Watauga County Resident Tests Presumptive Positive for COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

Published Sunday, March 15, 2020 at 12:55 pm

A Watauga County resident has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). This is the first presumptive positive case in Watauga County.

The resident is in isolation at home and did have travel history.

“We have been preparing should we see a positive case of COVID-19 in our community. Now that we have a positive case, we will continue to work diligently to protect the public’s health. It is our top priority, and we will work to keep the community informed,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.

AppHealthCare is working closely with local partners and agencies to ensure the public’s health is protected and precautions are being taken to protect all residents of Watauga County.

“We are confident in public health’s ability to lead this effort and appreciate their partnership with Watauga County and other local agencies to protect our community’s health,” stated Deron Geouque, Watauga County Manager.

We understand that people are going to have questions and we encourage the public to call us or their local provider if they are ill and believe they may need care.

We want to remind the public to share credible, reliable information and practice prevention measures like handwashing, covering your cough and sneeze, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.

The individual works at Samaritan’s Purse and had traveled to areas overseas that were considered “low risk at the time of travel.” 

Samaritan’s Purse sent out the following news release:

“A Boone-based Samaritan’s Purse staff member who had recently traveled overseas has tested presumptive positive for the COVID-19 virus (coronavirus). This individual returned 9 days ago from countries considered to be at lower risk at the time of travel. The employee did not return to work and self-quarantined immediately upon return home. The staff member has experienced some mild symptoms and is recovering without need for further medical intervention at this time. The employee was tested at their home by AppHealthCare (the Watauga County Health Department). We ask that you respect the privacy of this individual and their family.

We are working in full cooperation with the local health department in identifying other staff who may have been in contact with the employee who has tested positive, and though we can’t know for sure whether their contact was prior to or after the virus was contracted, each of these employees has also self-quarantined.

Samaritan’s Purse has significant medical expertise, including in the area of infectious diseases, and we are working extremely closely with AppHealthCare and all relevant local, state, and national health officials and organizations to ensure we are taking the strongest precautions possible.

We are monitoring this situation continuously and will keep our employees informed accordingly. We began to restrict travel at the onset of this virus in accordance with guidelines established by CDC and WHO and continue to tighten policies as new directives are issued. In accordance with NC Governor Roy Cooper’s directive, we are discontinuing gatherings of more than 100 people.

Effective immediately, Samaritan’s Purse is also reducing the number of staff on the Boone headquarters and Wilkes campuses and moving many employees to a work-from-home status for at least the next two weeks.

At Samaritan’s Purse, we are in the business of helping people in crisis. We are continuing the Lord’s work with diligence and want to share with a world that is frightened the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Hundreds of thousands of people rely on us to meet their basic needs, and though we are taking necessary precautions, we remain focused on our work to serve hurting people in Jesus’ Name.

We continue to pray for our nation, for those infected with this serious virus, for healthcare providers nationwide, and for our nation’s leaders as they address this pandemic.”

How to Protect Yourself

Frequent hand washing

Staying home when you’re sick

Keeping distance from others who are sick

Avoiding touching your face

Cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables and handles

“We want to continue to encourage the community to not use the hospital emergency room unless it is a true emergency. We need to preserve our local hospital capacity to respond throughout this event to meet the various healthcare needs that require urgent action in our community,” said Greene.

Please be aware that you may hear about people who have been instructed by their healthcare provider to self-isolate since they have been tested for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). This does not mean that they have tested positive, it means that they are being guided to stay home until a test result is provided. This is a standard procedure for managing public health outbreaks.

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Signs & Symptoms

Fever

Cough

Shortness of breath

If you develop a fever, symptoms of respiratory illness or think you may have COVID-19, please call your healthcare provider. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your symptoms so they can be prepared. Calls can be made to AppHealthCare or can be directed to Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. To find more information, go to www.AppHealthCare.com or www.apprhs.org.

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

On March 12 and 14th, Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued new recommendations for all people in North Carolina to prevent and reduce the spread of infection. The recommendations are effective for the next 30 days and then will be re-assessed (link to recommendations here).

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. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 in our community and will work to keep the public informed. Please visit our website for more information – www.AppHealthCare.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

As a reminder, general questions from community members and agencies inquiring about COVID-19 can call our office number (828) 264-4995 and dial x2222. Healthcare providers and ill persons can call our office number and dial zero.

Questions from agencies requesting support on COVID-19 response, planning efforts, etc. can contact [email protected] Media inquiries can be directed to [email protected]

We will maintain a positive case count on our website at www.AppHealthCare.com.

Additional Resources

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. To view the case count for North Carolina, including a county map, please visit the NC DHHS website here.

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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