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March 6, 2020

The information below is from Emily Ziegler at UNC Health Care. I'm forwarding it to you without any edits in order to get it out as soon as possible. As I'm sure you have heard, there is a second confirmed case in the state. It is in Chatham County. I believe this is a male who returned recently from a trip to Italy. He felt sick there; but got better so returned home. He is self-isolating in his home.

I'll send you further updates as I get them and will try to keep them short and to the point.


As you are well aware, concerns about COVID-19 are growing in our community and throughout the state. UNC Health, our infectious disease team, our pathologists and all of our providers have been preparing for a potential outbreak and want to offer some insight into our efforts.

This is an all hands on deck effort. Our infectious diseases experts are working with hospital staff to share knowledge and implement protocols on how to screen for COVID-19 patients and what actions to take once a suspected case is identified. At the direction of Dr. Wesley Burks, UNC Health CEO and School of Medicine Dean, we are focused on three key areas: 1) operational planning; 2) ensuring patient & provider safety and; 3) external communications.

• Our Approach: UNC Health includes 11 hospitals and 13 campuses across North Carolina, hundreds of clinics within the state and very close ties to the UNC School of Medicine (SOM), so we are taking a system-wide approach in responding to the coronavirus / COVID-19 challenge. Dr. Burks has appointed executive leaders to lead a cross-functional team charged with preparation and operational activities System-wide, in coordination with leaders at each UNC Health facility or clinic location. They include our Chief Clinical Officer, Chief Medical Officer, and Triangle Regional President.

• In-House Testing & Research: As you may have read, our team is working tirelessly on an in-house test that would help to identify and isolate patients in a matter of hours. Through the leadership of Dr. Melissa Miller, we could provide answers to a suspected patient at a much faster pace, allowing increased safety to our patients and providers. We are working with the FDA in the hopes of loosening current restrictions that would allow this test to be utilized immediately. As was reported widely yesterday and today, our own Dr. Ralph Baric has been researching coronaviruses for years, and his 30-person team is actively working with the CDC to help stem the tide of this virus’s spread. We are also working with federal officials to ensure we have the supplies we need, including swabs for Dr. Miller’s test, masks, and other critical protective equipment.

• A Plan In Place: Should COVID-19 become widespread in the area, UNC Health has identified care locations to be used for potential patients. These areas include inpatient rooms, Emergency Departments and overflow spaces for isolation if needed. You may have seen articles in the past day about field-care centers that could be set up if needed. These centers were funded by the federal government to be set up in extreme emergencies when the state deems necessary.

• Coordination At All Levels: We are fortunate to include world-renowned infectious disease experts along with many others who are consulting with us on preparations across our system, and lending their expertise to UNC Health, statewide, national, and international efforts. In addition, we are working in close collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as with colleagues in the UNC system, other health care systems in the state, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and local health departments.

• Communicating With Patients and the Community: Externally, we have deployed a COVID-19 web resource page which we are constantly updating with new and actionable information for patients to provide basic prevention awareness and to help debunk misinformation. We are regularly updating our co-workers with the latest information, more details about our protocols and how UNC Health is proactively working to keep our community safe and healthy. We are also encouraging individuals showing any symptoms of concern to utilize our telehealth services that are available seven days a week at any time of day through UNC Health 24/7. We ask for your help with educating our community about this situation; knowledge and awareness of prevention methods will be the best way to keep our community healthy.

In short summary, we are working to protect our community and even those well beyond the borders of our state. This issue is our top priority, and we believe our success lies in the partnership we have with you all and health care leaders throughout North Carolina.

As this situation evolves we will continue to share what we are doing to be both proactive and reactive, but in the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. We are proud to bear the name of our state’s healthcare system and want to be as responsive as we can to you during this time.

Emily Ziegler
UNC Health Care

How to Engage

It's tough to keep track of what is happening. Here are some ways to stay involved.

1. Call me or my legislative assistant Young Bae at 919-733-7208 or email me at Inskola@ncleg.net with How can I get involved in the subject line.
2. Follow us on Twitter at @verlainsko and Facebook at Verla Insko.
3. Visit ncleg.net where you can see bills, listen to session, and see daily calendars.
4. Help us spread the word on social media or by forwarding this newsletter and other alerts or key news items.

As always, thank you for your support of my work in Raleigh as your representative. Please let me know of your position on issues, your suggestions for legislation and your requests for help.

Verla Insko

Please remember that you can listen to committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly's website at www.ncleg.net. Once on the site, select "Audio," and then make your selection – House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room.

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Verla Insko, NC House · 300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 502 LOB · Raleigh, NC 27603-5925 ·
Phone (919) 733-7208 · Mobile (919) 618-9889 · E-mail verla.insko@gmail.com or verla.insko@ncleg.net