New Hanover County Updates: Five Additional COVID-19 Confirmed Cases, Library Service Hours, Governor’s Order & Additional Testing Guidance

Posted March 23, 2020 at 5:24 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials have identified five additional positive case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in New Hanover County – bringing the county’s total confirmed case count to nine. All five new positive test results were received today, March 23, 2020. 

Four of the cases appear to be travel related. The fifth case was reported late in the day on Monday and information is still being gathered to determine the person’s travel history and symptom onset. All five people are isolated, and Public Health is working on contact tracing to determine those who were in close contact with these individuals while they were symptomatic. 

As of 5 p.m. on March 23, there are 244 test samples reported to the county. Of those, nine have been confirmed positive, 92 have been confirmed negative and 144 are still pending.    

“COVID-19 is unlike anything we have ever seen before, and that is why unprecedented measures are being taken across the country and in our own community,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “It’s so important that people listen to the guidance being given. Stay home if you can, don’t gather in groups of more than 10 people, and stay six feet away from others. Our actions now will help lessen the burden on our healthcare system and protect those most vulnerable in our community.” 

New Hanover County will provide updates on any positive cases considered a low risk for community spread in a general daily update unless a serious public health concern requires a separate release. 

PUBLIC LIBRARY HOURS OF OPERATION 

All four public library locations are currently offering curbside pick-up of reserved materials and they have updated their hours of operation to Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Virtual offerings, eBooks, eAudiobooks, and more social distancing activities are available at libguides.nhcgov.com/library. 

No fines will be charged on overdue materials until further notice, and new patrons may register for a card online and request materials immediately. 

GOVERNOR’S ORDER 

Today, Governor Roy Cooper implemented additional orders for everyone in North Carolina. A summary of those orders is below: 

  • School closures in North Carolina are extended to May 15. 
  • Businesses where the public gathers, including gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys, sweepstakes parlors, health clubs, hair and nail salons, barber shops, massage therapists and other similar facilities are required to close effective on Wednesday, March 25 at 5 p.m.  
  • Businesses, such as hospitals and healthcare facilities, grocery stores, child care facilities for essential workers, banks, and post offices are excluded from closure. 

SYMPTOMS & TESTING 

Today, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced new guidance, consistent with guidance from the CDC, regarding testing for COVID-19. Changes in testing recommendations include: People with mild symptoms consistent with COVID-19 do NOT need testing and should be instructed to stay at home to recover.   

Mild symptoms are defined as fever and cough. 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 like chronic lung disease, asthma, compromised immune systems and obesity are at higher risk of serious illness. Pregnant women should also be monitored since they are known to be at risk of viral illness. View the most recent information about who is at most risk at CDC.gov  

If you are experiencing fever and cough with more severe symptoms, including shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest discomfort, altered thinking, cyanosis (blueish discoloration of the skin) or other ailments, or if you are at-risk of more serious illness, 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.    

People who are tested for COVID-19 by their doctor or New Hanover County Public Health should meet the following criteria, in accordance with guidance from NCDHHS:   

  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 ; or 
  2. Have fever and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) and a negative flu test. 

CALL CENTER 

Residents can call the New Hanover County Public Health Coronavirus Call Center to speak with a nurse who can answer questions and assess their individual risk and, if needed, connect them with a provider. The Coronavirus Call Center can be reached at 910-798-6800 and is open Monday through Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.  

New Hanover County Public Health is deploying nurses to homes to conduct flu tests and, if needed, COVID-19 sampling. Individuals must be vetted by the Coronavirus Call Center and determined to meet criteria by the Community Health team.  

RESOURCES, DONATIONS & SUPPLIES 

  • Grocery stores: 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. 
  • Personal Protective Equipment Donations: To prepare for future impacts of COVID-19, New Hanover County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) are working together to procure additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. Healthcare providers, business partners, and individuals who have masks, gowns, gloves, and more are encouraged to donate this protective gear. Learn more here. 
  • Unemployment: 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. 
  • School meals: 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. 
  • Community Resources: New Hanover Disaster Coalition is collaborating with community partners to share information and resources, and coordinate volunteers and donations as needed. 

STEPS TO TAKE NOW 

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, residents are encouraged to 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.  

Residents are also encouraged to prepare for the potential impacts of COVID-19, using the ReadyNHC steps:  

  • Make a Plan   
  • Have actionable plans in place for social distancing and other prevention measures.  
  • Cancel plans to attend 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   
  • Find reliable information about COVID-19: Health.NHCgov.com, NCDHHS.gov and CDC.gov. 
  • Follow the county’s trusted social media pages: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor.  

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As of 5 p.m. on Monday, 23, 2020, there are nine 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 Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus or call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800. 

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