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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

Posted on: March 16, 2020

COVID-19 Information and Preparedness Tips

2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Preparedness Tips

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by a new virus first identified in Wuhan, China. 

As confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to spread in the U.S., the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that all citizens anticipate and prepare for the possibility of widespread COVID-19 infection in the U.S. Since this is a situation that is changing regularly and rapidly, it’s always best to check the CDC and NCDHHS’s dedicated COVID-19 websites for the most current, in-depth info and guidance.

The following are common-sense measures that individuals, families, communities, businesses, health care facilities, schools and others can take to prepare for potential widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the state:

Individuals, Families and Communities

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) recommends everyone continue taking precautions to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory illnesses, which includes COVID-19.

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, and for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • It is also good practice to start being more aware of the number of times a day your hands touch an object or hard surface and then touch your face without being washed. Limiting the exposure of your nose, mouth and eyes to unwashed hands can help to protect from the spread of all germs and illnesses.
  • Have a plan in case you need to miss work or other responsibilities due to personal illness or to care for a sick family member.

Businesses and Employers

  • Practice good hand hygiene and encourage your employees and patrons to take common-sense precautions to protect themselves from the spread of respiratory illnesses.
  • Review your policies and procedures for remote or teleworking where possible.
  • Cross-train employees for key functions so that daily schedules can continue relatively uninterrupted by potential employee absences.
  • Review absenteeism policies to make sure employees are not being encouraged to come to work if they are sick.
  • If you have not already, establish a relationship with your local health department and communicate with them if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19.
  • Look for more updates and in-depth guidance for businesses available on the CDC website.

Health Care Providers and Hospitals

  • Review policies and procedures for infection prevention and mitigation, and make sure that all employees are aware of and following the appropriate steps.
  • Consider how to maximize the use of telemedicine, nurse triage lines and other options to prevent sick people from coming to clinics and emergency rooms if they have mild illness and do not need treatment.
  • Continue implementing the NCDHHS and CDC guidance for COVID-19 and continue working closely with your local health department and NCDHHS.
  • Look for more updates and in-depth information for health care professionals on the CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html

College, Universities, K-12 Schools and Child Care Facilities

  • Make sure all students, faculty and staff are aware of and practicing good hand hygiene and taking common-sense precautions to protect from the spread of respiratory illnesses.
  • Review absenteeism policies and procedures to make sure students or children, faculty and staff are not being encouraged to attend or work if they are sick.
  • If you have not already, establish a relationship with your local health department and communicate with them if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19.
  • Learn more about COVID-19 on the CDC website, and look for updates and information for schools, colleges and childcare.

No one group, ethnicity or population in the US is at a higher risk for acquiring COVID-19 infection than others. While some people may be worried or have concerns about COVID-19, it is important to not let fear and anxiety lead to social stigma towards friends, neighbors or members of the community. Treat all people with compassion and speak up if you hear others making statements that cause stigma against people in your community.

All North Carolinians can better prepare for COVID-19 by getting up-to-date information directly from reliable sources like NCDHHS and the CDC. The COVID-19 outbreak has been accompanied by a global flood of misinformation from unreliable sources. Be thoughtful about what you read or hear about the virus and make sure you are separating rumor from fact before you act. 

For more information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina.

If you have questions or concerns, call the COVID-19 Helpline toll free at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, go to https://www.ncpoisoncontrol.org/ and select “chat.”

Since late January, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and NC Emergency Management (NCEM) have been operating a team to coordinate efforts around the state’s response.   In early February, Governor Cooper formalized this effort with the creation of the COVID-19 Task Force. NCDPH is also working with local health departments and hospitals statewide to provide regular updates on surveillance and response plans.

3-9-20

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