North Carolina is in a state of mourning after the first two causalities from coronavirus were reported, Governor Roy Cooper said Wednesday. 

More are imminent. 

“Unfortunately we will likely see more deaths in North Carolina before this pandemic runs its course,” Department of Health and Human Services secretary Mandy Cohen said. “I know this is really hard but we need to be vigilant to save lives.”

Over 500 people have tested positive for the highly-contagious virus out of over 60,000 cases nationwide. On Tuesday, a Cabarrus County man in his 70s with underlying conditions was the first person in North Carolina to die of the virus, followed by a person in their 60s who had traveled from Virginia. 

Wake County and Durham planned to issue stay-at-home orders Wednesday. Cooper has yet to issue a statewide lockdown, but told reporters Wednesday, “We want people to stay home.”

“Local communities are doing what they think is right and I understand that,” Cooper said. “We will be issuing additional orders.”

While schools and most businesses have already closed (excluding those deemed essential services, like day cares, and restaurants offering take-out) Cooper warned businesses that remain open to prepare for further restrictions.

“Get your social distancing and teleworking plans in place now,” Cooper said. “You may need those plans in order to stay open.”

Twenty-nine people are currently hospitalized with the disease. Due to safety precautions, family members must wait outside hospital rooms as their loved one battles the virus, Cooper said. 

“These families are having a difficult time right now,” Cooper said. “Let’s all do our part and reduce the spread of this virus and help our neighbors. 

Contact Raleigh editor Leigh Tauss at

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