A third Ashe County resident, who is also an Appalachian State University student, has tested positive for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), and is recovering at home. The individual has known travel history and has not been on the university campus since March 4.

Local health department staff have identified close contacts who are in quarantine, and contact investigation continues to identify people who are at highest risk and need to quarantine. In order to protect patient privacy, additional information about this case will not be released.

“We realize that people have many questions about individual cases and we want the community to know we are working diligently to keep the community informed while also protecting patient privacy. During this time, we continue to encourage everyone to stay at home as much as possible, practice social distancing and take prevention measures like frequent handwashing, staying home when you’re sick, and keeping distance from others who are sick,” AppHealthCare Health Director Jennifer Greene said.

“We realize this is a challenging time for all of us, and we are confident in our community partnerships and citizens to do everything we can collectively to slow the spread of this infection in Ashe County. We continue to encourage the community to share only reliable and credible information,” Ashe County Manager Adam Stumb said.

Margaret Bumgarner, Administrative Director of Student Health Service at Appalachian State University, said, “With 98 percent of our students currently off campus, we may continue to learn of confirmed cases in App State students who reside outside of Watauga County. As we learn of these cases, we are coordinating with local public health agencies to the greatest extent possible, in consultation with the North Carolina Division of Public Health Communicable Disease team.”

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
  • 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, 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.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you become ill, please call your healthcare provider or call AppHealthCare to speak with a public health staff member before going to your provider or the emergency room.

Testing

Based on recommendations issued by the NC Department of Health & Human Services, most people do not need testing for COVID-19. When you leave your home to get tested, you could expose yourself to COVID-19 if you do not already have it. 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 healthcare 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.

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.

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 and select “chat.”

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