WNC COVID-19 Regional Report - May 22, 2020

May 22, 2020

Friday, May 22, 2020
Our regional response partners are committed to providing WNC’s medical community with timely information on COVID-19 through weekly updates on regional trends, needs, resources, and training opportunities. Our goal is to foster collaboration and minimize duplication of effort to enhance our region’s COVID-19 response efforts.
Positive Tests as a Percent of Total Tests in NC
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NCDHHS data from its newly launched interactive COVID-19 Dashboard.
Key Observations this Week
The number of COVID-19 cases is expected to increase more rapidly as North Carolina moves into Phase 2 on Friday of re-opening and continues to expand testing guidance, available testing sites, and testing capacity. Last week the state had its highest single-day increase with 853 lab-confirmed cases on May 16.

Monitoring the percentage of positive tests will be important for understanding disease transmission trends moving forward. NC DHHS has launched an interactive COVID-19 dashboard to make this easier. Currently, 7% of tests are returning positive.

Outbreaks in long-term care facilities are increasing across the state. As of May 19, nine LTC facilities have reported ongoing outbreaks in three WNC counties (Buncombe, Henderson, and Polk). NCDHHS is deploying additional PPE and taking additional measures to protect these facilities.

A recently published JAMA article documents Taiwan’s successful reduction of COVID-19 transmission by expanding testing for asymptomatic individuals and ongoing social distancing and use of face coverings.
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) Reported in NC

The first case of MIS-C associated with COVID-19 was reported by NCDHHS this week. This rare and potentially serious complication requires immediate attention. Most children with MIS-C have a fever lasting several days. Other common symptoms include:

  • Irritability or decreased activity
  • Abdominal pain without another explanation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis (red or pink eyes)
  • Poor feeding
  • Red, cracked lips or red, bumpy tongue that looks like a strawberry
  • Swollen hands and feet, which might also be red

Suspected cases of MIS-C should be reported to NCDHHS who will include tracking data in future weekly surveillance reports. For more information about MIS-C, visit the CDC’s website.

The Rural-Urban Divide Impacts the Spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 is spreading across the U.S. unevenly. The hardest hit areas to date are big cities and urban suburbs like those in New York and New Jersey, areas that now appear to be moving past their peak.

Data analyzed by the American Communities Project suggests the worst may be yet to come in regions like WNC where residents tend to be older, rural, uninsured, and economically disadvantaged.

Twelve WNC counties are designated as community types where cases have risen between 229 and 274% over the last month compared to 121% in big cities.
Patient Recommendations

Encourage patients to seek care. National trends show that people are hesitant to seek care during the pandemic. Providers should encourage patients to seek care when needed — via telehealth or in person —  and communicate what they’re doing in their practices to reinforce safety.

Encourage preventive measures. Please continue sharing the “3Ws” message with patients and through your organizations to normalize masking and protect our families and neighbors from COVID-19 spread.

  • Wear a cloth face covering if you will be around other people.
  • Wait 6 feet apart in public settings. Avoid close contact with those outside your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
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Convalescent Plasma Donations Needed
HCA Mission Health is participating in a national study to determine if plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients may help in the treatment of individuals who are critically ill with the virus.

Donors must be fully recovered for at least 14 days and have documentation of a positive viral or antibody test. Convalescent plasma donations can be made at The Blood Connection, which is offering free COVID-19 antibody testing for all blood donors.

If you think you may have had COVID-19 but were never tested, you can donate convalescent plasma
14 days after donating blood that tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
COVID-19 Practice Support Tip Sheets

For more practice support resources, please see MAHEC’s COVID-19 Regional Response Guidance.

NEW Community Resources to Help You Serve Your Patients

Clinical Support

  • PPE. After submitting your request to the state, you can request PPE from NC-based Supply Connector to see if it can be accessed more quickly from U.S. manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Re-opening guidance from the American Psychological Association on resuming in-person behavioral health services.

Health Inequities & Social Support

  • Pisgah Legal Services has developed an Emergency Benefits Guide to assist WNC residents as well as COVID-related FAQs and resources on housing, unemployment, interpersonal safety, and more.
  • Land of Sky Regional Council has developed a WNC WiFi Lot Map to help people find locations to do homework, business, and healthcare.
  • Resources for Older Adults in Buncombe County in English and Spanish.
  • 2020 Census. Encourage patients, colleagues, and community members to participate in the
    2020 Census online to ensure state and federal funding is allocated for needed social services.
NEW & Ongoing COVID-19 Virtual Trainings & Support   

Southern Regional AHEC: Addressing Health Disparities During a Pandemic New
Wednesday, June 3, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm

Virtual Support Group for WNC Healthcare Workers New
Thursdays at 7:00 pm

MAHEC Webinars on COVID-19, Resilience, Telehealth, & Community Resources
Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00 am

NC AHEC COVID-19 Webinars
Daily with morning, afternoon, and evening sessions available

NCDHHS COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition
Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:00 pm
Click link above and select “add to distribution list” to receive weekly meeting invitations

Rural Talk Series COVID-19
Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00 am

Vaya Health Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention Trainings New
Each session is open to 25 participants

Western Carolina Medical Society: Weekly Virtual Wellness Series

  • Group coaching, Tuesdays at 6:30 pm, with Ryan Bayley, MD, with a focus on physician wellness
  • Yoga and meditation, Saturdays at 10:00 am, with Robyn Tiger, MD; no prior experience or registration needed, and each session is family friendly
May 15 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
May 8 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
May 1 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
April 24 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
April 17 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report
April 10 WNC COVID-19 Regional Report

If you would like to receive this weekly report, please email Sam.Blankenship@mahec.net to be added to our distribution list.
Regional Response Partners
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