RALEIGH — As a handful of North Carolina counties order residents to stay home, and State Treasurer Dale Folwell tests positive for coronavirus, Gov. Roy Cooper updated residents on the coronavirus situation, during a news conference Wednesday, March 25, Cooper.

Twelve thousand tests are in, and 15,000 more are awaiting results, he said. More than 504 people are sick with COVID-19. Several are hospitalized. Two people died from COVID-19 in North Carolina on Wednesday, he said, though one drove in from Virginia.

Folwell, in a news release, said he’s in quarantine.

State health leaders are preparing “additional statewide guidance” over the virus, Cooper said. He said an announcement of other protective measures is imminent. He didn’t directly answer reporters’ questions about whether he intends to order a statewide shelter in place. Residents should stay home whenever and however possible, he repeated. 

“We’re continuing to prepare,” Cooper said.

On Monday, Cooper issued an executive order banning gatherings of more than 50 people, and closing gyms, movie theaters, and hair and nail salons. The order added to Cooper’s earlier closure of dining rooms in restaurants and private clubs. At least 80,000 unemployed residents applied for unemployment insurance since last week, Cooper said. The number is now closer to 140,000, the Raleigh News and Observer reports. 

As Cooper lingers on the edge of a decision, more counties are announcing decisions to keep people home. 

Durham County issued a stay-at-home order Wednesday morning. It kicks in Thursday at 6 p.m. Wake County announced plans for a similar directive Wednesday afternoon. County leaders will hold a press conference Thursday, Wake County Commission Chair Greg Ford said an News & Observer story. More are forthcoming, probably as soon as this afternoon.

Mecklenburg County commissioners announced a stay-at-home order Tuesday. Residents can’t go to work, leave their homes or travel unless jobs and activity are considered essential.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the state treasurer announced his own COVID-19 diagnosis. Folwell, who has seasonal allergies, thought his persistent cough was pollen-induced. He didn’t have a fever, but took the test Monday after getting a doctor’s advice. The positive result came back Tuesday night, Folwell said. 

“My thoughts and prayers are with not only those who are sick, but those who are impacted by the vast financial fallout of this pandemic,” Folwell said. “We will continue to work diligently to make sure retiree checks still go out on time, the State Health Plan provides comprehensive health care coverage, and state banking operations continue uninterrupted.”

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