Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency in North Carolina due to coronavirus. This comes a day after five people in Wake County who traveled to Boston in late February for a conference tested positive for COVID-19.
"The main purpose of declaring a state of emergency is increased flexiblity to respond and prevent, as well as to allocate funds where needed." said Cooper. "The state of emergency can help speed supplies and gives health and emergency managers more budget flexibility. It protects consumers from price gouging. It encourages insurers to make testing available for little to no cost. And it expands the ability to use more health professionals who are working to respond to this virus."
The governor along with state health officials outlined new recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially among high-risk individuals, which include adults over the age of 65 or those with underlying health conditions. The state suggests that these people avoid large gatherings and that residential facilities that serve high-risk individuals, such as assisted living facilities and nursing homes, restrict visitation. NC DHHS recommends that event organizers urge anyone who is sick not to attend and to adopt lenient refund policies for people who are high risk. The guidelines also suggest people who return to North Carolina from areas impacted by COVID-19 self-monitor for symptoms.
So far, North Carolina has tested about 45 people for coronavirus. Secretary for the State Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state currently has enough supplies to test 300 more people.
"There's a number of states including ours that are relying on a particular testing methodology that needs these particular chemicals. Unfortunately, that supply is on backorder. We tried to order from the CDC, we're ordering directly from the manufacturer, we're getting some in. I think the more productive way forward for us in the state is we're actually bringing up a second testing methodology. We're waiting for the FDA to give us final approval on that but we want to be ready to go as soon as that's approved."
Cohen said the state hopes to be able to test 1,500 people by next week. So far, North Carolina has reported seven presumptive positive coronavirus cases, mostly in Wake County.