BOONE — With COVID-19 cases and trends continuing to increase, AppHealthCare and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System are urging the community to take actions to prevent further spread and protect critical health care resources.
AppHealthCare reports 156 active COVID-19 cases and 35 deaths as of Sept. 1. The active case count is the highest since late January. AppHealthCare has reported three deaths since Aug. 25 compared to two deaths between Feb. 16 and Aug. 24.
“We are concerned about the increasing trends we are continuing to see and want to urge everyone to help us control this virus to a manageable level,” said AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene. “This pandemic has shown us that we are all connected. We all need each other. When we are in this type of response mode, we need everyone to take actions to help us get to a better place. We urge anyone who is unvaccinated to not wait and get a vaccine today. The vaccines are working like they should and helping prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death. We care deeply about our community and don’t want to see anyone experience hardship or loss due to this virus.”
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19, both locally and statewide, are increasing, according to AppHealthCare. As a result, capacity can become limited for all types of care like surgeries, treatment, procedures and emergency care.
The Triad HealthCare Preparedness Coalition region — which includes Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Catawba, Davie, Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin — reports 882 people in the hospital with 219 people in the intensive care unit as of Sept. 1.
When all hospitals are experiencing a strain on resources, someone needing critical or emergency care may have to wait until a bed is available or until a transfer to another hospital is possible, the agencies stated.
Many regional hospitals are not able to receive transfers right now because of the number of COVID-19 patients they are treating. AppHealthCare and ARHS stated that community members should not go to the hospital emergency department just for COVID-19 testing. Using the emergency department for COVID-19 testing without a medical emergency takes limited resources away from community members who have medical emergencies and risks unnecessary exposure.
“Of the 20 COVID patients being treated at Watauga Medical Center (Sept. 1), 18 are unvaccinated. We have six patients on ventilators — 100 percent of those are unvaccinated,” said Rob Hudspeth, senior vice president of system advancement for ARHS. “In light of these concerning trends, we hope people will strongly consider being vaccinated as our best hope for avoiding hospitalization and death from this virus.”
AppHealthCare and ARHS stated that to help prevent COVID-19, people should get a COVID-19 vaccine. AppHealthCare offers COVID-19 vaccines by walk-in or appointment Monday through Friday. Walk-in hours for vaccines are 1-4 p.m. If someone chooses to walk-in for a vaccine, they may have to wait.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System offers vaccines at the following locations:
- AppFamily Medicine in Boone by calling (828)-386-2222. Appointment preferred Wednesdays, 3:30-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 8:30-11 a.m.
- Baker Center for Primary Care in Linville by calling (828)-737-7711. Appointment preferred Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30-11 a.m.
More information can be found at apprhs.org/vaccine.
The healthcare agencies also stated that community members can prevent COVID-19 by getting tested. AppHealthCare offers drive-thru testing Monday through Friday 8:30-10 a.m. at each clinic location. No appointment is needed and testing is free.
ARHS offers testing by provider referral. More information can be found at apprhs.org/covid19-screening.
Additional testing locations can be found by using the NCDHHS Find My Testing Place tool at tinyurl.com/4x3ucvzr.
AppHealthCare and ARHS also recommends community members:
- Wear a mask in public indoor spaces regardless of their vaccination status
- Wash their hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
- Keep a distance of at least six feet from others
“With community transmission high, we urge everyone to know what to do if you are exposed or test positive for COVID-19,” the agencies stated in a press release. “If you have specific questions, please reach out to the AppHealthCare COVID-19 message line at (828) 795-1970 and leave a message for a member of the COVID-19 response team to call you back.”
If a person has been exposed to COVID-19, the agencies recommend they quarantine away from others for 14 days from last contact with a person who has COVID-19. During this time, the community member should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested.
According to the health care agencies, people who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure, even if they don’t have symptoms, and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative.
While waiting for test results, the agencies stated community members should stay home if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, were tested because they were exposed to someone with COVID-19 or suspect they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
If a community member is sick or a member of their household tests positive, they should plan to keep their household members home, including children who attend child care or school, while they wait for results.
If a community member tests positive for COVID-19, the health care agencies stated they stay home as much as possible. They should avoid others in their household until they can say yes to all three of the following questions:
- Has it been at least 10 days since you first had symptoms?
- Has it been at least 24 hours since you have had a fever without using fever-reducing medicine?
- Has it been at least 24 hours since your other symptoms have improved (such as coughing and shortness of breath)?
If a community member tests positive and don’t have symptoms, they should stay home and isolate (avoid anyone in their household) until 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test.
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency care immediately. These signs include, but are not limited to:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds, depending on skin tone