Virus Outbreak North Carolina

People wearing masks and gloves leave a market in Hillsborough, N.C., on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

(The Center Square) – President Donald Trump's administration has approved North Carolina's request to declare the state a federal disaster because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday the White House granted Cooper's request late Wednesday night.

The declaration allows local governments, state agencies and eligible nonprofits to be reimbursed for costs involved in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is good news for cities, towns and counties that are incurring expenses as their public health providers, first responders and emergency managers work to protect communities from COVID-19,” Cooper said in a news release. “We know this response will be costly and this federal assistance will help cover them.”

Cooper said the state is waiting for additional assistance, including disaster unemployment assistance, crisis counseling, disaster case management and other items.

“We will continue working with FEMA as they review our request for more benefits for people impacted by this pandemic,” Cooper said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 636 cases of COVID-19 in the state, including two deaths – one of which was a Virginia resident who was traveling through the state.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. The disease has caused at least 1,080 deaths in the U.S., with more than 75,000 confirmed cases in the country. COVID-19 symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing.

Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

Regional Editor

Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.