RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 764 residents of North Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19 as of its 12:20 p.m. update on Friday, March 27. The Raleigh News & Observer reports at least 880 people in North Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19, according to an update by that publication as of 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27.
During a March 27 news conference, Governor Roy Cooper announced that he has issued a statewide stay-at-home order. The order mandates that all North Carolina residents stay in their homes unless they are performing essential services.
More than a dozen NC counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have issued stay-at-home orders or amended state of emergency declarations to include these orders.
Additionally, Cooper announced that 200,000 state unemployment applications had been filed since March 16. The first unemployment benefits will be paid next week, according to the governor's remarks.
The virus has led to the death of four residents, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Cooper announced on March 25 that there have been two COVID-19-related deaths in the state, including a Virginia resident who had traveled to North Carolina.
On Friday morning, March 27, during its daily update, NCDHHS reported that 15,136 tests have been conducted by the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial laboratories.
DHHS has acknowledged that case counts don’t give a full picture of how widespread COVID-19 is in the state, the News & Observer reported. Not all patients with the illness are tested, and the county and state health departments said this week they are prioritizing people with urgent medical needs and health care workers for testing.
"Zack Moore, the state’s epidemiologist, has said the gap between the counts and reality will only grow as the virus becomes more widespread," the newspaper reported.
Mitchell County reported its first case of COVID-19 through Toe River Health District, according to a March 25 press release.
"Mitchell County has been preparing for this reality and anticipated that our community would likely be impacted at some point. Public health staff have already initiated an investigation and will be identifying close contacts to contain the spread of disease. To protect individual privacy, no further information about the case will be released," the release from Toe River Health District, which encompasses the health departments of Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties, stated. "The Mitchell County Health Department will keep the public informed by announcing any additional cases that may arise through our local media partners."
The counties with the highest number of positive tests, according to the News & Observer, include Mecklenburg County with 259 reported cases, and 123 reported cases in Wake County and 103 cases in Durham County.
Both Avery and Ashe counties have yet to report a positive case of the virus within their borders. Watauga County has reported five cases of COVID-19, the latest of which was reported March 27.
Deb Gragg with Toe River Health District reported on Friday evening, March 27, that 42 tests had been conducted in Avery County, with 24 negative results and 18 results pending.
TRHD noted that Avery County totals would be updated in the morning hours beginning on Monday, March 30. To this point, numbers have primarily been updated each evening.
"Please remember we are doing our best and working around the clock," the Toe River Health District posted on social media. "This event will end at some point and we all want to look back at this time and say we banded together with our neighbors, family and friends to get through this."
AppHealthCare reported that it had collected 67 tests in Watauga County as of March 27, while outside agencies had reported a total of 140 tests in the county. In Ashe County, the health department had collected four tests by March 27, while outside agencies had collected a total of 25 tests to date for the county.
A State of Emergency was declared on March 20 by Avery County Commissioners, with a suspension of short-term rentals through April 18 amended to the county's original state of emergency declaration on March 25 by the county.
Johns Hopkins University and Medicine reports as of 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 27, a total of 104,007 confirmed cases in the United States. The total represents the largest total of cases worldwide, with the US overtaking Italy and China on March 26.
The university reported that there have been a total of 1,693 COVID-19-related deaths across the country and a total of 870 individuals having recovered from the virus.