BOONE — While active COVID-19 case numbers have declined in Watauga County and at Appalachian State over the last week, Watauga Medical Center experienced a peak in virus-related hospitalizations.
AppHealthCare, the regional health department, reported 218 active cases of COVID-19 among Watauga County residents, and Appalachian State reported 98 active cases as of Oct. 13.
Watauga’s total case count was 1,591 as of Oct. 13, an increase of 207 cases from the total reported on Oct. 6. The week prior, Watauga’s total case count increased by 308 cases.
App State’s cumulative case count was 965 as of Oct. 13, an increase of 113 from the total reported on Oct. 6. The week before, App State’s total case count grew by 224 cases.
Any App State student or employee living on campus or in Watauga County is counted in AppHealthCare’s numbers for Watauga. Appalachian State also includes students and staff who are residing in other counties in its reported numbers.
The number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 at Watauga Medical Center was eight as of Oct. 13, with a peak of 13 who were hospitalized at the same time in the week since Oct. 6, according to Rob Hudspeth, senior vice president for system advancement at the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. The peak the previous week was 11 patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
Appalachian State spokesperson Megan Hayes noted that none of the hospitalized patients are students or employees of Appalachian State.
“We are continuing to see steady increases in cases for COVID-19. These continued increases are concerning,” AppHealthCare stated in its weekly situation update on Oct. 9. “Case trends have continued to increase with the largest percentage of cases in the 18-24 age group. We have seen cases among students living on campus at Appalachian State University as well as off-campus locations.
“Our hospital partners at Watauga Medical Center, a part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, are maintaining active communication with public health and other community partners about emerging trends,” the health department stated. “The public health team is grateful for the continued efforts our hospital frontline workers make to care for the patients who need hospital level care. Unfortunately, the trend of hospitalizations is going in the wrong direction and will require additional response efforts. We urge all of our community partners and the broader public to commit to prevention measures so we can slow the spread and stop the increasing trend of hospitalizations for COVID-19.”
As of Oct. 9, AppHealthCare reported 19 active clusters (five or more cases that are linked) and outbreaks (two or more cases that are linked) in Watauga County, with all but one associated with organizations or residence halls at Appalachian State. Eleven of the county’s 15 reported COVID-19-related deaths have occurred at Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation, a nursing facility, according to the Oct. 9 update.
Statewide, the total cases to date numbered 234,481 as of Oct. 13, with 3,816 COVID-19-related deaths to date, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. On Oct. 13, the number of people hospitalized with the virus was 1,103, according to NCDHHS.