State of Emergency in Wilmington and New Hanover County; More Cases Identified

Mar 20, 2020

New Hanover County has issued a State of Emergency, prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people and closing public beach access points in order to ensure social distancing and reduce the risk of COVID-19. 

The State of Emergency is effective as of 5 p.m. and applies to the unincorporated areas of the county, the City of Wilmington, and all beach communities.

Meanwhile, New Hanover County Public Health officials have identified three additional positive cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in New Hanover County – bringing the county’s total confirmed case count to four. All  cases appear to be travel related, with positive test results received Saturday, Mar. 21.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now determined that all positive COVID-19 test results from public and private labs can be deemed as “positives” and not “presumptive positives” moving forward, and tests are no longer required to be sent to the CDC for confirmation.

SECOND CONFIRMED CASE

The second confirmed case traveled to New York and returned to New Hanover County by way of Myrtle Beach International Airport on Tuesday, Mar. 17. The individual was not symptomatic while traveling, but began feeling symptomatic after returning to New Hanover County. The person went to their doctor on Thursday, Mar. 19 and a test was conducted at that time. Isolation protocols were implemented immediately.

THIRD CONFIRMED CASE

The third confirmed case traveled to Florida and became symptomatic on Mar. 13 while in Florida. The person traveled by car back to New Hanover County on Mar. 14, and began self-isolating in their home. On Monday, Mar. 16, the individual was tested at their physician’s office for COVID-19 and continued self-isolation after testing. 

FOURTH CONFIRMED CASE

The fourth confirmed case traveled to Colorado and arrived back in New Hanover County on Mar. 9. The individual became symptomatic on Mar. 11 and was tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Mar. 17. This person did not self-isolate before going to the doctor, and Public Health is currently working on contact tracing to determine those who were in close contact with this individual.

For all of these positive cases, Public Health officials have confirmed the individuals are doing well and have agreed to self-isolate in their homes until criteria for clearance of COVID-19 is met. Close contacts in all cases have been instructed, or are currently being instructed, to self-isolate by Public Health and have agreed to do so.

“We currently don’t have any evidence that community spread is occurring in New Hanover County, because these three new positive cases appear to be travel related,” says New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman.

“But this should impress upon everyone in our community that they must continue taking necessary steps to practice social distancing. The things we do today will affect how this virus spreads and how our community is impacted.”

Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach have also issued their own State of Emergency declarations.

“The State of Emergency provides consistency across all of New Hanover County and promotes social distancing to help protect us each individually, as well as others,” says New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. 

“We know limiting gatherings and beach access can be inconvenient for our community, but it is an important step to keep our residents safe. We are being proactive so that we don’t have to close other facilities or important services in our community, and we need people to take this order seriously. The more we can do now to limit the spread of this virus, the better.”

Bridges are still open, and businesses on the islands will continue to operate. Only public access to the beach strands is prohibited at this time. Residents are encouraged to support local businesses by using online services, purchasing gift cards and ordering takeout or delivery.