washington, D.C. — With North Carolina under a stay-at-home order from the governor due to the coronavirus outbreak, Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C. assures his constituents “we will get through this.”

Rep. Murphy held a town hall-style teleconference Tuesday. The congressman represents North Carolina’s District 3, which includes Carteret County.

During the teleconference, Rep. Murphy, a medical doctor by profession, answered questions from participants and encouraged them to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. He also answered questions about the public health risk the virus poses.

“It’s kind of a wimpy virus,” Rep. Murphy said, referring to the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. “It’s able to be eradicated. When your body gets a virus, your body gets an immunity. How long it will last isn’t clear. With influenza, we need to get yearly vaccine shots.”

While he called it a “wimpy virus,” Rep. Murphy didn’t downplay the potential danger the outbreak poses. The congressman said the virus may potentially cause long-term damage to the lungs.

Rep. Murphy also said it’s a “droplet-borne” virus, transmitted by coughs and sneezes. In response to a question, the congressman said it hasn’t been determined if the virus is also blood-borne and therefore transmittable by mosquitoes.

Rep. Murphy also addressed a rumor circulating on social media that ibuprofen, an over-the-counter painkiller, can make a case of coronavirus worse.

“There is no data that supports that at this time,” he said.

Rep. Murphy said most individuals who aren’t in an at-risk category and contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms and recover within two to four weeks.

“Recovery can be variable,” the congressman said, “depending on how healthy you were to begin with.”

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services website, as of Wednesday there have been nine deaths across the state due to COVID-19. There are 1,584 confirmed cases of the disease, 204 people hospitalized by it and 26,243 completed tests.

“We have about a 15 percent recovery rate at this point,” Rep. Murphy said Tuesday. “Once everything is said and done … I think the fatality rate will be 0.6-0.8 percent.”

At least three of the participants in the town hall teleconference were from Carteret County.

A 73-year-old man from Harkers Island, who identified himself as Thomas, voiced concerns about people not following safety measures, such as the governor’s stay-at-home order, to prevent spreading the virus.

“This is a difficult problem,” Rep. Murphy said. “You’d hope when you appeal to people’s sense of right and wrong, they’ll do the right thing.”

Another Carteret County resident, 73-year-old Woody from Newport, asked if it was safe to go outdoors. Rep. Murphy said it was, encouraging North Carolina residents to “get some fresh air.”

“I think going out in yards is fine,” he said. “It’s just social distancing (that’s needed) … just stay 6 feet away from people.”

Another caller, 61-year-old David of Sneads Ferry asked if he, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patient, should get a coronavirus test. Rep. Murphy said he encourages people who don’t have any coronavirus symptoms to refrain from getting tested, as doing so creates a longer wait for those who are symptomatic and uses limited resources.

Several participants asked about financial assistance from the federal government. Rep. Murphy said there will be small business loans provided, which will be forgiven, so no small business will be expected to pay the money back. He also assured participants the anticipated $1,200 stimulus checks won’t be taxed.

“It’s a direct payment from the government,” Rep. Murphy said regarding the checks. “It will be about two to three weeks before people get their checks.”

Meanwhile, the congressman encouraged small businesses to keep their employees rather than resort to layoffs. He ended the teleconference encouraging North Carolinians to continue to persevere.

“We’ve been through challenges before as a nation,” Rep. Murphy said, “we will get through this.”

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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