Four more COVID-19 deaths reported in New Hanover County, health officials urge alternative holiday celebrations and testing before planned gatherings

Posted November 6, 2020 at 4:10 pm     Category: Emergency NewsNews ReleasePublic Health

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County health officials were informed of four deaths this week of county residents from COVID-19. Public Health officials urge residents to limit activities to those that are essential, as well as begin planning now for alternative holiday celebrations and pre-gathering COVID-19 testing to slow the spread of the virus.

Three of the individuals who died this week were in their 90’s, and the fourth was in their 60’s. All were considered to be at higher risk of serious illness because of age and underlying health conditions. This bring the total number of New Hanover County residents who have died from COVID-19 to 44. The New Hanover County Public Health COVID-19 dashboard will be updated in the coming days to reflect this number, once information is processed and reported by the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

The highest daily count of COVID-19 cases in the United States, 106,537, was reported on Wednesday, November 4 and today, state health officials reported the highest daily count of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina at 2,908. Taking action to slow the spread of COVID-19 protects ourselves and others, and prevents additional measures restricting activities in New Hanover County.

“The increase in activity nationwide, and here at home, is leading to more cases of COVID-19, and sadly, more deaths,” said New Hanover County Assistant Health Director Carla Turner, RN, MSHCA. “We have seen a spike in cases and hospitalizations a few weeks after an increase in activity, so going into the holiday season, it is critically important to take the necessary actions to protect one another. We want the same people who are around the Thanksgiving table or screen, to be here to celebrate the December holidays safely as well. We urge everyone to heed the guidelines, get tested and avoid non-essential activities before planned, small gatherings.”

Guidance for Holiday Celebrations

  • Do not attend or host a gathering if you feel sick or have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. It’s important to stay home and avoid all activities if you are sick.
  • Plan virtual holiday celebrations with those who live outside of your household.
  • It is advised that holiday gatherings with others outside of your immediate household not take place. However, if a gathering does occur, the gathering limits of 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors are still in place pursuant to the Governor’s order. In addition, as a reminder, smaller gatherings pose less risk than larger gatherings and meeting outdoors is safer than meeting indoors. If there is food served, designate one person as the “server” to avoid multiple touch points, and have each group of people who live together sit at their own table and keep tables at least six feet apart from one another. This is especially important as people will need to remove masks when eating or drinking.
  • Remember your 3 Ws (Wear, Wait and Wash). Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth the whole time you are together – other than when eating or drinking. Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer. And stay at least 6 feet apart, especially when eating or drinking.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly-touched surfaces such as door handles, countertops, sink faucets, and daily work surfaces. Include regular cleaning of items like your phone, tablet or computer, and remotes.
  • Consider getting a COVID-19 test prior to travel or attending family gatherings. A negative test only provides information for that point in time, so limit non-essential activities between your test and the planned gathering. Screening tests are not perfect, but they can catch some people who have the virus and don’t have symptoms yet. Screening tests can also miss some infections – particularly if you use rapid tests – so continue the three Ws to protect yourself and others.

COVID-19 Testing

You can find free testing sites in New Hanover County here or by using the Find My Testing Place tool online.

Free, open community testing located in the UNCW parking lot 1A, continues Tuesday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m. through November 24. Anyone can be tested for COVID-19 at this site; symptoms or being a close contact to someone with COVID-19 is not required to be tested. No appointment is necessary, and individuals are encouraged to pre-register with the testing manufacturer, eTrueNorth, for a faster process. The test site must receive a printed test voucher or view the confirmation email sent to registrants, so pre-registering expedites this process at the site.

Starting Tuesday, November 17, this site will extend hours to serve UNCW students, faculty and staff from 9 to 11 a.m. on operating days, to further slow the spread of COVID-19 as campus scales down and people disperse for the Thanksgiving holiday. This site is being coordinated by New Hanover County Public Health and NCDHHS, in partnership with UNCW.

Additionally, New Hanover County Public Health continues to conduct outreach testing events at various sites to bring free COVID-19 testing directly to communities across the county, eliminating barriers to access. Testing criteria for these outreach sites is COVID-19 symptoms or close contact to someone confirmed to have the virus. Screening and testing is available at each site by drive-through or walk-up, and is offered by the county at no cost to the resident. No ID or insurance information is needed and face masks will be given to those who need one.

For more information on COVID-19 testing and a schedule of testing events, visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus or call the Coronavirus Call Center Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 910-798-6800.

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To view the most recent case count data, information, updates and resources 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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Communications and Outreach: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 195 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7461 • Fax 910-798-7277
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