This morning, Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) informed Appalachian State University leadership that the 5th positive case of case of COVID-19 they announced to the community yesterday was an App State student who is a resident of Watauga County and lives off campus.
The student who was diagnosed with the virus is symptom-free, has not been on campus since March 4, and has been self-quarantined since returning to the United States from overseas travel, per guidelines established by the State of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control.
While yesterday’s notification was not in accordance with our standard notification process regarding communicable disease, which is to coordinate on one, joint notification to campus and community, there is no immediate public health risk to the university community related to this case. Any future announcements of positive cases in App State students will be closely coordinated between AppHealthCare and Appalachian State as planned.
Appalachian State University, AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) and the North Carolina Division of Public Health continue working together to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Statement from AppHealthCare
“This announcement does not change anything about how this case was investigated or the details surrounding protection of the broader community through quarantine of close contacts, but it does provide us an opportunity to demonstrate our integrity by announcing this unintentional omission of this important detail yesterday in the original announcement. Our primary goal is protecting public health and privacy of any person who has a positive test result. We have reviewed our internal procedures and have instituted additional processes to ensure that this detail is coordinated with Appalachian State University as planned in the future,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director
With 98% of our students currently off campus, we are beginning to learn of self-reported, confirmed cases in App State students that are not being tested by AppHealthCare or App State. As we learn of these cases, we are coordinating with other local public health agencies, in consultation with the North Carolina Division of Public Health Communicable Disease team, to seek confirmation and ensure any known contacts are notified and following CDC guidelines.
Students who are concerned about symptoms should call Student Health Services at 828-262-3100 and ask to speak with a nurse. They are continuing medical and screening services to students in person and remotely. Faculty or staff who have concerns about students or their own health diagnoses should reach out to [email protected].
Those who are not necessarily at risk of serious disease can carry the disease to their loved ones, and should carefully adhere to social distancing practices as outlined in Governor Cooper’s executive order of March 27, 2020, which directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member, bans gatherings of more than 10 people, and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. More information here.
It is important to rely on official sources of information for facts about COVID-19, not share unconfirmed information, and practice prevention measures like handwashing, covering your coughs and sneezes, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.
The university has a dedicated website about its response to COVID-19.