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Social Distancing and Isolation Becoming More Important Than Ever in Watauga County

By Nathan Ham

Watauga County now has three citizens with a positive COVID-19 test and North Carolina has experienced its first death from the virus that continues to spread rapidly across the country.

Since the general public is unaware of where these three patients with positive tests might have been in Boone or anywhere else, it is important to realize that being at home and following proper social distancing practices is very important to prevent the community spread of this virus.

At the local level, clergy members and faith leaders in the High Country are being encouraged to communicate to community leaders and others not to gather in groups and to remind those that may be coming up from Florida and other locations to their mountain homes to stay sheltered and prevent bringing the virus to communities from outside areas.

Encouraging young people to stay home is another important task right now, given the fact that people in their teens, 20s, and 30s are more likely to carry the virus and spread it without exhibiting any symptoms at all.

“We all have to be serious about staying at home and being isolated for a relatively short period of time,” said Rob Hudspeth, Sr. Vice President for System Advancement at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services is now advising people with mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to stay home instead of going to get tested. When a patient begins to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, altered thinking and chest discomfort along with the cough and fever that is when the patient should seek medical help.

Patients considered to be in the CDC High-Risk category should monitor their symptoms more aggressively. Those high-risk categories include being 65 years of age and older, chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, heart disease, severe obesity, diabetes, renal failure, liver disease, immune system disorders, pregnant women and infants.

Patients are encouraged to self isolate until at least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared and at least three days have passed since you no longer have a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, and improvement in respiratory symptoms.

Those that have had contact with a person that has exhibited any of the COVID-19 symptoms should self-monitor their own temperature and symptoms and limit outside interaction as much as possible for 14 days.