CHATHAM COUNTY, N.C. — A second person in North Carolina has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The test, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, was presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab.
According to health officials, the person is doing well and is in isolation at home in Chatham County, which is between Asheboro and Raleigh.
“I understand that people are worried. Know the health of people in our state is a top priority," said Gov. Roy Cooper.
Officials said this case is unrelated to the first case, which was announced in Wake County earlier this week.
According to the release, a man from Chatham County traveled in late February to an area in Italy that now has a COVID-19 outbreak. He had two days of mild, flu-like symptoms while in Italy. His fever resolved and symptoms were improving, and he flew back to the United States the following day.
This person was also a contact to a case in Georgia and the Georgia Department of Health notified North Carolina health officials.
Authorities said Chatham County Public Health Department officials conducted a home visit and collected specimens, which came back presumptively positive Thursday night.
The man has been cooperative and is in home isolation until follow-up tests are negative, health officials said.
The Chatham County Public Health Department said it will work to identify close contacts to monitor symptoms. Since the man had been symptomatic before travel, the CDC will identify close contacts on the flight thought to be at risk and notify the appropriate public health agencies.
COVID-19 is currently not widespread in North Carolina.
Cooper and state health officials wanted people not to panic over the second case. They said there are ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Health leaders said because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians should take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and covering coughs and sneezes.
Health officials said the CDC hasn’t provided enough materials to test people for COVID-19.
“We, like many states, have not received supplies to run tests we need. We have enough to test 150 people," said Dr. Mandy Cohen.
State officials said that supplies that would help test another 500 people are on the way to North Carolina from manufacturers. They said that it should be enough to tide them over until they receive more supplies from the CDC.
Last month, Cooper 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:
- Proactively launched cross-agency preparation work in January, putting together an aggressive containment strategy of rapid identification of suspected cases, testing and contact tracing.
- Began testing cases at the NC State Laboratory of Public Health, which allows for faster results and a faster response.
- Monitoring travelers returning from China through local health departments.
Preparation and Ongoing Response
- Formalized preparation and response work with Governor Cooper creating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force.
- Developing detailed response plans for a range of scenarios.
- Engaged in regular communication with federal, state and local partners.
- Preparing health care providers and facilities to streamline and standardize response activities including regular calls and mobilizing resources.
- Sharing and updating guidelines on how to proactively prepare and respond, including guidelines for health care providers, child care, employers, schools, colleges and universities and others.
- Activated a Joint Information Center to provide timely information.
- Maintaining an up-to-date website with information about COVID-19 disease, risk and guidance.
- Staffing a COVID-19 phone line to answer urgent questions from the public.
North Carolinians with questions or concerns about COVID-19 coronavirus can call the COVID-19 phone line toll-free at 866-462-3821. This helpline is staffed by the North Carolina Poison Control 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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