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'People need to know it is real': North Carolina passes 5,000 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic worsens.

By Josh Shaffer and Lucille Sherman, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in News & Features

For the surviving families, the virus took on a deadly scope long before its death toll reached this new crest. Jennifer Cramer's 64-year-old father, Eli Klausner, died in April at Duke Raleigh Hospital, just two weeks after he contracted COVID-19.

"It shouldn't take losing someone for this to be important to people," she said, "and for people to understand how serious it is."

Unlike most disasters, North Carolina's chapter of the pandemic started small and inspired little panic. The first reported case came on March 3: a man who had traveled to Washington State and visited a nursing home — venturing into territory already known to be virus-prone.

The pandemic's face changed two weeks later, when Gov. Roy Cooper announced the first case of community spread in Wilson County, meaning COVID-19 had struck a victim with no known exposure to anyone with a positive test.

Since then, the coronavirus has touched North Carolinians of all ages, races and genders.

Of North Carolina's deaths, more than half the victims were 75 or older. By contrast, just 4% of people aged 25 to 49 have died.


About 51% were male while 49% were female.

Not all demographic data is complete for the state's cases and victims.

But some 29% of North Carolinians who died of the virus were African-American, though just 21% of the state's population is Black. Nine percent were Hispanic; the state's population is 10%.

By contrast, 62% of those dying of their infections were white.


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