Durham, Wake County residents test positive for coronavirus, both in isolation

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two more Triangle residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Wednesday evening.

A Wake County resident tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in the county to seven and the total number of cases in the state to eight.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Serivces, the patient had contact with a man from Indiana who visited the Biogen offices in Research Triangle Park while symptomatic last week.

The patient is isolated at home, health officials said.

"This is not a surprise," said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald in a written statement. "As we track the movements of the people already affected by COVID-19, it's likely that more individuals will test presumptively positive for the virus."

A Durham County resident currently visiting another state tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Durham County Department of Public Health said in a written statement.

Because the resident was diagnosed in another state, they will stay there in isolation until they are fully recovered.

Durham health officials said the person did not have any contact with Durham residents while symptomatic. The patient flew into Raleigh Durham International Airport from an undisclosed international location on March 2 before becoming symptomatic on March 3. On March 5, the patient drove alone out of state and was diagnosed on March 9.

According to Durham health officials, because the patient was not symptomatic when they flew into RDU, the risk to other passengers is low.

State COVID-19 Testing
North Carolina officials said they are using the State of Emergency to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus within the state.

In a news conference in Charlotte on Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper said he and health officials are monitoring data as it comes in from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I think what is clear is that all of our lives are going to change in some way in response to this virus," Cooper said.

RELATED: Triangle, Sandhills schools take precautions for coronavirus prevention

Cooper said health department workers have not gotten the supplies they need from the CDC to expand testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Previous COVID-19 Cases Related to North Carolina:

"We need to know how has this and how many people have this in order to make decisions about what we need to do to mitigate," Cooper said.

North Carolina Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo-Tilson said the state has the ability to test 250 people. While the health officials previously had strict testing criteria to identify the most high-risk patients, Tilson said the Department of Health and Human Services relaxed those criteria Tuesday night so people at moderate risk of infection could be tested.

RELATED: Quarantine: What does it mean? Can it stop the coronavirus?

"It's all hands on deck," Cooper said, stressing the need for the state to get more testing kits or use private laboratory companies.

Tilson defined those at high risk as:
  • anyone with a fever or symptoms of a lower respiratory illness who had contact with someone who was positive
  • anyone with fever and symptoms of a lower respiratory illness who tested negative for the flu

WHO Declares a Pandemic
Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus as a pandemic.

RELATED: What is the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic

"We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO chief.

According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic declaration accompanies sustained, global spread of a disease. WHO Emergencies Chief Dr. Mike Ryan said the risk of using the term could be if it is misconstrued, and people give up on prevention. Ryan stressed countries can still do more to prevent the spread of disease.

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The World Health Organization declared that the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic but also said it's not too late for countries to act.

As of Wednesday afternoon, health officials worldwide had confirmed more than 124,900 cases, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. More than 1,100 of those cases are in the United States.

Financial impact of COVID-19
During Wednesday's news conference, Cooper said while he didn't have exact numbers, North Carolina businesses should expect the novel coronavirus to take a toll on the state's economy.

"There will be inconvenience," Cooper said. "There will be loss of income. There will be disappointment."

However, Cooper also stressed the state is doing its best to remove cost barriers to testing. He said the state expects federal funding to assist with testing costs, and some insurance companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, are waiving testing fees for their customers.

At market close Wednesday, the Dow industrials dropped more than 1,400 points, a loss that accelerated after the pandemic declaration. According to the Associated Press, the Dow has fallen 20 percent from its recent high.

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