NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials have identified three additional positive cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in New Hanover County – bringing the county’s total confirmed case count to four. All three cases appear to be travel related, with positive test results received today, March 21, 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now determined that all positive COVID-19 test results from public and private labs can be deemed as “positives” and not “presumptive positives” moving forward, and tests are no longer required to be sent to the CDC for confirmation.
SECOND CONFIRMED CASE
The second confirmed case traveled to New York and returned to New Hanover County by way of Myrtle Beach International Airport on March 17. The individual was not symptomatic while traveling, but began feeling symptomatic after returning to New Hanover County. The person went to their doctor on March 19 and a test was conducted at that time. Isolation protocols were implemented immediately.
THIRD CONFIRMED CASE
The third confirmed case traveled to Florida and became symptomatic on March 13 while in Florida. The person traveled by car back to New Hanover County on March 14, and began self-isolating in their home. On March 16, the individual was tested at their physician’s office for COVID-19 and continued self-isolation after testing.
FOURTH CONFIRMED CASE
The fourth confirmed case traveled to Colorado and arrived back in New Hanover County on March 9 through ILM Airport. The individual became symptomatic on March 11 and was tested for COVID-19 on March 17. This person did not self-isolate before going to the doctor, and Public Health is currently working on contact tracing to determine those who were in close contact with this individual.
For all three of these positive cases, Public Health officials have confirmed the individuals are doing well and have agreed to self-isolate in their homes until criteria for clearance of COVID-19 is met. Close contacts in all cases have been instructed, or are currently being instructed, to self-isolate by Public Health and have agreed to do so.
“We currently don’t have any evidence that community spread is occurring in New Hanover County, because these three new positive cases appear to be travel related,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “But this should impress upon everyone in our community that they must continue taking necessary steps to practice social distancing. The things we do today will affect how this virus spreads and how our community is impacted.”
As of 1 p.m. on March 21, there are 194 test samples reported to the county. Of those, four have been confirmed positive, 61 have been confirmed negative and 129 are still pending.
STATE OF EMERGENCY & SOCIAL DISTANCING
On Friday, March 20, New Hanover County declared a State of Emergency that prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people throughout the county, including in the City of Wilmington and our beach towns.
“These measures continue to be even more important, and are in place to protect everyone in our community – especially those who are most vulnerable, as well as our healthcare workers and our emergency personnel,” said Olson-Boseman. “We have to think about everyone, and practicing good hygiene – like washing hands often and for 20 seconds, remaining six feet away from others, and not gathering in groups of more than ten. Those are among the best ways we can help limit the risk of COVID-19.”
New Hanover County has been sharing guidance to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the community over the last several weeks, including reminders about personal hygiene, disinfecting items, and limiting gatherings to 10 people or less. View guidance from New Hanover County for households, businesses, community organizations and others at Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.
SYMPTOMS & TESTING
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 at higher risk of serious illness, necessitating community guidance to reduce risk to this population. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath and most cases are mild in severity.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has established COVID-19 testing standards. Currently, only those who meet the following criteria should ask their doctor or local health department about being tested for COVID-19:
If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, 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.
Residents can also call the New Hanover County Public Health Coronavirus Call Center to speak with a nurse who can assess their individual risk and, if needed, connected 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.
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:
Residents are also encouraged to prepare for the potential impacts of COVID-19 as you would for other emergencies, using the ReadyNHC steps:
As of 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020, there are four 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.