Service industry causing spike? Health officials address reports

There is no quantitative data that lists the workplaces of those who test positive for the novel coronavirus; health officials determine trends based on contact tracing and case investigation.

Health officials weigh in on whether COVID-19 spike is caused by service industry

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As Independence Day approaches, some restaurant owners are choosing to avoid contact with large crowds and people visiting from out of town by closing down completely.

At Aromas of Peru on South College Rd., owner Julian Herrera’s entire family works in the restaurant, which is currently only offering curbside pick-up.

“When you put in each hand the safety of your family and the money; I’ll go for the family and that includes our customers as well," he said.

His restaurant will be closed until next Wednesday. The family’s second restaurant, which opened in Wrightsville Beach last fall, has not re-opened since March.

In New Hanover County, Asst. Health Director Carla Turner says community spread is obvious with COVID-19 positive test results doubling over the last two weeks.

“We have seen an increase in service industry, but we’ve seen an increase in cases across the board,” she said.

There is no quantitative data that lists the workplaces of those who test positive for the novel coronavirus; health officials determine trends based on contact tracing and case investigation.

In Brunswick County, public information officer Meagan Kascsak said, ”We are noticing trends and the professions of people or perhaps the type of activity they’ve been engaging in the past couple of days and we’re trying to, in our routine updates, give people an understanding of those trends so they can make the most informed decisions for themselves.”

Brunswick County has reported increases in cases among service industry personnel as well as those who participate in social gatherings for several weeks.

“We really need people to stop and think, you know, is absolutely necessary that I need to go out into public to these events, and if I do choose to do that, I need to make sure that I’m making responsible efforts to follow the three w’s: to wear my face covering in public, to try and keep six feet of distance between myself and others especially if they’re not my household contacts and if I am inviting people to my home or going to someone’s home, taking your face covering with you and wearing that you know when you aren’t actively eating or drinking and things like that,” said Kascsak.

Health officials also urge people to answer their phone, even if it’s an unfamiliar number, as public health staff work to notify people who have been identified as close contacts to someone who has tested positive.

“The information we get is only as good as the information that people are willing to give us. So, part of the push from the state is—I think it’s called ‘answer the call’—so when you see a phone number that comes up on your phone and you don’t recognize it, please answer it because it might be Carla calling you from public health to talk to you about some stuff that you need to know,” Turner said.

Turner is optimistic. We could begin to see our rising case count plateau if everyone continues practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings.

“We’ll see hopefully in the next week to two weeks, potentially three, if we’re going to potentially have a plateau in cases; that’s what we’re all hoping for,” she said.

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