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Dare County reports first COVID-19 case; state reports two deaths

The electronic traffic sign at the north end of Ocracoke Village on March 25. Photo: C. Leinbach

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Although Dare County Department of Health and Human Services announced today (Wednesday) its first positive case of COVID-19, this case will not show up as a Dare County case because a Dare County address was not used when the individual was tested.

 “The individual has been self-isolating since being tested and doing well,” Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the Dare County DHHS, said in a press release. This is not a case of community spread as it is believed the individual acquired the virus through travel or direct contact, according to the release.

Dare County DHHS staff is conducting an investigation into this individual’s activity. Anyone who is determined to have had direct contact with the individual will be contacted, but the DHHS will not release further details about the individual because of privacy rules.

Also today, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported the first COVID-19 associated deaths.

A person from Cabarrus County died on March 24 from complications associated with the virus. The patient was in their late 70s and had several underlying medical conditions. A second person in their 60s, from Virginia who was traveling through North Carolina also died from COVID-19 complications. To protect the families’ privacy, no further information about these patients will be released.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a press release. “This is a stark warning that for some people COVID-19 is a serious illness. All of us must do our part to stop the spread by staying at home as much as possible and practicing social distancing.”

On Tuesday,  in a letter to President Donald Trump, Cooper requested a major disaster declaration for the State of North Carolina due to the continuing impacts of COVID-19 on North Carolina.

In requesting the major disaster declaration, Governor Cooper asked the federal government to provide individual assistance for those affected, including crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance and Small Business Administration assistance, among other programs.

Cooper issued a state of emergency for North Carolina to respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis on March 10. President Trump followed by declaring a national emergency on March 13, opening Public Assistance for North Carolina, which reimburses government offices and non-profits for actions that protect public health and safety. Eligible counties and communities may qualify for financial reimbursements for the cost of taking prudent actions to reduce the impacts of COVID-19, while also protecting lives and public health.

To read the Governor’s request click here.

California, New York and Washington have already received major disaster declarations for COVID-19.

High risk persons
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. On March 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated who is at high risk for severe illness. People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Is 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Has a high-risk condition that includes:
  • chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • heart disease with complications
  • compromised immune system
  • severe obesity – body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

In addition, pregnant women should be monitored closely since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness. However, data so far on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness in pregnant women. While children are generally at lower risk for severe infection, some studies indicate a higher risk among infants.

Governor Cooper has taken several actions to protect the health of North Carolinians, including ordering all K-12 public schools in North Carolina to close through May 15th , banning gatherings of more than 50 people, limiting bars and restaurants to only take-out or delivery service, restricting visitors to long-term care facilities, and promoting social distancing by closing businesses like movie theaters, gyms, nail salons and several others.

North Carolina has more than 500 cases of COVID-19 reported in more than half of the state’s 100 counties, according to data from the N.C. DHHSs and county health departments. As testing increases, the number of cases reported each day is growing.

North Carolina saw its first case of COVID-19 on March 3 when a Wake County man tested positive for the virus. The man had traveled to Kirkland, Washington, and visited a senior care facility where there was later an outbreak of the illness. On March 21, the number of cases exceeded 200. On March 22, the count passed 300 and now exceeds 500.

For more information and additional guidance, please visit the NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus and CDC’s website awww.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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