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BOONE — AppHealthCare on Sept. 10 reported that three residents of Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation died between Sept. 6 and 9 — the first COVID-19-associated deaths in Watauga County.

“These individuals died Sept. 6-9, and upon review from the medical provider, the deaths have been attributed to COVID-19,” AppHealthCare stated. “The patients were in their 70s and 80s and had underlying medical conditions. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information will be released about these individuals.”

On Sept. 15, AppHealthCare reported that a fourth Watauga County resident had died with the virus. AppHealthCare confirmed that the death was related to the cluster of cases at Glenbridge.

“We extend our deepest condolences, prayers and sympathies to the families during this difficult time,” said Jennifer Greene, health director of AppHealthCare. “Each life in our community is so valuable and we share in sadness about this loss.”

Any additional COVID-19-attributed deaths for Watauga County will be reported on the health department’s website dashboard, it stated. Two people have died with the virus in Ashe County, and one virus-related death has been reported in Avery County.

AppHealthCare stated that it is continuing to closely monitor and respond to the ongoing outbreak at Glenbridge Health & Rehabilitation, which as of Sept. 9 had grown to 23 cases — four staff members and 19 residents.

“Glenbridge would like to extend our condolences to the families of our loved ones who passed away recently. Each resident here at Glenbridge is part of our family and will be deeply missed,” according to a statement posted to Facebook by Glenbridge Administrator Kristy Jones and Director of Nursing Alyssa Rainbolt. “We understand this is a scary time for families, residents and staff; however, we want to reassure you that our staff continues to work endlessly on the safety and care of our residents.

“Providing comfort and care for our residents is and will always be our number one goal here at Glenbridge. Please continue to pray and uplift our staff and residents as we get through these trying times. We appreciate all of the support from the community, family members of our residents, and our staff for their dedication here at Glenbridge,” Jones and Rainbolt said.

“We continue to partner with them to provide public health recommendations and guidance for implementing infection control practices, conducting regular testing and putting isolation protocols in place for those who are positive and quarantine for close contacts,” AppHealthCare stated. “We continue to encourage the community to take preventive measures and follow the 3Ws to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

How to Protect Yourself

• Wear a cloth face covering over your nose and mouth

• Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer

• Wait at least 6 feet from others

• Stay home when you’re sick

• Keep distance from others who are sick

• Avoid touching your face

• Avoid crowded areas

• Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables and handles.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of reported symptoms. These include:

• Fever or chills

• Cough

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

• Fatigue

• Muscle or body aches

• Headache

• New loss of taste or smell

• Sore throat

• Congestion or runny nose

• Nausea or vomiting

• Diarrhea

For more information related to COVID-19, including local data, visit AppHealthCare’s website at apphealthcare.com. Its COVID-19 call center is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day to take COVID-19 related calls at (828) 795-1970, and you can also email questions to preparedness@apphealth.com.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. In Watauga, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts.

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