North Carolina announced the first coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday.
A person in their late 70s in Cabarrus County died on Tuesday from complications from the virus, according to a press release from Gov. Roy Cooper. The patient had several underlying conditions.
A second person in their 60s also died from coronavirus complications. The person was from Virginia and was traveling through North Carolina.
Cooper said about 29 people are hospitalized with the virus and some are in critical condition.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I must tell you that these will not be our last (deaths),” Cooper said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Today is a stark reminder that we must take this disease seriously.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Catawba County had no new coronavirus cases, leaving the county number at four confirmed cases, Catawba County Public Health Community Engagement Specialist Emily Killian said. At least 380 tests have been done for the virus and 88 results have come back negative. Those awaiting test results are under isolation, Killian said.
Burke County and Caldwell County both reported their first confirmed cases of coronavirus Tuesday evening. By Wednesday, Caldwell County had two more cases.
In Burke County, two people tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning. One is a Burke County resident and the other is a Mecklenburg County resident, but both were tested in Burke County, according to Burke County officials. Both are in isolation.
At least 73 tests for coronavirus have been done in Burke County and 57 results have been returned negative.
Burke County is expecting more cases to be identified.
Caldwell County has three confirmed cases as of Wednesday afternoon. The county has done 370 coronavirus tests and had 78 negative results returned.
Statewide, there are over 510 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday morning, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services website and county health departments.
At least 12,000 tests have been done for the virus, Cooper said Wednesday. The state lab did 1,071 of those and has supplies for 1,230 more. There are at least 15,000 samples statewide waiting to be tested, Cooper said.
Wednesday, N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell was diagnosed with coronavirus, he said in a press release. He returned from a trip on March 16 with a cough, which worsened over the week. He was tested on Monday and got a positive test result on Wednesday.
Folwell is in isolation and only essential staff at the Department of State Treasurer are in the building.
As of last week, Frye Regional Medical Center canceled all elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures, Director of Communications and Marketing Marcia Meredith said. All non-urgent outpatient services for the next 30 days are rescheduled, she said. Patients with those appointments have been notified.
“We believe this decision will help minimize the spread of illness by limiting unnecessary contact between patients and providers,” Meredith said.
Frye is also changing their visitor guidelines. This week, only people 16 and older can visit after their temperature is taken and they are asked about recent travel and respiratory symptoms, Meredith said. Only one visitor per patient is allowed at a time. Those visitor restrictions are changing often, Meredith said.
Catawba Valley Medical Center also canceled non-essential surgeries.
On Monday, Cooper signed an executive order closing several types of businesses that violate social distancing rules. Those businesses are ordered to close by 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Those include movie theaters, bowling alleys, gyms, nail salons, hair salons, health clubs, spas, yoga studios, pools, sweepstakes businesses, tattoo parlors and more.
Cooper did not issue any further restrictions or mandates on Wednesday but said he expected to announce more.
“We know that further action to protect our state will be necessary,” he said. “We’re working on additional statewide guidance and restrictions that we will be announcing soon.”
While some individual counties like Mecklenburg and Durham have issued “stay-at-home” orders for residents, Cooper has not declared one statewide.
“We want people to stay home and local communities are doing what they think is right and I understand that,” Cooper said. “It’s important for us to make sure we are deliberate.”
Cooper encouraged businesses to have social distancing and teleworking plans in place.
“You may need those plans in order to stay open,” he said.