BOONE — AppHealthCare announced on April 29 that a Watauga County resident has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of identified cases among Watauga County residents to nine.
This case is in isolation outside of Watauga County and has been during the infectious period that would have posed risk to the Watauga community. The local health department staff have identified close contacts who are in quarantine.
This case will be calculated in the Watauga case count since this person is a local county resident.
“As we begin to ease restrictions in the coming weeks and months, testing is occurring more so that we can quickly identify cases and isolate them," stated Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare's health director. "We have been using a public health strategy called mitigation over the recent weeks, but are now transitioning back to testing more plans for easing restrictions in an incremental way. Since we will be expanding testing, we will likely identify more cases. We expect our local numbers to increase in the coming weeks, so we urge continued vigilance."
A cumulative, positive case count for Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties can be found on AppHealthCare’s website at www.apphealthcare.com.
How to Protect Yourself
● Practice social distancing. This means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, keeping 6 feet or more from others and remaining at home to the greatest extent possible
● Frequent hand washing
● Cover a cough or sneeze
● Keep distance from others who are sick
● Avoid touching the face
● Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, lightswitches, tables and handles
● Wear cloth mask or face covering when out in public when possibly being around people like grocery stores or pharmacies. More information about face coverings can be found on the AppHealthCare website.
COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure. According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of reported symptoms.
● Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
● Repeated shaking with chills
● Muscle pain
● 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.
Based on the latest recommendations issued by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, testing is expected to expand in the coming days and weeks.
AppHealthCare stated that its public health strategy has needed to be flexible and responsive, and this expanded testing guidance allows for more testing to occur. Expanded testing will allow the agency to continue to identify additional cases of COVID-19, isolate them and quarantine close contacts to hopefully break the chain of infection. Expanded testing allows a clinician to test when they suspect a COVID-19 test may help the course of treatment for that patient.
AppHealthCare stated that it is working closely with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and other partners to ensure testing capacity is increased as the state begins to ease restrictions.
If a community member has symptoms consistent with COVID-19, AppHealthCare stated that it recommends they be tested. This means if a person is sick with a fever, cough or other mild symptoms, they are urged to contact their health care provider or AppHealthCare.
AppHealthCare advises that community members not show up to a health care provider without calling first. This will help the provider prepare should the person 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," AppHealthCare stated.
In the case of a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.
Managing Your Overall Health
During this time, it is important to manage one's overall health. There are resources available if needed to reduce anxiety or stress, if someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts, if there's a need to better manage chronic conditions and more. Visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website at www.ncdhhs.gov.
AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach the agency, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. AppHealthCare has set up a COVID-19 hotline at 1+ (828) 795-1970 for information during regular business hours. The agency stated that it will continue to monitor COVID-19 in the community and will work to keep the public informed. The agency can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Questions from agencies requesting support on COVID-19 response and planning efforts can contact email@example.com.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website can be found at cdc.gov/coronavirus.
North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus. To view the case count for North Carolina, including a county map, please visit the NC DHHS website.
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 www.ncpoisoncontrol.org and select “chat.”