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BOONE — A sixth Watauga County resident has tested positive for COVID-19, and an additional case is in isolation in the county, AppHealthCare announced March 31.

According to AppHealthCare — the Watauga County District Health Department — the sixth Watauga County resident with COVID-19 had travel history and a contact investigation is underway.

The additional case is of a person whose primary residence is outside the area, and they are currently in isolation in Watauga County, AppHealthCare stated.

"Public health staff have identified the close contacts, who have been in quarantine," AppHealthCare stated. "Both at the state and local level, positive cases of COVID-19 are represented and counted in a person’s place of residence. COVID-19 is a required, reportable illness to public health and we work closely with health care providers to ensure we are informed of cases."

“Our public health staff are working diligently to identify and notify any close contacts to a positive case, as it is our usual practice in infectious disease investigations," stated Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare health director. "Close contacts are quarantined and guidance is provided to them to decrease their chance of infection and decrease spread in the community. Since a positive case count is only part of the picture, we urge people to stay home to the greatest extent possible, practice social distancing and prevention measures like washing your hands, covering your cough and sneeze and staying home if you are sick.” 

In most cases, people who become ill may not be tested and will isolate themselves at home, AppHealthCare stated: "For these reasons, it is important for people to stay home as much as possible to decrease your chance of infection, and reduce the spread and impact in our community."

How to Protect Yourself

  • Practice social distancing which means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, keeping 6 feet or more between you and others and remaining at home to the greatest extent possible
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Stay home when you’re sick
  • Keep distance from others who are sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables and handles

COVID-19 signs and symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you become ill, call your health care provider or call AppHealthCare to speak with a public health staff member before going to your provider or the emergency room.

Testing

Based on recommendations issued by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, most people do not need testing for COVID-19, the health department stated. "When you leave your home to get tested, you could expose yourself to COVID-19 if you do not already have it," AppHealthCare stated. "If you do have COVID-19, you can give it to someone else, including people who are high risk. If you are sick and unsure if you should get tested, please call your health care provider."

People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Is 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Have 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, the department stated.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach AppHealthCare, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. Please visit www.AppHealthCare.com for more information.

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

North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at ncdhhs.gov/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.”

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