Reduce Risk

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The Health & Human Services Board voted Friday, November 12, to lift the health rule requiring face coverings in all indoor public places within New Hanover Countyeffective immediatelyEntities within New Hanover County, like healthcare facilities, schools, private businesses, and others, have the option to continue requiring face coverings indoors, even without the county-wide health rule in place. Residents are encouraged to continue to wear masks, get vaccinated, practice social distancing and other protective measures to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and protect our community.

Tips for Safer Holiday Celebrations

  • Get vaccinated (or if you are fully vaccinated, get your COVID-19 booster) to protect yourself from severe illness. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people getting COVID-19 and can also reduce the risk of spreading it.
  • Unvaccinated family members, including children ages 2 years and older, should wear a mask in all indoor public settings.
  • Outdoor activities are safer than indoor ones. If you are indoors, choose a location that is well ventilated, for example a room with open windows, and know when to wear a mask.
  • In areas with substantial or high transmission of COVID, consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities where there could be close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Masks are also recommended for those that have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system, even if they are fully vaccinated. Continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow the CDC’s domestic travel or international travel recommendations for unvaccinated people.
  • Everyone, even people who are fully vaccinated, are required to wear a mask on public transportation and follow international travel recommendations.
  • Do not attend or host a gathering if you have any symptoms related to COVID or other transmissible illnesses, like the flu.
  • If you have symptoms or come in close contact with someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19, get tested.

When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated

In general, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

If you don’t meet the requirements above, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated.

You can resume activities, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. You will still need to follow guidance at your workplace and local businesses.

You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.

If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. However, if you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

What To Do If You’re Unvaccinated

You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick. This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. Wearing a mask helps protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms.

It is especially important to wear a mask when you are indoors with people you do not live with and when you are unable to stay at least 6 feet apart since COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another. Limit gatherings with unvaccinated individuals you do not live with. If you do gather, do so while wearing face coverings and outside, if possible.

Masks may not be necessary when you are outside by yourself away from others, or with people who live in your household, but you should continue to wear a mask inside your home if someone you live with is sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19. Get tested and quarantine if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is a way to reach out to people who have been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Public Health performs contact tracing for every identified positive case of COVID-19 in New Hanover County. They ask about anyone else that may have recently been near or in close contact with a positive case. Each of these steps allows us to identify potential cases and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Public Health will reach out to people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and share any information and support they may need to stay at home until the risk of giving the virus to others has passed. Any text messages from Public Health contact tracers will come from the number 45394. Emails will come from the email address NC-ARIAS-NoReply@dhhs.nc.gov. If the Team reaches out with a phone call, “New Hanover County” or “Unknown” will appear on the Caller ID. A message will be left if contact is not made, so be sure to keep up regularly with voicemails.

Name and other personal information are confidential and will remain private. The COVID-19 Community Team will never ask for anyone’s Social Security Number, bank or credit card numbers, or any other financial information at any time. If you are asked for this information, please hang up and call your local health department to report the incident.

It is important that we all continue to do our part to protect our friends, family, and loved ones and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. COVID-19 vaccines are safe & effective at protecting you from getting sick. The more people who are vaccinated as soon as possible, the less opportunity the virus has to spread and form new variants. Getting vaccinated will help us get closer to herd immunity and help us end this pandemic.

Health: 1650 Greenfield Street • Wilmington, NC 28401 • Phone 910-798-3500 • Fax 910-798-7834 • Human Services Fax 910-798-7824
Environmental Health: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-6667 • Fax 910-798-7815
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