ASHEVILLE – Coronavirus hospitalizations in North Carolina reached a new high July 21, a day after the number of people confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 in the state climbed above 100,000.
As of noon Tuesday, 1,179 people were in hospitals with the disease in the state, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. That’s the highest number so far during the pandemic and 93 more coronavirus hospitalizations than the previous day. There were 1,178 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state July 16.
The state tallied 102,861 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide as of noon July 21, an increase of 1,815 from the previous day. This comes three days after the state had a record 2,481 new cases Saturday.
On Tuesday, 24,087 tests were completed in the state. That indicates the rate of positive tests for the day was 8%. The most recent data reported by the state on its dashboard shows 8% of all tests July 20 were positive. The average daily positivity rate had been 9% this month.
NCDHHS counts a total of 1,668 deaths associated with lab-tested COVID-19 cases statewide Tuesday. That’s an increase of 26 over Monday
Those numbers differ slightly from the Johns Hopkins University report in the graphic above. As of about 8 a.m. July 21, JHU counted 3,831,405 confirmed cases and 140,909 deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the United States. Its worldwide tally was 14,727,753 cases and 610,565 deaths.
As of about noon Monday, Buncombe County reported on its coronavirus dashboard that there were 1,059 cases in the county. However, the state reported Monday that Buncombe had 1,223 cases, up 49 from the previous day. The county has said that its dashboard would lag behind the state’s tally. The number of COVID-19 related deaths in the county was 42, according to its dashboard.
Confirmed cases in other Western North Carolina counties, according to state counts:
- Avery: 52 cases, 0 deaths.
- Cherokee: 141 cases, 2 deaths.
- Clay: 37 cases, 0 deaths.
- Graham: 12 cases, 0 deaths.
- Haywood: 192 cases, 0 deaths.
- Henderson: 1,137 cases, 52 deaths.
- Jackson: 293 cases, 3 deaths.
- Macon: 392 cases, 1 death.
- Madison: 24 cases, 0 deaths.
- McDowell: 411 cases, 3 deaths.
- Mitchell: 60 cases, 1 death.
- Polk: 117 cases, 5 deaths.
- Swain: 84 cases, 2 deaths.
- Transylvania: 96 cases, 1 death.
- Watauga: 185 cases, 0 deaths.
- Yancey: 68 cases, 0 deaths.
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What’s contract tracing all about?
Even though contact tracing has been around for decades as a way to stop the deadly rampage of contagions ranging from cholera to Ebola to tuberculosis, sometimes the phrase itself can strike more fear than the diseases.
Contact tracing helps to stem the spread of contagious diseases like COVID-19, by health care workers reaching out to people who have tested positive and to those who might have come into close contact with those people, and give them support to safely self-isolate.
But contact tracing has taken on an air of CSI meets Ancestry DNA, eliciting conspiracy theories including sending people off to fictitious “FEMA camps,” or an attempt to interfere with the 2020 elections, and fear of having private health information publicly exposed.
Reporter Karen Chávez takes a close look at contact tracing:
Ingles requires masks starting today
Ingles Markets has announced it will require customers to wear masks in all of its locations starting July 21. The decision comes nearly two months after Buncombe County established its own mask mandate.
Mackensy Lunsford reports that the Black Mountain-based Ingles, which operates in six southeastern states, follows major retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy, CVS and Target, in requiring face coverings for customers.
A-B Tech about a month away from fall semester
John Boyle reports that A-B Tech will reopen for the fall 2020 semester on Aug. 24, but more than 75% of classes will be online or virtual, with about 25% featuring in person instruction.
“We are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, the state of North Carolina, and Buncombe and Madison counties, as well as our local school districts,” Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College President John D. Gossett said July 20 in a press release. “We also surveyed our employees and students and heard overwhelmingly that they are concerned about COVID-19 and want us to have as few people as possible on campus this fall.”
For spring and summer classes, A-B Tech converted more than 95% of its academic classes to online instruction, and for spring and summer trained all faculty in best practices for online instruction, the school said in the press release.
Drive-in style Rangers shows coming to WNC
The Steep Canyon Rangers will get to perform a concert again soon, albeit in a different way from previous local live gigs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Grammy-winning progressive bluegrass band from Brevard has plans to play three drive-in style shows in August. Shows will be Aug. 27 at the Brevard Music Center, Aug. 28 at The Riveter in Asheville and Aug. 29 at Burnsville Field Downtown in Burnsville.
Jason Gilmer reports that singer and acoustic guitarist Woody Platt said the group was excited about doing shows from a truck that has a 16-foot by 16-foot LED screen that arises from the top of the vehicle. A FM signal will transmit the sound to car radios in the venues and the shows will also be streamed live, he said.
Register of Deeds Office temporarily closed
On July 11 Drew Reisinger woke up with violent chills.
Joel Burgess reports that it didn’t take long before Reisinger, Buncombe County’s Democratic elected register of deeds, started packing his bags to get away from his child and wife, who has cystic fibrosis and only one lung.
“I thought I probably had a fever, and I know what that means in this era,” said Reisinger on July 20, a day after the county announced it was closing the Register of Deeds Office July 21-22 after a positive COVID-19 test among a staff member.
It turns out the staff member wasn’t Reisinger.
Plans set for football games at private high schools
The N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association will look to field high school football games in September, David Thompson reports.
The NCISAA announced July 20 that fall sports with the exception of football can begin Aug. 10 and start live games the week of Aug. 31 as long as North Carolina is in Phase 3 of its reopening plan, according to Asheville Christian Academy athletic director Joe Johnson. North Carolina is currently in Phase 2.
Football practices can begin no earlier than Sept. 4 and begin play Sept. 11. Of the 97 NCISAA member schools, 35 play football.