Jefferson, NC - Additional Ashe County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of identified cases among Ashe County residents to 13. All of the individuals are in isolation at home and are recovering. Public health staff have identified close contacts, and they are in quarantine.

Two of the cases are linked to a known outbreak in a food processing facility in another county. Two are connected to other positive cases and one is related to community transmission.

“We have been expecting to see additional cases as guidance for testing has expanded. It remains important for each person in the community to do their part to slow the spread of this virus. If you leave your home, follow the three Ws and wear a cloth face covering, wait 6 feet apart from others and wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. These are important actions we can all take to protect ourselves and each other. If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please call your healthcare provider or AppHealthCare to discuss your symptoms to determine whether testing would be appropriate,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.

Since the Ashe confirmed case count has reached 10, we will now be transitioning our reporting to our website dashboard case count as we continue having additional cases, instead of issuing press releases for individual cases. However, if there is a need to release information specific to a confirmed case, we will do that in order to protect public health. For Alleghany and Watauga Counties, we will continue with individual press releases for confirmed cases until the total count reaches 10 and then will refer to our website dashboard. This dashboard (link here) will be updated once each afternoon by 5pm.

How to Protect Yourself

● Practice social distancing which means avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, keeping 6 feet or more between you and others and remaining at home to the greatest extent possible

● Frequent hand washing

● Cover your cough or sneeze

● Keep distance from others who are sick

● Avoid touching your face

● Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, lightswitches, tables and handles

● Wear cloth mask or face covering when out in public where you may be around people like grocery stores or pharmacies - more information about face coverings can be found on the AppHealthCare website.

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of reported symptoms.

● Fever

● Cough

● Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

● Chills

● Repeated shaking with chills

● Muscle pain

● Headache

● Sore throat

● New loss of taste or smell

People at high risk include anyone who:

● Is 65 years of age or older

● Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility

● Has 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

○ 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.

Testing

Based on the latest recommendations issued by the NC Department of Health & Human Services, testing has been expanded. Our public health strategy has needed to be flexible and responsive, and this expanded testing guidance allows for more testing to occur. Expanded testing will allow us to continue to identify additional cases of COVID-19, isolate them and quarantine close contacts to hopefully break the chain of infection. Expanded testing allows a clinician to test when they suspect a COVID-19 test may help the course of treatment for that patient. We are working closely with the NC Department of Health & Human Services and other partners to ensure testing capacity is increased as we begin to ease restrictions.

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, we would recommend you be tested. This means if you are sick with a fever, cough or other mild symptoms, call your healthcare provider or AppHealthCare at (336) 246-9449. Please do not just show up to a healthcare provider without calling first. This will help your provider prepare should you need to be tested and lessen the potential exposure to others. AppHealthCare will serve anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. As is our usual day-to-day practice, a patient will not be turned away due to inability to pay.

If you have a medical emergency, please call 911 immediately.

Managing Your Overall Health

During this time, it is important to manage your overall health. There are resources available if you need to reduce anxiety or stress, are experiencing suicidal thoughts, need to better manage chronic conditions and more. Visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (336) 246-9449 anytime and follow the prompts. AppHealthCare has set up a COVID-19 hotline at 1+ (828) 795-1970 for information during regular business hours. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 in our community and will work to keep the public informed. Please visit our website for more information - www.AppHealthCare.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

A cumulative, positive case count among residents of Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga Counties can be found on AppHealthCare’s website.

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

Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at 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, please 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.

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