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BOONE — On Saturday morning, Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) informed Appalachian State University leadership that the fifth positive case of COVID-19, announced on March 27, was an App State student who is a resident of Watauga County and lives off campus.

The student who was diagnosed with the virus is symptom-free, has not been on campus since March 4, and has been self-quarantined since returning to the United States from overseas travel, per guidelines established by the state of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control, the university stated.

"There is no immediate public health risk to the university community related to this case," the university stated in the message to campus, which was signed by AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene and Appalachian State Administrative Director of Student Health Services Margaret Bumgarner.

Appalachian State University, AppHealthCare and the North Carolina Division of Public Health continue working together to prevent the spread of COVID-19, they said.

"With 98 percent of our students currently off campus, we are beginning to learn of self-reported, confirmed cases in App State students that are not being tested by AppHealthCare or App State," the university said. "As we learn of these cases, we are coordinating with other local public health agencies, in consultation with the North Carolina Division of Public Health Communicable Disease team, to seek confirmation and ensure any known contacts are notified and following CDC guidelines."

Students who are concerned about symptoms should call Student Health Services at 828-262-3100 and ask to speak with a nurse, according to the university. They are continuing medical and screening services to students in person and remotely. Faculty or staff who have concerns about students or their own health diagnoses should reach out to safety@appstate.edu.

"Those who are not necessarily at risk of serious disease can carry the disease to their loved ones, and should carefully adhere to social distancing practices as outlined in Governor Cooper’s executive order of March 27, 2020, which directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member, bans gatherings of more than 10 people, and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others," the university stated.

The university has a dedicated website about its response to COVID-19 at appstate.edu/go/coronavirus.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Practice social distancing which means avoiding gatherings, 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 (novel coronavirus) Signs & Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Based on recommendations issued by the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services, most people do not need testing for COVID-19, AppHealthCare stated.

"When you leave your home to get tested, you could expose yourself to COVID-19 if you do not already have it," the department said. "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; or 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 said.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach them, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. Visit www.AppHealthCare.com or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has more information at cdc.gov/coronavirus. 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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