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The original item was published from 3/4/2020 4:49:47 PM to 3/23/2020 12:17:13 PM.

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Public Health

Posted on: March 4, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Pitt County Health Director Writes to County Residents on Coronavirus

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Fellow Pitt County Residents:

I am sure many of you have been watching the coronavirus outbreak developing here in the United States and around the world. I, and the staff of Pitt County Health Department, have been following this closely as well. I also understand that many of you are concerned about this infection and what it could mean for our community. This situation can be frightening because our experience with infections like this is limited. Please allow me to share some perspective on this infection with you.

Novel Infections:

Novel infections are infections that are new to humankind. These infections often erupt suddenly and spread rapidly. These infections are also called emerging infections. This infection emerged in China.

Challenges of Novel or Emerging Infections:

  • Novel or emerging infections provide several challenges. Some of these challenges are:
  • Little or no immunity in the population affected
  • Little or no experience in caring for patients with the infection in our healthcare system
  • Limited ability to test for the infection
  • No or limited treatment options for the infection
  • No vaccine for the infection

So, what can you do?

  • First, try to remain calm. When you panic, you lose control. When you lose control you cannot help yourself or your family.
  • Second, keep yourself healthy. If you smoke or vape stop! Smoking or vaping doesn’t make you a bad person, but it is bad for you. Furthermore, smoking and vaping irritate your respiratory system, potentially making it easier for infections to invade your body.
  • Third, postpone travel to areas where this infection is known to be. This includes parts of the US and many places around the world.
  • Fourth, practice good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently; cover your cough; and if you get sick, avoid other people so as not to spread any infection you have.
  • Finally, if you haven’t had a flu shot, please consider getting one. Influenza is still widespread in our community and this may help you avoid getting the flu.

Public Health Actions:

Public Health has some tools at its disposal to help reduce the spread of infections.

Isolation: Persons known or suspected of having COVID-19 should be isolated from others.


Persons, who have been exposed to a known case of COVID-19, or who have traveled to certain locations, should be quarantined for 14 days after the exposure ends.

Social Distancing: 

Social distancing means trying to increase the physical separation of people. In some instances, the closure of public spaces and cancellation of gatherings may be employed to help decrease the transmission of an infection. If this were to happen, the decision would be made jointly with other local leaders.

Testing for COVID-19: 

Testing for COVID-19 is currently limited to individuals meeting certain guidelines. These testing guidelines have been established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and not by me or other local healthcare providers. As the testing becomes more widely available, these testing guidelines may change.

Final Thoughts: 

While COVID-19 has been garnering the media’s attention and rightfully so, influenza has been very busy in our community and across the nation. This flu season, we have had in excess of 18,000 influenza related deaths in the United States alone (nearly six times the current number of deaths from COVID-19 worldwide as of this writing).

Please know that I and the Staff of Pitt County Health Department are here to support our community for the duration of this outbreak.

With kindest regards, I remain most humbly yours,


John L. Silvernail, MD, MPH

Pitt County Health Director 

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