New Hanover County Identifies First Case of Community Transmission of COVID-19, Total Case Count Now at 10

Posted March 24, 2020 at 3:54 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Notice

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials have determined that the ninth case of COVID-19 reported Monday, March 23, was likely contracted by community transmission because of the person’s lack of travel history or known exposure. This means the individual became symptomatic in New Hanover County, and Public Health cannot identify a direct link to the virus.

The individual reported having allergy-like symptoms beginning March 14 but did not self-isolate. They went to the doctor on March 19 and were tested for COVID-19 at that time. They have been self-isolated at home since being tested and are doing well. New Hanover County Public Health is working on contact tracing to determine those who were in close contact with this individual while they were symptomatic.

“What we are seeing right now is that most people who get COVID-19 and don’t have any risk factors are typically displaying more mild symptoms – just like this first case of community transmission – that can be treated at home, and should be monitored closely for any changes that might indicate symptoms are becoming more severe, such as shortness of breath,” said Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “But people who are 65 or older, or with underlying health conditions, should call their doctor right away if they have any symptoms because they are at greater risk of serious illness. It’s so important to understand that just because it doesn’t feel that bad to you, it could be very serious to someone else. The virus spreads very easily, so social distancing, frequent hand washing, staying home and away from others if you have symptoms, sanitation of high-touch surfaces and all of the protective measures we’ve been sharing remain very important to slowing the spread of COVID-19 to others.”

Additionally, one other positive case of COVID-19 has been reported to New Hanover County Public Health, as of 3:30 p.m. today, bringing the total case count to 10. Public Health officials have determined this new case is related to out-of-state travel and the person is in isolation.

To date, the ten confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County are between the ages of 20 and 80, and at this time range in mild to moderate symptoms.

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) recommends that individuals who are experiencing mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should immediately self-isolate at home and away from other household members, and call their healthcare providers to receive guidance over the phone or via teleconference. Testing will no longer be required, and healthcare providers have been instructed to now assume patients with symptoms have COVID-19.

Those currently identified to be at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 include those over 65 and those with underlying health conditions including chronic lung disease, asthma, compromised immune systems and obesity. Pregnant women should also be monitored since they are known to be at risk of complications for viral illness generally.

If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms such as cough or fever, call your healthcare provider or walk-in clinic. If you do not have access to a healthcare provider, call the New Hanover County Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., to speak with a public health nurse to help assess your symptoms and, if needed, connect you with a provider.

“This is our first known case of community transmission in New Hanover County, and that is why the measures we’re taking and the guidance that has been given are more important to follow now than ever,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “It’s so important for every single person to practice social distancing, and for all of us to do our part to protect those at risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Stay home, keep your distance from others, and wash your hands well and often. If you are sick, do not leave your home, call your doctor, and stay away from others – including people living in your house. The actions we take today will help prevent community transmission of the virus and help ensure our healthcare system isn’t overburdened in the weeks to come.”

As of 3:30 p.m. on March 24, there are 307 COVID-19 test samples reported to the county. Of those 10 have been confirmed positive, 125 have been confirmed negative and 172 are still pending.

COMMUNITY PROTECTIONS

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, residents must continue increased prevention measures and practice limited contact with others:

  • Follow social distancing: gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited under the State of Emergency, and individuals are encouraged to 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.

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As of 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, there are 10 positive case of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. For updates and resources related to the COVID-19 virus in New Hanover County, visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor.

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