Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Tuesday after seven people tested positive for coronavirus. He’s encouraging workers in Wake County to telecommute if possible and for high risk populations not to travel and avoid large gatherings. 

“These recommendations can be mean inconvenience, loss of income or disappointment but they are based on the best medical advise and they will be life saving,” Cooper said. 

Five new cases of the rapidly-spreading virus were announced Monday, and more cases are expected to be identified, Cooper said. The patients had attended a Biogen conference in Boston together and have been placed in isolation in their homes. 

Worldwide, over 116,000 have been diagnosed with the disease, which has flu-like symptoms and about a 2 percent mortality rate. In the United States, over 600 cases have been identified and about two dozen have died. 

Declaring a state of emergency will allow the state to allocate necessary resources, mobilize medical personal and help contain the spread of the virus, Cooper said. 

People over the age of 65 and with underlying conditions are most at risk. 

Heightened measures are recommended in Wake County, including having workers telecommute if possible. Visitation will be limited to assisted living facilities. At this time, schools will remain open. 

The state has 300 test kits on hand and is working to get more and identify other means of testing for the virus, Cooper said. So far, the state has tested 44 people for the virus with an additional 25 people slated for testing Tuesday. 

It’s unclear how long the state of emergency will last, officials said. 

To help prevent the spread of the virus, Cooper says residents need to wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their face and stay home if sick. 

“Anyone can carry the virus to loved ones or friends who could become ill,” Cooper said. “Protecting public health means being cautious and being prepared. Today we are both.”

This is a developing story and will be updated. 

Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at 

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