Coronavirus/COVID-19News

New Recommendations to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) – Watauga County

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Last Updated on February 12, 2022 6:42 pm

Boone, NC – As we see more cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in North Carolina and as COVID-19 is now a pandemic by the World Health Organization, AppHealthCare is continuing to regularly engage with local and state partners to plan, monitor and respond to this situation. This situation is evolving quickly and it is likely we will see more cases in NC in the coming days and weeks.

At this time, there is no positive case of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in Watauga County. Should this change, we will be notifying the public of a positive case.

“We encourage people to share credible and reliable information about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and know that if a confirmed case is determined, we will be working to make the public aware. We are continuing to encourage people to practice prevention measures like frequent handwashing, staying home when you’re sick, and keeping distance from others who are sick,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.

Since we know that questions are continuing to increase about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) concerns, we encourage the public to call us if they have questions, or to contact their local provider if they are ill and believe they may need treatment.
“Now is not the time to visit the hospital emergency room unless there is a true medical 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. 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.

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 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.

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 12th, Governor Cooper and NC DHHS issued new recommendations for all people in NC 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).

The recommendations include:
1. SYMPTOMATIC PERSONS
If you need medical care and have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspect you might have COVID-19, call ahead and tell your health care provider you have or may have COVID-19. This will allow them to take steps to keep other people from getting exposed. NC DHHS recommends that persons experiencing fever and cough should stay at home and not go out until their symptoms have completely resolved.

2. HIGH RISK PERSONS WITHOUT SYMPTOMS
NC DHHS recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.

People at high risk include people:
Over 65 years of age, or
with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, or
with weakened immune systems.

3. CONGREGATE LIVING FACILITIES
NC DHHS recommends that all facilities that serve as residential establishments for high risk persons described above should restrict visitors. Exceptions should include end of life care or other emergent situations determined by the facility to necessitate a visit. If visitation is allowed, the visitor should be screened and restricted if they have a respiratory illness or potential exposure to COVID-19. Facilities are encouraged to implement social distancing measures and perform temperature and respiratory symptom screening of residents and staff. These establishments include settings such as nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, correction facilities, and facilities that care for medically vulnerable children.

4. SCHOOLS
We do not recommend pre-emptive school closure at this time but do recommend that schools and childcare centers cancel or reduce large events and gatherings (e.g., assemblies) and field trips, limit inter-school interactions, and consider distance or e-learning in some settings. Students at high risk should implement individual plans for distance or e-learning. School dismissals may be necessary when staff or student absenteeism impacts the ability to remain open. Short-term closures may also be necessary to facilitate public health investigation and/or cleaning if a case is diagnosed in a student or staff member.

5. WORKPLACE
NC DHHS recommends that employers and employees use teleworking technologies to the greatest extent possible, stagger work schedules, and consider canceling non-essential travel. Workplaces should hold larger meetings virtually, to the extent possible. Additionally, employers should arrange the workspace to optimize distance between employees, ideally at least six feet apart. Employers should urge high risk employees to stay home and urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits.

6. MASS GATHERINGS, COMMUNITY, AND SOCIAL EVENTS
NC DHHS recommends that organizers of events that draw more than 100 people should cancel, postpone, modify these events or offer online streaming services. These events include large gatherings where people are in close contact (less than 6 feet), for example concerts, conferences, sporting events, faith-based events and other large gatherings.

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

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 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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