Health officials: 23 people test positive for coronavirus in N.C., 13 in S.C.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools moves spring break due to coronavirus fears

NORTH CAROLINA (WBTV) - As more than a dozen cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are reported in North Carolina and South Carolina, officials have provided new guidelines for everyone to follow.

During a press conference at 4 p.m. Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper and health officials outlined those new recommendations, and stressed the importance of adhering to them to help limit the spread of the virus.

Starting on Friday, March 13, health officials are recommending all gatherings or events that will include more than 100 people, such as conferences, sporting events, concerts and worship services, be postponed or canceled.

Officials are also recommending that all employers or companies allow their employees to work from home if possible.

The third recommendation is one that’s been said for some time: If you are sick, stay at home.

Health officials announced the twelfth case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in North Carolina Thursday morning during an earlier press conference with Gov. Cooper. By 4 p.m., according to the NCDHHS website, had climbed to 15.

Health officials have announced that there are now 13 cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina, including two in Lancaster County. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has announced he will declare a state of emergency for South Carolina amid the spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The governor also said he will order all schools to close in Kershaw and Lancaster counties, where the virus is spreading from person-to-person in the community.

“This number is changing very rapidly,” the North Carolina COVID-19 task force said, as the number of coronavirus cases in the state was at 8 Wednesday.

Cooper said Thursday morning that the additional cases included two people from Forsyth County, one person from Johnston County, and one person from Durham County.

The couple from Forsyth County was on a cruise where other travelers tested positive. The case from Johnston County is still being investigated.

Durham County officials released information Wednesday night that a Durham County resident tested positive and was diagnosed with coronavirus in another state, where they will remain until the illness has subsided and isolation is complete. The individual was not in close contact with any Durham County residents while symptomatic.

All are doing well and are in isolation at home," state officials say. Health officials will work closely to identify close contacts of those who tested positive in the counties of Forsyth and Johnston.

By Thursday afternoon, there were also two people who tested positive in Mecklenburg County and a person who self-reported symptoms in Cabarrus County.

At least one of the two people who tested positive in Mecklenburg County is from here, health officials said. The second person was tested in Mecklenburg County, but may not live in the county. The two are currently in isolation at home and an investigation is underway on the cases.

Officials say the Cabarrus County case is travel-related. The person’s “household is following health official guidance and will remain under a temporary monitored quarantine until cleared,” health officials said. The North Carolina State Lab for Public Health is testing the person to confirm if it is in fact a COVID-19 infection. Cox Mill Elementary sent a message to parents and families to notify them that a student in the school has had contact with an individual who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Also on Thursday, Wake County health officials announced that a resident tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 at a private laboratory following a visit to the doctor’s office. More information on that case can be found here.

Camp Lejeune reported its first presumptive positive coronavirus case. The Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune dependent patient tested presumptively positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) at Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune, officials announced Thursday.

On Friday another positive COVID-19 case was announced by Cape Fear Valley Health in Harnett County Friday night. Officials said the patient is “recovering in self isolation at home per CDC guidelines.”

Also announced Friday, Wake County has confirmed it’s 9th case. Officials said the case is related to the existing cluster of positive patients tested earlier this week from Biogen.

Wayne County officials said late Friday afternoon that a resident has tested presumptively positive for the virus.

While multiple media outlets have reported that the number of cases in North Carolina have risen to as much as 19, the case count from NCDHHS website remained at 15 as of Friday night.

The COVID-19 conference comes a day after President Donald Trump issued travel restrictions from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days.

“There will be additional cases and this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better," Cooper said Thursday. Health officials advised “panic is not warranted.”

Officials say the eighth North Carolina case, announced Wednesday, involved a person from Wake County.

The tests, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, are presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab. This case is related to a traveler from Indiana who visited Biogen in Raleigh last week. The Wake County Public Health Division will work to identify close contacts.

Cooper was in Charlotte Wednesday to provide an update on coronavirus in North Carolina after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

“All of our lives are going to change in some way in response to this virus,” Cooper said.

