JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Health officials in Johnston County, North Carolina, are reporting a COVID-19 associated death in the county, marking the third death in the state.
Officials say the patient, who was in their mid-sixties and had underlying medical conditions, died on Thursday. The patient’s name has not been released.
“We are saddened to hear of this loss to our Johnston County community and extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones," said Johnston County Health Director Dr. Marilyn Pearson. "Although most people will have mild to moderate symptoms with this virus, some will have a more severe illness. This reminds us all to do our part to decrease the chance of infection and stop the spread of the virus by following social distancing recommendations and staying home to the extent possible.”
The second death was a Harnett County patient in their late thirties who had an underlying medical condition, NCDHHS said on March 26.
The first person, from Cabarrus County and in their late seventies, died on March 24 from complications associated with the virus. The patient had several underlying medical conditions.
A fourth person who was traveling through North Carolina also died from COVID-19 complications. Since the patient, identified as 66-year-old Landon Spradlin, was from Virginia, his death is not counted in N.C.'s total.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones. This is a stark warning that for some people COVID-19 is a serious illness. All of us must do our part to stop the spread by staying at home as much as possible and practicing social distancing,” said Governor Roy Cooper.
Officials said during Wednesday’s press conference that more than 20 patients are hospitalized in N.C. Cooper said many of them are “critically ill.” He added that families are hurting because they can’t be with those who are ill.
“This is a stark reminder we need to take this seriously,” Cooper said. “This virus is deadly. That’s why our daily lives have had to change so drastically. It’s hard, but it’s necessary.”
Cooper urged all North Carolinians to do their part to stop the spread of this deadly virus.
“In doing so, we honor [the victims’] lives,” Cooper said.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. On March 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated who is at high risk for severe illness. People at high risk include anyone who:
- Is 65 years of age or older
- Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Has a high-risk condition that includes:
- chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
- heart disease with complications
- compromised immune system
- severe obesity - body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
- other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease
In addition, pregnant women should be monitored closely since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness. However, data so far on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness in pregnant women. While children are generally at lower risk for severe infection, some studies indicate a higher risk among infants.
Governor Cooper has taken several actions to protect the health of North Carolinians, including ordering all K-12 public schools in North Carolina to close through May 15th , banning gatherings of more than 50 people, limiting bars and restaurants to only take-out or delivery service, restricting visitors to long-term care facilities, and promoting social distancing by closing businesses like movie theaters, gyms, nail salons, and several others.