Calendar flips to new year as COVID-19 follows

  • COVID-19 cases in Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties continue to rise into the New Year.

LEDGER –  Although it’s a new year, COVID-19 is still here. 

The most recent numbers for the tri-counties were reported by the Toe River Health District (TRHD) on Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Mitchell County had 123 active positive cases and, as of Jan. 5, had 23 COVID-related deaths as of Dec. 29.

Neighboring Avery County had 95 active positive cases and 21 COVID-related deaths and Yancey County had 190 active positive cases and 13 COVID-related deaths. 

The Mitchell County Health Department is still urging people to follow the three W’s: wear a mask, wait at least six feet and wash your hands. 

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Jan. 2, TRHD Director Diane Creek provided an update of what’s happening at the health department regarding vaccinations. 

Creek said they received their doses of the Moderna vaccine and they are continuing to vaccinate the 1A group, which is EMS and frontline healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 and long-term care staff and residents. Long-term care staff and residents will be vaccinated through CVS Pharmacy, which has a contract with the federal government.

“Now that the holidays are over we will be able to have full work weeks to vaccinate, which will move things along at a better rate,” Creek said in her post.

Creek added the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updated group 1B and sorted it into three subgroups. The first subgroup will be anyone 75 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation. 

The second subgroup is healthcare workers and frontline essential workers 50 years or older and the third subgroup is healthcare workers and frontline essential workers of any age. 

Many people have emailed Creek or filled out a Google Form to find out when they can receive the vaccine. Creek said she is sorting through them and contacting people who currently qualify, but it requires patience. 

“If you are 75 or over and you in live in Yancey or Avery or you haven’t been contacted yet in Mitchell, please be patient! I will get to you,” she wrote. “Just remember patience is key right now. Don’t flood me with emails because that slows me down. I promise I will get to you.”

Creek also explained that because the Moderna vaccine comes in 10 dose vials, once they take the first dose out of the bottle, they have six hours to use that vial or they have to throw it out.

“We will not throw vaccine away,” she wrote.

Instead, the health department will schedule people to be vaccinated in groups of 10. 

“That doesn’t mean you come in the health department at the same time,” she continued. “That only means that you are one of 10 other appointments for that vial of vaccine. But what that also means is that we can’t just vaccinate a single walk-in. Again, be patient as we schedule appointments for the vaccine.”

The health department asks people who are 75 years or older and interested in receiving the vaccine to email their name and phone number to The health department will then call and get the person into the state system over the phone.