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COVID-19 and its affects continue to spread across North Carolina.
The state has at least 97 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Thursday, health officials said. That includes the first case of a community spread infection in the state, a case in Wilson County that could not be connected to another patient who has tested positive, officials said Thursday.
Wake County began investigating five new cases Wednesday, which brought the total number of positive cases in Wake County to 22.
“We aren’t surprised that the number of positive test results in Wake County is increasing,” said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald. “While it’s important to track the data, it’s even more important to reinforce the social distancing message. By doing things like working from home and staying 6 feet away from others while running necessary errands, we can slow the spread of this virus.”
As of Wednesday, 82 people in Wake County are under investigation who were exposed to the virus. Of those, 70 test results are pending and 12 people are in the process of being tested, Wake County said. Another 221 people are being monitored because they may have been exposed to the virus through close contact.
There are no confirmed cases in Franklin County as of Thursday morning.
Samples are being processed by multiple laboratories, including the State Laboratory of Public Health and LabCorp. Other locations may come online in the future.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines close contact as being within six feet of the patient for 10 minutes or more.
On March 13, Wake County declared a State of Emergency. Mayors in several towns, including Rolesville, Knightdale and Wendell, followed suit with their own resolutions declaring emergencies.
“This proclamation is being issued in an abundance of caution regarding this public health crisis,” Knightdale Mayor James Roberson said. “This pandemic is unchartered territory for our region. It is vital that we protect our loved ones and neighbors. I encourage you to use good judgment.”
Several towns, including Wake Forest, canceled their regularly scheduled board of commissioner meetings. Others, like Franklinton, shortened their agendas and allowed only 50 people to attend, including the board and town staff.
The town of Wendell is still holding its March 23 meeting, but the public is encourage to remain home and watch the meeting after it is posted to the town website.
The Wake County Public School System is closed until at least March 30 with Spring Break being held April 6-13. However, officials say they are prepared to be closed for up to 20 weeks.
Wake County Public Libraries closed all locations. On Thursday, all book returns were closed. There will be no penalty for keeping books until libraries reopen, the library said.
Virtually all upcoming community events and festivals have been postponed or closed. The town of Wake Forest has canceled Aprils Friday Night on White event, as well as Dirt Day and its Easter egg hunt. The Renaissance Centre in Wake Forest is closed through April 30.
Although the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low, Wake County’s public health team encourages people to:
• Stay away from sick people and practice social distancing measures.
• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Do not touch you eyes, nose and mouth.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
• Stay home if you’re sick and don’t send sick children to childcare.
NC 2-1-1 was introduced Wednesday to serve as a resource for assistance related to COVID-19. Callers can dial 211 to be referred to local organizations best equipped to address their specific health and human services needs, including food, shelter and more.
People can also text COVIDNC to 898211 to receive general information and updates.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is also hosting a website at http://www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus for up-to-date information.
Wake County is hosting a COVID-19 website with information, including frequently asked questions. Visit http://www.wakegov.com/COVID19.