COVID-19 News Updates: 8/21/20

August 21, 2020

Here’s a round up of COVID-19 related news for 8/21/20. 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: 2,166
  • Last week’s number of positive cases: 1,982

North Carolina as a whole 

  • Positive cases: 149,904
  • Last week’s number of positive cases: 140,824

Positive COVID cases crop up throughout Buncombe County schools

Several schools across the Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools systems have reported positive tests in their students and staff.

On August 3rd, Asheville City Schools canceled all athletic workouts until August 21st after two students from the middle school and two students from the high school tested positive for COVID-19.

On Aug. 6th, Henderson County Public Schools confirmed that three Henderson County high school athletes had tested positive, but workouts resumed since those athletes contracted the virus by community spread.

On August 15th, just two days before the fall semester was set to begin, an employee at Enka High School tested positive and two other staff members are in quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus.

On August 17th,  Buncombe County Schools spokesperson Stacia Harris confirmed that an Owen High School athlete  positive for COVID-19 during voluntary summer workouts with the football team. This is the first confirmed COVID-19 case of a student-athlete from BCS and Harris called it an “isolated situation” that was handled per NCHSAA protocols “and in conjunction with BCHHS guidance.”

According to NCHSAA guidelines, if a student-athletes tests positive, they are required to quarantine at home for 14 days as well as any members of their training pod or those who were in close contact with the individual.

Range Urgent Care to make house calls

Range Urgent Care will now offer house calls 7 days a week so patients can receive the same care they would receive at a clinic from the comfort of their own home. With this new service, doctors and nurse practitioners can respond to house call requests and take a fully stocked Range car to patients’ houses to prescribe medicine, administer IV drips, EKGs, labs, and more. COVID-19 testing wil l also be available.

“Preferably, we’ll be doing the testing on the porch or in an outdoor location. For everyone’s safety, that’s the best way to do that. But that’s one of the services of the house calls we’ll be able to facilitate,” Range Urgent Care co-founder/CEO Mathew Trowbridge said.

House calls are available for anyone with an Asheville zip code. The cost is equivalent to what it would be for in-clinic services, plus a $49 dispatch fee. The Range cars will be available from 8 a..-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. on the weekends. In October, those hours will expand to 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

Click here to schedule a house call.

Flu season will present new challenges for Buncombe County

As fall approaches, Buncombe health officials are preparing flu season — something they say will present new challenges in the time of coronavirus.Health director Stacie Saunders told commissioners Aug. 18 that staff have been discussing how to manage the likely overlap of COVID-19 and influenza including by “effectively test quickly for both, ruling out others and then be able to move quickly to isolating and quarantining when we need to.”

Saunders emphasized the need for Buncombe residents to stay home “even if it is flu.” Saunders said she hopes to have more information in the coming weeks about local and state plans for the flu season and whether it will impact any existing protocols.

Read more 

Free COVID-19 testing available downtown

Free testing for COVID-19 is now available downtown at Western Carolina Rescue Ministries through a partnership between the organization and Appalachian Mountain Community Health Centers, a Federally Qualified Health Center.

In an Aug. 19 release, WCRM said the testing is designed to reach those who may not have the resources to acquire it elsewhere. The partners began offering the testing about two weeks ago and have tested more than 75 people since then.

“It is our intention to continue to offer this service until no longer necessary,” WCRM spokeswoman Jessica May said in the release.

Applications for NC Job Retention Grant program are now open; due September 1st

If your business or non-profit organization experienced interruption due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the new Job Retention Grant (JRG) Program may be able to offer assistance. State lawmakers provided $15 million for the grants being awarded by Commerce. The funding is part of a much larger $500 million coronavirus relief measure signed by the governor July 1.

NC Dept. of Commerce is accepting applications through Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 11:59pm.  No grants will be awarded before the September 1 deadline, and the potential amount of each grant will not be determined until all applications have been reviewed and awarded.

Apply here