As of Monday, June 22, Buncombe County officials confirmed 504 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County residents. Out of those confirmed cases, 105 of these individuals are currently in isolation, and the remaining cases have been recovered.
"Community spread of COVID-19 is occurring in our county," said Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, health director for Buncombe County. "Cases spread through our community and households after interactions with coworkers; trips with extended family and friends; attendance at church, funerals, and gatherings with friends; and in many cases, without any certain source of exposure."
A majority of cases are occurring in 25-49 year olds.
When going out in public or gather with others, practice the three Ws.
- Wear a face covering.
- Wait six feet apart from others when out in public.
- Wash your hands.
"Every contact counts and we must do the hard work now if we don’t want this situation to get worse," Mullendore said.
Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF):
There are now outbreaks at six nursing homes in the county. An outbreak is considered to be two or more lab-confirmed cases in a facility within 28 days.
"We are working with those facilities on ongoing testing to identify new cases in any residents or staff in an effort to prevent further spread of infection," Mullendore said.
Sadly, 36 Buncombe County residents have died from COVID-19, including 31 residents of two nursing homes that are experiencing outbreaks.
Testing Results and Recommendations for Testing:
- Over 13,108 COVID-19 tests have been performed in Buncombe County residents.
- The percent positive rate is 3.8%, meaning that 3.8% of tests performed on Buncombe County residents have come back showing infection with COVID-19. Our rates have been around 4% for the past several weeks.
- The positivity rate for NC as a whole is 9% and other states in the southeast US are also seeing positivity rates higher than the rest of the US, which has a rate of 6%.
- Over 900 people have been tested at the community testing sites.
- Last week’s community testing identified 10 individuals with COVID-19; we are still waiting on results of 13 tests.
- 25 total individuals have tested positive at these testing sites.
- Earlier this week, 150 people were tested at AB Tech; results from those tests have not yet returned.
Testing is available for:
- Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
- Symptoms may include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Anyone (with or without symptoms) who is a close contact of a known positive case
- Anyone (with or without symptoms) in the following groups who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19:
- Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
- Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
- Historically marginalized populations
- Healthcare workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
- Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction workers, food processing plant workers, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain
- People who attended mass gatherings (protests, marches, rallies, funerals, parties, cookouts, etc.), particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing
If you meet the above criteria, contact your healthcare provider to see if testing is available through them.
If not, check BuncombeReady.org for a list of local sites that are offering testing.
There is no out-of-pocket cost for the testing at the community testing sites, but we do ask that those with health insurance, including Medicaid or Medicare, bring their insurance card with them so that their insurance can be billed for the cost of the test.
Language services are available at the community testing sites.
"Thank you to all who have volunteered, provided testing, and helped with coordination of the testing sites," said Mullendore. "Your care and compassion are what we need right now. There is no doubt that caring for others is what will get us successfully through this global pandemic."
Next week, our testing efforts will be focused on residential facilities that house older, at-risk adults.
Community testing will resume the following week at locations throughout the county. These sites will be more permanent in nature and will operate with expanded hours to serve the needs of everyone in our community.
Next week, Buncombe will announce the locations of the testing sites for the week of June 29.
It is important that people answer the call when the Community Team reaches out.
Individuals being contacted will get an initial text from the number 45394 or email from dhhs.nc.gov with follow-up phone calls from their local health department or NC OUTREACH (844-628-7223).
"We all need to assume that we could have it, even if we are without symptoms, and we need to assume that everyone around us could have it as well," said Mullendore.
Use the self-checker found at buncombeready.org to assess your symptoms and the need for testing.
"It takes each of us caring about not just ourselves, but others in our community to slow and stop the spread of this illness," she said.