By Sheila Davies
Director Dare County Department of Health and Human Services
I want to share a few important messages for our community regarding the recent increase in positive cases of COVID-19 in Dare County. It is imperative that people follow the guidelines and maintain social distancing and limit direct contact with others outside their household members to slow the spread of the virus.
The majority of our recent cases are locals who acquired the virus by direct contact with others. The majority of the spread was not at the grocery store or restaurant, but rather through direct contact at a large gathering where people were not maintaining social distancing and were not wearing face coverings.
While the majority of those who recently tested positive are only experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, we are already seeing the virus spread from those who were at the large gathering to their household contacts including an elderly household member who then required treatment at the hospital.
The spread of COVID-19 is not a local versus visitor issue. The spread we are seeing currently is local to local spread because people are not following the guidelines.
How You Can Help
Our health department and the local healthcare providers are working around the clock 7 days a week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we cannot fight this virus alone. The public has to act responsibility if we are to control the spread of this virus. We need everyone living in or visiting Dare County to take this virus seriously and play your part in preventing and slowing the spread by doing the following:
Continue to follow all guidance and mandates from North Carolina DHHS and Executive Orders. This includes: not attending or hosting gatherings of more than 10 individuals indoors and 25 outdoors and following the 3Ws when you leave home- Wear, Wait, and Wash.
Be honest and cooperative if you receive a call from the health department for contact tracing. We need you to share all details of your activity during the timeframe discussed with the contact tracer. Our contact tracing efforts can only be as good as the information we are provided. Additionally, if you are contacted by the health department that you are a direct contact you are required to quarantine for 14 days.
If you test positive, you must remain in isolation until otherwise directed by Health & Human Services staff. Violating a quarantine order or an isolation order is a misdemeanor offense pursuant to NC law G.S. 130A-25 and punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment. These may seem like extreme measures and we hope to never have to use them but they exist to protect the public from individuals who choose not to do the right thing.
When to Seek Testing
If you are sick please call ahead and speak with your healthcare provider before visiting an urgent care center. Urgent care centers are starting to see record numbers of daily visits. The number of sick people presenting to the urgent care centers is increasing but there are also a large number of people going to get tested because they are curious or they believe they were possibly in direct contact with someone who may have been positive.
If you are not sick and are curious if you should get tested for COVID-19, please call the Dare Care COVID-19 call center for guidance at 252.475.5008. We must work together to ensure our healthcare providers are available for those who truly need them.
We encourage you to stay informed by visiting www.darenc.com/covid19 or by visiting the CDC or NC DHHS websites. If you have specific needs or questions you may also call the Dare County COVID-19 call center open Monday-Friday from 8:30 to 5:00 at 252-475-5008.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.