NC leaders: COVID-19 more contagious than flu, social distancing is ‘only tool’ to slow spread

NC leaders: COVID-19 more contagious than flu, social distancing is ‘only tool’ to slow spread
COVID-19 map in North Carolina (Source: NCDHHS)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As COVID-19 cases topped 1,300 in North Carolina Monday, state leaders are pleading with the public to practice social distancing - saying it’s our "only tool” to combat this virus.

“Our enemy is this virus," Dr. Mandy Cohen with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said, reiterating what we do today will save lives going forward.

“It’s more contagious than the flu," Cohen said Monday of coronavirus. “We don’t have vaccines. Social distancing is the only tool we have to slow the spread of COVID-19.″

WATCH LIVE | CORONAVIRUS IN NC: State leaders are discussing coronavirus in North Carolina as positive COVID-19 cases top 1,300 across the state. At least six people in NC have died from coronavirus-related complications. A statewide “stay at home” order will go into effect in just a few hours »

Posted by WBTV News on Monday, March 30, 2020

North Carolina reported another 140 cases of coronavirus Sunday afternoon, bringing the state’s total to 1,307 across 74 counties. Health officials now say the median age for those who tested positive in N.C. is 46.

“Your actions matter. Staying at home matters. Staying home will save lives,” Cohen said. If you’re leaving your house – it needs to be limited to going to the grocery store, picking up medication or going outside for a walk, Cohen urged.

An executive “stay at home” order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper will go into effect at 5 p.m. Monday.

"We know virus is here in our community,” Cohen said Monday, as state leaders were previously able to trace all COVID-19 cases to a contact. “Folks don’t know where they picked it up from.”

Around 20,000 tests have been conducted and at least 1,300 of those tests came back positive. 8,000 of the tests are still pending results.

“While we’re testing more we’re going to find more,” Cohen said. “We are seeing widespread community transmission in the state. I expect to see COVID-19 in every county in North Carolina in the next couple of days.”

North Carolina is considered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have widespread transmission, meaning some people who have tested positive don’t know how they were infected.

“Because no one is immune and there’s no vaccination the best tool we have to slow the spread is keeping our physical distance and staying home,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

During a Thursday press conference, health officials said there were currently 50 people who were hospitalized in the state. That number rose to 137 by Monday morning, according to NCDHHS’s website.

Health officials said North Carolina currently has 15,398 in-patient beds in the state, and 6,235 of those are currently empty. There is also 3,223 intensive care beds in the state, and about 745 of those are empty.

Those numbers do not include extra, incoming beds that have been requested, officials added.

Cohen stated that about 20 percent of people who contract the virus will need hospital-level care, while 80 percent who test positive for coronavirus will get mild illness.

For reference, Cohen pointed out that some of our worst flu seasons only needed 2 percent of hospital-level care.

Health officials say individuals and families can call 2-1-1 for assistance from the operation center.


Public schools in the state will remain closed through May 15, Cooper announced in an order Monday.

An order for North Carolina remains in place to keep mass gatherings to 50 people or less.

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

“We’ve gotta do everything we can do to help that family that’s wondering where the next paycheck is going to come [from],” Cooper said, noting that families who were on the edge have “fallen off the cliff.”

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