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Gov. Cooper declares state of emergency due to coronavirus concerns

Roy Cooper said state officials are "doing everything we can" to get more supplies and more tests after five presumptive positive tests Monday.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Tuesday after five people tested positive for coronavirus Monday. 

Those five presumptive positive tests bring the statewide total to seven cases. Cooper said all five cases were related to a conference in Boston in February and officials anticipate more positive results linked to the conference. 

"Right now, we have enough supplies to test 300 more people," Cooper said. "We are doing everything we can to get more supplies and more tests for North Carolinians."

Cooper said private labs across the state are already testing on another mechanism that does not rely on those supplies. 

“The health and safety of North Carolinians is our top priority. We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that North Carolina is prepared and responding to this virus, and this order helps us do that,” said Governor Cooper. “Though we are still in the early stages in North Carolina, time is a valuable resource and we must work together to slow the spread while we can.”

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said all five new patients are from Wake County and each traveled to Boston in late February to attend a conference. Their tests are being sent to federal authorities for final confirmation. The department said in a statement Monday that several cases of COVID-19 across the country have been linked to the conference. 

The first two cases reported in the state were out of Wake County and Chatham County. The person from Wake County contracted the virus after traveling to Washington State. The person from Chatham County contracted the virus after traveling to Italy. Those cases are not related to the latest five. The first case in Wake County 

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All are in isolation in their respective homes, health officials say.

The presumptive positive tests will be confirmed by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab. 

Until then, the NCDHHS will treat presumptive positive cases as positive, following CDC guidelines to better protect public health.

COVID-19, a new coronavirus originating from China, has sparked global concern as the outbreak grows. While the risk to those in the U.S. still remains low, the Centers for Disease Control has recommended the American public prepare for the possibility of an outbreak.  

According to the CDC, patients diagnosed with this coronavirus experience a mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Patients with severe complications from the virus often develop pneumonia in both lungs.  

The virus is spread person-to-person. According to the CDC,  the spread is happening mainly between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) of each other via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets land on the noses and mouths of other people, who then inhale them.  

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The Wake County Public Health Division is working to identify close contacts with the individuals who tested presumptively positive. That means those who were within around 6 feet of a person with a COVID-19 infection for a prolonged period of time.

According to the CDC, those most at at-risk from the coronavirus are:

  • Adults older than 70
  • People with serious chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease
  • The CDC says those groups should avoid crowds, including cruises and non-essential air travel. 

North Carolinians with questions or concerns about coronavirus can call the COVID-19 phone line toll-free at 866-462-3821.  It's staffed by the North Carolina Poison Control 24/7.

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