With cases growing across the country — 12 of which, as of Thursday, have led to death — it was inevitable that the coronavirus would reach North Carolina. Fortunately, the one case that was reported and confirmed earlier this week seems to be isolated. There’s no reason to panic or worry.

The North Carolina coronavirus patient has not been identified, but he, a Wake County resident, was apparently exposed to the virus during a visit to Washington state. He is doing well and is in isolation at home, Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday afternoon. State health officials are investigating possible contacts to monitor symptoms and contain the virus’ spread.

“I know that people are worried about this virus, and I want to assure North Carolinians our state is prepared,” Cooper said in a statement. “Our task force and state agencies are working closely with local health departments, health-care providers and others to quickly identify and respond to cases that might occur.”

That’s reassuring, as are the steps announced by the city of Winston-Salem to prepare contingency plans in the event that staffing levels of critical departments — police, fire, sanitation — are affected by the virus. City officials are taking the situation seriously.

Medical authorities have estimated that coronavirus could affect about 15% of us, many of whom would require hospital care. But: “The vast majority of us are going to get through this totally unscathed from a health standpoint,” Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious disease expert at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, said last week.

In the meantime, we’re still in flu season. As of the end of February, 115 deaths from influenza had been reported in North Carolina.

There are precautions we can take to prevent contracting either:

  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading germs.
  • If you feel sick, see a doctor immediately.
  • Eat healthy food and get plenty of rest to keep your immune system strong.
  • Again, don’t panic — but stay informed.
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