Updated Sunday March 15, 2020 at 2:48 p.m. to update the number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on March 10, in response to five new cases of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus. As of March 15, there are 32 cases of the coronavirus in the state. 

In a press conference this afternoon, Gov. Cooper said that the state of emergency is to take preventative measures.

“While we do expect many more cases we can limit the number of people who get seriously ill,” he said. “The main purpose of declaring a state of emergency is increased flexibility to respond and prevent as well as to allocate funds where are needed.”

Gov. Cooper also said that the cases in North Carolina are linked to a conference in Boston last month. He expects more cases to arise from that conference.

The NC State Laboratory of Public Health is now providing testing for the COVID-19. They have supplies to test 300 people. Private companies like LabCorp in Burlington also has the capability to test for the virus.

The state recommends people to seek out testing if they meet the following criteria: the individual has recently traveled to an area that has been affected by the virus, the individual has a fever and the individual experiencing respiratory symptoms. 

The state recommends that colleges and universities work with their local health departments to address any concerns. According to Arlinda Ellison the public information officer for the Alamance County Health Department, the department has been in contact with Elon University to discuss what the response would be  if COVID-19 were to impact the university.

"Our response would be like any public health response so it's nothing special," she said.

Ellison said that the department routinely prepares for matters of public health.

"Our staff and partners throughout the year routinely prepare for potential events and practice local public health response," she said. "Currently we are on weekly calls with the state concerning COVID-19."

Ellison said that the response from the health department, if there is an outbreak on campus, would be the same as the mumps: to follow guidance and requirements from the state.