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County Public Health Department Prepares for COVID-19

Feb 27, 2020

The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is working closely with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as regional and local partners, in preparing for the possibility of Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) infections in the state.

There are currently no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Cumberland County and no confirmed cases in North Carolina.UPDATE BELOW

On March 3, the North Carolina Division of Public Health confirmed the state’s first “presumptive positive” result for COVID-19 in Wake County. The result is pending confirmation testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On March 9, five more people in Wake County have tested presumptively positive today for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). All traveled to Boston in late February to attend a BioGen conference. Several cases of COVID-19 across the country have been tied to the conference. These cases are not related to the Wake County individual who tested positive last week. All are in isolation at their respective homes.

On March 11, An additional person from Wake County has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total of positive cases in North Carolina to eight. The tests, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, are presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab. The person is doing well and is isolating at home. This case is related to a traveler from Indiana who visited Biogen in Raleigh last week. The Wake County Public Health Division will work to identify close contacts, which the CDC defines as being within approximately six feet of a person with a COVID-19 infection for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individual, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

“We are prepared to quickly identify, monitor and respond to cases if they arise,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Health Director. “We are in regular communication with Fort Bragg, the Fayetteville Regional Airport, local healthcare providers, our local K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning to monitor COVID-19 information and briefings.”

The Health Department’s Senior Leadership and Epidemiology Teams attend weekly calls with NC DHHS about status updates and current guidance on the virus. Cumberland County is working with other Health Departments in the region and Fort Bragg to conduct table-top exercises in the event of an outbreak.

Person-to-person spread of COVID-19 appears to be a result of respiratory transmission. The Public Health Department recommends that everyone continue taking precautions to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory illnesses, which include COVID-19 and the flu.

The Health Department is taking the following actions to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses and encourages individuals, families, institutions and agencies to take the same precautions.

  • Encourage hand washing frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Encourage employees and visitors to get their annual flu shot.
  • Use tissues when sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose and discard the tissue after one use.
  • Clean common surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches and keyboards
  • Offer face masks to visitors with flu-like symptoms or symptoms of other respiratory infections.
  • Employees should not return to work until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine, even if they feel better. This should be followed for parents sending children back to school.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever and shortness of breath. Persons who are experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath and have visited China or had close contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days should seek immediate medical attention. Before you go to the doctor’s office, emergency room or urgent care, call ahead and tell them your symptoms and recent travel history.

Flu is widespread in North Carolina. With rare exception, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 or older get a flu vaccine each season. Flu vaccine is available to the public at the Health Department’s Immunization Clinic at 1235 Ramsey Street. Walk-ins are welcome.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health has established a call line at 1-866-462-3821 to address general questions about COVID-19 from the public. In the event of an emergency, please call 9-1-1.

We encourage the public to seek information from credible sources including the Cumberland County Health Department website (http://www.co.cumberland.nc.us/departments/public-health-group/public-health) and the NC DHHS website (https://www.ncdhhs.gov/).

If you would like more information about the Cumberland County Department of Public Health’s programs and services, health-related data, or community resources, please call 910-433-3600 or visit with someone at the information desk, or visit our website at co.cumberland.nc.us/health. Comments are welcome and can be submitted on our website at co.cumberland.nc.us/feedback. The Health Department is located at 1235 Ramsey St. in Fayetteville.

 

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