New Hanover County Recommends Social Distancing for Those At-Risk, Implements Event Guidance in Preparation of COVID-19

Posted March 10, 2020 at 4:40 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County officials are recommending those at risk of serious illness from the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, to begin practicing social distancing, and that event planners take extra steps to prevent the impact of COVID-19 in our area.

Those most at risk if infected with COVID-19 are older adults, people with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes or lung disease, those with compromised immune systems and long-time smokers. To prevent getting sick and the impact of COVID-19, people who meet these risk factors should avoid crowds as much as possible, avoid cruise and air travel and make sure supplies are on hand to limit the need to go out in public.

“While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County at this time, the increase of cases in North Carolina and across the United States is reason to increase precautions,” said Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “We are now recommending that our residents, especially those at higher risk, be ready for the potential impact of the illness here and begin practicing social distancing. It’s important for anyone, including those not considered to be in the at-risk population, to stay home and away from others if you are sick to avoid spreading any respiratory illness.”

Older residents and those with underlying health issues should work now to limit interaction with groups of people, like ordering groceries online, teleworking from home or canceling plans to attend large events. Community groups are encouraged to find alternatives to hosting social events in-person, and offer options for phone calls, FaceTime or online platforms like Facebook Live or Skype.

County Event Guidance

New Hanover County is implementing guidance for county events, to include: moving events to larger areas to allow people to maintain safe distances from each other, increasing hand washing and sanitation stations at events and county buildings, and county departments will not, for now, add any new in-person events to the calendar. People who are at-risk and those who have a respiratory illness should not attend events for the time being. As monitoring continues, depending on the risk of COVID-19 in the area, events may be canceled at any time, with little to no notice.

NC State of Emergency

Earlier today, Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency for North Carolina to coordinate response and protective actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and announced specific statewide mitigation guidance. Guidance includes limiting visitors in congregate living facilities, adopting lenient refund policies for events, self-monitoring for travelers returning from areas impacted by COVID-19, and implementing teleworking technologies when possible.

How to Prepare

“Over the last few weeks, we’ve been sharing information and recommendations with our partners and community, and are confident a lot of this guidance is already in place,” said Brown. “But as with any emergency, it’s up to us as individual community members to prepare and help implement those prevention actions. With COVID-19, that means practicing common health measures like washing hands, covering your mouth, staying home when you’re sick, cleaning surfaces and frequently touched items, as well as checking in with your family members, friends or neighbors who may be high-risk and making sure they have what they need.”

Residents are encouraged to prepare for the impact of COVID-19 as you would for other emergencies, using the ReadyNHC steps:

  • Make a Plan
    • Plan for social distancing and other prevention measures.
    • If at-risk, cancel plans to attend large events and non-essential travel.
    • Plan for limiting the need to go out in public by utilizing services like delivery of groceries and other goods.
  • Build a Kit
    • Have non-perishable food and water, medications and anything you need to stay home for several days to limit the risk of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in your household.
  • Stay Informed

For general COVID-19 questions, call the NC Division of Public Health at 1-866-468-3821. If you have traveled to an area with active COVID-19 in the last 14 days and are experiencing symptoms, contact your healthcare provider or New Hanover County Public Health at 910-798-3500. If you use an urgent care or walk-in clinic, call ahead so they can plan safety precautions during your visit.

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Media Contact:
Kate Oelslager

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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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