Fifth coronavirus case is an App State student, hasn’t been to campus since March 4

Fifth+coronavirus+case+is+an+App+State+student%2C+hasn%27t+been+to+campus+since+March+4

Moss Brennan, Reporter

Updated with more information from AppHealthCare on student having symptoms when tested. 

AppHealthCare informed App State leadership Saturday morning that the fifth coronavirus case announced on Friday was an App State student who is a resident of Watauga County and lives off campus. App State announced the news in an email to students Saturday afternoon.

The student who was diagnosed with the virus is now symptom-free, has not been on campus since March 4 and has been self-quarantined since returning to the United States from overseas travel, per guidelines established by the State of North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control.

When the student was tested, they did have symptoms of COVID-19.

An App State administration official told The Appalachian the student was traveling internationally, but not through an App State program.

“While yesterday’s notification was not in accordance with our standard notification process regarding communicable disease, which is to coordinate on one, joint notification to campus and community, there is no immediate public health risk to the university community related to this case,” the email to students stated. “Any future announcements of positive cases in App State students will be closely coordinated between AppHealthCare and App State as planned.”

According to the email to students, App State AppHealthCare (Appalachian District Health Department) and the North Carolina Division of Public Health continue working together to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“This announcement does not change anything about how this case was investigated or the details surrounding protection of the broader community through quarantine of close contacts, but it does provide us an opportunity to demonstrate our integrity by announcing this unintentional omission of this important detail yesterday in the original announcement. Our primary goal is protecting public health and privacy of any person who has a positive test result,” Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare health director, said in a statement.

Greene also said AppHealthCare has reviewed our internal procedures and have instituted additional processes to ensure that this detail is coordinated with App State as planned in the future,

According to App State, 98% of students are currently off campus. The university said it is beginning to learn of self-reported, confirmed cases in App State students that are not being tested by AppHealthCare or App State.

“As we learn of these cases, we are coordinating with other local public health agencies, in consultation with the North Carolina Division of Public Health Communicable Disease team, to seek confirmation and ensure any known contacts are notified and following CDC guidelines,” the email stated.

If a student is concerned about symptoms, they can call Student Health Services at 828-262-3100 and ask to speak with a nurse. They are continuing medical and screening services to students in person and remotely. Faculty or staff who have concerns about students or their own health diagnoses should reach out to [email protected].

The case count in Watauga County remains at five.

Additional resources sent in the email to students: 

If you develop a fever, symptoms of respiratory illness or think you may have COVID-19, please call your healthcare provider. Members of the App State community who are concerned about symptoms they might be experiencing can contact Student Health Service at (828) 262-3100 or AppHealthCare at (828) 264-4995, ext. 0. Call before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your symptoms so they can be prepared.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach AppHealthCare, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts.

Public Health encourages the community to use the hospital emergency room only for true emergencies in order to preserve our local hospital capacity to meet the various healthcare needs that require urgent action in our community.

General questions from university and community members about COVID-19 can call (828) 264-4995 ext. 2222. A positive case count is available at www.AppHealthCare.com.

Protect yourself with these preventative measures:

  • 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

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) signs & symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you are concerned about symptoms you might be experiencing, you can contact Student Health Service at (828) 262-3100 or AppHealthCare at (828) 264-4995, ext. 0.

Those at higher risk for severe illness include:

  • Adults over the age of 65
  • Individuals with high-risk or underlying health conditions like heart disease with complications, chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, diabetes, renal failure or liver disease, or severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher)
  • Individuals with weakened immune systems
  • Individuals who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility

For the latest official situation updates: