WATAUGA — The Appalachian District Board of Health approved a position statement on Aug. 23 in support of ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in the AppHealthCare three county district.
The board also gave authorization to AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene to write a letter to governing bodies, and any other entity in the health district, suggesting the adoption or strengthening of mask wearing requirements and encouraging COVID-19 vaccines.
“I do, obviously, have quite a bit of concern about where we are and certainly want to say I know everyone else's tired of this,” Greene told the board. “Us too. We are very tired of talking about COVID-19. Yet we are here and that's our reality.”
AppHealthCare reports 83 active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County as of Aug. 23.
The position statement said that the Appalachian District Board of Health recognizes the critical nature of public health services during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent further strain on the local healthcare resources, the economy and to reduce preventable life loss caused by COVID-19, provided by AppHealthCare in Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga counties and regionally.
“Therefore, the members of this governing board on this day, 23 of August, 2021, do hereby affirm our collective support for the work of the Health Director, Jennifer Greene, and the AppHealthCare staff continuing to bravely respond to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting our communities,” the position statemented read.
The statement was signed by Board Chair David Triplett.
Greene also presented key COVID-19 data to the board. She said that 93 percent of COVId-19 variants in North Carolina are the Delta variant. She told the board that one of the biggest issues her department is facing is misinformation.
“I think a lot of this is about misinformation that's shared broadly across lots of different platforms, but we have a lot of information that we're having to cut through,” Greene said.
She told the board that the main tools her department has against COVID-19 are prevention — like masks and vaccines — and response — case investigations for close contacts. She said that response efforts only work when community members work with the agency, but they are seeing the public not willing to participate as much.
“We will continue responding to COVID-19 by recommending actions everyone can take to reduce the spread of this virus in our community, as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic,” AppHealthCare spokesperson Melissa Bracey said. “This statement is in support of efforts we have been implementing. We are very appreciative of the Board of Health for their continued support of public health and of AppHealthCare staff.”
The full statement can be found at tinyurl.com/kfm2p6h3.