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Coronavirus death toll rises to 17: Real-time coronavirus updates Friday, March 27

There are now 904cases of coronavirus in North Carolina and 539 in South Carolina. There are 542 cases of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At WCNC Charlotte, we are focusing our coronavirus coverage on facts, not fear.  We aim to give our viewers the information they need from officials to best protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Key Facts:

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FRIDAY, MARCH 27

Rowan County coronavirus patient dies

A fourth person has died of the COVID-19 coronavirus in North Carolina.

The Rowan County Health Department has confirmed that a patient who tested positive for COVID-19 has died. The patient was in the high risk category due to age and underlying medical conditions. They were a resident of Rowan County

Rowan County Health Director Nina Oliver has reported that 312 tests have been submitted to The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. This number includes 298 negative and 14 positive results. These results are from the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all reporting hospital and commercial labs.

Third case in Cleveland County

A third Cleveland County resident has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The person involved in this third case did not recently travel or have direct contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19. The individual is isolating at home and will remain in isolation until discontinued by local health department personnel, who are also working with the individual to identify close contacts.  

North Carolina orders insurance premium payment deferrals 

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has activated an emergency declaration that will defer insurance premium payments for residents in all 100 counties.  This order was activated March 27th as a result of President Trump’s March 25th Major Disaster Declaration for the State of North Carolina. 

The Commissioner’s order applies to all insurance companies defined in the statute including health insurance, residential property and automobile insurance.  This order also applies to collection agencies, motor clubs and premium finance companies licensed by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. The order will defer not only premium payments but will also defer statutory time requirements.  Notices of cancellation, for example, will be deferred. 

Federal stimulus bill signed into law

President Donald Trump  has signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress into law. The stimulus bill would send $1,200 checks to most Americans, plus an extra $500 for each child.

North Carolina declares statewide 'stay at home'

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced a statewide 'stay at home' order effecting Monday at 5 p.m.

RELATED: Gov. Cooper issues statewide North Carolina 'stay at home' order

The governor noted today that three North Carolinians have died due to COVID-19 and the state has 763 confirmed cases of the virus in 60 counties. He called on all North Carolinians to protect themselves by staying home and following social distancing guidelines. North Carolina is now considered to have widespread transmission of the virus, which means people who have tested positive cannot trace where they were exposed to the virus.

Four more coronavirus deaths in South Carolina

A total of 14 people have died from the COVID-19 coronavirus in South Carolina after four more additional deaths were announced Friday.

The state is also is investigating 86 additional cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases statewide to 539 cases in 39 counties.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has also signed an executive order requiring visitors from nationwide coronavirus hotspots, such as New York, must quarantine when visiting the state.

Officials said they are facing a shortage of chemicals needed to perform testing on COVID-19 nationwide and within South Carolina, including at the DHEC Public Health Laboratory. 

Second COVID-19 case confirmed in Burke County

Health officials say the patient is hospitalized after testing positive for coronavirus. The patient was infected after traveling and the case is not believed to be community spread. So far, two Burke County residents have tested positive for coronavirus; a third patient lives in Mecklenburg County.

Catawba County identifies new case of COVID-19

One new case of COVID-19 has been identified in Catawba County, bringing the county’s current total case count to 10.

Public Health is working to identify close contacts who may be affected and is advising them on appropriate monitoring and testing on a case-by-case basis. Close contact is defined as being within approximately 6 feet of a person infected with COVID-19 for 10 minutes or longer, according to the CDC.

North Carolina investigating 9 online sellers for price gouging

Attorney General Josh Stein announced his office is investigating nine online sellers for price gouging high-demand items on Amazon. According to the Attorney General's Office, these sellers made over $100,000 as a result of raising prices by more than 40% on items like N95 masks and hand sanitizer. 

The Attorney General's Office has received over 450 complaints of price gouging since Gov. Cooper declared a state of emergency on March 10. Click here to report coronavirus price gouging in North Carolina.

Mecklenburg County reports 55 new cases; county total up to 259

Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced 55 new cases of coronavirus in Mecklenburg County Friday morning. 

During a virtual press conference Friday Diorio and other members of the county including Mecklenburg County’s public health director, Gibbie Harris says there are now 259 positive cases of Covid-19 in Mecklenburg County.

Harris says half of all reported cases are adults between 20 and 39 years old and that 1 in 5 have been hospitalized.

“We have community spread across the entire county all ages are being affected all areas of our county,” says Harris.

Harris says the number of positive cases though are likely much higher, saying the virus is now so widespread the county is no longer mapping cases by zip code.

She says the county is also still not conducting widespread testing and admits there are capacity issues leading to delays in how long people are having to wait for their results.

“Our capacity throughout the testing process is still limited, So from start to finish when a test is taken to the time it is processed we continue to have capacity issues; that has been resulting in delays in receiving some test results,” says Harris.

So for anyone with symptoms that are mild the message from officials, stay home. If symptoms are more severe, Harris says you should call ahead.

Johnston County reports coronavirus death, North Carolina total now 3

The patient died Thursday. Health officials said it was a patient in their mid-60s who had underlying medical conditions.

"We are saddened to hear of this loss to our Johnston County community and extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones. 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," said Johnston County Health Director Dr. Marilyn Pearson.

Most people do not need a test. When you leave your home to get test... ed, you could expose yourself to COVID-19 if you do not already have it. If you do have COVID-19, you can give it to someone else, including people who are high risk.

NC Gov. Cooper announces new text line for families to access food for kids

Parents who need food assistance for their children can text FOODNC to 877-877 to locate nearby free meal sites. The texting service is also available in Spanish by texting COMIDA to 877-877.

After entering their address, parents will receive a text with the location and serving times for nearby pick-up and drive-thru free meal sites while schools are closed. Sites have been set up across the state for families with children ages 18 and younger, including preschool children, who rely on free and reduced-price meals at school.

Parents can also call 2-1-1 to speak with an operator who will help them locate meal sites in their community. The 2-1-1 service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Services are provided in English, Spanish and many other languages.

The United States leads the world in confirmed COVID-19 cases

The United States has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. passed both Italy and China Thursday and now has 85,991 cases as of 4 a.m. ET Friday morning. Nearly 1,300 people in the U.S. have died and 753 have recovered.

There are more than 533,000 cases around the world with 24,000 deaths and 122,000 recovered. 

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RELATED: South Carolina projects 8,000 coronavirus cases by May 2

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