RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced the first two N.C. deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in a March 25 statement.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones,” N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said. “This is a stark warning that for some people, COVID-19 is a serious illness. All of us must do our part to stop the spread by staying at home as much as possible and practicing social distancing.”
According to the N.C. DHHS, the first person from Cabarrus County died on March 24 from complications associated with the virus.
“The patient was in their late 70s and had several underlying medical conditions,” N.C. DHHS said. “A second person in their 60s, from Virginia who was traveling through North Carolina, also died from COVID-19 complications. To protect the families’ privacy, no further information about these patients will be released.”
Cooper said that in addition, a number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are “seriously ill and in critical condition.”
“These will not be our last (deaths),” Cooper said on March 25.
N.C. DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen later clarified that there are currently 29 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state.
Answering a question regarding a statewide “stay at home” order, Cooper said it’s important that the state is deliberate in what it decides.
“We will be issuing additional orders soon,” Cooper said.
According to various media outlets, Mecklenburg County, Wake County and the city of Winston-Salem have or will issue mandatory “stay at home” orders to their citizens.
N.C. Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry said that his top priority is getting critical personal protective equipment for health care providers.
“Yesterday we placed orders for $12.6 million in personal protection equipment, bringing the total amount ordered so far to $65.9 million,” Sprayberry said.
Sprayberry said his office is looking to identify additional hospital beds in case they’re needed. Cooper said they’re looking to know how many beds they currently have in case they need to build temporary hospitals, and they have enlisted assistance of the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Right now, we have the capacity we need to handle patients coming through our doors,” Cohen said.
Cooper said that they’ve asked all hospitals in the state to stop elective surgeries.
Asked when North Carolina can expect COVID-19 cases to peak, Cohen said the state COVID-19 task force is still working to determine what type of trajectory N.C. is on, but feels like the state is trending lower compared with other states.