By Nathan Ham
Positive COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the High Country as well as in North Carolina overall. Watauga County now has 71 active cases while Ashe County has 74 and Alleghany County has 13. There are 93 individuals being actively monitored for the virus in Watauga County, 42 in Ashe County and six in Alleghany County.
Beginning Monday, August 16, AppHealthCare will be expanding COVID-19 testing by drive-thru Monday through Friday from 8:30-10 a.m. at each of the three clinic locations. No appointment is needed to be tested.
In Avery County, there were 17 reported cases in the last seven days and four additional cases since yesterday. Wilkes County is reporting a whopping 329 cases in the last seven days with 59 new cases since yesterday. Caldwell County is reporting 274 cases in the last seven days with 55 new cases since yesterday.
In North Carolina, the state had 5,900 total active cases reported on Thursday morning. That number jumped to 6,628 in data reported on Friday morning. Cases have dramatically increased in the last month throughout the state. There were 540 total cases on July 13 and that number has increased 12 times as much since then with the additional 6,088 cases over the last 30 days.
Hospitalizations have increased every day for the last 30 days. On July 12 there were 469 people hospitalized in North Carolina due to COVID-19. In numbers reported on August 12, a total of 2,483 people were in the hospital due to the virus.
In an interview with David Jackson at the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System CEO Chuck Mantooth said that things are a bit “strained” at the hospital.
“Over the last two weeks, what most of the concern that we have seen across the state and the country is the rate of increase. That is what is a little unnerving,” Mantooth said. “That rate of increase continues to go up both in the cases in and the number of hospitalizations.”
Mantooth added that they do have plans in place for dealing with the ongoing pandemic, but things are not easy.
“It has gotten a little bit harder. On top of the surge that we came off of in the winter, we lost a lot of staff. It took its toll. The talk about mental health not only in children and healthcare workers, it’s tough. Those healthcare workers that were with us in the winter, they did their duty and saw us through to what we thought was the end of the pandemic or getting close to the end, and they were tired and chose to do other things. We’ve hard 400 people this year out of the 1,500 that work here,” Mantooth said. “The latest surge combined with a shortage in staff has put us in a tight spot and it has gotten worse over the last couple of days.”
According to Mantooth, 20-25 percent of the people currently at Watauga Medical Center are COVID-19 patients.
“It’s not where we want to be and not where I thought we’d be in August, but regardless we are here and we have an obligation to take care of the community and we are committed to doing that,” he said.
The full interview with Chuck Mantooth can be watched here.