First case of community spread COVID-19 confirmed in North Carolina

First case of community spread COVID-19 confirmed in North Carolina
North Carolina has its first case of coronavirus from community spread, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. (Source: WRAL)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina has its first case of coronavirus from community spread, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press conference Thursday afternoon.

At least 97 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The latest count was updated just before 10 a.m. Thursday. It’s not clear whether the number includes the new cases out of Mecklenburg County, which have reached 30 in total.

“This is an expected but still an unfortunate benchmark in this pandemic," Cooper said of the first community spread-related coronavirus case in the state, which was in Wilson County.

Community spread, state leaders say, is “where we don’t know how someone contracted COVID-19.”

“Wilson County’s second confirmed presumptive positive has no know travel history and no known contact with another presumptive positive person,” Wilson County officials tweeted.

The confirmation of community spread is forcing state leaders to move into the “second phase of work.” The first phase was a “containment.”

“Confirmed community spread is a signal that we need to excel to the next phase of work, which is called mitigation,” state leaders said. "We know that this situation will get worse before it gets better.”

State leaders urged people to continue being vigilant, especially pregnant women, who were recently put into a “high-risk” category for contracting the coronavirus.

North Carolina has received a disaster declaration, Cooper said, “that will open up support for small businesses that are already feeling the losses from this pandemic.”

Cooper said the state has also requested waivers, which would assist in feeding children whose daycares have closed.

Over the weekend, Cooper ordered public K-12 schools in the state to close for at least two weeks. Thursday, Cooper said students will "likely be out of school for a longer period of time.”

On Friday, figures from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services showed just 15 cases across the state.

At that point, state health officials said we did not yet have community spread, and that those testing positive had either traveled or been in contact with someone with coronavirus.

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At least 18 North Carolina counties have positive coronavirus cases, including the counties of Wake, Forsyth, Johnston, Harnett, Chatham, Durham, Wayne, Craven, Onslow, Lincoln and Brunswick.

According to Tryon Medical Partners, a patient of who they tested outside one of their facilities has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Tryon Medical Partners say they are opening their first remote testing location Tuesday.

An order for North Carolina remains in place to keep mass gatherings to 100 people or less.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued and executive order Tuesday that closed bars and restaurants to dine-in customers. The order also unlocked unemployment benefits for those who lost, or lose, their job during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Today I am taking down some of the barriers to unemployment benefits," Cooper said. “Grocery stores will remain open. I urge people not to go overboard. Leave some for others ...Especially for those who can’t afford to buy a lot all at once.”

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