RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s top public health official is warning that the state’s coronavirus numbers are heading in the wrong direction as the Democratic governor considers whether to tighten restrictions or reopen more of the economy.
The governor’s decision, which is expected to be announced next week, comes at a time when the state has struggled to get those with COVID-19 to help reduce transmission by answering questions about who they’ve come into contact with.
“About half of folks are not responding to calls that we are making,” said Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, at a Thursday news conference.
President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Greenville earlier in the day where, despite the fact that cases have continued to increase nationwide in recent weeks, Trump claimed the virus is “going to peter out.”
On Thursday, North Carolina saw its highest single-day COVID-19 case count yet, with 2,532 people testing positive for the virus. Hospitalizations earlier this week reached their highest levels in the last two months, and the percentage of cases coming back positive has slowly increased but remained relatively stable between 5% and 7%.
“We’re reporting our highest day of cases since this pandemic has begun,” Cohen said. “It doesn’t feel like petering out to me.”
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.