By Nathan Ham
COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in most parts of the country, including right here in Watauga County. A hospital spokesperson told the High Country Press on Monday morning that Watauga Medical Center is close to its max capacity in its COVID-19 unit. As of this morning, there were 19 patients in the COVID unit. The unit can currently hold up to 23 patients battling the virus.
This information should serve as a caution to those that feel like smaller areas such as Boone are not as susceptible to having spikes in hospitalizations. After having an average of three to four patients being treated for COVID-19, a major spike such as this all the way up to 19 patients can be taxing on nurses, doctors and family members of the sick individuals.
As a reminder, anyone that is feeling sick or has been exposed to someone that has COVID-19 needs to stay home. Everyone should maintain a safe six-foot distance from each other when out in public or in small gatherings. Most importantly, everyone needs to remember to wear masks in public or around people that are not living in their immediate household and of course, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer as much as possible.
AppHealthCare offers free COVID-19 testing, Monday through Friday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Appointments are needed and can be made through the AppHealthCare website (apphealthcare.com) or by calling the COVID-19 call center at 828-795-1970.
The latest data from AppHealthCare shows 108 active cases in Watauga County, 74 active cases in Ashe County and 14 active cases in Alleghany County. A total of 216 people are actively being monitored in Watauga County while 149 are actively being monitored in Ashe County and 17 are being actively monitored in Alleghany County.
There have been 35 deaths associated with COVID-19 in the three counties served by AppHealthCare (17 in Ashe, 16 in Watauga, 2 in Alleghany).