Following is a summary of key information related to COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and impacts in Watauga County and surrounding areas. Visit wataugademocrat.com/covid19 for additional coverage on the virus and its impacts. For editorial tips and questions, email editor@wataugademocrat.com


COVID-19 CASE COUNTS

N.C. and U.S. Cases

 

Cases

 Deaths

 Hospitalized

 Recovered

 N.C.

120,194

1,903

 1,239

92,302

U.S.

4,487,987    

151,834

N/A

1,414,155


High Country Cases

 Resident Cases Active CasesRecovered Deaths 
 Watauga261 99
 N/A 0
 Ashe112 42
 N/A 1
 Avery89 25 64 0
 Caldwell1,071 582
 477 12
 Wilkes721 N/A N/A 9
 Johnson92 52 40 0
 Carter 354 262 88 4

*Numbers updated July 30.


NC EXECUTIVE ORDERS (click here for more info): North Carolina is in Phase 2 of the governor's reopening plan. The following orders are in effect through at least Aug. 7.

  • The stay-at-home order is lifted, but high-risk people are urged to stay home and travel only for essential purposes.
  • While in public, people should practice social distancing by waiting six feet apart from others and wash their hands or use hand sanitizer (the three Ws).
  • Face coverings are required to be worn indoors and outdoors where six feet of physical distancing is not possible, with exceptions for certain activities and conditions.
  • Gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Dine-in services at restaurants are permitted at "emergency maximum occupancy," which is 50 percent fire code capacity with groups of customers separated by at least six feet.
  • Restaurants, breweries and wineries may not serve alcohol after 11 p.m.
  • Barbers, salons and personal care businesses are permitted to open at "emergency maximum occupancy," which is 50 percent fire code capacity with groups of customers separated by at least six feet, and employees must wear face coverings.
  • Gyms, playgrounds, theaters, music venues and bowling alleys remain closed.
  • Retail stores are open at "emergency maximum occupancy," which is 50 percent fire code capacity with groups of customers separated by at least six feet.
  • Visitors are not permitted at long-term care facilities.
  • Click here for an FAQ document about Phase 2.

WATAUGA COUNTY ORDERS (click here for more info) The following orders are in place until Phase 3 of the governor's reopening plan.

  • All lodging, short-term rentals and other fee-based overnight accommodations for a period of less than 30 days may operate at 50 percent of capacity.

TOWN OF BOONE RESTRICTIONS (click here for more info) The following restrictions are in place until further notice.

  • Face coverings must be worn by all persons in indoor commercial businesses and town offices, with exceptions for: people who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or behavioral health condition; children under 11; customers at restaurants who are seated at their tables; or when face coverings must be removed for law enforcement purposes or when a person deems it necessary for safety or their job duties.
  • All lodging, short-term rentals and other fee-based overnight accommodations for a period of less than 30 days shall operate at no more than 50 percent capacity.
  • Social distancing of six feet between persons must be maintained in all establishments open to the public (except personal care, grooming and tattoo businesses as well as county and state offices), in all places of employment, and in public parks, sidewalks, streets and on town property, except between persons who are members of the same household.
  • Shopping aisles shall be one-way if shoppers otherwise cannot maintain six-feet social distancing when walking in opposite directions.
  • To the extent reasonably available, hand sanitizer or other disinfectant shall be offered to customers of all establishments open to the public as customers enter and leave the premises.
  • Employees of establishments open to the public must disinfect their hands between each interaction with a member of the public that involves exchange of a physical item.
  • While indoors in areas open to the public or occupied by other employees, employees of establishments open to the public must wear masks or other face coverings that comply with current public health guidance, with exceptions for medical, behavioral or safety reasons.
  • Restaurants may use only disposable menus provided for one-time use or menus that are disinfected between each use.
  • Employees of establishments open to the public must be subject to a daily screening process — a questionnaire — before the employee begins work to check for COVID-19 symptoms.

