MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Two people have tested positive for coronavirus in Mecklenburg County, county health officials said Thursday.
At least one of the two people who tested positive is from Mecklenburg County, health officials say. 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.
Just hours earlier, during a press conference with Gov. Roy Cooper, health officials announced the twelfth case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in North Carolina.
The additional two in Mecklenburg would bring the total to 14 cases in the state, as they were not counted in the 12 reported by the COVID-12 Task Force. County officials are currently not recommending closure of schools. However, it is still unclear whether the second person in Mecklenburg County lives in the area.
“This number is changing very rapidly,” the COVID-19 task force said, as the count of coronavirus cases in the state was at 8 Wednesday.
Cooper said the additional cases include two people from Forsyth County, one person from Johnston County, and one person from Durham County.
The two Mecklenburg County cases may be tied to travel, Harris said, with one potentially related to international travel and the other related to out of state travel.
"These individuals are ill, but they’re isolating at home. They’re not severely ill,” Harris said of the Mecklenburg County cases. The locations of exactly where the people live will not be disclosed. “We are now in a situation where we could potentially have community spread,” Harris said.
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.
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.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is suspending all field-trip travel due to coronavirus concerns. With this announcement, all district-sponsored trips of any kind for staff or students are suspended for now, school officials say.
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.
In South Carolina, eight people have tested positive for coronavirus. Health officials say one of those people from South Carolina flew into Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.
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.
“We advocate that you either call your physician or call the health line that we have set,” county officials say.
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.