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Wilson’s second presumptive positive COVID-19 patient has been released from the hospital and is recovering during home isolation, according to Wilson County Health Director Teresa Ellen.
As of Friday, the Wilson County Communicable Disease Team identified six close contacts as a result of the second presumptive positive case, Ellen said. A close contact includes anyone who was within 6 feet of that person for 10 minutes or more.
The six are currently being quarantined at home, which means they were exposed to the diagnosed COVID-19 patient but are not exhibiting symptoms.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday identified this case as the state’s first documented instance of community spread.
“Community spread does not mean widespread,” Ellen said. “It means we could not identify any travel history or contact with a known presumptive positive person.”
The patient, a woman over 50 who’s not employed and who has underlying health conditions, became symptomatic and tested negative for flu.
Wilson’s first diagnosed COVID-19 case, a woman also over 50 with underlying health conditions, is still being hospitalized outside Wilson County as of Friday, health officials said. The woman, who also wasn’t employed, had returned from out-of-state travel and was not out in public areas but stayed at home until she sought medical attention.
This past week, many places including doctors’ offices here began testing for COVID-19 in addition to the Wilson County Health Department.
The health department will only receive notification of positive results from all sites where testing occurred. Negative results are sent directly to the provider or doctor’s office that submitted the test.
Ellen said while Wilson has had two presumptive positive cases, those numbers will change here and across the state due to more available testing.
“We expect to see numbers increase in the days and weeks ahead,” Ellen said.
At least 137 people across the state have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest data Friday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
To the county’s knowledge, no day care center or businesses in Wilson County have been required to shut down due to possible exposure as of Friday.
• Here are frequently asked questions answered regarding COVID-19.
WHY HAVEN’T PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS RELEASED COVID-19 PATIENTS’ NAMES?
• It’s against the law. Wilson County public health officials cannot share anything that would allow the public to specifically identify an individual. By law, they are required to protect the privacy of individuals’ health information, which includes people’s names.
• County health officials have released the gender of those diagnosed with COVID-19, their age range, whether they have underlying health conditions, whether they are employed, the patients’ current condition and how many close contacts officials have identified in each case. County health officials continue to release as much information as they can while abiding by the law.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE COVID-19 symptoms?
• Call your doctor if you are exhibiting symptoms including cough, fever or shortness of breath. If you do not have a doctor and you are exhibiting symptoms, call the Wilson County Health Department at 252-237-3141. Wilson Medical Center has also implemented a COVID-19 screening hotline: 252-399-7068, which is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
WHO GETS TESTED FOR COVID-19?
•After you have been seen by your doctor and your doctor believes you meet the COVID-19 criteria, which includes testing negative for flu, the doctor’s office will call the health department to arrange testing. Many providers or doctor offices in Wilson County are also testing. If that office has that capability, your doctor will test you at his or her location.
“We are still experiencing some shortage in testing supplies, and that’s a statewide issue and not just a Wilson County issue,” said Ellen.
She said health officials are being very careful to test the people who truly meet the COVID-19 criteria to help those most vulnerable, including people over 65, those who have underlying health conditions and those who are immune-compromised.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU ARE DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19?
• The Wilson County Health Department issues an isolation order. Isolation occurs when a person is exhibiting symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you do not require hospitalization, which most do not, you will be asked to restrict your movement to your home. When there are other people in your home, health officials may ask you to isolate yourself from your family as well.
AM I A CLOSE CONTACT OF A PERSON WHO TESTED PRESUMPTIVE POSITIVE IN WILSON?
• The Wilson County Health Department will call you if you fall into the close contact category. If you do not receive a phone call, you are not considered a close contact.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU’RE IDENTIFIED AS A CLOSE CONTACT?
• After the Wilson County Health Department contacts you, you will be given instructions to stay at home and quarantine yourself for 14 days. Officials will ask you to monitor yourself for symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath. Health officials will also check in with you. If you began exhibiting those symptoms, you will be asked to call the health department right away.
RECOVERY FROM COVID-19
• Ellen said based on what officials know so far, at least 80% of people who contract COVID-19 will recover. It’s those who are in a higher-risk category that are most vulnerable that health officials need to particularly pay close attention to.
SLOW THE SPREAD; FLATTEN THE CURVE
• It’s vital for the Wilson community to take measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 to flatten the curve. What does that mean? By preventing a large peak of cases at once, it will help the health care system provide treatment to those who have complications from the virus. Ellen said Wilsonians all can do their part to slow the spread to ensure there isn’t a surge of patients needing care all at one time.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP SLOW THE SPREAD AND FLATTEN THE CURVE?
As the virus spreads across the state, residents can do several things to help protect themselves, their families and those more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.
• If you don’t feel well, stay home.
• Wash your hands and surfaces frequently.
• Avoid any crowds.
• Work from home if possible.
• Practice social distancing (at least 6 feet).
“This helps to slow the spread and reduce the burden on our health care system,” Ellen said. “The vast majority will have mild symptoms, but we can all do our part to control the spread. We are all in this together and we will get through this together.”