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Visitors enter Frye Regional Medical Center last week. The hospital added new restrictions on Thursday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Catawba County has five new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the county total to nine as of Thursday afternoon.

North Carolina’s third coronavirus-related death was also announced Thursday in Harnett County.

Of the five new confirmed cases here, two are people who are close contacts of known cases, according to a release from Catawba County Public Health. Two of the newly identified people are hospitalized, two are isolated at home and one has recovered.

Catawba County Public Health received the positive results overnight and started investigating immediately, according to the press release sent Thursday.

Health officials are working to find anyone who had close contact with confirmed coronavirus carriers, the release said. Close contact means being within six feet of a person infected with COVID-19 for 10 minutes or more.

Those who had close contact may have regular temperature and symptom checks and could be quarantined or tested.

As of Thursday morning, there have been at least 400 people tested for COVID-19 in Catawba County and 112 negative results have been returned.

“With community transmission occurring throughout North Carolina, we anticipate our local case count will continue to rise,” Catawba County Health Director Jennifer McCracken said in the release.

The number of cases of COVID-19 statewide increased by more than 100 on Thursday,

There are at least 641 cases of coronavirus and three deaths in the state, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services website. One death was in Cabarrus County announced on Wednesday. Another death reported Wednesday was someone from Virginia who was traveling through North Carolina when they were hospitalized.

A third death was reported by NCDHHS in Harnett County on Thursday. The person was in their 30s with an underlying medical condition.

Average age of infected is 41

The average age of people in North Carolina infected with the coronavirus is 41, said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, state health director, during a press briefing on Thursday. At least 50 of those with coronavirus in the state are hospitalized.

Mecklenburg County reported the most cases with at least 181 confirmed coronavirus cases. The county is also one of several in the state to issue a stay-at-home order that started Thursday morning.

Burke County has one resident with coronavirus and tested a Mecklenburg resident who came back positive. Burke County has had 78 tests for coronavirus and had 61 negative results returned as of Thursday.

Caldwell County has three cases, but no new cases were reported on Thursday. There have been 431 tests in Caldwell County and 114 tests have returned negative, according to the Caldwell County website.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Alexander County had no confirmed cases.

At least 15,399 tests for coronavirus have been completed statewide and at least 15,000 samples are awaiting testing, Tilson said. The state lab did at least 1,134 of those tests and has resources for 1,200 more.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's request for a major disaster area declaration due to COVID-19 was approved late Wednesday by the federal government.

The White House announced President Donald Trump's decision on the declaration, which will help the state get additional emergency assistance. In the request, Cooper asked for help for individuals, including unemployment and small business assistance, crisis counseling and other programs.

Hospital severely limits visits

Starting Friday at noon, few visitors will be allowed in Frye Regional Medical Center, Director of Communications and Marketing Marcia Meredith said. The restriction is an effort to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Exceptions will be made for child patients, pregnant patients and those receiving end-of-life care.

The hospital also limited its entrances to the main entrance, the emergency room entrance and the same-day surgery entrance, which is for patients only.

Thursday, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners canceled three upcoming meetings due to the coronavirus social distancing recommendations, Director of Communications and Marketing Amy McCauley said.

A full board of commissioners meeting scheduled for April 6 was canceled. Subcommittee meetings scheduled for March 30, and April 13, are canceled. The board plans to reconvene for its April 20 meeting, McCauley said.

The town of Maiden also canceled its regular town council meeting scheduled for April 12. The next council meeting will be on May 13.

Apply for food stamps online

In an effort to limit person-to-person interaction and encourage social distancing, the Catawba County Department of Social Services is encouraging people to apply for Medicaid and nutrition benefits to online, according to a release from the county. Applications for Food and Nutrition Services, food stamps, and medical assistance like Medicaid, NC Health Choice or Children's Health Insurance Program are available online at ePass.nc.gov.

Applications can also be requested by mail, e-mail or fax by calling 828-695-6326. A completed application can be mailed, emailed, faxed or dropped off to social services.

Applications for medical assistance programs can also be done over the phone at the same number.

New hours for grocery

Lowes Food is limiting its hours to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to allow time for cleaning and for additional support, according to a press release. Lowes Foods will continue to reserve 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday for seniors and anyone vulnerable to COVID-19.

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