North Carolina's first case of Coronavirus has a connection in Washington

RALEIGH, North Carolina - A new coronavirus case in North Carolina has a connection to Washington state. Health officials joined North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Tuesday, to announce the state’s first presumptively positive case of COVID-19.

“They did travel back from the state of Washington. They did return from Washington on a flight,” said Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The resident of Wake County in North Carolina was in Washington at a long-term care facility. Health officials did not name the facility during the news conference, but said it has a current COVID-19 outbreak.

Officials said the person is doing well while at home in isolation. Cohen said DHHS is waiting for the person’s test results from the CDC.

“The state lab in North Carolina did do this test and it came back positive. And it is a presumptive positive because it is only the second day in which our lab is doing that testing. So, for a period of time we will do confirmed tests with the CDC,” said Cohen.

While they wait for confirmation, officials said they’re contacting everyone the person may have come close to.

“We are doing and starting that work now to trace immediate contacts that they would have had and that includes going to making sure folks on that flight are made aware so that they are aware,” said Cohen.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport increased cleaning and sanitizing ever since the outbreak started in China. Now that more cases are happening in Washington, a spokesperson said the airport’s janitorial staff has ramped up efforts—focusing on high touch point areas…and more hand sanitizing stations at the international arrivals area.

Governor Cooper said this is an isolated case in their state. Officials in both states are encouraging everyone to practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.

“Pay attention when you yourself or a member of your family is sick. Stay home, don’t go out, don’t be around other people,” said Cooper.

Cohen said DHHS, public safety and emergency management created a task force. The group is developing plans for a range of scenarios in case the virus becomes widespread. Those state officials said they’re also going to increase testing capacity now that a case is in North Carolina.

The Wake County Health Department is in close contact with the resident. Health professionals are asking that person to monitor their own temperature, health and provide very specific details. Officials said in order for that person to be released from isolation, they’ll have to have two negative tests 24 hours apart and no symptoms.