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COVID-19 Update: Largest Positive Case Increase in Watauga County Found in College-Aged Individuals

By Nathan Ham

With public K-12 schools, colleges, and universities starting up all over the country with in-person learning, it should be no surprise that the number of positive cases is going to increase once again. In Watauga County, according to information provided by AppHealthCare, the 18-24 age group has had the highest increase of positive cases in the previous week. 

“We are concerned about increased community transmission with more cases reported. This virus is highly contagious and sometimes people can spread the virus without realizing it because they have mild or no symptoms at all. By practicing the 3Ws and avoiding large gatherings of people, we can slow the spread together,” said Jennifer Greene, the Health Director at AppHealthCare.

The 18-24 age group and the 25-49 age group have each accounted for 35 percent of the positive tests in Watauga County. From August 2 through August 8, there were 172 tests completed by AppHealthCare. There were 105 active cases reported during that time. 

According to data updated yesterday, there are 82 active cases in Watauga County, 110 active cases in Alleghany County, and 68 active cases in Ashe County. There are 23 people currently hospitalized in the three-county area served by AppHealthCare. 

Appalachian State has reported 22 active cases in students as of today and 10 active cases among employees.

In an update from Governor Roy Cooper on Thursday, there were some positive trends to take away from the data reporting. The number of cases in the state has stabilized and hospitalization numbers remain stable as well with NC hospitals maintaining bed availability across the state. North Carolina is equipped with the PPE and supplies to continue fighting the pandemic as supplies continue to distributed where needed. Testing turn around time has gotten faster, meaning people are getting their results back quicker, and efforts continue to increase the number of tests performed.

“As we remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 and school goes back into session, now is the time to double down on our efforts. Not only will it boost the economy, but it could also save your life or the life of a loved one,” said Governor Cooper.

Governor Cooper directed North Carolina’s share of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund from the CARES Act to support K-12 public and post-secondary students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic for this upcoming school year.

“To help schools teach effectively and safely, we have directed $95 million in federal funds to help with more school nurses and counselors as well as educational support for students at risk of falling behind,” said Governor Cooper.

GEER funds provide emergency support to school districts, post-secondary institutions, or other education-related entities for addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment in K-12 education will help keep students learning despite the limitations on in-person schooling during the pandemic. The funds also help North Carolina begin to meet its constitutional obligation to provide all students with access to a sound, basic education and resolve the Leandro case.

Funds include $60 million to the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction to hire additional school personnel, support the academic needs of at-risk students and students with disabilities. Additionally, $25.5 million was allocated to the Community College system, UNC system, School of Math and Science, School of the Arts, and independent colleges and universities to address the needs of students and programs during the higher education academic year.

AppHealthCare data from August 2 – August 8