BOONE — AppHealthCare confirmed on May 27 that three cases of COVID-19 were identified among subcontractors working on Appalachian State University’s campus.
Two individuals are Watauga County residents whose last days on campus were May 16 and May 22, respectively. The third individual, whose last day on campus was May 20, is not a resident of Watauga County.
AppHealthCare stated that the three individuals have fully cooperated with isolation instructions and are recovering at home. Public health staff have identified close contacts who are in quarantine and will be provided access to testing during their quarantine period.
The total confirmed case count for Watauga residents is 14 with five individuals who have active cases that are in isolation, and 18 others who are in quarantine due to risk of exposure. Additional data can be found on the AppHealthCare website dashboard at www.apphealthcare.com/covid-19-information/covid-19-data-dashboard. The agency stated that the dashboard will be updated regularly.
Jennifer Greene, the health director of AppHealthCare, encouraged community members to "show your care for others" by practicing the 3Ws — wear a cloth face covering, wait 6 feet from others and wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
“We continue to work diligently to protect our community and quickly adapt as we respond to this rapidly evolving situation," Greene stated. "We appreciate the community’s effort in doing their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19. We know this remains a stressful and anxious time for each of us and appreciate each person’s sacrifice and willingness to take action as we respond to this challenge. This virus will be with us for a while, so I encourage everyone to take action to slow the spread."
Additionally, AppHealthCare and App State are partnering together with all construction contractors working at the university to conduct broader testing at worksites, including those that have not experienced a positive case to date.
According to AppHealthCare, App State will continue to keep the university community informed about verified, positive cases that impact university students, faculty and staff. The latest updates regarding App State’s response to COVID-19 may be found at appstate.edu/coronavirus.
How to Protect Yourself
- Practice the three Ws when leaving the house — wear a cloth face covering, wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer and wait 6 feet from others
- Cover a cough or sneeze
- Keep distance from others who are sick
- Avoid touching one's face
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables and handles
- If a community member is at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, they are encouraged to stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.
COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms may appear in two to 14 days after exposure. According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of reported symptoms. Symptoms may appear in the form of a fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a 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 with a body mass index 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, according to the agency.
A community member should be tested if:
- There is a belief they have symptoms of COVID-19
- If there are no symptoms and there is higher risk for severe illness, or have been in close contact with someone who is known to have a positive result.
- If the community member is or knows someone working in a frontline role or essential business where social distancing is hard to maintain
- If they are a first responder, law enforcement officer, fire department staff member or healthcare staff member. Reach out if you would like to be tested
- If they live in or work in a facility where social distancing is hard to maintain, like congregate living, healthcare facilities or home care
For testing, community members should call their health care provider or AppHealthCare. The agency requests that people do not just show up to a health care provider without calling first.
"This will help your provider prepare should you need to be tested and lessen the potential exposure to others," the agency stated. "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."
Members of the App State community who are concerned about symptoms they might be experiencing can contact student health services at (828) 262-3100 or AppHealthCare at (828) 264-4995. If there's 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 for community members who 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 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 it will continue to monitor COVID-19 in the community and will work to keep the public informed.
Visit the AppHealthCare website at www.AppHealthCare.com for more information, or follow the agency on Facebook and Twitter.
Questions from agencies requesting support on COVID-19 response, planning efforts, etc. can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Centers for Disease Control & 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.
App State has a dedicated website about its response to COVID-19 at www.appstate.edu/go/coronavirus.
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.”