County-wide COVID-19 testing began today, residents remain under Stay At Home Order

Posted April 29, 2020 at 3:46 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County began its expanded diagnostic testing for COVID-19, with more than 100 residents scheduled to be tested today at the drive-through testing site. Results of tests are expected in the coming days, and data specific to this effort will be shared on the county’s website during the next four weeks of expanded testing.

Residents who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call the New Hanover County Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to be pre-screened by a public health nurse before being referred for a test. County-wide testing is expected to continue through May 22, and additional details about this testing effort can be viewed here.

To date, there have been 81 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, and of those 57 people have recovered, 21 are still ill and experiencing symptoms, and there have been three deaths. View demographic data on lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases at Health.NHCgov.com.

County Restrictions Expire, Stay At Home Order Remains in Place

New Hanover County’s additional county-wide restrictions expire today at 5 p.m., but residents and businesses will remain under the Governor’s Stay At Home Order that is in place until at least May 8. In addition, the City of Wilmington and Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville beaches have implemented additional restrictions for their municipalities.

“We have stayed ahead of the curve, and I have confidence that residents will continue their personal measures that keep themselves and one another protected from COVID-19,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “I recently announced that I would be letting the county-wide restrictions expire this week, based on the current data from Public Health, NHRMC’s capacity and the hospital system’s metrics that they are actively monitoring, as well as the information we are going to have from the county’s expanded COVID-19 testing program. Now that we have better data and metrics around the virus in our community, I believe that allowing New Hanover County, our residents and businesses, to be in line with the Governor’s Order provides our community with the right amount of mitigation measures. But I have encouraged the mayors of our municipalities to do what they feel is in the best interest of their distinct communities, and they made some of those announcements today.”

Specific information related to the county’s order expiring, as well as other municipal restrictions is below:

  • Restaurants can now allow carry-out food service, in addition to continuing curb-side and delivery (dine-in service is still prohibited under the Governor’s Order).
  • Businesses that are outlined under the Governor’s Order can open, but establishments that cannot comply with social distancing like close-contact businesses must remain closed (read the state’s FAQs for more details).
    • The Governor’s Executive Order 131 also requires stores that are operating to implement social distancing policies that includes limiting the occupancy in a store and implementing physical distancing markers.
    • Retail establishments within the city limits must also keep dressing rooms closed, under the city’s order.
    • Auto and boat dealers in the city limits must comply with 11-point protocol, under the city’s order.
  • Hotels, motels and short-term rentals in the unincorporated county (i.e., those outside of the city limits and the beach communities) can open, but cannot have any dine-in operations and must comply with the Governor’s Order for social distancing. In addition:
  • Team sports facilities, including basketball and volleyball courts, in the unincorporated county can open but must adhere to social distancing requirements and groups cannot be larger than 10 people. Team sports facilities within the City of Wilmington must remain closed, under the city’s order.
  • Beaches are open with limitations as ordered by each of the beach towns.

For an overview of these restrictions and other frequently asked questions, visit Health.NHCgov.com.

“At this time, our known infection numbers appear manageable within the county, and we hope that continues to be true in the weeks and months to come,” said New Hanover County Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “Our expanded testing is already proving to be an important service for our community, with more than 100 people scheduled for testing in the first day. And the data we are able to obtain for this testing will help us better understand if and where community transmission and outbreaks are, by identifying new cases of COVID-19. This data, coupled with other information we have, is important as we begin to reopen businesses and see other activity in our area – so that we can actively monitor the public’s health.”

Slow the Spread

As mitigation measures begin to lift, the public is encouraged to continue personal protective actions to help keep the rate of COVID-19 low and to slow the spread of the virus:

  • Comply with the Governor’s Stay at Home Order.
  • Wear Cloth Face Coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Stay home unless you must travel for essential purposes. If you must leave your home, follow proper physical distancing protocols: don’t gather in groups of more than 10 and stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Stay home if you are sick, even if you are an essential worker. And cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched (like your phone, tablet, countertops and daily work surfaces).

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As of April 29, there have been 81 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. For more information about COVID-19 in New Hanover County, visit Health.NHCgov.com, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages: TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor.

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