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North Carolina activates coronavirus helpline, gets 150+ calls

North Carolina is among the first in the country to activate a coronavirus helpline to answer questions and concerns

Call it the epicenter of the coronavirus in our state.

“These are experts in poisoning and now as well on the coronavirus,” said Dr. Michael Beuhler, Medical Director of North Carolina Poison Control.

The Poison Control Call Center is now also the coronavirus helpline, one of the first in the country.

“It’s been busier, but we’ve still been able to answer the phone and get people’s questions answered and handle the poison emergencies as well,” said Dr. Beuhler.

In the first two weeks since the line went live, more than 160 people have called the center with questions and concerns.

“A lot of them are general calls about what is the virus and how it potentially spreads,” said Dr. Beuhler. “We’ve got questions about can I get it from this particular way or another way.”

They’ve also taken nearly a dozen calls that needed escalation, either because they’d recently been to china and were showing symptoms or there was similar concern.

“Every now and then, someone will call, and we’ll say that scenario sounds a little bit concerning,” said Dr. Beuhler. “What we then do is we’ll speak with the department of public health at the state level and then try to figure out, is this person at risk?”

The Charlotte-based center did this for both Zika and Ebola virus. Experts said they don’t want to spread unnecessary fear.

The hope is, callers will educate themselves and potentially prevent spreading the disease and misinformation about it.

“We wanted to get this out there early and get your questions answered immediately and it will be 100% right,” said Dr. Beuhler.

So, what are the chances you will get coronavirus?

Near zero, according to health experts.

“Ten million people in North Carolina and none of them have the virus right now,” said Dr. Beuhler. “The chances are pretty low.”

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