Doctor: 2 weeks for North Carolina order to take slow cases
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s new stay-at-home order won’t show any conclusive effect on blunting the intensity of the new coronavirus for about two weeks, the state epidemiologist said Monday.
New restrictions on business operations and prohibitions of gatherings of more than 10 people issued by Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday were set to take effect at 5 p.m. Monday. Several urban counties and some cities already began enforcing similar orders late last week.
Health officials reported a sixth death related to the coronavirus Monday — the first reported in Mecklenburg County. Residents from Harnett, Cabarrus, Buncombe, Johnston and Rowan counties also have died. The state now counts more than 1,300 positive COVID-19 cases, a jump of 140 from Sunday. The number of people hospitalized from the virus has grown to more than 135.
The incubation time between an individual being exposed to COVID-19 and getting sick can be up to 14 days, with an average of five to seven days, said Dr. Zach Moore, the state epidemiologist. So the uptick in laboratory-confirmed cases or other illness surveillance in the next several days will likely reflect the period before movement rules were put in place, he said.
The virus’ spread is still just beginning and “every indication is that this is really ramping up now,” Moore told reporters. “We’re still on our way up.”
State and local governments continue to operate under the order, although employees for all but essential government operations are being told to work from home. The state Revenue Department announced its Raleigh headquarters building was closing immediately after it learned an employee last on-site March 21 had tested positive and won’t reopen until it is cleaned thoroughly. At the state legislature, oversight meetings are being postponed until at least April 14. The General Assembly is scheduled to convene its annual session April 28.
The confirmed cases include 25 in rural north-central Northampton County, all but one originating from a facility that Moore identified as an adult care community. In announcing 20 of the local cases over the weekend, Northampton health Director Andy Smith said the additional individuals testing positive experienced no COVID-19 symptoms and were in isolation.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up within three weeks. It can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death for older adults and people those with existing health problems. The vast majority of people recover.
The news release from Smith, who didn’t immediately return a phone call Monday, didn’t identify the facility.
The Rev. Matt Dupuy, pastor of a Northampton County Baptist church, identified Pine Forest Rest Home, a 24-bed facility in the Potecasi community, as the site of the cluster of cases.
Dupuy said members of his Galatia Baptist Church, local restaurants and other volunteers are helping prepare or pay for meals for the residents at the home. Dupuy said they got the idea after learning the rest home’s kitchen staff was short-staffed because of the outbreak.
Dupuy sees the food preparation as a way for Christians to live out their faith in uncertain times: “The outpouring of love in the name of Christ and for his glory have just been remarkable.”