Number of North Carolina virus cases grow to 12

Published 11:50 am Thursday, March 12, 2020

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RALEIGH — The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in North Carolina has grown to 12, the state’s top public health official announced Thursday.
The four additional confirmed cases were disclosed by State Health Director Elizabeth Tilson at a state government task force meeting on the COVID-19 response. Gov. Roy Cooper said at the meeting that two of those people are in Forsyth County and a third case is in Johnston County. The fourth is a Durham resident who tested positive in another state, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release. The previously announced eight cases were centered in the Raleigh-Durham area.

Cooper already declared a state emergency earlier this week, giving him more personnel and fiscal flexibility to attempt to limit the spread of the virus.
Cooper previously urged certain at-risk people to avoid large crowds and recommended limited visitation to nursing homes and assisted-living centers. More robust recommendations were directed toward the Triangle area, such as asking local businesses to use technology so employees can work from home.
Cooper said he plan to announce additional and revised recommendations for individuals later Thursday.

“We need to do everything that we can to work to prevent the spread of the virus and also to mitigate,” Cooper said at the state emergency operations center. “We know that lives are at stake.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.
All 17 University of North Carolina system campuses and several key private schools already announced this week they are shifting later this month away from face-to-face instruction and toward alternative methods like online classes. Some universities are extending spring break in part to prepare for the transition away from in-person classes. Outside events and gatherings of 100 or more people will be canceled or postponed unless they are authorized by a school chancellor or provost.

“It’s important for us to most of the time give wide discretion for flexibility across the system. This is not one of those times,” UNC system interim President Bill Roper said Thursday.

Public K-12 schools remain open based on recommendations by health officials, state Superintendent Mark Johnson said. Local and regional organizations already are canceling or postponing public events.

This week’s most prominent event in North Carolina, the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament, will now be played without fans in attendance at the Greensboro Coliseum starting with Thursday’s quarterfinal games. The ACC made the decision Wednesday night.

“All of our lives will change in some way over the next few weeks and months,” Cooper said. “We’re going to have make some tough decisions (and) some of them will be unpopular.”

More than 127,000 people in more than 110 countries have been infected and more than 4,700 people have died worldwide. U.S. cases now number more than 1,300.
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