Tuesday, Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina amid concerns of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Health officials say the next step in an epidemic is community spread, where it’s unknown where a person’s case came from. “We are not there yet,” state health officials said.

“This is spread through respiratory droplets," health officials said of coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control announced they were awarding North Carolina $13,820,515 in support of the COVID-19 response.

"State and local health departments are on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we are deeply grateful for their work,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “CDC is distributing this new funding extremely rapidly, as called for by Congress. President Trump, and his entire administration will continue working to ensure state and local jurisdictions have the resources they need to keep Americans safe and healthy.”

Although, Cooper said Wednesday that North Carolina has not yet received all of the novel coronavirus testing supplies it needs from the CDC to continue testing in the way it wants. Cooper and the State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson said the state has enough kits to test 250 people from supplies provided to North Carolina by the CDC. Cooper says they are looking at third parties to provide additional testing. For example, he says LabCorp has found an FDA approved testing that does not require the same supplies need from the CDC test.

“The more people we can get tested, the more we will know. That has been a priority for us is to find new ways to be able to provide these tests to people,” Gov. Cooper said.

Monday’s five additional North Carolina cases were all linked to people who traveled to Boston in late February to attend a BioGen conference. Several cases of COVID-19 across the country have been tied to the conference. Cooper expects more positive cases to be linked to the conference. The new cases announced are based in Wake County, but are not related to the Wake County individual who tested positive last week. All are in isolation at their respective homes.

The Mecklenburg County Emergency Operation Center (EOC) was activated to support Mecklenburg County Public Health and other health partners in planning for potential effects of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Mecklenburg County. The activation of the EOC allows for response partners to coordinate more effectively and to establish protocols and pre-stage resources should they become necessary.

State officials said they are not planning to cancel schools at this time over the virus, as children appear to be at low risk. Closures may be recommended to sanitize a facility for any reason, including if a positive case is tied to a facility.

Chief of Staff of Emergency Management says the state of emergency operations center is being activated.

“It could be months,” health officials said regarding how long this virus could stick around.

As part of the state of emergency, health officials are recommending anyone at high risk - those 65-years and older, those with underlying health issues or compromised immune systems - avoid events and gatherings with large crowds and any air travel.

Major Charlotte-area hospital systems Atrium and Novant are restricting visitors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The hospitals, in conjunction with CaroMonth Health, Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, Cone Health, Randolph Health, and Wake Forest Baptist Health, made the announcement Wednesday.

“Effective immediately, only immediate family members, aged 13 and over, will be able to take part in hospital visiting hours unless deemed absolutely necessary by the patient’s healthcare team,” the hospitals say.

The restrictions will apply to all visitors under age 13, regardless of whether they are healthy.

All visitors with flu-like symptoms, regardless of age, will not be allowed in patient areas of the hospitals.

“For those that have flu or cold-like symptoms, please stay home from work or school until you have no fever for at least 48 hours without Tylenol, Advil/Ibuprofen or other fever lowering medicines,” Atrium advises.

South Carolina coronavirus cases

Health officials have announced that there are now 13 cases of the coronavirus in South Carolina, including two in Lancaster County. This brings the total number of cases to 13, with seven presumptive positive cases, along with six confirmed cases.

The newest case from Lancaster County is a household contact (family member or close friend) of a previous case. He was evaluated at a healthcare facility and is currently isolated at home. The previous Lancaster County case was a woman.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has announced he will declare a state of emergency for South Carolina amid the spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

The governor also said he will order all schools to close in Kershaw and Lancaster counties, where the virus is spreading from person-to-person in the community.

Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians should take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, staying home if you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow.

Any returning traveler, both internationally and domestic, should do self-monitoring, state officials say. Those that experience any fever or lower-respiratory symptoms are asked to contact their medical provider.

North Carolinians with questions or concerns about COVID-19 can call the COVID-19 phone line toll-free at 866-462-3821. This helpline is staffed by the North Carolina Poison Control 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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