COVID-19 News Update: 11/13/20

November 13, 2020

Here’s a round up of COVID-19 related news for 11/13/20. See our Coronavirus Resource Guide for extensive resources and information. 

Here are the COVID-19 stats for Buncombe County and North Carolina

Buncombe County 

  • Positive cases: 4,675
  • Last week’s number of positive cases: 4,443

North Carolina as a whole 

  • Positive cases: 303,454
  • Last week’s number of positive cases: 285,661

Phase 3 extended through December 4th

Governor Roy Cooper announced today that North Carolina’s indoor mass gathering limit will be lowered to 10 people in an effort to drive down North Carolina’s key COVID-19 metrics. Executive Order 176 will go into effect on Friday, November 13 and will be in place through Friday, December 4.

“This reduction in our indoor gathering limit aims to slow the spread and bring down our numbers,” Governor 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.”

As the weather gets colder, more people will be gathering indoors. Science has shown that indoor gatherings increase risk of transmission of COVID-19, and this Executive Order seeks to limit indoor gatherings that could rapidly and dangerously spread the virus.

The Order does not change the reduced capacity limits for certain businesses that have already been laid out. For more on this, read the Frequently Asked Questions document.

NCDHHS reports highest one-day increase of positive tests

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the state’s highest one day number of COVID-19 cases with 3,119 cases reported. Other key metrics also increased with hospitalizations at 1,246 and the percent of tests that were positive climbing to 7.9 percent.

“This is not the milestone we want to be hitting, particularly as we head into holidays where people want to come together. I am asking North Carolinians to do what they do best, look out for each other. Wear a mask. Wait six feet apart. Wash your hands often. We’ve had more time to learn about this devastating virus and study after study shows that these three simple actions can help keep our family, friends and neighbors from getting sick,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

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North Carolina to distribute COVID-19 tests to colleges and universities to support pre-Thanksgiving testing

Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state is providing COVID-19 tests to colleges and universities across North Carolina to help bolster schools’ student testing efforts in advance of Thanksgiving and holiday break.

NCDHHS is sending a total of 74,470 federally-funded rapid antigen tests to public and private colleges and universities across North Carolina, including historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), to test students before they travel home or celebrate the holidays with people who live outside their household.

Additionally, NCDHHS is working with local health departments in Guilford, Harnett, New Hanover, Mecklenburg and Pitt counties to host community testing events near college and university campuses for students who need tests before the end of the semester. These testing efforts are part of an ongoing partnership with colleges, universities and HBCUs across the state.

“Getting COVID-19 tests to college campuses is one way we can prevent more viral spread across the state as students go home,” Governor Cooper said. “However, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance continue to be our strongest weapons against this virus as we approach the winter holidays.”

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Rural communities seeing greatest increases of COVID-19

Since September, new COVID-19 cases have been increasing faster in rural counties, according to a new report by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.  The report, which looks at data since the start of the pandemic, found that since September 2020:

  • Nearly twice as many new cases have been reported from rural counties compared to urban or suburban counties.
  • The majority of cases in rural counties are increasingly white, non-Hispanic as compared with previous months.
  • COVID-19 related deaths in rural counties also increased significantly, and account for the majority of deaths statewide compared with deaths in urban and suburban counties.
  • Among deaths in rural counties, deaths among white, non-Hispanic and Black/African American cases have increased over time.
  • The majority of COVID-19 cases in rural communities are in people 49 years and younger.
  • The increase is being driven by community spread, not congregate living settings like nursing homes or jails.

Thermo Fisher Scientific in Asheville to play key role in COVID vaccine distribution

With a COVID-19 vaccine like Pfizer’s set to hit the market soon, it must be stored at negative 70 degrees Celsius, which is equivalent to negative 94 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing a vaccine at this temperature is a challenge for distribution, which is where Thermo Fisher can step in to help. Thermo Fisher produces the ultra low temperature freezers which will prove helpful when the vaccine is ready. The factory is currently undergoing the largest volume ramp-up they’ve ever seen in the factory.

“This factory’s producing hundreds of units every day to support the front lines of the COVID-19 response,” said Keith Howell, Asheville site leader and director of operations at Thermo Fisher.

“We produce the ultra low temperature freezers which are so critically important in the process of taking vaccines from production all the way to administering a vaccine,” Meguiar said.

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