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July 30, 2020
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COVID-19 Situation Update for Ashe County
July 30, 2020

This document is intended to provide a regular update on the local response to COVID-19 in our
communities and timely, trended data related to COVID-19. This report will be published on Thursdays
each week for the Sunday through Saturday of the prior week.

Situation Update for July 19 through July 25, 2020

Cases are continuing to increase for Ashe County. We are seeing our total case count increase steadily
each week, and we would like to see that level off more than it has. The number of active cases
(individuals in isolation) has also increased in recent weeks. The active case count data gives a picture of
the active virus in our community. It is important to note that this only accounts for confirmed cases
among people who have been tested.

We are continuing to see community transmission occurring and when we can determine how exposure
occurred, most cases were from people traveling, attending social gatherings or living or working in
close proximity to others. This has remained the case through recent weeks.

“We want to encourage everyone to be vigilant and take actions to reduce your risk of exposure. This
virus is spread most often through respiratory droplets when people are in close contact with each
other. When we wear a face covering, wait 6 feet from others and wash hands or use hand sanitizer, we
are taking actions to prevent the virus from spreading to our family, friends and community,” stated
Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.

Key points from this week:

● Free Testing Event! A free drive-thru COVID-19 testing event for Ashe County residents is set for
Saturday, August 1st from 9:00am-2:00pm . No appointment is needed and results are expected
within a few days. We are appreciative of the community partnerships that make an event like
this happen. More information can be found here .
● Our case trend has increased the past few weeks and is going the wrong direction. We are
concerned about increased community transmission with more cases reported. We urge
continued vigilance in practicing the 3 W’s by wearing a face covering, waiting six feet apart, and
washing hands frequently.
● Open communication continues with Ashe County Schools as they prepare for a new school
year. We are working closely with them to provide public health information to inform their
decisions about operation of schools this year, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
● We are continuing to work to increase testing opportunities for the community. Planning for
proactive testing for staff in locations that have opted-in to that service continues. Also, we are
conducting response based testing when data gathered in the case investigation of a positive
case informs the need to conduct broader testing. These response based testing events are
intended to focus on areas where there is potential for further spread, a cluster of cases, or an
outbreak.
● PPE (personal protective equipment) levels remain stable. However, there is a reported shortage
expected in nitrile gloves in the supply chain. Similarly, Lab Corp has reported some limitations
in test ordering. AppHealthCare has utilized support from Ashe County Emergency Management
and established state processes to submit additional requests for support for these items.
● Turn-around times for testing is 7-10 days, with most tests resulting around 7-8 days. Lab testing
turnaround remains a top concern. However, we have heard that the NC State Laboratory for
Public Health is continuing to work to shorten turnaround for their samples.
● We have hired 4 additional case investigators to assist with increased demand as we see
numbers of confirmed cases increase. They begin work August 3, 2020. Additional staff may be
hired to assist with testing and tracing needs.
● Outreach continues to be an important part of our collective community strategy to address
COVID-19. Regular meetings take place with community partners to discuss the current situation
in the county, strategize areas for growth and improvement and provide a time for questions
and answers.