NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Last week, the CDC announced new guidelines to help the public navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These new guidelines apply to everyone, regardless of vaccination status, and are intended to help the public know the risks, know how to protect themselves, know what to do if exposed and know what to do if they test positive for COVID-19.
“At this point it’s safe to say that COVID isn’t going anywhere and as the virus continues to change and evolve, how we keep each other safe continues to do the same,” said New Hanover County Health Director David Howard. “These new guidelines highlight the fact that we have been getting things right and if we continue to take precautions when necessary and stay informed with our community levels we can keep making positive strides.”
Notably, the CDC acknowledges that high levels of immunity from vaccines and infections, along with the availability of other preventive tools, have reduced the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Individuals should understand their risk factors and what is the best way to keep themselves safe. The CDC is moving away from the emphasis on social distancing and focusing on providing information on treatment options, better ventilation practices and knowing high risk environments. Individuals are also encouraged to stay up to date with their vaccinations and boosters to provide the best level of protection.
For those exposed to COVID:
- Immediately take precautions, like wearing a mask, for 10 full days.
- Take a test 5 days after your exposure, regardless of symptoms. If negative, continue precautions for 5 days. If positive, follow isolation guidance.
- Quarantining, regardless of vaccination status, is no longer required.
For those who test positive for COVID-19:
- If you do not have symptoms, day 0 is the day you were tested, and you should stay home and isolate for at least 5 days.
- If symptoms develop, the isolation time resets to 0 on the day symptoms begin and you must isolate for at least 5 days.
- If you experience moderate or severe illness such as shortness of breath, difficult breathing, need to be hospitalized, or are immunocompromised, isolation should be through day 10.
- Following isolation period, masks should be worn until day 10 or until you test negative twice with 48 hours in between tests.
To review the latest guidance from the CDC, click here.
The Pandemic Operations Center is continuing to offer resources including COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, and testing, members of the community are also encouraged to come pick up free at-home tests and masks during operating hours at 1507 Greenfield Street in Wilmington.
Initial vaccines and boosters are available at the Pandemic Operations Center (1507 Greenfield Street) throughout the week. Appointments are recommended but not required and can be made by visiting TakeMyShot.NC.gov. Vaccines and boosters will be available during the following days and times:
- Mondays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Tuesdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
- Thursdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Fridays from 1-5 p.m.
The Pandemic Operations Center is also offering no cost rapid testing. An appointment is recommended and can be made by visiting this link, but again it is not required. Rapid tests will be available during the following days and times:
- Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Fridays from 9 a.m.-noon
Free COVID-19 tests are also available to people in eligible zip codes thanks to Project ACT, a partnership between NCDHHS and the Rockefeller Foundation. To see check eligibility and order tests, visit accesscovidtests.org.
For more information on the Pandemic Operations Center, vaccines, boosters, or testing, visit Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus or call the Pandemic Operations Call Center at 910-798-6800.
Medium COVID-19 Community Level
Following its weekly review of county-specific data, the CDC has kept New Hanover County at a medium COVID-19 community level. Recommended precautions for this level include speaking to a healthcare provider if you are at high risk about suggested mask wearing and treatment eligibility, being fully vaccinated and boosted, and testing for COVID if you develop symptoms or before being in contact with at high-risk individual. The CDC also recommends having a plan for rapid testing and to follow current quarantine and isolation guidelines if necessary. Mask usage at this community level is optional. The CDC plans to update community levels weekly, so residents can check the CDC website here to know the current community impact level.
COVID-19 Community Data, as of August 19:
- New Hanover County’s percent positivity over the past 7 days is 18.7 percent (this represents positive Molecular (PCR) tests as a percent of total PCR tests performed countywide).
- Approximately 64 percent of New Hanover County residents are considered fully vaccinated with either two doses Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of J&J.
- Since March 1, 2020, there have been 58,357 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Hanover County, resulting in 409 deaths.