New Hanover County announces face covering policy on county property, local COVID-19 case counts continue to risePublished: 06/26/2020
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – In line with Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 147, New Hanover County has implemented a face coverings policy for county employees and the public that begins today, Friday, June 26, at 5 p.m.
All county employees who are within six feet of someone, either inside a county building or outside on county property, must wear a face covering unless they qualify for an exemption outlined in the executive order.
In addition, citizens are requested to wear a face covering while inside any county building or at any of the county’s outdoor facilities (like Airlie Gardens, the Arboretum, and county parks) when they are within six feet of others, except when strenuously exercising. Disposable face masks will be available to citizens inside county buildings, if needed, but customers will not be turned away or refused service if they do not wear a mask.
According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and Public Health, face coverings – if worn consistently – are an additional public health measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is still recommended that you stay at least six feet way from other people and frequently wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others, which is especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms.
Resources for Face Coverings
Cloth face coverings should cover the nose and mouth, and can be purchased from a range of retailers or made at home from regular household items. The CDC has resources on how to make a face covering from items like bandanas and t-shirts, and a video showing the steps is also available.
If your nonprofit, church, business or organization is in need of masks, gloves, or hand sanitizer, complete the New Hanover Disaster Coalition’s request form here for assistance. Additional information, specific to the state-wide guidance for face coverings, can be found here.
COVID-19 Cases Counts
Since June 1, there have been an additional 596 COVID-19 positive cases identified in New Hanover County, bringing the total number of cases to 805 as of 2 p.m. today. Updated daily case counts, demographics, and a graph showing daily cases can be found at Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus.
“Over the last week, New Hanover County has been averaging over 40 new cases per day; and our local case count has doubled in only 11 days – from June 14 to June 25, which is a dramatic increase from previous weeks where it took anywhere from 17 to 22 days for our case count to double,” said Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Lisa Brown. “All of these metrics show a concerning trend, so – now more than ever – we ask that each person does all they can to prevent the spread of this virus. If we aren’t wearing a mask, staying six feet from others, and washing our hands regularly, COVID-19 will continue to spread and will make its way to the most vulnerable in our community and begin to overwhelm our health system.”
Clusters & Outbreaks in New Hanover County
Currently, Public Health is supporting and monitoring five outbreaks at congregate living and long-term care facilities, and one cluster site at a daycare in New Hanover County. An “outbreak” is defined by NCDHHS as two or more cases of COVID-19 (residents or employees) in 28 days; a “cluster” is defined as five or more cases with linkage between cases in licensed and regulated child care and school settings.
Those include: Davis Health Care Center, Liberty Commons, and Northchase Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (each with three employees positive, but no residents positive); as well as Salvation Army of the Cape Fear emergency shelter, New Hanover County Detention Center and Milestone Learning Center.
A report of outbreaks and clusters across the 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, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 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.
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.
Key protective measures our community should take include:
- 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.