Highest daily case count of COVID-19, cluster identified in child care facility in New Hanover County

Posted June 19, 2020 at 4:45 pm     Category: Emergency ManagementEmergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County Public Health officials reported an additional 53 cases of COVID-19 today, the highest daily case count to date, bringing the total number of cases in New Hanover County to 529. Additionally, public health officials have identified a cluster of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a child care facility. A cluster is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as five or more cases with linkage between cases in licensed and regulated child care and school settings.

Milestones Learning Center informed New Hanover County Public Health of an employee who had a positive lab result for COVID-19 on Monday, June 15. The individual did not work in a classroom and had last been at the facility on Thursday, June 11. Parents and guardians were notified and the center began testing all staff. In the following days, a subsequent five other cases among asymptomatic staff and children were confirmed. The facility made the decision to close until further notice.

“Child care facilities in New Hanover County have done a great job of following guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their establishments and we appreciate Milestones’ quick work in informing our public health team and the families they serve of the cases they learned of connected to their facility,” said Public Health Assistant Director Carla Turner, RN, MSHCA. “We can expect to see more outbreaks and clusters with increased activity across our community coupled with individuals not following the three W’s – Wear, Wait, Wash. If we follow protective measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, we protect those around us and prevent further spread into settings like child care, nursing homes or congregate living facilities.”

Those key protective measures are:

  • Wear a face covering when out in public
  • Wait six feet apart from others and don’t gather in groups
  • 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).
  • Stay home if you are sick, and cover your coughs and sneezes.

Public Health is conducting contact tracing to identify close contacts and inform those who may have been exposed so they can quarantine and be tested, which helps contain the spread of the virus. Public Health will continue to monitor the situation and provide support and guidance to child care facilities in the county. Starting Tuesday, June 22, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will begin reporting clusters of COVID-19 in child care settings, and those reports will be found at NCDHHS.gov.

Testing for COVID-19 

Updated testing guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services encourages those who have participated in mass gatherings to seek out testing. This expands testing options through private providers and organizations like CVS Pharmacy. Testing sites across the community and state can be found at NCDHHS.gov.

New Hanover County continues to provide diagnostic testing for anyone experiencing symptoms, those identified as a close contact to a confirmed case regardless of symptoms, and congregate living settings with concerns of a potential outbreak. Residents can call 910-798-6800 to speak with a Public Health nurse to be connected with local testing sites, or be pre-screened and scheduled for a COVID-19 test at the county’s open-air, drive-through site. Interpreters are available, and tests are provided at no cost, with no proof of insurance or residency required.

Guidance for Employers 

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employees who may have been in close contact (defined as within six feet for 10 minutes) will be contacted by a public health contact tracer and informed of their possible exposure. Those who are considered to have been exposed to COVID-19 are eligible to be tested regardless of symptoms. Employees should stay home and isolated until they receive their test results. If negative, they can return to work. If positive, the employees should stay home and away from others and only return to work when considered recovered. A person is considered recovered from COVID-19 when:

  • they are fever free, without the help of fever-reducing medications, for at least 72 hours or three full days; and
  • other symptoms like coughing or trouble breathing improve; and
  • at least 10 days have passed since the individual first experienced COVID-19-like symptoms.

If all guidance and physical distancing measures are followed, closing a place of employment may not be necessary if an employee has COVID-19 (depending on the service provided in the establishment). Employers can contact the Coronavirus Call Center at 910-798-6800 for guidance and consultation on steps for cleaning, disinfecting and communicating with staff.

Additionally, employers and residents are encouraged to take the Count On Me NC pledge. Free trainings for restaurants, hotels, attractions and retail shops, as well as general trainings are offered to help businesses have measures in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. It also allows customers to learn more about safely engaging in business as reopening continues. Visit CountOnMeNC.org for information, trainings and graphics to post to increase consumer confidence.

More guidance and information for employers can be found at Health.NHCgov.com.

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As of 4 p.m. on Friday, June 19, 2020, there have been 529 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: Twitter, Facebook,  Instagram, and Nextdoor. v

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