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Coronavirus cases, response both see increase in NC

COVID-19 | image courtesy Centers for Disease Control

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) confirmed five new cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Monday in Wake County, increasing the statewide total to seven.

Wake County’s Public Health Division says it is investigating who may have been exposed to the five residents who tested presumptively positive for COVID-19 on March 9. The CDC is running a second test to confirm these results.

Also Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper took the next step in the state’s coronavirus COVID-19 preparedness plan today and issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency.

The declaration activates the Emergency Operations Center to help agencies coordinate from one location and makes it easier to purchase needed medical supplies, protect consumers from price gouging, and increase county health departments’ access to state funds.

Key provisions in the order are similar to those enacted in a natural disaster. The order will help with the cost burdens and supplies that may be difficult for providers and public health to access due to increased demand. It also increases the state public health department’s role in supporting local health departments, which have been tasked with monitoring quarantines, tracing exposure and administering testing.

“We all play a role in keeping our communities safe and healthy. These precautions can help us slow the spread of this virus and protect our more vulnerable neighbors,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “Let’s be guided by compassion and reason and work to support each other as a community.”

Today’s updated NC DHHS recommendations are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current actions by other states, and the most up-to-date epidemiologic information available to protect the public’s health.

NC DHHS recommends that employers and employees use teleworking technologies to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, employers should:

- Urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits.
- Consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time.