“We are at a critical point in our response efforts, and we don’t want to see a spike in cases that will strain our healthcare system. We have the tools to slow the spread and protect our healthcare capacity. We urge everyone to show your love and wear a face covering, wash your hands and wait 6 feet from others,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.
Cases Remain Steady Over Past Three Weeks
For the week of November 22-28 (graphs below), there was a small decrease in active cases and those who are in quarantine. When looking at the trended data, cases have remained steady over the past three weeks. There was an increase in testing for the county the week of November 15-21 which likely represents individuals seeking testing before the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Hospitalizations are Increasing
This trend is concerning and this week we have seen the highest numbers of individuals being hospitalized due to COVID-19. Watauga Medical Center is preparing to open a third COVID-19 unit to respond to the increased need. We want to monitor this data point very closely because it is important we have hospital capacity for those who may need hospital care for things like a heart attack, stroke, car accident, etc.
NC DHHS County Alert System Notes Significant Community Spread for Watauga County
Watauga County is YELLOW which notes significant community spread. This system outlines actions we can take to lessen the impact and spread in our community. You can read more about the County Alert System on NC DHHS’s website.
We continue case investigation and contact tracing efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you receive a call from a member of our case investigation or contact tracing team, we urge you to cooperate and provide information that will help us conduct response efforts. You may receive a call from (844) 628-7223 or (828) 264-4995. It may also show up as “NC Outreach” or “Contact Tracing.” Your cell phone carrier may flag the call as spam. It is so important to answer the call of a contact tracer. It is a key tool in slowing the spread of this virus.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) levels remain stable in most areas.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, we recommend you be tested. You can check your symptoms and determine if testing is needed. To find a testing site near you, visit NC DHHS’s Find My Testing Place.
Turnaround Times for Testing remains between 2 and 4 days. NC DHHS provides data on testing turnaround times. This data is updated daily and can
be found here.
Free COVID-19 Testing at AppHealthCare. We offer free COVID-19 testing Monday through Friday beginning at 9:30am. Please do not just show up for testing. We request that you schedule an appointment through our website or by calling our COVID-19 Call Center at (828) 795-1970.
Additional Free Testing Opportunities
We have partnered with Watauga County Schools to offer free testing for families, students, employees and staff. Details provided in graphic to the right.
Testing is also offered by appointment at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, High Country Community Health Watauga Medical, , and other local healthcare providers may offer testing as well.
Tips for Holiday & Private Social Gatherings
As we continue through the Holiday season, we encourage everyone to be mindful of the fact that this virus is still with us and there are actions we can all take to avoid and lessen our exposure and a potential spike that could overwhelm our healthcare system. If you will be hosting or attending an event, NC DHHS has compiled some tips for gathering safely and some guidance for private social gatherings.
NC DHHS Guidance for Ski Lodges
As we see the start of ski season, guidance has been developed by NC DHHS to decrease the spread of COVID-19. This guidance includes requirements and recommendations for Ski Lodges.
Demographic Data from NC DHHS as of November 30th
NC DHHS updates this data daily and can be found on NC DHHS’s website.
Data for Watauga County
An important note about data context: The graphs below show the available data. Please carefully read the descriptions below the graph to understand the data limitations. The most current data is available on the AppHealthCare dashboard, as the data below is past data trended.
Important Disclaimer About Data
It is imperative that this report and the data contained within is understood in the appropriate context. Please, if you use this report, please be certain that the information included within is shared within the appropriate context. Doing otherwise may be damaging to the public health response efforts. There are multiple factors involved in addressing this virus, including compliance with public health control measures implemented by the local health director and referenced in NC GS 130A. These measures are imperative for limiting the spread of COVID-19. AppHealthCare strongly advises that when data is shared for the purposes of educating the public or informing policy decisions, it should come directly from NC DHHS or AppHealthCare as it is presented with appropriate context from those directly involved in public health response.