Wake County Continues Investigating Possible Exposure to Five Cases of COVID-19

The Wake County Public Health Division continues to investigate who was potentially exposed to five residents who tested presumptively positive for COVID-19 on March 9. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is running a second test to confirm these results.

“Our public health team has diligently created a timeline for each affected person, so we know where they went and when,” said Chris Kippes, the Wake County Public Health Division director. “We’re actively using that information to determine who may have come in close contact with the affected individuals and reaching out to them now, so we can evaluate their risk of exposure.”

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

Through conversations with the patients, the county has assembled a timeline of their movements prior to entering isolation at home.

All five people attended the Biogen conference in Boston, Massachusetts, during the last week of February. Dozens of conference attendees in other states have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.

The affected individuals started showing symptoms of COVID-19 between Feb. 29 and March 3. The CDC says COVID-19 is most likely to be transmitted when affected people are symptomatic.

During that time, the affected individuals visited several locations. Wake County is only sharing the names of the places these people visited where there was an increased risk of public exposure.

They include:

Feb. 29
One individual went to vote early in the Primary Election at Millbrook Exchange Community Center in Raleigh. Wake County Public Health has the names of the elections officials and are working with them to further assess the risk of exposure at this location. 

March 2–5
Multiple people went to work at the Biogen offices in the Research Triangle Park while showing symptoms. Our public health staff are working with the company to assess the risk of exposure at their facility.

March 2–6
Multiple traveled between Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Boston, and Boston and RDU. If you were on a flight and determined to be at risk, a public health official will contact you directly.

March 4
One person ate at Zest Café & Home Art on 8831 Six Forks Road in Raleigh.

Public health staff believe there is little risk to anyone who came in contact with the people at any other locations since they were not symptomatic or in close contact with others. Since these are not locations of concern, Wake County is not releasing their names. 

Risk Assessment
If public health officials determine you are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19, they will contact you directly. 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 any affected individuals 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 people.
  • 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