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Sunday, April 5, 2020

COVID-19 in North Carolina is 'scary' but risk public is 'low,' Mecklenburg County health officials say

Local Government

By Karen Kidd | Mar 11, 2020

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Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris addressing the news media about COVID-19 earlier this week | mecknc.gov/

While the idea of COVID-19 in North Carolina is scary, Mecklenburg County health officials are asking residents to remain calm and to know their risk is low, according to an update issued earlier today.

COVID-19 is "an emerging, rapidly evolving situation" and the county intends to update information on the COVID-19 page of its website as that information becomes available.

"At this time, the risk to the general public in North Carolina is LOW," the latest update to the page, posted earlier today, said. "While Mecklenburg County Public Health considers novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a very serious public health threat, the current immediate health risk to the general public in North Carolina is considered low at this time."

Also earlier today, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 viral illness to be a pandemic.

Earlier this week in an address to the news media, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said she had two words COVID-19 in the county: calm and caution.

Harris also said she wants the public to remain aware of COVID-19 and the fast-breaking developments - that it "is scary," "new" and "has the potential to be wide-reaching" - but to not panic.

"We'd like to remind individuals that if they have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, especially if they came from areas of concern, that they should contact their provider first or call the health department first before they seek care," Harris said. "That's to make sure we are not moving infected individuals into the broader community of the hospital or of urgent care."

Last week, Harris told the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners that the county is operating under a First Level response of basic prevention and that county health officials are encourage people to wash their hands and stay home when they're sick.

No confirmed cases of COVID-19 have yet been reported in Mecklenburg County and only two cases have been confirmed in the entire state. County health officials report that the general public's risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low, health officials report.

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