Gov. Roy Cooper announced today the state’s first two COVID-19-related deaths.
A person from Cabarrus County died yesterday from complications associated with the virus. The patient was in their late 70s and had several underlying medical conditions, according to a news release. 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 the patients will be released, the release states.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones,” Cooper said. “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.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 504 positive COVID-19 cases in the state as of 11:20 a.m.
The agency 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 illness in pregnant women. While children are generally at lower risk for severe infection, some studies indicate a higher risk among infants.
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 15, 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.
He’s been under pressure to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” order, but has not done so yet. In the meantime, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte and the city of Durham have ordered residents to shelter-in-place, and Wake County is expected to announce a similar measure.
The shelter-in-place measures require residents to stay home unless they have a grocery or medical need. Only employees whose jobs are considered essential can go to work. Outdoor exercise and some activities are permitted with proper social distancing.