IF YOU ARE SICK

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
  • AppHealthCare recommends that you should be tested if:
    • You believe you have symptoms of COVID-19.
    • If you have no symptoms and you are at higher risk for severe illness (you are 65 or older, you have an underlying health condition or chronic condition), or have been in close contact with someone who is known to have a positive result.
    • If you are someone working in a frontline role or essential business where social distancing is hard to maintain.
    • If you are a first responder, law enforcement officer, fire department staff member, or healthcare staff member, please reach out if you would like to be tested.
    • If you live in or work in a facility where social distancing is hard to maintain, like congregate living, healthcare facilities or home care.
    • You are part of a historically marginalized population who may be at higher risk for exposure.
    • You have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings where you could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others because it may have been difficult to practice social distancing.
  • If you are sick with a fever, cough or other mild COVID-19 symptoms, 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. Do not show up to a health care provider without calling first.

SCHOOLS

  • Watauga school board approves 'modified Plan B': In-person instruction delayed at least nine weeks. Read more.
  • State now requires masks in schools at all times. Read more.
  • Back 2 School Festival announces plans for drive-thru event. Read more.
  • Watauga County Schools are operating seven feeding sites across the county. Parents from any school may pick up takeout meals at any of the designated sites in a drive-through line, or ask to have them delivered. Read more.

COLLEGES

  • App State asked to plan for 'worst-case' 25-50 percent cuts. Read more.
  • Appalachian announces fall semester plans: no fall break, students to remain home after Thanksgiving. Read more.

HOSPITALS

  • ARHS announces 'designated visitor' policy for hospitals. Read more.
  • ARHS announces face masks required to enter facilities. Read more.
  • ARHS has established a new telehealth and drive-through testing process for COVID-19: Read more.

COMMUNITY AID & WAYS TO HELP

  • Brushy Fork Church meal distribution site to move to Cove Creek School. Read more.
  • WCS free, reduced lunch applicants may be eligible for Pandemic Electronic Benefits. Read more.
  • Women's Fund of the Blue Ridge seeks donations to support area food banks. Read more.
  • Addiction support, recovery groups find connection crucial amid COVID-19 crisis. Read more.
  • Reenergize Watauga Fund loan program proposed to help small businesses. Read more.
  • Subsidies available for child care, but 76 percent of centers are closed in Watauga. Read more.
  • Through CARE.BOX effort, businesses, volunteers provide 36,000 meals. Read more.
  • Blowing Rock launches relief fund for local businesses. Read more.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank urges coordination of efforts in Watauga. Read more.
  • ARHS seeks supplies and donations, other groups seek volunteers, supplies, monetary donations, cards for assisted living facilities and donations of blood. Read more.
  • Local bar manager raises $5K and counting to help locals with bills, food, meds. Read more.
  • Diaper Bank moves to Health & Hunger Coalition during COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
  • Food pantries adjust hours & services; New text, phone services can help families find food. Read more.
  • Coping with COVID-19: Mental health during a pandemic. Read more.
  • App State, Blue Ridge Energy launch emergency funds. Read more.
  • Virtual Dinner Concert Series. Read more.
  • Care Box (food for service industry workers), Virtual Tip Jar, faith community food pickup sites, Quiet Givers Emergency Relief Fund, High Country United Way COVID-19 Relief Fund for nonprofits. Read more.
  • Hunger & Health Coalition, Hospitality House food pantry, Christian Outreach Center, Quiet Givers. Read more.
  • Watauga County Schools are operating food sites at 7 locations Monday-Friday, plus food boxes & pantries at 17 more sites. Read more.

PROTECT YOURSELF & OTHERS: The following guidance is provided by the CDC, N.C. DHHS and AppHealthCare.

  • Practice social distancing: avoiding gatherings, keep 6 feet or more away from others and remain at home as much as possible.
  • Frequent hand washing for 20 seconds.
  • 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.
  • People at high risk should stay home to the greatest extent possible.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Read more.

MORE INFORMATION

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