BOONE — Appalachian State University and Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) announced Oct. 8 they are responding to four new COVID-19 clusters identified in university dorms.
A cluster is defined by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services as a minimum of five cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period and plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases.
Currently, there are:
• 9 cases in Hoey residence hall. Six are recovering in active isolation and 3 are past the isolation stage. (Editor's note: The university announced earlier this year that Hoey would be renamed, but the university has not yet announced a new name).
• 6 cases in Gardner residence hall. Three are recovering in active isolation and 3 are past the isolation stage.
• 7 cases in Frank residence hall. Two are recovering in active isolation and 5 are past the isolation stage.
• 5 cases in Coltrane residence hall. Four are recovering in active isolation and 1 is past the isolation stage.
Additionally, there are four new positive cases associated with the active App State football team cluster: three staff and one student-athlete. Mountaineer football practice has been suspended, and App State’s football game at Georgia Southern, scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 14, has been postponed, the university said.
"AppHealthCare and App State have been providing support to the students and staff and have been working with them to continue to identify and reach out to all identified close contacts," the university stated. "A close contact is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as someone who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes."
App State will hold a pop-up testing event this Saturday, Oct. 10, in the Rivers Street Parking Deck from noon-5 p.m. Students, faculty and staff can walk up or drive up for a free COVID-19 test. No appointments are required, but you will be asked to show your AppCard.
"AppHealthCare and App State encourage members of the university community to take advantage of these testing opportunities," the university said. "The more information we have, the better we are able to respond to active cases and help prevent the further spread of COVID-19."
AppHealthCare has been working closely with App State throughout the COVID-19 response, and continues to provide public health recommendations and guidance for infection and virus transmission prevention. AppHealthCare will closely monitor the active cases and continue to conduct response testing in coordination with App State.
Of the total active cases in App State students, 57 are in residence halls, representing about 1% of the population of students who live in residence halls. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of classroom transmission of the virus.
In some instances, the definition of a cluster is not met until after a number of the cases in the clusters are no longer active. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including the number of cases identified in a 14-day time period, contact tracing to identify and determine plausible epidemiologic linkage, and COVID testing and results.
"Responding to calls and inquiries from public health officials who are tracing close contacts is extremely important for a rapid response from AppHealthCare and App State," the organizations said.