nov. 17, the NCDHHS listed Ashe as orange, meaning the county has a “substantial” community spread. This is the second of three tiers, in between yellow and red, with 42 other counties given an orange designation, and only 10 counties were designated red.

Watauga and Alleghany County received a yellow designation, indicating a “significant” community spread, while Avery and Wilkes County were given a red, “Critical” community spread designation.

The tiers were determined using the number of new cases in 14 days per 100,000 people, the percentage of tests that came back positive over the same 14 days and the impact on county hospitals.

From Nov. 1-14, Ashe County saw 514.6 cases per 100,000 residents, a 8.7 percent positive testing number but it is considered to have a low impact on the county hospital. Meanwhile Mecklenburg County, the most populous in county in N.C., saw numbers of 340 and 7.3 percent, respectively.

The NCDHHS noted in its report that individuals in red and orange counties should limit mixing between households and social circles, avoid settings where people congregate, consider ordering more take out or eating outside and reduce public interactions to mainly essential activities.

AppHealthCare is continuing case investigation and contact tracing efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you receive a call from a member of the case investigation or contact tracing team, AppHealthCare urges you to cooperate and provide information that will help conduct response efforts. Calls will be from (844) 628-7223 or (828) 264-4995. It may also show up as “NC Outreach” or “Contact Tracing.”

AppHealthCare encourages citizens to remember the three W’s: wear a mask, watch your distance and wash your hands.

North Carolina moved into Phase 3 of the statewide reopening plan beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2. Phase 3 was scheduled to end Oct. 23, however N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced Oct. 21 that it would be extended by three weeks, pointing to case numbers’ continued rise.

Cooper announced Nov. 10 that the indoor mass gathering limit would be lowered to 10 people until Friday, Dec. 4.

“This reduction in our indoor gathering limit aims to slow the spread and bring down our numbers,” Cooper said. “It also sends a serious signal to families, friends and neighbors across our state. Success in slowing the spread will help our businesses.”

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