Confirmed case of COVID-19 in an Appalachian State University student

Posted 3/28/20 at 4:23 p.m.

This morning, Appalachian District Health Department (AppHealthCare) informed Appalachian State University leadership that the 5th positive case of case of COVID-19 they announced to the community yesterday was an App State student who is a resident of Watauga County and lives off campus.

The student who was diagnosed with the virus is 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.

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. Any future announcements of positive cases in App State students will be closely coordinated between AppHealthCare and Appalachian State as planned.

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

With 98% of our students currently off campus, we are 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.

Students who are concerned about symptoms should 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 safety@appstate.edu.

Those who are not necessarily at risk of serious disease can carry the disease to their loved ones, and should carefully adhere to social distancing practices as outlined in Governor Cooper’s executive order of March 27, 2020, which directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member, bans gatherings of more than 10 people, and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. More information here.

It is important to rely on official sources of information for facts about COVID-19, not share unconfirmed information, and practice prevention measures like handwashing, covering your coughs and sneezes, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces.

The university has a dedicated website about its response to COVID-19.

Below is information Public Health has shared with the university and High Country communities regarding COVID-19:

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:

We will work together to continue monitoring COVID-19 at the university and in our community and to keep the public informed. 

Sincerely,

Jennifer Greene, MPH
Health Director/CEO
AppHealthCare
Appalachian District Health Department

Margaret Bumgarner, MBA, FACHE, FACMPE
Administrative Director of Student Health Services
Appalachian State University