New Hanover County shares enhanced guidance to reduce risk, update on COVID-19 planning

Posted March 17, 2020 at 5:36 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC –County officials continue to implement enhanced guidance to reduce the risk and are continuing to prepare for the potential impact of COVID-19 in New Hanover County.

As of 5 p.m. on March 17, 2020, there are no confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County.

“The measures we are taking now will help to ensure our community is as protected and safe as possible from this new virus, and I have been incredibly impressed with how our community has reacted,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “You have come together, you are supporting each other, and you are remembering the most vulnerable in our community who need our help now. Reach out to your older friends and neighbors to check on their well being and offer help if you can. Have your plans in place to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy. If these things are done, there is no reason to panic.”

Enhanced Community Guidance and County Closures

New Hanover County is following the recommendations from the federal government and actions taken by the state of North Carolina, and limiting in-person meetings and facility use to less than 10 people.

Beginning Wednesday, March 18, New Hanover County will close its Public Libraries (online and curbside services available at Library.NHCgov.com) and Cape Fear Museum to the public until further notice. The county’s parks and gardens, including Airlie Gardens and the Arboretum, will remain open for visitors, but the education centers and enclosed areas at the county’s parks and gardens will be closed. View details here.

Before presenting at a county office or facility for services, residents are encouraged to call ahead to see if their need can be met over the phone. County department contact information can be found at NHCgov.com.

New Hanover County has established a Public Health Coronavirus Call Center. Residents with questions about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can call and speak to a public health nurse and, if needed, be connected with a provider who will then determine if a flu test and/or COVID-19 test is needed.

  • Phone Number: (910) 798-6800
  • Hours of operation: Monday-Friday, 7:30 am-6 pm

View community guidance to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for households, businesses, community organizations and others here.

Mandatory Closures

Restaurants and Bars will close at 5 p.m. to sit-down patrons, in accordance with Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order announced today. Takeout and delivery options can continue, and many businesses have already altered operations to continue to provide services.

Schools are closed until March 30, and gatherings of 100 people or more are prohibited in accordance with Executive Order 117, issued March 14.  New Hanover County, as stated above, is recommending no more than 10 people be gathered at one time, based on federal guidance.

 Supplies and Resources

Grocery and other retail stores are not included in mandatory closures and continue to operate while maintaining guidance of social distancing and increased cleanliness. Food and supplies are available and many establishments are dedicating time to older adults and those with underlying health concerns to shop during quiet times to reduce risk. Residents are encouraged to support local business while adhering to guidance to reduce risk, such as using online services, purchasing gift cards and ordering take out or delivery.

North Carolina is waiving some requirements to apply for unemployment benefits for individuals out of work because of measures taken to prevent the impact of COVID-19. Learn more at DES.NC.gov.

New Hanover County Schools is providing meals for children under 18, available for pick-up at 14 locations. Additionally, a Social Distance Learning website is available for students to continue school work while schools are closed. Information about meal program and online learning is available at NHCS.net.

Additional community resources are available to the public through partners at the New Hanover Disaster Coalition.

Additional Planning

To help eliminate the number of people going into physician offices and to increase service to the community, New Hanover County Public Health is planning a process to deploy public health nurses directly to residents, in a safe manner, after they are pre-screened and referred by the Coronavirus Call Center. This enhanced process is expected to begin next week based on need and supplies.

In order to be ready in case it is needed, the county is also working with New Hanover Regional Medical Center and other healthcare partners to collaborate on a drive-thru COVID-19 sampling location here in the county if health officials determine this is needed.

What You Can Be Doing Now

Residents are encouraged to increase 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.

Residents are also encouraged to prepare for the potential impacts 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

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As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, but 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 Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.

 

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