RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/WECT) – Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak in North Carolina, which also prompts the price gouging law that protects people from scammers to go into effect.
“With reports of coronavirus infections on the rise, North Carolina is under a state of emergency and our price gouging law is in effect,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “It is illegal to charge excessive prices during a state of emergency. If you see businesses taking advantage of this crisis, let my office know and we will work to hold them accountable.”
Report potential price gouging by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint at https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/price-gouging/.
“I know people are worried about this virus and I want to assure you that the state of North Carolina and your public health directors and emergency responders are working hard,” Cooper said.
As of Tuesday morning, there are seven presumptive cases of coronavirus in North Carolina. The CDC lab will confirm if the patients are positive for COVID-19.
“Right now, we have supplies to test 300 more people,” Cooper said.
Six of those are in Wake County, one in Chatham County. All are in isolation in their homes, according to Chris Kippes, Wake County Public Health Division director.
“Anyone can carry the virus to loved ones or friends who can become ill,” Cooper said.
The CDC reports there are more than 400 COVID-19 cases across the U.S.:
- Total cases: 423
- Total deaths: 19
- States reporting cases: 35 (includes District of Columbia)
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the five new cases late Monday.
All traveled to Boston in late February to attend a conference for Biogen. There have been several COVID-19 cases from around the country tied to the conference, the NCDHHS said.
All five people are being isolated in their homes.
Earlier on Monday, health officials in Indiana said a person who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 8 was in Wake and Durham counties between March 2-6. That person was symptomatic while in North Carolina.
That person on March 1 flew from Indiana to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Then, on March 2, the patient began to show signs of upper respiratory symptoms while working at Biogen in Research Triangle Park. The patient then drove back to Indiana on March 6.
Before traveling to North Carolina, the patient attended a corporate conference in Boston during the last week of February. More than two dozen other conference attendees have also tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.
The outbreak is leading to events all over the country being postponed or canceled.
Pearl Jam announced late Monday that their North American tour is being postponed. It was slated to start March 18 in Toronto.
Professional sports leagues, including MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS, announced team clubhouses and locker rooms will temporarily be closed to the media and non-essential personnel, effective Tuesday.
Hollywood is also changing plans over the virus.
“Peter Rabbit 2” had been set to open in the U.S. on April 3. Instead, Sony said the sequel to 2018’s “Peter Rabbit” will launch on Aug. 7.
Last week, the release of the James Bond film “No Time to Die” was postponed from early April to November.
The Wake County Department of Health said the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low but the following steps can be performed to protect yourself from COVID-19 and any other flu-like illness:
- Wash your hands.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Stay away from sick people.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Stay home if you’re sick and don’t send sick children to school or childcare.
NC DHHS recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 avoid large groups of people as much as possible. This includes gatherings such as concert venues, conventions, church services, sporting events, and crowded social events. People at high risk should also avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
ADULT CONGREGATE LIVING FACILITIES
NC DHHS recommends that all facilities that serve as residential establishments for high-risk persons described above should restrict visitors. These establishments include nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, and facilities that care for medically vulnerable children.
MASS GATHERING EVENTS
NC DHHS recommends that event organizers:
- Urge anyone who is sick to not attend.
- Encourage those who are at high risk, described above, to not attend.
- Adopt lenient refund policies for people who are high risk.
- Find ways to give people more physical space to limit close contact as much as possible.
- Encourage attendees to wash hands frequently.
- Clean surfaces with standard cleaners.
NC DHHS recommends that all travelers returning from countries and US states impacted by COVID-19 follow DHHS guidance on self-monitoring: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina/coronavirus
The recommendations should begin immediately and extend through March 31, 2020. NC DHHS will monitor the situation closely to determine whether to extend the recommendations beyond March 31.