COVID-19 Update: Overall Case Count at 54, Homemade Mask Donations Accepted, Drive-In Church Services, Mental Health Resources, Executive Orders Impact Retail Establishments and Long Term Care Facilities

Posted April 9, 2020 at 6:54 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials are investigating one additional positive case of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total count of confirmed cases to 54.

Of the 54 overall cases, there are 32 individuals who are considered recovered – meaning they have been fever free for at least three days without the use of fever reducing medication, they have improved respiratory symptoms, and it has been at least seven days since their symptom onset.

Of the 54 overall cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County:

  • 54% female, 46% male
  • 72% White, 15% Black/African American, 9% Hispanic/Latino, and 4% Unknown
  • 0% are 0-17 years old, 9% are 18-24 years old, 35% are 25-49 years old, 32% are 50-64 years old, and 24% are 65+ years old.

“These 54 cases are likely not a full picture of the number of people who have or have had COVID-19 in our community, as they reflect only lab confirmed cases at this time, and not those who are experiencing more mild symptoms and following state guidance to self-isolate at home,” said New Hanover County Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “Being diligent in staying home if you can, and following guidance to wear a face covering if you must go out helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our individual actions are the best defense against this virus.”

Homemade Masks for Healthcare Workers

NHRMC is now accepting cloth mask donations to assist clinical staff to augment the hospital’s current personal protective equipment. These masks must be designed to meet certain specifications, and that information, including step-by-step mask instructions, can be viewed here.

These masks, and any handmade mask or face covering are accepted at the personal protective equipment (PPE) donations drop off site, in addition to manufactured, never-used PPE. These donations support our entire community, from first responders and to food workers and other essential personnel.

The donation site will be closed on Friday, April 10, but will reopen to the public on Monday, April 13. The site will maintain regular hours next week Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Drive-in Church Services

Today, Governor Cooper provided clarification on drive-in church services under mass gathering restrictions. The participation of churches and houses of worship is critical to community-wide success in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and the recommendation of New Hanover County Public Health is that services are held virtually to avoid potential spread of the virus. However, according to Governor Cooper’s correspondence to the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, drive-in church services will be allowed provided that all vehicles maintain a distance of at least six feet from any other vehicle on all sides, all people stay in their vehicles, only members of the same household occupy the same vehicle, and vehicles do not obstruct any street or sidewalk. Additionally, it is advised that services last no more than one hour in order to prevent people from needing to leave their vehicles for any reason, like going to the restroom or stretching their legs.

Retail Establishment Restrictions Under Executive Order 131

Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 131 today, increasing restrictions for social distancing and maximum capacity within essential retail establishments. The new order limits the occupancy of essential retail establishments to twenty percent of the stated fire capacity or five customers per every one-thousand square feet of the retail location’s total square footage. Operating establishments must clearly mark six feet of spacing in lines at cash registers and other high traffic areas.

The full order can be read here, along with the official FAQs for the Governor’s order.

Long Term Care Facilities

On Tuesday, April 8, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 130, which allows for increases in health care resources by relaxing some regulations to include long term care facilities, allowing them to acquire equipment, relocate beds, add or relocate dialysis stations, and adds flexibility to maximize the pool of health care workers to meet extraordinary needs. Executive Order 131, signed today by Governor Cooper includes additional mitigation measures for long term care facilities, with recommendations for personal protective equipment, guidance for staff illness procedures, and a reminder of previously released visitor protocols.

New Hanover County Public Health staff have been in regular contact with all local long term care facilities, providing guidance issued by the CDC and the State since early March. Local facilities have already put in place most requirements covered in the Governor’s Executive Orders.

New Hanover County Public Health has reached out to each facility twice this week to reinforce the new requirements and to see if they have any needs, including PPE, testing and education.

Two New Mental Health Resources

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has two new mental health resources to support North Carolinians.

The Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463) connects North Carolinians to additional mental health and resilience supports that help them cope during times of crisis. As part of the state’s recent hurricane recovery efforts it served over 4,400 people in the most impacted counties, and now it is being made available to everyone in North Carolina’s 100 counties during the COVID-19 crisis. This initiative is in partnership with all seven of the state’s Local Management Entities/Managed Care Organizations and REAL Crisis Intervention Inc. in Greenville, NC. Hope4NC is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to speak to a live person.

The Hope4Healers Helpline (919-226-2002) is a new initiative in partnership with the North Carolina Psychological Foundation. It provides mental health and resilience supports for health care professionals, emergency medical specialists, first responders, other staff who work in health care settings and their families throughout the state who are experiencing stress from being on the front lines of the state’s COVID-19 response. Hope4Healers is also available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for people to reach out for support; they will be contacted quickly by a licensed mental health professional for follow-up.

Slow the Spread

Steps that everyone can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Comply with the Governor’s Stay at Home Order and New Hanover County restrictions.
  • Wear Cloth Face Coveringsin 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, counter tops and daily work surfaces).

###

As of 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, 2020, there have been 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. For updates and resources related to the COVID-19 virus in New Hanover County, visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus, call our Public Health Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800, and follow the county’s trusted social media pages:  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor.

« Back to news overview

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