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BOONE — A second Watauga County resident has tested positive for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), AppHealthCare announced Wednesday, March 18.

"This case was exposed to a known positive case," according to AppHealthCare, the district health department for Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties. "They have been in quarantine and are recovering. The local public health staff have identified the close contacts, who are in quarantine."

The health department said it has been preparing to see more cases in the community and urged the public to practice social distancing and prevention measures like frequent hand-washing, staying home when you’re sick and keeping distance from others who are sick.

The second positive case is not a Samaritan's Purse employee, according to spokesperson Kaitlyn Lahm. The first positive case in Watauga County, reported on March 15, was confirmed to be a Samaritan's Purse employee who had been abroad.

"Keeping our community healthy is our top priority, and we will work to keep the community informed,” stated Jennifer Greene, health director of AppHealthCare.

AppHealthCare is working closely with local partners and agencies to ensure the public’s health is protected and precautions are being taken to protect all residents of Watauga County.

“We continue to work closely with AppHealthCare, stakeholders and local agencies to protect our community’s health. The partnerships in our community are important, and we remain confident in public health’s ability to lead this effort,” stated Deron Geouque, Watauga County manager.

The health department encourages those with questions or who believe they may need care to call the department or their local provider.

"We want to remind the public to share credible, reliable information and practice prevention measures like hand-washing, covering your cough and sneeze and cleaning frequently touched surfaces," AppHealthCare stated.

“We want to continue to encourage the community to not use the hospital emergency room unless it is a true emergency," said Greene. "We need to preserve our local hospital capacity to respond throughout this event to meet the various health care needs that require urgent action in our community.” 

"We would like to remind the community to please be aware that you may hear about people who have been instructed by their health care provider to self-isolate since they have been tested for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)," the department stated. "This does not mean that they have tested positive, it means that they are being guided to stay home until a test result is provided. This is a standard procedure for managing public health outbreaks."

For more information

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. Visit www.AppHealthCare.com for more information. You can also follow AppHealthCare 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 website is cdc.gov/coronavirus.

North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus. To view the case count for North Carolina, including a county map, visit the NC DHHS website here.

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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