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Coronavirus news and updates about the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

NC Officials Urge Calm After State Reports First Coronavirus Case

North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen speaks to reporters in this file photo dated March 3, 2020.
State of North Carolina
North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen speaks to reporters Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

North Carolina’s state laboratory is now able to test for the new coronavirus using kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which Gov. Roy Cooper said will help health officials respond more quickly to suspected cases.

 

“I know people are worried about this virus and I want to assure you that the state of North Carolina is prepared,” Cooper said at a news conference Tuesday, where he and state health officials announced a man in Wake County had tested positive for the virus. 

 
More cases are expected in the state. 

Members of the man's household have been quarantined, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Also, a number of people within Wake County and elsewhere in the state have been asked to quarantine themselves after having been within 6 feet of the sick patient for at least 10 minutes after he began to show symptoms of illness, said Chris Kippes, director of Wake County’s division of public health, at a news conference.

If you think you might have COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, call your health care provider or an urgent care facility, state health department spokeswoman Kelly Haight Connor said Wednesday. 

She said your doctor will likely test you for the flu and strep first.  

North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said Tuesday her agency has been preparing for the virus since January. 

“We put together an aggressive containment strategy of rapidly identifying suspected cases, testing them and doing any contact tracing,” Cohen said. 

Older people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk and anyone who contracts the disease is highly likely to survive, according to DHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson. 

“At most, the mortality rate might be about 1.4% — meaning 98.6% of people will get through it — and we anticipate that that mortality rate might be coming down the more we learn about the virus and more people that have maybe mild symptoms,” Tilson said Tuesday. 

Officials are encouraging people to prevent potential virus spread by staying home if they’re sick, washing their hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and coughing into their arm or a tissue.

“I know people are worried about this virus and I want to assure you that the state of North Carolina is prepared,” Cooper said Tuesday

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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