The Latest: AppHealthCare Recommends Ways to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 in the Community

Published Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 5:47 pm

With the cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) increasing in the US and NC, there are things each person, agency and organization can do to protect the community’s health and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We know there are steps we can take now to slow the spread of this virus. We understand this is a difficult situation for everyone but want to reassure the public that supporting the health of our community is our top priority,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.

We strongly urge you to assess your risk and take action now to reduce your risk of infection, stated Ms. Greene.

“We are working collaboratively to help protect the health of individuals and our community as a whole. We appreciate everyone’s efforts to keep themselves and others well and encourage you to remain mindful of the health of everyone in our community, especially those at higher risk of complications from illness. Although this is a difficult time with a lot of uncertainty, it is an opportunity to practice caring for each other and the larger community in new and important ways,” stated Dr. Jessica Ange, Medical Director, AppHealthCare.

Mass Gatherings and Community Events

The North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services recommends that organizers cancel or postpone events that consist of 50 people or more. It is important to note gatherings that draw more than 100 people are prohibited under an Executive Order issued by Governor Cooper on March 14th.

According to the NC Department of Health & Human Services, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout North Carolina. These events may include but are not limited to conferences, sporting events, faith-based organizations, and concerts. NCDHHS has guidance available for gatherings of less than 50 people.

The Governor’s Executive Order mandates that organizers of events that draw more than 100 people cancel, postpone or modify these events or offer online streaming services. These events include large gatherings where people are in close contact (less than 6 feet), such as concerts, conferences, sporting events, faith-based events and other large gatherings. The ban on gatherings does not include airports, bus and train stations, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and spaces where people may be in transit. “We understand that while the executive order mandates mass gatherings be fewer than 100 people, we strongly urge the public to practice social distancing by applying common sense practices, that could include limiting meetings or gatherings to align with the newest NC DHHS recommendations of 50 or fewer people. In particular, if you are a group that draws a population who are at higher risk for severe illness, please, help us practice social distancing to slow the spread of this virus,” added Greene.

Restaurants & Bars

Effective, March 17 by 5pm, restaurants and bars will close for dine-in customers throughout North Carolina as issued by Governor Cooper. Restaurants and bars can continue delivery and takeout orders. Grocery stores will remain open.

“We understand this will have a dramatic impact on our local food service industry and employees but we appreciate everyone’s cooperation in addressing this public health crisis. We will be here to support and offer guidance as the situation continues to evolve,” stated Monica McKinney, Environmental Health Program Specialist, AppHealthCare.

Recommendations for Travelers
At this time, we strongly urge the public to check the The Centers for Disease Control guidance about travel recommendations at www.cdc.gov. “We know local agencies will need to make their own decisions about how they guide employees about travel, and we strongly encourage the public to carefully consider nonessential travel,” said Greene.

Community & Faith-Based Organizations

According to the NC Department of Health & Human Services, community- and faith-based organizations, whose members may include high-risk populations, should plan for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their local communities.

While regular faith-based gatherings are an important part of many North Carolinians’ lives, it is important to protect high-risk individuals from potential exposure to COVID-19.

Religious organizations can consider alternatives to mass gatherings to support their congregations’ social and spiritual well-being. Consider options like connecting by phone, using other technologies that support social distancing and/or facilitating small group meetings to ensure that people at high risk of complications from COVID-19 are less likely to be exposed to the virus.

Mass Transit

Mass transit operators should maximize opportunities for cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces. People should avoid using mass transit (e.g. buses, trains) while sick.

Craig Hughes, Director of AppalCART, stated they will be maintaining essential services in support of App State, the Town of Boone, and Watauga County beginning March 16, 2020. Only the Green, Red, Orange, Pop105, and Purple fixed (bus) routes will be running while all App State classes are meeting online. These routes will follow the Break Schedule unless there is demand to increase capacity. Complementary paratransit will operate during the same times as the fixed (bus) routes. The Rural routes and Project On Aging routes schedules remain the same. We are continually evaluating our operations and planning our next steps as new issues arise or as the situation changes. https://www.appalcart.com/bus-routes

Due to the close proximity to our drivers and other passengers, demand response clients are being screened by asking if they have been experiencing fever or flu like symptoms. If they indicate they have experienced either, they are directed to contact their healthcare provider or AppHealthCare.

AppalCART staff have been assigned to clean operating buses throughout the day.  Each operating bus will be cleaned multiple times throughout the day.  Cleaning of the buses will be documented to inform FTA, NCDOT, and the general public of the measures we are taking.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness. Signs and symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

If you develop a fever, symptoms of respiratory illness or think you may have COVID-19, please call AppHealthCare or your healthcare provider. Call ahead before you go to a healthcare provider. Tell them about your symptoms so they can be prepared.

Those at higher risk for severe illness include:

  • Adults over the age of 65
  • Underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease or diabetes
  • Weakened immune systems

To find more information about workplace guidance, please visit the NC Department of Health & Human Services website here.

Since we know questions are continuing to increase about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) concerns, we encourage the public to call us if they have questions. If you are sick and think you may need care, please call AppHealthCare or your healthcare provider.

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.

A COVID-19 toll free helpline has been set up to answer general, non-emergent questions at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, go to www.ncpoisoncontrol.org and select “chat.”

 

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