RALEIGH — As the cases of COVID-19 continue to increase on a national level, the number of positive cases continues to follow suit within the borders of North Carolina, and Watauga County has confirmed its third case.
"This case had travel history, has been in isolation since being tested, and is improving," AppHealthCare, the regional health department, said March 24 about the third case. "The local public health staff have identified the close contacts, who have been in quarantine for several days."
COVID-19 positive cases reported for the state have continued their rising trend of recent days, as the number increased to at least 477 cases as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, according to reports from the Raleigh News & Observer.
This number varies from reports provided by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, as the agency reported 398 positive cases on March 24, with its reporting process occurring as a single daily update by 11 a.m.
The News & Observer is compiling the numbers of cases announced by counties throughout the day, noting that cases reported by county health departments can take up to 48 hours before they are included in the state's numbers.
On a statewide level, NCDHHS reported a total number of 8,502 tests have been conducted for the coronavirus, which were conducted at the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health and did not include tests at university and commercial laboratories.
According to the News & Observer, more than half of the state’s 100 counties have reported confirmed cases of the virus. The latest increase on March 24 includes the third case reported from Watauga County, as well as cases reported in Mecklenburg, Jackson, Wayne, Vance, Hoke, Rowan, Pitt, Franklin, Orange, Cabarrus, Iredell, Guilford, Union and Transylvania counties, according to the News & Observer.
The counties with the highest total number of cases across the state include Mecklenburg County, with 142 reported cases, Durham County with 71 reported cases and Wake County with 66 reported cases, according to the News & Observer.
Within the region of the High Country, Watauga County has reported three cases of COVID-19, the third of which was reported March 24. Both Ashe and Avery counties have yet to report a positive case of the virus within their borders.
AppHealthCare, which serves Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties, reported that it had collected 62 tests in Watauga County as of March 23, while outside agencies had reported a total of 91 tests for the county.
In Ashe County, the health department had collected two tests by March 23, while outside agencies have collected a total of 21 tests to date for the county.
Deb Gragg with the Avery County Health Department reported on March 23 the department had conducted 23 tests, with nine coming back negative.
Johns Hopkins University and Medicine reports as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, that a total of 51,542 confirmed cases in the United States, a jump of more than 4,000 cases since noon. The total represents the third-largest total of cases worldwide, trailing only China and Italy. The university reported that there had been a total of 674 deaths across the country to date related to COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning, March 24.
To date, no COVID-19-related deaths within the state of North Carolina have been reported, according to NCDHHS.