First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Chatham County

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/6/20

The N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health confirmed a second Chatham County resident has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

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First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Chatham County

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Posted

RALEIGH — The N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health confirmed a second Chatham County resident has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

According to a news release from the Chatham County government on Friday morning, the man traveled in late February to an area in Italy that is now the site of a COVID-19 outbreak. While there, he experienced two days of “mild, flu-like symptoms.” Eventually, the man’s fever “resolved” and symptoms improved, and he flew back to the U.S. the next day.

Soon afterward, North Carolina health officials were notified by the Georgia Department of Health that the man was a contact to a case in that state, meaning that he had been in proximity to someone in Georgia that contracted COVID-19. Chatham County Public Health Department personnel conducted a home visit and collected specimens. A test revealed a presumptive positive Thursday night.

Layton Long, the county's Public Health Director, said Friday at a news conference in Raleigh that the department's communicable disease nurses visited with the man that morning and are continuing to follow state guidance.

“Our staff are continually monitoring this patient," Long said. "This patients has been very cooperative. At this point, he’s doing well. We fully expect him to remain in isolation as he has agreed to do without any issues.”

State Health Director Betsey Tilson added that the man "has been isolating at home as much as possible."

“He is isolated at home," she said. "His spouse is in the home with him. She is now in quarantine, and she doesn’t have symptoms.”

The individual has not been identified “to protect individual privacy,” according to the county news release. He joins more than 95,000 confirmed cases as of Thursday, March 5, most of which are inside China. More than 3,200 people have died from the virus.

“The Chatham County Public Health Department will work to identify close contacts to monitor symptoms," the county press release stated. "Since the person had been symptomatic before travel, the CDC will identify close contacts on the flight thought to be at risk and notify the appropriate public health agencies.

“While awaiting confirmation of results from the CDC, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will treat presumptive cases as positive and follow CDC guidelines to protect public health and limit the spread of infection.”

In response to the presumptive positive test, Chatham County Schools said it would be working with the health department "regarding updates."

"In the event of an identified case connected to the district, local health officials will provide recommended actions, including whether or not to close schools, and we will communicate accordingly," the statement said. "The district's custodial supply provider stocks all of its schools with appropriate products for both cleaning and disinfecting and reinforces best practices for their effective use." 

North Carolinians with questions or concerns about COVID-19 can call the COVID-19 phone line toll-free at 866-462-3821. This helpline is staffed by the North Carolina Poison Control 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For the latest up-to-date information on the virus, visit the CDC’s website at cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which will also include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina. Chatham County has also set up a web address — chathamnc.org/coronavirus —for the latest local information.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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