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JEFFERSON — AppHealthCare is reporting the first COVID-19-associated death in Ashe County.

The individual died on Monday, May 25, from complications associated with the virus. The patient was in their 70s and had underlying medical conditions. To protect the family’s privacy, AppHealthCare said no further information will be released about this individual.

“We extend our deepest condolences, prayers and sympathies to the family during this difficult time. Each life in our community is so valuable and we share in sadness about this loss,” AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene said.

According to AppHealthCare, 32 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Ashe County, with 18 active cases, while Watauga County was at 13, with four active cases, as of May 26. In addition, 24 cases have been confirmed in individuals tested locally but who permanently reside outside AppHealthCare’s service area of Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties.

The health department is monitoring 19 people in Watauga County, 23 people in Ashe and five people who reside outside of the area due to their exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Statewide, COVID-19 cases were up to 24,310 as of May 26, with 797 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the Raleigh News & Observer, and Saturday, May 23, saw the highest one-day increase yet in new cases, with 1,107 new cases reported, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The number of people hospitalized across the state also rose to 621 as of May 26.

“We continue to encourage the community to take preventive measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” AppHealthCare stated.

AppHealthCare has set up a COVID-19 hotline at (828) 795-1970 for information during regular business hours. For more information, visit

How to Protect Yourself

  • Practice the 3Ws if you have to leave your house — Wear a cloth face covering, Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer and Wait 6 feet from others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze
  • Keep distance from others who are sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, lightswitches, tables and handles
  • If you are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of reported symptoms.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Is 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Has a high-risk condition that includes:

○ Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma

○ Heart disease with complications

○ Compromised immune system

○ Severe obesity — body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher

○ Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

People who are at high risk should stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.


You should be tested if:

  • You believe you have symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you have no symptoms and you are at higher risk for severe illness (you are 65 or older, you have an underlying health condition or chronic condition), or have been in close contact with someone who is known to have a positive result.
  • If you are someone working in a frontline role or essential business where social distancing is hard to maintain
  • If you are a first responder, law enforcement officer, fire department staff member, or healthcare staff member, please reach out if you would like to be tested
  • If you live in or work in a facility where social distancing is hard to maintain, like congregate living, healthcare facilities or home care

For testing, call your healthcare provider or AppHealthCare. Please do not just show up to a healthcare provider without calling first. This will help your provider prepare should you need to be tested and lessen the potential exposure to others. AppHealthCare will serve anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. As is our usual day-to-day practice, a patient will not be turned away due to inability to pay.

If you have a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately.

Managing Your Overall Health

During this time, it is important to manage your overall health. There are resources available if you need to reduce anxiety or stress, are experiencing suicidal thoughts, need to better manage chronic conditions and more. Visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (336) 246-9449 anytime and follow the prompts. AppHealthCare has set up a COVID-19 hotline at 1+ (828) 795-1970 for information during regular business hours. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 in our community and will work to keep the public informed. Please visit our website for more information — You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Questions from agencies requesting support on COVID-19 response, planning efforts, etc. can contact

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at

North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at To view the case count for North Carolina, including a county map, please visit the NC DHHS website here.

A COVID-19 toll free helpline has been set up to answer general, non-emergent questions at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, go to and select “chat.”

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