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One Year Later: The High Country Press Published its First COVID-19 Article on February 28, 2020

By Nathan Ham

It has been one year since the High Country Press first published a story on how Appalachian State University and Samaritan’s Purse are dealing with traveling near areas that had early reports of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The first story published on February 28, 2020, featured comments from Megan Hayes, the Associate Vice-Chancellor and Chief Communications Officer at Appalachian State, in regards to how the university here would be dealing with exchange students from App State’s sister university in China, Wenzhou University. At the time, the study abroad program had been suspended earlier in the spring semester when the first cases of COVID-19 began to spread throughout China.

The story also included policy changes at Samaritan’s Purse that were shared by Kaitlyn Lahm, the assistant director of marketing and media relations. At the time, the organization had suspended travel to China but was still able to donate medical supplies and personal protective equipment to Hubei, China to help them deal with the virus.

One year later, after many peaks and valleys of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths experienced in the High Country, vaccination efforts are continuing and trends are starting to show a decrease in positive cases in Watauga County and surrounding areas.

Since the first positive COVID-19 case was recorded in Watauga County on Sunday March 15th, there have been a total of 4,174 positive cases according to data from AppHealthCare. Ashe County has had 2,029 positive cases and Alleghany County has had 933 positive cases. That brings the district-wide total to 7,136 COVID-19 cases.

The three-county district has experienced the heartbreaking loss of 80 individuals who passed away due to COVID-19 complications. Ashe County had 44 of those deaths, Watauga had 31 and Alleghany has had five deaths.

At the state level, there have been 862,170 confirmed cases of COVID 19, 10,291,482 tests conducted and 11,275 deaths attributed to the virus.

See the original story here.

Here’s a chart that shows totals for the US and the world as of March 1.