Situation Update

Cumulative/Active cases:
  • Watauga County Cases: 2092 (147 active)
  • Ashe County Cases: 757 (74 active)
  • Avery County Cases: 843
Statistics Source: NC Department of Health & Human Services, AppHealthCare. Last update: 11/18 5:33 pm

Topics covered in today’s update:

  • Holiday Gatherings
  • COVID-19 Workflow
  • COVID-19 County Alert System
  • Slow the Spread
  • COVID-19 Vaccines

Holiday Gatherings

As we enter the holiday season, we typically celebrate with co-workers through sharing meals and gathering for parties. However, staying true to 2020, we need to evaluate what has been the norm and look for alternate opportunities.

We are asking departments/facilities across ARHS not to host department luncheons/dinners where groups would gather to eat. While we do not enjoy being a scrooge, COVID cases in the community have increased, along with staff exposures resulting in employee quarantines and/or a positive COVID diagnosis. Although Governor Cooper’s Phase 3 order currently allows social gatherings of 10 or less, we ask that you refrain during this holiday season.

In the spirit of the season, we do encourage creativity in finding alternate ways to celebrate. A few ideas are listed below.

  • Plan a workstation or clinic door decoration contest
  • Sponsor a family through the E2E, Families Helping Families program, as a department/office.
  • Have an office scavenger hunt
  • Ugly sweater day or other holiday theme
  • Secret Santa
  • Thanksgiving or Christmas Trivia Contest
  • Participate in the ARHS Food Drive and donate to the Food Pantry

One of the best ways to celebrate is to ensure you and your co-workers remain safe and healthy. Thank you for helping ensure not only a happy, but healthy holiday season!

COVID-19 Workflow for ARHS Employee Illness-Exposure

The COVID-19 Workflow for ARHS Employee Illness-Exposure has been updated and is found in Policy Manager in the COVID-19 Resources folder. 
The updated workflow states “Employee may return to work in 10 days from date of symptom onset or positive test result if asymptomatic with at least 24 hours fever-free without medication. Employee must be cleared through OH to return to work.”

COVID-19 County Alert System

On November 17th, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) announced a new COVID-19 County Alert System to pinpoint counties with the highest levels of COVID-19 spread and offer recommendations to bring numbers down. The map will be updated every four weeks.

You can help Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Know how COVID-19 can spread

  • COVID-19 spreads easily from person to person, mainly through the following:
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes, sings or talks. Respiratory droplets cause infection when they are inhaled or deposited on mucous membranes, such as those that line the inside of the nose and mouth.
  • People who are infected but do not have symptoms can also spread the virus to others.
  • Under certain circumstances (e.g., people gathered in enclosed spaces with poor ventilation), COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.


Know how to protect yourself from COVID-19

  • Wear a mask at all times when you are within 6 feet of another person (including co-workers)
  • Avoid eating around others (including co-workers)
  • Perform hand hygiene frequently
  • Notify Occupational Health immediately if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or become symptomatic.


Exposure and Testing for COVID-19

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, ARHS Occupational Health will guide you through the testing process. Employees may need to be tested on Day 6 (Laboratory Test) and on Day 14 (Rapid Test, if asymptomatic). Refer to COVID-19 Resources in Policy Manager, “Communicable Disease Exposure: COVID-19 Employee Risk Exposure Assessment” for more information.

COVID-19 Vaccines


If you’re following the news, you’ve heard that Pfizer and Moderna have vaccines almost ready. Six other companies also have vaccines in the pipeline. Our medical staff will be meeting this week to discuss the data and help guide our organization as vaccines are made available.

Whenever a vaccine is available, the rollout will happen in multiple phases with high risk groups given the opportunity to receive the vaccine first. We will provide more updates as they become available.

Thanks to each of you for your continued contribution to this extraordinary team effort.

Amy Crabbe
Chief Operating Officer

Print Friendly, PDF & Email