UPDATED: Eleven cases of COVID-19 coronavirus now diagnosed in North Carolina

Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19.The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-sections through the viral genome, seen as black dots. [Image courtesy CDC]

Two people from Forsyth County and a person from Johnston County have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total of positive cases in North Carolina to 12, including a Durham resident who tested positive in another state.

The new cases come as the state’s public and private universities are calling off in-person classes for the foreseeable future, and the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament in Greensboro will be played with no fans in attendance starting Thursday.

The Forsyth and Johnson County local health departments will work to identify close contacts. The couple from Forsyth was on a cruise where other travelers have tested positive. The exposure for the person from Johnston County is being investigated. The CDC defines close contact as being within approximately 6 feet of a person with an infection with COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time of 10 minutes or longer. Based on information provided by the individual, county health officials will assess risks of exposure, determine which if any additional measures are needed such as temperature and symptom checks, quarantine and/or testing.

The tests conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health are “presumptively positive” and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab, according to a news release from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

While awaiting confirmation of results from the CDC, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will treat presumptive cases as positive and follow CDC guidelines to protect public health and limit the spread of infection.

Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians are being asked to take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, staying home if you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow.

It is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which will also include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

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Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.