AVERY COUNTY, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – North Carolina leaders are reporting nearly 12,000 cases of COVID-19 and about 1,700 of those confirmed cases are in Mecklenburg County. Out of the state’s 100 counties, there is only one that seems untouched by the virus.
To date, there have been 85 people here tested for COVID-19 in Avery County. Eighty-two turned out negative and three are still pending, but Avery is a whole lot smaller than other counties that are leading the state in coronavirus cases.
“Our county is pretty spread out in the first place, so I think it’s just more rural living,” one neighbor in the county told FOX 46 Charlotte.
It’s the only county in the state without a single recorded case.
“We feel blessed! I give credit to our great citizens of Avery County that have done the right thing during this crisis,” County Manager Phillip Barrier said.
Barrier says their non-existent coronavirus case count is the result of a combination of efforts.
“Few are coming to stay here, including those who have a second or third home, but when they do arrive, they’re required to do a 14-day quarantine,” he said. “We also did a ban on our short-term rentals.”
Some credit that specific measure as a reason for the health of Avery County residents.
“When they shut that down to keep that population from coming in and out, I think it made a huge difference,” one resident told FOX 46 Charlotte.
Some say life hasn’t changed much, like Taylor McKinney who was just buying supplies for s’mores.
“Most of us are just doing bonfires, hanging out six feet apart outside,” she said.
But what about more testing? Again, out of the nearly 18,000 residents, they’ve only tested 85.
That’s going to change, however. Starting Thursday, outside the Health Department in Newland, residents can go through a drive-thru testing site if they feel the need to do so.
Still, Barrier doesn’t think it’s going to make a difference.
“I really think people have practiced this social distancing and I don’t think we’ll have a case,” Barrier said.
They’re hoping to test 300 to 500 more people this week. FOX 46 Charlotte will let you know if Avery sees its first case one they test more residents.