LOUISBURG -- The governor has declared a state of emergency. Franklin County has linked residents to a Covid-19 information line. And, the net for testing for the coronavirus has been cast wider.
But no confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in Franklin County.
"Rumors are going around," Franklin County Health Director Scott LaVigne said over the weekend, "but there are no confirmed cases of anything at this point.
"As soon as there would be, we would be letting people know."
And, rumors that Maria Parham Franklin's emergency room stopped serving patients is not true.
"... At no point have we ceased providing emergency services at [Maria Parham Franklin]," said Maria Parham Health CEO Bert Beard when quizzed about rumors to the contrary.
LaVigne said the county has a streamlined process by which information about the virus will be disseminated.
"The Franklin County Health Department, with our local communicable disease professionals and our epidemiology team, have been working with state and federal officials to ensure everyone in Franklin County receives properly vetted, accurate and actionable regional and local information regarding the coronavirus," he said.
As of Wednesday, the state reported seven presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.
A presumptive positive COVID-19 case is one that still must be confirmed by another testing laboratory.
The state has no confirmed positive cases, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services website.
On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper did declare a state of emergency.
The declaration activates the Emergency Operations Center to help agencies coordinate from one location and makes it easier to purchase needed medical supplies, protect consumers from price gouging, and increase county health departments' access to state funds.
Also, the State Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) is making several recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of people infected.
"The health and safety of North Carolinians is our top priority," Cooper said. "We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that North Carolina is prepared and responding to this virus, and this order helps us do that.
"Though we are still in the early stages in North Carolina, time is a valuable resource and we must work together to slow the spread while we can."
Key provisions in the order are similar to those enacted in a natural disaster.
The order will help with the cost burdens and supplies that may be difficult for providers and public health to access due to increased demand.
It also increases the state public health department's role in supporting local health departments, which have been tasked with monitoring quarantines, tracing exposure and administering testing.
"As the [coronavirus] continues to spread, and with relaxed testing guidelines and increasing numbers of test kits available, there will be individuals today who now meet the criteria for testing, who just a week ago did not," LaVigne said.
"That will increase the number of people being tested, which is welcome news," he said. "However, increased testing is just one part of our prevention efforts."
What Can You Do: Given the virus has been confirmed in Wake County, and will likely spread to surrounding counties at some point, everyone should practice personal protection measures to ensure you and your loved ones remain safe:
•Avoid touching your face (including eyes, mouth, nose and ears);
•Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly (front and back) with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds AND if available, use hand sanitizers frequently;
•Cough/sneeze into your elbow/arm, and avoid any physical contact greetings (i.e. no handshakes, etc.);
•Avoid others if you're sick;
•Stay home from work/school and don't visit anyone (especially older adults & children and those with chronic conditions) if you're sick.
•If over the age of 60 and/or suffering from a chronic health condition, avoid large public gatherings (issued by CDC on 3-7-19);
•Avoid being closer than 6 feet (or 3 feet at a minimum) for longer than 10 minutes with anyone, especially those who may be ill.
•All agencies and businesses have been advised to practice their enhanced cleaning and personal protection protocols, as is normal practice for this time of year (given it's peak flu season).
"As of this afternoon," LaVigne said on Tuesday, "there are numerous people across our region being monitored and/or tested for this virus.
"At this point in time, we have no confirmed cases ... in Franklin County.
"If there were individuals who presented with symptoms which indicated the need for testing, all health care providers are aware of the protocols to implement in order to protect their staff and the public [whether its quarantine or isolation] while they test and treat anyone suspected of having the virus.
"EMS staff and other first responders should already be practicing the same set of cleaning and personal protection measures designed to keep them safe from flu -- given its peak flu season -- and those same measures will keep them safe from the the coronavirus."
"... The bottom line is that the virus has not reached Franklin County yet, but it will likely be here eventually," LaVigne said. "Prepare yourself by practicing the steps [aforementioned precautions] and you can minimize the risk to your family and friends."
For additional information, please call the Franklin County Corona Virus COVID-19 Joint Information Center at 919-496-8113 or visit https://www.franklincountync.us/services/health.