​Wake County Continues Investigating Possible Exposure to COVID-19

The Wake County Public Health Division continues to investigate who was potentially exposed to a local resident who tested presumptively positive for COVID-19 on March 3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is running a second test to confirm these results.

“Our Communicable Disease team has worked with the patient to determine where this person went while showing symptoms of COVID-19,” said Chris Kippes, the Wake County Public Health Division director. “We’ve tracked the patient’s path, and at this time, our focus is on the people who came in close contact with the patient at so∙ca. All other locations have been ruled out as places of further public health concern.”

The CDC defines “close contact” as being within six feet of the patient for at least 10 minutes.

Patient Timeline
Through conversations with the patient, the county has assembled a timeline of this person’s movements prior to entering isolation at home.

On Feb. 22, the patient returned to North Carolina from Washington.

The patient did not start showing symptoms of COVID-19 until Feb. 26. The CDC says COVID-19 is most likely to be transmitted when the patient is symptomatic.

Therefore, public health staff believe there is little risk to anyone who came in contact with the patient at any location prior to Feb. 26, because the person was not showing symptoms. Since these are not locations of concern, Wake County is not releasing their names. 

On Feb. 29, the patient dined at so∙ca.

On March 1, the patient contacted their healthcare provider. On March 2, the healthcare provider called the N.C. Department of Public Health, which notified the Wake County Public Health Division. County staff then instructed the patient to self-isolate and arranged testing. On March 3, the presumptive positive test result for COVID-19 was received.

The only location that county public health staff have determined had a risk of exposure is so∙ca. As the patient dined there, others came within six feet of the individual for more than 10 minutes, making them at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Risk Assessment
“If you have a known increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, a member of the Wake County Public Health Division will contact you directly,” said Kippes. “If a member of our team has not contacted you and you do not have any symptoms, you do not need to quarantine yourself or take precautions beyond washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying home from school or work if you feel sick.”

The public health team is assessing the risk of each person who was in close contact with the patient and determining if quarantine and testing for COVID-19 are warranted.

The specific steps they take include:

  • Interviewing the person to assess their exposure risk level. This includes understanding how close they were to the symptomatic patient.
  • Based on that assessment, public health staff determine which additional public health activities are required, such as temperature and symptom checks.
  • If the person is put in quarantine and remains asymptomatic 14 days after exposure, they will be released from quarantine.
  • If the person in quarantine develops symptoms, public health staff would assess the need for testing them for COVID-19.
  • If the result is presumptive positive, the person is put in isolation. Once they become asymptomatic, they require two negative tests at least 24 hours apart to be released from isolation.

Protecting Yourself
Although your risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low, the county’s public health team encourages you to protect yourself from COVID-19 and any other flu-like illness by following these simple steps:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay away from sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Stay home if you’re sick and don’t send sick children to school or childcare.

Staying Updated
Wake County has made it easy for you to stay updated on the latest information about COVID-19.

You can visit our COVID-19 webpage, which has a set of frequently asked questions to educate residents, as well as an email address and phone number that people can use to ask personal health-related questions about COVID-19. The county is also sharing important information on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Press Release