With more than 630 cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina, and at least 47 in the Triad, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has issued new guidance, telling people with mild symptoms to stay home.

The updated guidance is intended to slow the spread of the virus, as people with mild cases of the new coronavirus leave their homes to get tested, they could expose others to the disease. The guidance also comes in the face of a national shortage of personal protective equipment and supplies for healthcare professionals.

"Testing is most important for people who are seriously ill, in the hospital, people in high-risk settings like nursing homes or long-term care facilities, health care workers and other first responders who are caring for those with COVID-19," the state health department wrote in its new guidance.

The state health department says testing won't change the treatment for the mildly ill because there is no treatment for COVID-19.

In the Triad, there are 24 known cases in Guilford County, 17 in Forsyth County, three in Davidson County, three in Randolph County and one in Davie County. 

Guilford County, Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem and Clemmons have all ordered residents to stay at home and for non-essential businesses to close in order to help slow the spread of the disease.

North Carolina reported its first COVID-19 related deaths Wednesday.

DHHS officials said the average age is 41 for N.C. individuals testing positive for the virus.

The primary warning from state and federal public health officials has been that those ages 60 and older, and those with immune issues, are the individuals most at risk from contracting COVID-19.

DHHS said about half of the state's 10,000 in-patient hospital beds are unoccupied as of Thursday, and that there are 50 individuals statewide who have been hospitalized for treatment.

The results from nearly 15,400 tests have been obtained with more than 15,000 pending.

On Twitter @LeeOSanderlin

lsanderlin@wsjournal.com

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