North Carolina identifies first case of coronavirus

Posted at 3:34 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 05:45:56-05

RALEIGH, N.C. — Someone in North Carolina has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the office of Gov. Roy Cooper confirmed.

WSOC reporter Allison Latos first reported the news in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.

This is the state's first case of coronavirus.

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

The governor's office says that the person who tested positive is doing well and is in isolation at home. Wake County Public Health Director Chris Kippes says officials are touching base with the person twice a day to see how they're doing and to monitor their temperature.

"I know that people are worried about this virus, and I want to assure North Carolinians our state is prepared," Gov. Cooper said. "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."

The person, who is from Wake County, traveled to the state of Washington and was exposed at a long-term care facility where there is currently a COVID-19 outbreak. Local health department officials are identifying close contacts to monitor symptoms and contain spread.

To protect this person's privacy, no further information will be released.

While waiting for confirmation of results from the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will treate presumptive cases as positive and follow CDC guidelines to protect public health and limit the spread of infection.

Gov. Cooper's office says Tuesday's announcement represents an isolated case and says COVID-19 is currently not widespread in North Carolina. In a video message Monday night, the governor gave residents an update on the state's response to the outbreak.

Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians are advised to take the same measures that healthcare providers recommend annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and covering coughs and sneezes.

Last month, the governor established the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force to support the state's ongoing effort to monitor, prepare for and respond to COVID-19. State actions include:

  • Aggressively pursuing containment strategy of rapid identification, testing and contact tracing.
  • Engaging in daily collaboration with federal, state and local partners to ensure rapid response.
  • Mobilizing resources for our providers, local public health system, local emergency management, and other.
  • Developing detailed response plans for multiple sectors for a range of scenarios.
  • Developing guidance for planning for multiple sectors for a range of scenarios.
  • Preparing healthcare providers and facilities to streamline and standardize response activities.
  • Activating a Joint Information Center to provide timely information.
  • Testing patients in the NC State Laboratory of Public Health.
  • Leading regular calls with local health departments, hospitals and local emergency management.
  • Providing guidelines for health care providers, child care, employers, schools, colleges and universities, and others.
  • Monitoring residents who have returned from China through local health departments.
  • Staffing a COVID-19 phone line to answer urgent questions from the public.
  • Maintaining an up-to-date website with information about COVID-19 disease, risk and guidance.

Officials say it is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS.

For more information, visit the CDC's website and NCDHHS' website, which will also include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

Stay with News 3 for updates.