North Carolina identifies first case of COVID-19, state laboratory now able to test for virus

Editor’s note: A second, unrelated case of COVID-19 cropped up Friday.

Gov. Roy Cooper and state health officials announced Tuesday that a North Carolina person has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The individual from Wake County was exposed to the virus at a long-term care facility in Washington State.

The test, conducted by North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, is presumptively positive. That test will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lab.

According to Gov. Cooper the person is doing well and remains in isolation at home.

Local health department officials are identifying close contacts to monitor symptoms and contain spread.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen says officials are also investigating who else may have been on the flight with the individual.

To protect individual privacy, no further information was released, including what health facilities that person came into contact with in the state.

“I know that people are worried about this virus, and I want to assure North Carolinians our state is prepared,” said Cooper. “Our task force and state agencies are working closely with local health departments, health care providers and others to quickly identify and respond to cases that might occur.”

To be removed from isolation, the person must test negative for the virus two times in a 24-hour period and show no symptoms. Health officials from the state are in contact with the individual twice per day.

Health officials stressed Tuesday’s announcement is an isolated case. COVID-19 is not currently widespread in North Carolina.

On a positive note, the State Laboratory of Public Health is now able to perform testing for the new virus.

That means the state can get test results much faster. Health officials say it is essential to be prepared for the possibility that it could become widespread.

Click below to hear Gov. Cooper discuss what North Carolinians can do to better protect themselves and prevent the possible spread of the virus.

If you have questions or concerns, call the COVID-19 Helpline toll free at 1-866-462-3821. You can also submit questions online by selecting Chat at www.ncpoisoncontrol.org.

For more on how to properly wash your hands (a best practice in preventing the spread of COVID-19), refer to this poster from the CDC:

 

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