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North Carolina confirms state’s first case — a resident who visited Washington

Passengers arrive at LAX from Shanghai, China, after a positive case of the coronavirus was announced in the Orange County suburb of Los Angeles, California, January 26, 2020.

Ringo Chiu | Reuters

North Carolina health officials confirmed the state’s first COVID-19 case — a patient from Wake County who traveled to Washington state.

Local health officials are working to find out who may have been in contact with the patient, Gov. Roy Cooper said during a press briefing, adding the state expects more cases.

“Our most important work is keeping people healthy and safe,” he said.  

The Trump administration has restricted entry to the U.S. for travelers from China, the epicenter of the outbreak, hoping to slow the spread of the fast-moving virus here. But the North Carolina case appears to be the first domestic travel-related infection.

Washington state health officials on Tuesday identified three new coronavirus fatalities, including two patients who passed away on Feb. 26 who weren’t previously linked to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the U.S. to nine. 

The two patients who died that day were affiliated with skilled nursing facility Life Care Center of Kirkland, where several residents have fallen ill and at least three others have died.

That brings the total number of deaths in the state and across the U.S. to nine. The total number of confirmed cases in Washington state is now 27, up . The state Department of Health said 231 people are being monitored by public health officials.

“I understand people are anxious and worried, and I want to assure you that the state of North Carolina is taking this seriously. I encourage all North Carolinians to do the same,” Cooper said.