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Updated COVID-19 Testing Numbers and New Guidelines to Follow from AppHealthCare

By Nathan Ham

AppHealthCare continues to provide daily updates on COVID-19 coronavirus testing from Watauga, Ashe, and Alleghany counties.

On Wednesday, AppHealthCare collected one sample from Watauga County and reported a total of 63 tests collected by the health department and a total of 103 collected from outside agencies. No new tests were collected from Ashe or Alleghany.

On Thursday, AppHealthCare reported one sample collected in Ashe County, bringing the total collected by AppHealthCare to four. Ashe County has had 25 tests conducted from outside agencies. In Watauga, 23 additional tests from outside agencies were reported to AppHealthCare, bringing Watauga’s total to 126. Alleghany has had five tests collected by AppHealthCare and 13 tests from outside agencies.

According to new information provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the guidelines for handling COVID-19 have changed over the last week. Only those with significant symptoms that include cough, fever, and shortness of breath should consider going to get tested. Otherwise, if you are only experiencing mild symptoms, you are encouraged to stay home and recover.

“You can help us slow the spread of the virus. Stay home to the greatest extent that you are able, especially if you are a person who is at a higher risk for severe illness. If you do become ill, call your healthcare provider or call AppHealthCare to speak with a public health staff member before going to your provider or the emergency rooms,” said Jennifer Greene, the Health Director at AppHealthCare. “This situation is continuing to change rapidly, and we are all having to adapt to the latest guidance and recommendations in order to slow the spread of this virus. We will continue to follow the current guidelines from the CDC and NC DHHS and communicate those to the community.”

Who is at High Risk for COVID-19?

People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Are 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Have a high-risk condition that includes:
  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Heart disease with complications
  • Compromised immune system
  • Severe obesity – body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

People who are at high risk should stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.

Why the Update to Testing Recommendations?

  • To decrease the acceleration of spread in community and exposures in healthcare settings. People infected with SAR-COV-2 (the virus causing the disease COVID-19) coming out to be tested may spread illness to others in the community, including those at higher risk of complications, and health care workers. People who are not infected with SAR-COV-2 can become so when seeking testing, especially at health care sites.
  • To preserve resources. Personal Protective Equipment and supplies will be needed for outbreaks in high-risk settings (e.g. long-term care), to protect frontline workers (e.g. health care workers, first responders), and to care for people with more severe clinical symptoms.
  • No impact on management for most people. For those with mild symptoms, treatment is supportive and focused on symptom management. A test will not change management.
  • Alternative surveillance tools can be used to track the spread of COVID-19. Tracking only lab-confirmed cases is not a reliable or accurate way to understand the pandemic. We will use influenza flu surveillance tools, which are designed to track widespread respiratory illness.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach us, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. For more information, visit www.AppHealthCare.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

For more information on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), please visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at  cdc.gov/coronavirus. North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

The number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina is updated each day and the county by county data can be found here