UPDATE | North Carolina Not Like New York City

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By Eric Noevere | Nurse Practitioner

Editor’s note:  Mr. Noevere is a long-time resident of Pamlico County.

Now that we are into the second week of the declared states of national and state emergency how are we faring here in North Carolina?


In our state, people who can are telecommuting, schools are closed until May, no dine-in at restaurants, while take out and drive through are okay. No gatherings of more than 50. There are disruptions but in the local area stores are fairly well stocked. Gas stations, garages are open.  Many states have had less than a hundred cases, we have had 398 and so far and thankfully no deaths as of March 24.

There has been a large uptick in unemployment claims, many restaurant and other service workers are not working.

By contrast, New York State has almost 22,000 cases out of a national total of 44,183. Nationally the death rate is about 1.2 percent of diagnosed cases. Thus far,  544 people have died in the USA. This is lower than any other country and about tied with South Korea. The Federal government has sent equipment and supplies including ventilators to New York. People positive for Covid-19 in essential services are being asked to keep working if symptoms are mild. People are to shelter in place. People leaving the state should self quarantine for 14  days – let’s hope they comply!?

Nationally, deaths are mostly clustered in the upper age groups. No deaths or even Intensive Care Unit admissions among persons under 19. Indeed children have rarely been hospitalized for this, they only account for 5 percent of cases.

By contrast, we have had the worst flu season since the 2009 H1N1 in the US with 38 million cases, 390,000 hospitalizations, 23,000 deaths (149 of these being children). Looks like flu cases are leveling off since March 14,  according to Center for Disease Contro

Many in the national media are calling for an overall country-wide shut down as has been done in many states, including New York. President Trump is calling for an easing of restrictions by Easter in areas where it is appropriate. Which is the best course? The stock market has taken a nose dive, while a Federal Reserve Bank President has predicted 30 percent unemployment.

In North Carolina, about four people a day die in traffic accidents, annually the flu kills hundreds. Stress kills, job loss is recognized as a major stressor. Stress makes it more likely to die of heart and lung disease, cancer, accidents, liver cirrhosis, suicide. President Trump in his press conference March 23rd  said that Covid-19 is bad but there are other problems such as influenza and traffic accidents that cause more deaths. President Trump pointed out we don’t want to make the cure worse than the disease.

My observation: One positive effect of all the closures may be that the bad influenza season has been curtailed since it spreads the same way as Covid-19!

Many states have had few cases of Covid-19. Here in North Carolina we have many counties (including Pamlico) with zero cases. Both the US nationally and North Carolina are planning to review restrictions at the end of a 15-day period toward the end of March.

Perhaps an easing of restrictions in areas with very few or no cases –  in a couple of weeks – would be reasonable. Obviously,  hard hit states such as New York may need a longer time out. The proposed relief legislation now in the Senate will help bridge the immediate emergency, but will not help as much as letting people go back to work as soon as possible.