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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

NC Health Officials Urge Residents To Avoid Large Gatherings, Work From Home

File photo of DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen

North Carolina officials are urging people in the state to avoid large crowds and work from home if possible in response to the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

"If your event draws more than 100 people, we recommend you cancel, postpone or modify that event," state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said Thursday at a news conference.

The state had 15 likely coronavirus cases as of Thursday afternoon, including two in Mecklenburg County. Fourteen of the cases involve people who tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, in a state lab but whose results have not been confirmed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 15th case has been confirmed by the CDC.

Cohen also urged people to avoid gatherings that would require them to be within six feet for more than a few minutes. Additionally, the state is asking employers to let people work from home if possible and to maximize sick leave benefits. If people can't work from home, employers are being asked to arrange workplaces in a manner that lets people be at least six feet apart.

As of Thursday, the state wasn't recommending any preemptive school closures, but Cohen said that could change.

"We do not have the luxury of taking a 'wait and see' approach to this virus," Cohen said.

The state is also advising people 65 and older and those with underlying conditions like heart disease to stay home as much as possible.

"This is a tough time for our state, the country and the world," Gov. Roy Cooper said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.