HIGH COUNTRY — The following is a compilation of key information from Watauga, Ashe and Avery counties, highlighting local announcements, closures and precautionary measures being taken in each community surrounding the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

The World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11. Information about the virus’ worldwide effects and efforts to limit its spread is online at www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen.

Vaya Health’s 24/7 Access to Care Line remains available to Western North Carolina residents experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis while the agency responds to the 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Anyone in crisis can call 1 (800) 849-6127, toll-free, day or night, for help from trained Vaya behavioral health professionals.

Check with individual facilities, offices and organizations to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding hours and precautionary practices before visiting.

Watauga CountyContinuous reporting from the Watauga Democrat regarding key updates surrounding the COVID-19 virus outbreak and effects in the community are available at www.wataugademocrat.com/news/covid--coronavirus-key-updates-for-watauga/article_2d69a94c-647d-11ea-9d3c-b39ae871aad3.html.

March 18:The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources releases an updated count of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus. On March 18, the number of cases was 97 across the state.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System released updated information regarding COVID-19 symptoms and access to telehealth screenings, which are performed online by RelyMD. Symptoms include fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Once patients are evaluated through RelyMD, appointments can be scheduled to be tested in Avery or Watauga counties. Find the full release at www.apprhs.org/covid.

ARHS announces a second Watauga County resident has tested positive for COVID-19.

“This case was exposed to a known positive case,” according to AppHealthCare’s statement. “They have been in quarantine and are recovering. The local public health staff have identified the close contacts, who are in quarantine.”

Officials of downtown Boone and Blowing Rock choose to lift parking restrictions in an effort to support curbside service and pick-up being offered by local restaurants.

March 19:Hospitality House alters its food pantry to offer drive-thru services.

Between March 17 and March 19, the N.C. Division of Employment Security receives 17,874 claims of unemployment.

March 20:COVID-19 case count rises to 137 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

Appalachian Regional Library announces the closure of the Watauga, Ashe and Wilkes county public libraries online at www.arlibrary.org. Libraries are offering curbside pickup for materials that can be checked out and have extended deadlines for items currently checked out to April 15.

March 21:COVID-19 case count rises to 184 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

March 22:COVID-19 case count rises to 307 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

March 23:COVID-19 case count rises to 410 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

County offices close to the public, but are still available to be contacted through phone or email. A full list of these services can be found at www.bit.ly/3bp8B8G.

Gov. Roy Cooper signs an executive order to close additional businesses and keep schools closed until May 15.

The order affects gyms, movie theaters, health clubs, hair salons, massage parlors, barbers, nail salons, tattoo parlors, spas, skating rinks, bowling alleys, bingo parlors, gaming establishments and commercial pools, effective Wednesday, March 25.

ARHS announces that no visitors will be allowed at any affiliated facilities in order to help protect its patients, family members and health care workers from the spread of COVID-19.

March 24:COVID-19 case count rises to 477 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

Three confirmed COVID-19 cases in Watauga County.

Ashe CountyContinuous reporting from the Ashe Post and Times regarding key updates surrounding the COVID-19 virus outbreak and effects in the community are available at www.ashepostandtimes.com/news_alerts/covid--key-daily-updates-for-ashe-county/article_e44c27d7-379c-54a1-bcdc-fff7fafa99fd.html.

March 18:The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources releases an updated count of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. On March 18, the number of cases was 97 across the state.

ARHS released updated information regarding COVID-19 symptoms and access to telehealth screenings, which are performed online by RelyMD. Symptoms include fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Once patients are evaluated through RelyMD, appointments can be scheduled to be tested in Avery or Watauga counties. Find the full release at www.apprhs.org/covid.

March 19:Between March 17 and March 19, the N.C. Division of Employment Security receives 17,874 claims of unemployment.

March 20:Appalachian Regional Library announces the closure of the Watauga, Ashe and Wilkes county public libraries online at www.arlibrary.org. Libraries are offering curbside pickup for materials that can be checked out and have extended deadlines for items currently checked out to April 15.

March 21:COVID-19 case count rises to 184 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

March 22:COVID-19 case count rises to 307 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

Ashe County declares a state of emergency in order to “make additional resources available, formalize emergency actions already under way across multiple local and state agencies, and help Ashe County prepare for the possibility of the arrival and spread of COVID-19,” according to the county’s statement.

All county offices are closed effective March 23. While closed, staff can still be reached via phone or email. Ashe County DSS and the Clerk of Courts’ offices will be open with limited availability, and it asked that visitors call ahead. All contact information for Ashe County offices can be found at www.bit.ly/2y1H9iF.

March 23:COVID-19 case count rises to 410 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

Gov. Roy Cooper signs an executive order to close additional businesses and keep schools closed until May 15.

The order affects gyms, movie theaters, health clubs, hair salons, massage parlors, barbers, nail salons, tattoo parlors, spas, skating rinks, bowling alleys, bingo parlors, gaming establishments and commercial pools, effective Wednesday, March 25.

West Jefferson declares a state of emergency to prepare for the possible arrival of COVID-19.

Third Watauga County resident tests positive for COVID-19.

ARHS announces that no visitors will be allowed at any affiliated facilities in order to help protect its patients, family members and health care workers from the spread of COVID-19.

March 24:COVID-19 case count rises to 477 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

No COVID-19 cases in Ashe County.

Avery CountyContinuous reporting from the Avery Journal Times, regarding key updates surrounding the COVID-19 virus outbreak and effects in the community, are available at www.averyjournal.com/news_alerts/emergency-management-local-agencies-ready-for-covid/article_723648a8-3c23-50c2-8213-08b432b26fb0.html.

March 18:The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Resources releases an updated count of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. On March 18, the number of cases was 97 across the state.

ARHS released updated information regarding COVID-19 symptoms and access to telehealth screenings, which are performed online by RelyMD. Symptoms include fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Once patients are evaluated through RelyMD, appointments can be scheduled to be tested in Avery or Watauga counties. Find the full release at www.apprhs.org/covid.

March 19:Between March 17 and March 19, the N.C. Division of Employment Security receives 17,874 claims of unemployment.

March 21:COVID-19 case count rises to 184 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

March 22:COVID-19 case count rises to 307 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

March 23:COVID-19 case count rises to 410 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

Gov. Roy Cooper signs an executive order to close additional businesses and keep schools closed until May 15.

The order affects gyms, movie theaters, health clubs, hair salons, massage parlors, barbers, nail salons, tattoo parlors, spas, skating rinks, bowling alleys, bingo parlors, gaming establishments and commercial pools, effective Wednesday, March 25.

Third Watauga County resident tests positive for COVID-19.

ARHS announces that no visitors will be allowed at any affiliated facilities in order to help protect its patients, family members and health care workers from the spread of COVID-19.

March 24:COVID-19 case count rises to 477 across the state per NDHHS at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

No COVID-19 cases in Avery County.

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