Residents being tested for COVID-19. No confirmed cases yet, but community guidance enhanced

Posted March 13, 2020 at 1:17 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health has been made aware of several residents being tested for COVID-19. Public Health will be monitoring each person identified as tested for the virus and will update the public immediately if any test comes back as positive. As of 1 p.m. on March 13, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County.

Consistent with state guidance, New Hanover County officials are updating guidance for the community to prevent the impact of COVID-19 in the area. A full overview of guidance for the community, including what you should be doing now and what you should do in the event of COVID-19 in our community, can be seen here.

This local guidance is based on mitigation guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The case count in North Carolina has tripled in the last few days, and it’s evident that it is not a matter of if we see COVID-19 here, but when,” said Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “Several individuals have been tested in New Hanover County, and we are taking the steps to increase guidance and protective measures ahead of positive cases here to protect our residents, especially those at risk of serious illness. Globally, we see that strong actions early can limit the impact of the virus on the community and potentially reduce strain on the healthcare system. It will take all of us following this guidance to keep our area safe and healthy. Since yesterday we have seen a number of organizations make changes to their schedules and operations, and we commend their forward thinking and preparation. We hope this detailed guidance tailored for our community is helpful to our residents.”

COUNTY OPERATIONS & EVENTS

New Hanover County business will continue to operate, but several programs and services are impacted in order to help reduce risk to our community:

  • Effective Saturday, March 14 and through the end of April, all county-sponsored group activities and events will be suspended. This includes group events at Cape Fear Museum, Public Libraries, Arboretum, Airlie Gardens and Parks and Gardens. All facilities are still open to visitors, but no county-initiated group activities will take place.
  • Entities that have reserved a county facility can continue with their activities, as long as they meet the guidance outlined of 100 people or less, and no more than 10 people in the at-risk category. We encourage the public to take proactive measures and practice safe distancing, and cancel events or group activities as appropriate.
  • The Senior Resource Center, including the Castle Hayne satellite site, will be closed for general recreation activities beginning Monday, March 16 for several weeks because they serve the most at-risk population for COVID-19. Senior Resource Center staff will provide a drive-thru and lunch delivery service for those who utilize nutrition services, and will continue operating the Home Delivered Meals Program. The Senior Resource Center’s critical services will continue, including one-on-one social work and SHIIP services, as well as medical and non-medical transportation services will continue. As much as possible, these services will be provided in one-on-one settings and by phone. Customers are encouraged to call ahead for services to 910-798-6400. VITA services will be suspended.
  • At this time, the Board of Commissioners, Planning Board, and most other official government meetings will continue as scheduled. The county is working on modifications to continue public meetings as well as other teleconferencing capabilities, in order to abide by the guidance of having no more than 100 people congregated.
  • Additionally, county employees will not travel out of town for business, will hold meetings, as much as possible, by conference call, webinar or other virtual platform, and will be encouraged – if needed – to work from home or rotate public facing responsibilities to encourage social distancing.

Two county government meetings scheduled for next week have also been canceled:

  • The Non-County Agency Funding Committee completed its business on March 12 and no longer needs the meeting on March 19, so it has been canceled.
  • The Health and Human Services meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 has been canceled because there were no time-sensitive agenda items.

The NC Judicial Branch also announced today that, effective Monday, March 16, superior court and district court proceedings will be rescheduled for at least 30 days, with some exceptions. Additional information can be found here.

“As we heard from the Governor yesterday, the public is expected to follow this guidance, and we will follow as a county organization and make modifications necessary to protect the public and continue governance as we navigate this together,” said County Manager Chris Coudriet. “Unfortunately, our community is no stranger to emergency preparedness, but to our benefit I am confident we, as a community, are ahead of the curve and as prepared to respond as we can be.”

Visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus or CDC.gov for more information.

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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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