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RALEIGH — The number of presumptive positive cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) rose to 15, including cases in Forsyth, Johnston and Wake County, on the afternoon on March 12, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 15 presumptive positive cases and one confirmed positive was up from the 12 confirmed earlier in the day by the N.C. DHHS.

"The tests, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, are presumptive positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab," the N.C. DHHS said when announcing the 12 presumptive positive cases. "All are doing well and are in isolation at home."

“At present, nothing is more important than protecting our families and our loved ones from the spread of COVID-19," Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) said in a March 12 statement. "It’s imperative that we stay abreast of updates from both the CDC and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and follow their guidance accordingly. If you believe you have been exposed to the Coronavirus, and are exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness, repeated coughing, or difficulty breathing, call your health care provider immediately and follow the proper health and safety measures.”

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System's Rob Hudspeth said on March 12 that a "significant plan" was to be released in the next day or two that would involved multiple agencies and their response to COVID-19, if needed.

Gov. Roy Cooper stated at a March 12 press event that he advises postponing or canceling all events with 100 or more people across the state, starting March 13.

"The circumstances are constantly changing, North Carolina has more tough decision ahead, and we will make them," Cooper said.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System said on its website that it will limit visitors at Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital.

"Patients may be accompanied by one visitor only," ARHS stated. "The visitor must not have symptoms of respiratory illness. Vendors are prohibited from entering the building."

While awaiting confirmation of results from the Centers for Disease Control, NCDHHS will treat presumptive cases as positive and follow CDC guidelines to protect public health and limit the spread of infection.

DHHS announced around 10:50 p.m. on March 11 that the one case from Wake County was identified. This case is related to a traveler from Indiana who visited Biogen in Raleigh last week.

The Wake County Public Health Division will work to identify close contacts, which the CDC defines as being within approximately six feet of a person with a COVID-19 infection 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. 

DHHS then announced around 10 a.m. on March 12 that it had identified the three additional cases in state with the one additional Durham resident in another state. 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 six 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.

Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, North Carolinians should 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.

Staying in touch

As the COVID-19 situation rapidly changes, here are some links to stay updated.

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