Catawba County had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Friday. The same day, a note was sent to hospital employees noting a person admitted to the hospital had a confirmed case of the virus.

In an email to employees, President of Catawba Valley Health System Eddie Beard said a patient who tested positive for the coronavirus was admitted to the hospital. Beard noted the person was not tested at Catawba Valley Medical Center. The patient was admitted to the hospital for an issue unrelated to coronavirus.

The hospital was notified by the patient’s medical provider that the patient had tested positive for the virus. “We immediately took all precautions to isolate the patient, notified staff involved in the patient’s care and strictly followed the plan we had in place in preparation for such an event,” Beard said in the email.

“Your role in remaining calm and professional during these challenging times is essential,” Beard said to employees. “I have the utmost confidence in our organization to be the beacon of hope for our community now and going forward.”

How the patient came in contact with the virus is unknown as of Sunday, according to Emily Killian, community engagement specialist for Catawba County Public Health. Killian said the department is still investigating.

Since the coronavirus case was confirmed, the hospital implemented additional visitation restrictions, according to Matt Webber, director of marketing and corporate communications for Catawba Valley Health System.

The hospital is only allowing one visitor per patient into the medical center and visitation hours are limited to be between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Also, they are screening all visitors at hospital entrances to check that each do not display fever or signs of respiratory illness.

Only those who are 16 years or older are allowed into the medical center.

A dedicated area at Catawba Valley Medical Center was set apart to treat only respiratory illness patients who arrive in the hospital’s emergency department, Webber said. Patients of hospital-owned physician practices were asked to call ahead when seeking an appointment so those with respiratory symptoms can be treated at a dedicated location.

“We have been preparing for months to face this crisis and our employees and medical staff are performing admirably,” Webber said.

Confirmed cases across the state

As of Sunday, there were at least 255 confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.

At least 6,438 tests have been completed in the state.

Only one case has been confirmed in Catawba County and no cases are yet confirmed in Alexander, Caldwell or Burke counties.

Iredell County has seen six cases.

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