COVID-19, News

Cooper requests economic disaster declaration from feds; pregnant women now considered high-risk for COVID-19

(Coronavirus image: CDC)

Pregnant women are now included in the high-risk categories for coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, said State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson at a press conference this afternoon.

Along with people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions, pregnant women should take special care to stay home, and if they do go out, wash their hands, cough only into their elbow and refrain from touching their face.

Statewide, there have been 63 positive cases of COVID-19 in 18 counties. At least 1,800 tests have been completed in the state, Tilson said, including commercial and university labs.  “We’re ramping up testing right now,” Tilson said.

The state lab does not have a testing backlog, she said. The turnaround is within one business day.

Tilson said there are no reported deaths from the disease. People who have gone 72 hours without symptoms after seven days from their onset are considered recovered.

Local dispatchers are receiving a surge of 911 calls, said Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry. He asked that for non-emergencies and questions about food assistance and basic needs, people call 211. People can also text “covidnc” to the number 898211 to get regular information

Sprayberry also asked that people “resist the urge to panic buy” and hoard groceries. The state has no plan to close grocery stores, he said, and the supplies of food and other items are steady. “Leave food for others who can’t afford to buy a lot at once,” he said.

There have been shortages of personal protective equipment, known as PPE. Health care workers’ receive first priority, followed by emergency responders.

Gov. Roy Cooper has requested an economic disaster declaration from the federal Small Business Administration. If granted, small businesses could be eligible for up to $2 million in loans. The term is 30 years, with a 3.75% interest rate for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits. Sprayberry said the SBA has received North Carolina’s application.

Gov. Cooper has also declared a state of emergency, which triggers a price-gouging law for items that are “essential for life.”

Attorney General Josh Stein said his office has received 136 complaints, half of which involve groceries. The No. 2 complaint, Stein said, is regarding the cost of hand sanitizer and cleaning products. “We’re investigating these complaints,” he said. “We will act quickly to enforce the law.”

State law prohibits “unreasonable” price increases, but that term is not defined.

Stein has also advised that North Carolinians be alert to scams and frauds, as well as phishing attempts, robocalls and fake charities. “There are some people who will exploit fear and the situation to steal money,” Stein said.  

He said he recently received an email promising him “a miracle cure.”

“There are no miracle cures,” Stein said. “There is no cure or vaccines. If they’re promising you that, they’re trying to steal your money.”

Other robocall scams include those lying to residents that a local health department has identified them as someone who’s come into contact with an infected person. “And then they try to sell them a test,” Stein said.

Residents can call 1-844-8-NOROBO to report robocalls. To report price gouging, call 1-877-5-NOSCAM or go to the Department of Justice website,

Tilson underscored that people should care not only for their physical health but also their mental health.

“The changes we’re making in our daily lives are really hard,” Tilson said. “It can take a toll on our mental health. We need to all come together as a community and support each other as much as we can.”


  1. Jennifer Tucker

    March 20, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    Will you please let us hairdressers know what we are to do!!!!

  2. Stacey

    March 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    As a small business owner I don’t need another loan. Being nickel and dimed out of business by this state and city are every day issues.

  3. Ann Merkel

    March 21, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Please shut down and make people stay in so there is no more spread. My work is still open here in the NC Mountains and I work with a bunch of slobs in close range that do not wash their hands and have terrible hygiene practices and hang around shady redneck people. I do not want to be around this right now and I cannot quit! Please shut down!!!!!!!!!!

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