New Hanover County COVID-19 Update: Overall Case Count at 51 with 20 people recovered, face masks and fabric businesses, homeless sheltering plan, and updates to local operations

Posted April 6, 2020 at 5:55 pm     Category: County CommissionersEmergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic HealthTax

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials are investigating four additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total overall case count to 51. Of these 51 cases, 20 people have 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 four new cases today, two are contacts to previously-confirmed cases and two appear to be community transmission. The individuals are all isolated and Public Health is working on contact tracing to determine those who have been in close contact with them.

Of the 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, 28 are females and 23 are males.  The age ranges of all cases in New Hanover County are as follows:

  • 0-17 years old: zero cases
  • 18-24 years old: 5
  • 25-49 years old: 18
  • 50-64 years old: 16
  • 65+ years old: 12

Face Coverings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared new guidance for individuals to wear a cloth face cover when in public where social distancing can be difficult, like the grocery store or pharmacy. Face coverings for personal use can be made from household items, which can be laundered for repeated use and allows for surgical and N95 respirator masks to be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.

“We have learned that COVID-19 can be transmitted before you are sick and even if you never show any symptoms,” said Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “So wearing a face covering is something you can do to help protect others from any germs you may have. But keep in mind, wearing a mask is no substitute for physical distancing and you still need to be washing your hands well and often. The best thing we can all do to protect ourselves and our community is to just stay home.”

The county and city have both updated frequently asked questions to provide clarification that allows businesses that sell fabric or clothing/materials suitable for making homemade masks to be open at this time.

Community Homeless Sheltering Plan

At today’s teleconference meeting, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a community partnership and an appropriation of $25,000 from the county to support a hotel sheltering plan for the homeless population during COVID-19.

New Hanover County, the City of Wilmington, and United Way will each appropriate $25,000 to work in collaboration for the purpose of securing hotel rooms for our homeless population to decompress the homeless shelters. This will allow for 6′ feet physical distancing while providing additional alternate sites for this vulnerable population for up-to 90 days. Sheltering agency staff will provide on-site administration and direct support, and the county will also provide support with public health nurse teams to conduct wellness checks.

“I am proud of the county’s leadership and involvement with our community partners like United Way, City of Wilmington, NHRMC, New Hanover Disaster Coalition, Cape Fear Collective, Good Shepherd Center, Salvation Army, and other agencies to ensure this vulnerable population is provided with what they need during this critical time,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “This plan did not happen overnight, and I appreciate our county staff for the work they have done over the past month to prepare, including a well-coordinated plan to shelter anyone who needs to be isolated due to their symptoms or a pending COVID-19 test, in order to help prevent an outbreak in a congregate setting. The county’s mission has been, and will continue to be, to serve all 235,000 residents – no matter who they are or where they lay their head at night.”

County and State Restrictions

New Hanover County residents are under the Governor Cooper’s state-wide Stay at Home Executive Order as well as New Hanover County’s additional county-wide restrictions.

New Hanover County and each municipality are enforcing state and local Stay at Home orders. Written citations and fines are being assessed to those who are not in compliance. Anyone who wishes to report noncompliance with Stay at Home orders should contact their local municipal law enforcement agency.

Residents should only leave their homes for essential work, to take care of others, obtain food, seek medical care, or volunteer for a charitable service. Groups are limited to no more than 10 people, and people must practice physical distancing and remain six feet apart from others. A curfew is not in effect for New Hanover County at this time.

View a list of frequently asked questions related to the current orders, which includes a list of essential and non-essential businesses, here.

Business Personal Property Tax Listings

The listing period for business personal property assets is January 1 through January 31 each year, and extensions are offered to those who request it through April 15. Businesses that have requested an extension but are not able to complete the property tax listing by April 15 because of impacts from COVID-19 will be added to a list kept by the New Hanover County Tax Office. That list of businesses will then be presented to the Board of Equalization and Review, with a request by the county’s Tax Administrator to forgive the late listing penalty due to COVID-19. For questions, call 910-798-7300 or visit Tax.NHCgov.com.

Clerk of Courts Office Hours

Beginning Wednesday, April 8, 2020, the New Hanover County Clerk of Courts Office will be open between the hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. According to Clerk of Superior Court Jan Kennedy, this is to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and will be effective through June 1, 2020. Exceptions will be made for emergency relief in violent situations or any other emergency that cannot wait until the next day. The public can call the Clerk’s Office at 910-772-6600 with questions.

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 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, counter tops and daily work surfaces).

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As of 5:30 p.m. on Monday, April 6, 2020, there have been 51 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.   

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