Daily Briefing on Coronavirus
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Spread of Coronavirus
Across the United States, as of Wednesday afternoon, April 8, the number of people who are confirmed to have coronavirus is 446,205. We are sure more people have the virus who have not been tested. Sadly, 14,508 people have died from coronavirus. About 2000 people died yesterday and again today in the United States.
In North Carolina the number of people who are “laboratory-confirmed” to have coronavirus is 3450. Currently, 386 people are hospitalized with coronavirus. To date, 59 North Carolinians have died from coronavirus.
Seven Watauga County residents have tested positive for coronavirus. A third individual in Ashe County tested positive today.

Today, I looked at states’ coronavirus death rate (relative to the state’s population). The top 10 states based on death rate are: New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Michigan, Connecticut, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, Illinois, and Georgia. While every death is tragic, our efforts in North Carolina are paying off. We are glad to be low on this list, at 41st. The only state still reporting no deaths from coronavirus is Wyoming.

Our prayers are with all these people affected by coronavirus along with their families.
Governor Cooper’s Press Conference
Governor Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of DHHS, held a press conference today at 3 PM. You can view the press conference at https://www.unctv.org/watch/live-stream/eoc/

The press conference focused on three items:
North Carolina now requires long-term care facilities to: have staff members to wear masks, close communal areas, screen staffers daily, and report suspected coronavirus cases to the state health department. Long-term care residents are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. One outbreak involves 60 people in an Orange County center who tested positive for the coronavirus, 7 hospitalizations, and two deaths.
A new Executive Order was released today to modify training requirements for law enforcement training in response to coronavirus.
Additional hospital beds have been made available in North Carolina.

In response to a reporter’s question, Governor Cooper said that an Executive Order would probably be announced tomorrow for new social distancing rules in essential retail businesses.

Community Colleges Response to Coronavirus
This afternoon NC Legislators received a briefing from Mr. Seth Riggins from NC Community Colleges. Here are some important points from that briefing for community colleges.

Of course, the community colleges shifted to online instruction for most courses with some exceptions for classes in public health and public safety. Some courses could not be taught online (for example, trade skill courses that require specialized equipment).

Community colleges largest challenges have been: 1) helping students with their individual needs, 2) maintaining student success in courses, and 3) the financial uncertainty for each community college because of ongoing disruption to courses and services, additional costs of delivering courses online, and summer enrollment.

For details and community college resources, see https://www.nccommunitycolleges.edu/covid-19-response

Room/Board Refunds at App State
The UNC System and Appalachian State have announced a process for reimbursements of payments for unused housing and dining services as a result of the rapid response to coronavirus. For details see https://www.appstate.edu/go/coronavirus/updates/4-06-20-housing-dining-refunds/

The federal CARES Act includes $6.975 billion nationwide to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. These expenses include costs such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care. However, how this money will be distributed to institutions and what it can be used for remains in question.

Food Pantries/Soup Kitchens in Ashe and Watauga
Effective April 1, the Hospitality House Food Pantry hours will shift to 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. daily. This change temporarily eliminates the morning hours and adds an additional hour to the afternoon. The Hospitality House Food Pantry will continue to operate as the only local food pantry providing food boxes seven days a week. To read more: https://a9ceef39-fc2d-4044-9ffc-2610772f7142.filesusr.com/ugd/d9b090_686e57e77b074a49a143b491c3aea926.pdf

The Hunger and Health Coalition in Boone offers food and medication assistance and also has a list of partnering non-profits that might be able to assist you and your family. Click here for more information: https://www.hungerandhealthcoalition.com/coronovirus

Ashe County Sharing Center, 115 Colvard St., Jefferson. Distribution of food is determined from week to week. Call 336-846-7019 and listen to the detailed message about the next distribution. You can also friend the organization on Facebook to get updates at https://www.facebook.com/ashecountysharingcenter/. I had a great experience helping distribute food there last Friday.

Ashe Outreach Ministries West Jefferson, Old West Jefferson Elementary School Cafeteria, 406 School Ave. Saturdays 11 am-1:30 pm food pantry and soup kitchen. 336-385-1314

Ashe Outreach Ministries at Riverview, 11719 US Hwy 88 W., Creston. Tuesdays-Thursdays, food pantry 9 am-2 pm; soup kitchen 11 am-12:30 pm. 336-385-1314.

This list is not all-inclusive. For more information about food pantries and other resources for those struggling, call 211.

Helping Others
The United Way of the High Country (includes Ashe and Watauga counties) has launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist residents suffering because of the loss of income due to the virus outbreak. To make a donation, go to https://www.highcountryunitedway.org/covid-19fund

An Update from Blowing Rock Chamber
The Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce encourages everyone to support small businesses safely! Locally owned small businesses are the heart of our town, and many travel destinations we all love. If you’re able, buy a voucher from your favorite hotel, order something from a boutique’s online store, or get a gift card from a restaurant. Read more: https://blowingrock.com/covid-19-information/

Donate Blood
Blood supplies across the country are critically low. I donated blood yesterday. It was quick, safe, and basically painless. https://www.redcrossblood.org/give.html/find-drive will direct you to the closest blood drive.

New Coronavirus Hotline in Watauga County
AppHealthCare has an additional hotline at (828) 795-1970 for information during regular business hours. They are still available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies at: Ashe (336) 246-9449, Watauga (828) 264-4995.

More Information
If you believe you have symptoms of coronavirus and live in Watauga County:
1) Call AppHealthCare at 828-264-4995 or (828) 795-1970 during regular business hours,
2) Visit https://apprhs.org/covid19-screening/ online and follow screening instructions, or
3) Call your primary care doctor.

If you believe you have symptoms of coronavirus and live in Ashe County call AppHealthCare at 336-246-9449 or call your primary care doctor.

Our public heath office, AppHealthCare, is the primary local source of information about coronavirus. See https://www.apphealthcare.com/covid-19-information/

For more information from our hospitals, see Appalachian Regional’s website at https://apprhs.org/COVID19/ or Ashe Memorial Hospital’s website at https://www.ashememorial.org/ for their updates.

For information specific to North Carolina, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) provides the latest information on COVID-19 at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina .Also, North Carolina coronavirus updates are available by calling 888.892.1162 or by texting COVIDNC to 898211.