First presumptive positive COVID-19 case identified in New Hanover County

Posted March 18, 2020 at 4:19 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials have identified the first and only presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 in New Hanover County. The person went to their doctor with symptoms on Monday, March 16 and a test was conducted at that time. Isolation protocols were implemented immediately and test results showed a presumptive positive result of COVID-19 today, March 18, 2020. Initial contact tracing indicates that this is a travel-related case.

“While this is the first case of the novel coronavirus in our community, it is something we’ve been preparing to respond to with our state and local partners,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “Our Public Health team is working closely with this individual to monitor their wellbeing and to make contact with anyone they have had close contact with over the last two weeks to mitigate any potential spread of the virus.”

A “presumptive positive” case means the person has a positive test for COVID-19 that was performed at the state’s public health lab or a private lab, before being confirmed by the CDC. Guidance from the state and CDC is to treat presumptive positive cases as confirmed in terms of isolation, contact tracing and community notification. Contact tracing includes anyone who was a close contact of the individual, which is defined by the CDC as being within six feet of a person for 10 minutes.

New Hanover County Public Health issued isolation orders. The individual is doing well and has agreed to isolate in their home until criteria for clearance of COVID-19 is met.

“Our community has already implemented a number of measures that reduce individual risk of COVID-19, and have taken heed of the guidance shared from the state and our local team who has been working on these plans for the last several weeks,” said Olson-Boseman. “It’s important to remain calm and continue practicing social distancing, stay away from crowds and keep six feet between you and others to help keep our community safe and healthy. Stay home if you are able and make sure you are always relying on trusted resources for information.”

New Hanover County has been sharing guidance to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the community over the last several weeks, including reminders about personal hygiene, disinfecting items, and limiting gatherings to 10 people or less. View guidance from New Hanover County for households, businesses, community organizations and others at

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people with COVID-19 have mild to moderate respiratory illness, with those over 65 or with underlying health issues at higher risk of serious illness, necessitating community guidance to reduce risk to this population. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath and most cases are mild in severity. Residents are encouraged to continue prevention measures and practice limited contact with others:

  • Practice social distancing: avoid crowds, gatherings of more than 10 people, and maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, and for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched (like your phone, tablet, countertops and daily work surfaces).
  • Stay home and away from others when you are sick.

Currently, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has established COVID-19 testing standards. Only those who meet the following criteria should ask their doctor or local health department about being tested for COVID-19:

  1. Have fever or lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case within the past 14 days
  2. Have fever and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and a negative flu test

If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, call your healthcare provider or walk-in clinic before visiting the office to alert staff of symptoms, so they can take appropriate steps to prepare for your visit.

New Hanover County has established a Coronavirus Call Center for residents to speak with a nurse to assess their individual risk and, if needed, be connected to a provider. The Coronavirus Call Center can be reached at 910-798-6800 and is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

New Hanover County will hold a virtual press conference today, Wednesday, March 18, at 5:30 p.m. that will be streamed live on the county’s Facebook page.


As of 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020, there is one presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in New Hanover County and preparedness plans are in place for the health and safety of our community. For updates and resources related to the COVID-19 virus in New Hanover County, visit

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Communications and Outreach: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 195 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7461 • Fax 910-798-7277
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