Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
RALEIGH — Concerns about the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, continue to grow in North Carolina as more people test presumptively positive.
As of early Friday, there were 15 presumed cases in North Carolina. But that number has been climbing steadily each day.
The majority of the patients live in Wake County and areas. However, other counties are starting to see their first cases.
All of North Carolina's patients are doing well and in isolation at home, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday. No deaths or hospitalizations have been reported.
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for North Carolina over concerns about COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The move allows the state to use federal funds while allowing increased flexibility to respond and prevent events, Cooper said.
It also protects consumers from price gouging and encourages insurers to make testing available for little or no cost, he added.
Cooper has also recommended cancelling or postponing all gatherings of more than 100 people.
The state asked the federal government for more testing supplies March 6. The state has supplies to test another 700 people and is working to develop another method of testing, officials said Thursday.
LabCorp, an independent laboratory, is completing some tests as well.
The Wake County Public School System canceled all field trips and employee-related travel Tuesday afternoon. It also said it would evaluate all future school events that attract crowds.
It has not announced if it will cancel these events but said families will receive updates.
The state is not recommending closing schools at this time. However, two private schools in Raleigh closed for at least one day to sanitize their campuses.
Three public school systems, including Durham, have also cancelled classes for students.
Duke University, N.C. State University and all UNC-system schools are canceling face-to-face classes in favor of online course work. These schools are also extending spring break for students.
Other schools are expected to follow, including Wake Technical Community College, which will switch to an online format March 15 to April 5.
In addition, the NCAA canceled its men and women basketball tournaments. Several professional sports leagues, including the NBA and NHL, have canceled games while NASCAR will be holding races without spectators.
The N.C. DHHS has recommended people practice “social distancing,” which is maintaining a minimum of six feet away from others. The department recommends everyone practice this.
It also recommends high-risk individuals avoid large gatherings. People at high-risk include people over 65, with weakened immune systems and with underlying health conditions, including diabetes and lung disease.
It also recommends the public avoid visiting residential establishments that serve people at high risk of COVID-19, such as nursing homes and hospitals.
“We can all help reduce the risk for our loved ones,” said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald. “For everyone’s safety, we’re asking people to avoid visits and take advantage of technology, such as video calling, instead of making a visit in person.”
McDonald recommends people who feel sick, stay home, get rest and avoid having close contact with others. If they feel like they need to visit a health care provider, she recommends calling ahead, so the provider can take steps to keep others from getting exposed.