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"Coronavirus" or COVID-19: Facts and Links

One Person in North Carolina Tests Positive for Virus

by: Tristan Dufresne,

Global attention to the spread of COVID-19 or “novel coronavirus" has impacted international travel and financial markets as health organizations warn the public of steps necessary to prevent transmission of the disease before its spread would reach pandemic status, with possibly hundreds of thousands or millions of infections worldwide.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release March 3 that read in part, "A North Carolina person has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The test, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health,

is presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention lab. The person is doing well and is in

isolation at home."

Though people infected with the virus experience symptoms similar to the flu, the mortality rate of COVID-19 has been estimated by early and ongoing analysis to be higher than that of the flu. There is currently no vaccine to cure or prevent the virus.

Dozens of cases of COVID-19 have been discovered in the United States, with at least eleven deaths in the U.S. as of Tuesday, March 3 (as reported by the Washington Post). As of March 4, only one person in North Carolina has tested "presumtively positive" for the virus, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).

The following are a set of links to resources from public health organizations in the United States geared toward informing people of the steps they may take to protect themselves from infection by COVID-19. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page that provides responses to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 is the first link readers may wish to follow, for a better understanding of the virus.

Below the set of links, we have reproduced the NCDHHS fact sheet on COVID-19. The article is provided courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Public Health website.

At the bottom of this page, the CDC’s tips for handwashing and hand sanitizing are reproduced, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health has established a call line at 1-866-462-3821 to address general questions about coronavirus from the public. NCDPH recommends calling 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.


United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 


Situation Updates:

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services  (NCDHHS) 

"Coronavirus" main page:
Governor’s Task Force:



Facts Sheet:


The following is the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ FAQ on COVID-19 in North Carolina.

How is COVID-19 spread? 

According to the CDC, this virus likely emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person-to-person. Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

• The air by coughing and sneezing

• Close personal contact, including touching and shaking hands

• Touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands.

What are the symptoms? 

Symptoms are similar to the flu and typically cause mild to moderate respiratory illness. Common symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath.

What should I do if I traveled to China and feel sick? 

Persons who are experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath and have visited China or had close contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days should seek immediate medical attention.

• Before you go to the doctor’s office, emergency room or urgent care, call ahead and tell them your symptoms and recent travel history.

• Avoid contact with others.

• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

• Do not travel while sick.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Are there any cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina? 

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina at this time. The North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Communicable Disease Branch will provide updates as needed regarding any significant developments in this response, including a positive case.

How are the CDC and the NC Division of Public Health working together? 

The CDC has been preparing for COVID-19 cases in the United States for weeks, including alerting clinicians about how to detect, report and diagnose COVID-19 and prevent spread. The CDC has also provided guidance for travelers.

The North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Communicable Disease Branch is taking proactive steps to be prepared for potential cases in North Carolina, including following the latest CDC recommendations related to surveillance, evaluation and response. The Division of Public Health will also be working with local health departments and hospitals statewide to provide updates on surveillance and response plans.

What is my risk of contracting COVID-19? 

While the CDC considers COVID-19 to be a very serious public health threat, the current immediate health risk to the general American public is considered low at this time. Nevertheless, CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions.

Where can I find the latest travel recommendations? 

The U.S. Department of State provides information to help travelers assess for themselves the risks of international travel. Travel advisories are available online. On Jan. 31, the Department of State raised its travel advisory to a level 4 and is recommending no travel to China. Please note that conditions can change rapidly in a country at any time.

How can you protect yourself? 

The steps to preventing coronavirus transmission are similar to the steps to preventing other respiratory illnesses, like the flu. These include:

• 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.

The actions listed above will also protect people against influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other respiratory infections that are common in North Carolina and the U.S. this time of year. 

Can I get tested for COVID-19? 

Testing for COVID-19 is not available through commercial laboratories. At this time, diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is only being conducted at the CDC. State and local health departments are working with the CDC to arrange coronavirus testing for people who meet the CDC risk assessment criteria for testing.

What is the treatment for COVID-19? 

There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own. However, there are some things you can do to relieve your symptoms, including:

• Taking pain and fever medications (caution: do not give aspirin to children)

• Using a humidifier or taking a hot shower to ease a sore throat and cough

• Drinking plenty of liquids and stay home and rest.

Who can I contact for questions? 

The North Carolina Division of Public Health has established a call line at 1-866-462-3821 to address general questions about coronavirus from the public. In the event of an emergency, please call 9-1-1.

[Reproduced here courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Public Health]

The following is the CDC’s article on “When and How to Wash Your Hands.”

"When and How to Wash Your Hands"

Español (Spanish)

Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.

Wash Your Hands Often to Stay Healthy 

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

• Before, during, and after preparing food

• Before eating food

• Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea

• Before and after treating a cut or wound

• After using the toilet

• After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

• After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

• After handling pet food or pet treats

• After touching garbage

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way 

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.

2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water 

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,

• Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.

• Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

• Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use. Learn more here.

How to use hand sanitizer 

• Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).

• Rub your hands together.

• Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

[“When and How to Wash Your Hands” reproduced here courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services]

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