Meck County health department offers new hotline for coronavirus concerns

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced a new hotline Wednesday night as she updated county commissioners on the coronavirus and how her department was prepared for any potential cases locally.

There are growing fears after the news earlier this week that someone in Wake County has the virus. There are no confirmed cases in Mecklenburg County.

Harris said Mecklenburg County has two levels of response. The first is prevention, before there’s a case in the county. Level two includes quarantine when someone is at high risk due to travel or contact with an infected person, which will require staying at home for 14 days.

Once someone has a confirmed case of the virus, they’ll be moved to isolation.

“Isolation, on the other hand, is what we do with individuals who are confirmed to be infected,” Harris told the commission. “We need to remove them from the general population. They will be isolated until they have two negative test results within 24 hours.”

Harris said the county is working on a plan to find somewhere to isolate infected people who don't have anywhere to go.

The new coronavirus hotline is 980-314-9400. There will be several options when you call. Option three is for the general public. The lines will be staffed between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. every day.

There are also continuous updates and several resources on the county health department’s website.

Vaccine in the works?

Scientists in Research Triangle Park are trying to find a working vaccine for the virus.

Researchers at Heat Biologics in Morrisville said they're looking at vaccines that can go right to people's cells to stop the virus. There's no timeline for when they might have a vaccine ready.

As for the man who tested positive for the virus, a restaurant in Raleigh posted an Instagram message saying the infected man ate there last Saturday.

The Wake County Health Department gave the restaurant the heads up and the owner gave a list of customers to the health department.

The restaurant also sanitized the building.

As for the threat nationwide, 11 people in the United States have died from the coronavirus.

Senate lawmakers are scheduled to vote Thursday on an $8.3 billion response package. The House passed the bill on Wednesday.