First deaths reported, more than 500 in North Carolina sickened by coronavirus

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the first COVID-19 associated death.

A person from Cabarrus County died on March 24 from complications associated with the virus. Officials say the patient was in their late seventies and had several underlying medical conditions. A second person in their sixties, 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.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones. 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,” said Governor Roy Cooper.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. On March 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated who is at high risk for severe illness. People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Is 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Has a high-risk condition that includes:
  • chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • heart disease with complications
  • compromised immune system
  • severe obesity – body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

In addition, pregnant women should be monitored closely since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness. However, data so far on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness in pregnant women. While children are generally at lower risk for severe infection, some studies indicate a higher risk among infants.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina has jumped once again, and is now at 504.

Officials say at least 10,489 tests have been completed.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not updated numbers for Wednesday at this time, but as of Tuesday reported 44,183 cases and 544 deaths across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands.