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home : news : e-news April 9, 2020

Updated--originally posted 3/23/2020 3:45:00 PM
COVID-19 Continues To Spread
First death from COVID-19 in NC reported; Mecklenburg County issues 'stay at home' edict

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

The number of cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina continues to rise.  A person from Cabarrus County died on March 24th from complications associated with the virus. The patient was in their late seventies and had several underlying medical conditions. A second person in their sixties, from Virginia, who was traveling through North Carolina, also died from COVID-19 complications. To protect the families’ privacy, no further information about these patients will be released.

Mecklenburg County, which now has over 170 confirmed cases,  issued a 'stay at home' proclamation Tuesday.  Effective at 8 AM Thursday, Mecklenburg County residents will not be allowed to:

  • Go to work unless providing essential services as defined by the order
  • Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
  • Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when outside their homes
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for limited exceptions as provided on  facility websites
  • Travel except for essential travel and activities
The proclamation will allow residents to go to the grocery store, go to restaurants for takeout, and go outside for exercise, but unless they work in what is considered an essential job, they will have to stay at home.  

Essential jobs according to the proclamation include:

  • Stores that sell food and medicine
  • Agriculture
  • Social services
  • Media
  • Gas stations
  • Businesses needed for transportation
  • Financial institutions
  • Hardware stores
  • Mail carriers and others involved in shipping
  • Educational institutions
  • Laundry services
  • Restaurants (drive-thru or takeout only)
  • Home-based care
  • Residential facilities and shelters
  • Childcare centers that are exempt
  • Manufacturers
  • Hotels and motels
  • Funeral services
Lincoln, Gaston, Catawba & Cleveland counties all put off any 'stay at home' edict--so far.  After Governor Cooper announced some new restrictions but stopped short of such an edict on Monday, the North Carolina Hospital Association--which represents all 150 hospitals in the state--sent him a letter asking him to issue such an order.

The hospitals say they're concerned that they won't be able to handle the cases that are likely to develop.  In Italy & Spain, elderly patients have been allowed to die so that ventilators could be assigned to younger patients because there just weren't enough to go around.  Doctors say they fear the same thing could happen here.  So far, they have the equipment including personal protective gear that they need, but if the situation gets much worse, they may not have. 

Cleveland County reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 Tuesday, although it's a bit different from the others in area counties.  A Cleveland County resident tested positive for COVID-19 while on vacation in Brunswick County. The person will remain in Brunswick County until the required isolation period is over. Because the individual is a county resident, Cleveland County Health Department personnel will remotely monitor the individual’s temperature and other symptoms daily and have begun contact tracing for the individual. Anyone who is determined to be a close contact of the individual since symptom onset will be notified and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. The individual traveled with a companion who will serve as a primary caregiver and self-isolate for a period of 14 days beyond the positive individual’s isolation period to ensure that symptoms do not develop. 

A second Cleveland County resident has now tested positive for COVID-19. This second case is in no way linked to the first case, although this individual also did recently travel and then returned to the county. The individual began to develop symptoms shortly after returning and was tested by a local healthcare provider. The individual is isolating at home and will remain in isolation until discontinued by local health department personnel, who are also working with the individual to identify close contacts. 

“This is the second case of COVID-19 in Cleveland County related to non-essential travel,” Interim Cleveland County Health Director Deshay Oliver said. “This once again stresses the importance of staying home as much as possible and practicing social distancing. Everyone this individual had close contact with during the time the individual was contagious is now at risk of exposure.

“If we all stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing, frequent handwashing, and follow other recommendations set forth, we can flatten the curve and hopefully prevent this from becoming widespread within our community. Everyone needs to do their part.”  

Three new cases of COVID-19 were identified Monday in Catawba County, bringing the county’s current total of cases to four. Catawba County Public Health received the positive test results Monday morning (March 23rd) and immediately began investigating. Gaston County had recorded two new cases over the weekend and two more were reported Wednesday, bringing that county's total to five.  Lincoln County has had one confirmed case, but that person has recovered and has now passed the required isolation period, so there are currently no known active cases in Lincoln.

Two of the Catawba County cases are from contact with known cases elsewhere. The cause of the third is still under investigation. All three individuals are isolated at home and are doing well.

Public Health is working to identify close contacts who may be affected and is advising them on appropriate monitoring and testing on a case-by-case basis.

The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person infected with COVID-19 for 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individuals, Public Health is assessing the risk of exposure to others and will determine which, if any, additional protective measures are needed. Protective measures may include temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, residents should take the following steps to prevent the spread of respiratory illness, including COVID-19:

  • Clean your hands often.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk for experiencing severe illness. The CDC has expanded its definition of high-risk to include the following:
    • People aged 65 years and older
    • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have heart disease with complications
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [(BM]I)≥40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease
  • Stay home if you’re sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
    • Throw used tissues in the trash.
    • Immediately wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks at least once daily.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Individuals experiencing these symptoms are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider immediately.

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 at and NCDHHS’ website at, which will also include information about future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina. If you have questions regarding COVID-19, call 1-866-462-3821 or NC 2-1-1.

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In Lincoln County, there has been only one confirmed case of COVID-19.  That person has recovered and has passed the 14-day quarantine period, so there are currently no active cases in the county.   According to the Lincoln County Health Department, as of Wednesday evening: 114 people have been tested for COVID-19; of those there was only one positive test and that person has recovered, meaning there is not currently an active case of COVID-19 in Lincoln County.  82 other people have tested negative for COVID-19, and 31 others have been tested and are considered persons under investigation (PUI). A PUI is a person who was tested and is self-isolating until test results are received. During the period of self-isolation, the Lincoln County Health Department provides daily contact management to all PUIs to monitor symptoms or contacts.


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