The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has streamlined available COVID-19 metrics and with fewer and less helpful metrics, coupled with an emphasis on rapid antigen tests performed in the home (which are generally not reported to public health authorities) it is challenging to track the waxing and waning of COVID-19 transmission.
The level of COVID-19 in the Buncombe County, based on a CDC algorithm considering in-use hospital beds, hospital admissions, and new cases, is currently low and the healthcare infrastructure remains unstrained. However, within the past couple of weeks, the Department’s dashboard presents low but increasing early warning indicators (rising levels forecast increased incidence of COVID-19 within a community) and rising cases. Concurrently, a sublineage of Omicron called BA.2 has become the most dominant variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. BA.2 is now responsible for most cases in North Carolina.
Without a doubt, the incidence of COVID-19 is rising in Buncombe and surrounding counties, presenting an amplified risk of infection. At this point in the pandemic, to mandate personal mitigation measures or to “lock down” in any way would be unwarranted. But we strongly encourage our residents and staff to resume mask wearing in public indoor spaces both on and off campus if others are in close proximity.
Although we all wish that it were, the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over. And it is just as confusing as ever.