The Grapevine

Coronavirus Becomes A Statewide Problem In North Carolina

COVID-19 cases in North Carolina are adding up, the count of which is now over 19,000. The strain has not spared any part of the state, including Avery County in Western North Carolina. Avery County was mysteriously kept COVID-19 free until recently following tests done on inhabitants. The first positive case was reported Monday.

Avery County is a mountainous and sparsely populated part of North Carolina but what was puzzling is that there were no reports of coronavirus cases until the COVID-19 tests were administered. These were carried out in early may at Creek and Avery, drive-through testing where more than 250 nasal tests were done. It would only be a matter of time before the results came out, something that started last week. Now, the first case in the county has been confirmed in a post from the Avery County Health Department's Facebook page.

“Public health staff have already initiated an investigation and have identified close contacts to contain the spread of disease,” the Facebook post read.

Before the discovery, seeing no one getting affected with the COVID-19 strain baffled health officials. This included Diane Creek, the health department director for the Toe River Health District, the News & Observer reported.

“We’ve had the same orders, the same guidelines. ... People are social distancing, taking the same precautions. But people are still going to the grocery stores; life has not stopped there,” Creek said in an interview.

When the coronavirus hit North Carolina, there were over 1,000 cases reported. Since then, cases have swelled to 19,000. The first deaths were reported on Mar. 25 by Governor Roy Cooper. They were a  man in his 70s from Cabarrus County and another one in his 60s traveling from Virginia. That led to Cooper issuing a statewide stay-at-home order.

North Carolina is one of the states slowly trying to reopen. They are now in Phase One of Cooper's plan with stay-at-home orders still in effect. The only difference is that locals can visit more retail stores and parks. Phase Two could be executed this week. This includes other establishments reopening such as restaurants, gyms, theaters and beauty salons.

Along with those plans come reminders set to protect everyone from contracting the disease. That includes social distancing, proper hygiene and wearing protective gear. According to Creek, most of the people there hardly have complaints about the rules set and take the guidelines pretty seriously.

coronavirus-testing-ap More testing is needed in the United States before the country can reopen, according to a study from Harvard Matthias Schrader/AP