Over 100 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among employees at Bottomley Evergreens & Farms in Sparta and test results of more Bottomley employees are pending, according to Boone-based AppHealthCare.

AppHealthCare, district public health agency for Alleghany, Ashe and Watauga counties, said in a press release that 102 cases in the Bottomley outbreak were confirmed by Monday evening. “The majority of the positive cases are reporting no symptoms.”

The release continued, “Last week, a few cases of COVID-19 were at Bottomley Evergreens and Farms. The company requested assistance from AppHealthCare and working together decided to test the entire workforce, testing 398 individuals late last week. This type of response testing is needed to determine how far the virus has spread and prevent further transmission.”

AppHealthCare said that when COVID-19 is confirmed in a setting like Bottomley Evergreens and Farms, “we want to work quickly to offer testing to everyone since the virus can spread easily in these environments due to people working and living in close proximity to others.”

It continued, “We appreciate the partnership with Bottomley Evergreens and Farms and have worked with them to coordinate and offer testing and review existing safety protocols in place to protect employees.”

Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare health director, stated, “Due to the nature of this virus, we are concerned with the number of individuals who are positive and living and working within close proximity to others.

“We are continuing to work together with Bottomley Evergreens and Farms to implement control measures to limit further spread of the virus. We have provided public health and infection control guidance and will continue to work in partnership with them to prevent further spread.

“We urge everyone to practice kindness and think of others by practicing

the 3Ws – wear a face covering, wait at least six feet from others and wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer. These are actions that can be taken to prevent further spread and protect the Bottomley Evergreens and Farms workers and the entire Alleghany County community.”

The AppHealthCare news release included the following statement from Bottomley spokesman Paul Harrison, “The health and safety of our employees and the community are our priority. We are working closely with AppHealthCare to follow and adhere to public health and infection control guidance to prevent further spread.

“Safety protocols include symptom screenings before every shift, education about the spread of COVID-19 and providing protective equipment. We have isolated individuals who are sick and those who have been determined as close contacts are in quarantine. We are committed to protecting our community and will do our part to prevent additional spread of this virus.”

Testing in Sparta Saturday

AppHealthCare announced that it is partnering with Mako Medical Laboratories to offer COVID-19 testing for Alleghany and Ashe county residents with drive-thru testing from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Alleghany High School in Sparta. 

Individuals must be residents of Alleghany or Ashe and over 10 years old to be tested at this event. There is no cost for testing and is available regardless of insurance status. “Test results should be expected within a few days.” 

AppHealthCare encouraged people to be tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms; are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19; may have been exposed to COVID-19; work as a first responder or are in law enforcement, fire department or healthcare; work in a setting where social distancing is difficult to maintain; and/or have attended mass gatherings like protests or rallies. The release said people who are part of a historically marginalized population who may be at higher risk for exposure should also be tested. 

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services listed Alleghany County with a cumulative total of 164 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

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