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Buncombe’s COVID-19 case load still rising: Unvaccinated people 3.5 times more likely to get coronavirus, health chief says
Saturday, 04 September 2021 15:36

From Staff Reports

Buncombe County’s positive COVID-19 cases continue to grow, with 312 cases per week per 100,000, up from 261 last week, according to Buncombe Public Health Director Stacie Saunders.

She provided her periodic coronavirus community update on Aug. 24 at the meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in Asheville.

“The percent positivity has risen to 9.4 percent — up about two points from Aug. 3,” Saunders said in her update. “Currently, 63 percent of the total population in Buncombe County is partially vaccinated, and 59 percent is fully vaccinated.”

Saunders added, “Buncombe County is continuing to experience an upward trend in COVID-related hospitalizations. Based on state data from March through middle of August, unvaccinated individuals were 3.5 times more likely to get COVID-19 when compared to vaccinated individuals. It also remains that hospitalizations and deaths are overwhelmingly in those who are not fully vaccinated.

“Vaccination remains the priority tool for stomping down COVID-19,” Saunders asserted. “Vaccines are safe and effective in reducing severe illness, hospitalization and death. 

“In this time of high transmission, particularly with the highly contagious delta variant, it is important to layer infection prevention measures including wearing masks, regardless of vaccine status, and keeping distance.”

A press release from the county stated that “the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners passed a countywide face-covering requirement for all indoor, public spaces that is in effect until Sept 30. Face coverings must be worn in all indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status unless a medical exemption applies.” (See story below for more details.)

As for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, it now has received FDA approval for those 16 years and older. Those 12-15 years can still receive the Pfizer vaccine under emergency use authorization. All vaccine types, including Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are available at Buncombe County Health and Human Services, 40 Coxe Ave. Asheville. 

Walk-in vaccines are available between Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Go to to learn more.

Meanwhile, Saunders stated in her report to the commissioners, “People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine series (two doses) are advised to receive an additional third dose to better protect themselves from COVID-19. The CDC recommends an additional dose for people in the following categories:

• “Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood.

• “Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system.

• “Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).”

Regarding treatment of advanced or untreated HIV infection, Saunders noted, “Active treatment (is) with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

“Individuals must self-attest they qualify for the additional dose by having a condition or taking a medication that causes them to be moderately to severely immunocompromised. These vaccines are available at the Buncombe County Health and Human Services walk-in clinic.”

As for COVID-19 testing, Saunders said, “Visit the Find my Testing Place website to find COVID-19 testing locations in Buncombe County or to request a free, at-home COVID test. Individuals who are showing symptoms or believe they have had close contact to COVID-19 should get tested.”

For more information about COVID-19 and vaccines in Buncombe County, visit online



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