Health

North Carolina state parks will open May 9.
NC Parks / Twitter

Almost every state park will be open Saturday.

Trails, restrooms, and boat ramps will be accessible again at 29 parks that had been closed under the governor's stay-at-home order which is now being eased.

Changes

May 8, 2020

Phase 1 begins today in North Carolina. Retail stores and state parks can resume operations, with some changes to try to ensure public health.

Another thing that many health experts say has to change: North Carolina needs to do more testing.

North Carolina's testing capacity has grown, and we are 15th in the country in total tests conducted, but we have still tested fewer people per capita than all but a handful of states.

Rose Hoban, editor of North Carolina Health News, weighs in on testing and the state's Phase One re-opening.


Cooper speaking at a press conference.
Governor Roy Cooper

 

North Carolina transitions into the first phase of easing coronavirus restrictions today at 5 p.m. Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, announced the new guidelines on Tuesday: retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity with cleaning and social distancing standards, while bars, salons, gyms and entertainment venues will remain closed. People can visit non-family members in small gatherings. 
 

photo of drive-thru coronavirus testing in Chatham County
Staff Sgt. Mary Junell / U.S. Army Photo


  Gregoria Riva’s two year-old son jumps up and down, the TV playing in the background. He is bored, she says, but she can’t risk letting him play outside with other kids. Riva is the sole caretaker of young Santiago. And until recently, she was employed at a meat processing plant, one of the workplaces with increased risk for COVID-19.

Sara Fearrington is a Waffle House worker and married to a husband with a chronic lung condition. She advocates for higher pay and better health benefits for frontline workers.
Sara Fearrington / Contributed

In order to make it to her first shift at Waffle House, Sara Fearrington gets up at 5 a.m. to be out the door on time to catch the first bus into the downtown Durham terminal. She then transfers to the No. 12 line out to the restaurant on Highway 55, which usually gets her there at about 6:45 a.m. – enough time to get ready and clock in by 7 a.m.

Immunity

May 7, 2020

In making the decision on when to reopen North Carolina's economy, Gov. Roy Cooper says he is being guided by one thing: Data. 

One data point the state is not focused on: The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19. An even more unknowable number right now is how many people have had it, and, because they were asymptomatic, never knew it.

Those are two groups that could be vitally important, because their blood may contain antibodies that could provide some immunity.

We talk to Dr. Alena Markmann and Dr. Luther Bartelt about immunity, and the treatments they are utilizing now to treat COVID-19 patients.


Members of the North Carolina coronavirus response team will hold a public briefing at 2 p.m. Thurs.

Watch Live here:

The National Guard via Flickr. Photo by Sgt. Michael Baltz.

Five faculty members at the East Carolina University College of Nursing are volunteering behind the scenes to identify nurses across the state who can pick up shifts at long term care facilities.

It's National Nurses' Day. And this year, nurses - and all medical professionals - have certainly earned a little extra recognition. 

We talk with Rose Hoban, the editor of North Carolina Health News and a registered nurse, about what nurses are experiencing.

Also, we hear from a high-school senior who missed out on his final baseball season.

 

Members of the North Carolina coronavirus response team will hold a public briefing at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Watch Live here:

Phased Reopening

May 5, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper's Phase One Reopening plan begins Friday. The announcement came after Dr. Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the COVID-19 data trends in North Carolina are "stable."

Phase One doesn't throw things wide open. Salons, gyms, and dining areas, for example, cannot open. But other businesses can reopen, if they practice certain social distancing measures.

Host Dave DeWitt and Reporter/Producer Will Michaels explain and analyze what people and businesses can do now, that they couldn't do before.


Governor Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force to hold a briefing on COVID-19 updates at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Watch live here:

Paying The Rent

May 4, 2020

The National Multifamily Housing Council reported last month that nearly one-third of apartment renters in the country had not paid their rent in April. The numbers were slightly better in North Carolina, but they are on track to be worse this month. Gov. Roy Cooper signed two emergency funding bills today that could help, but the pandemic has forced tenants and landlords to come up with answers mostly on the fly.

Today, we examine how rentals have changed during the pandemic and get a glimpse of how tenants are coping and how landlords are adapting in Durham, a city where the housing market has been booming, but where most tenants were already spending more than 30% of their incomes on rent.

We speak with Peter Gilbert, supervising attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina in the Durham eviction diversion program, and Michelle Ketchum, owner of Acorn and Oak Property Management Company in Durham.


Randall Moore, center with tan pants, spoke with Raleigh police about the rules about openly carrying firearms during a protest.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Nine protesters armed with military-style weapons and clothing gathered at the entrance of Oakwood Cemetery in downtown Raleigh Friday morning. Some of those protesters joined with a slightly larger group Friday afternoon to march around the downtown government district in protest of Gov. Roy Cooper's orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus. They said the measures infringed on their Constitutional rights.

Governor Roy Cooper is eyeing next weekend for a move into the first phase of re-opening the North Carolina economy, even as the key metrics and trends on COVID-19 in the state offer mixed messages.

We talk with Rose Hoban, the editor of North Carolina Health News, about the trends and numbers, the crisis in meat-processing plants, and what kind of help hospitals can expect from the General Assembly.


North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler
N.C. Department of Agriculture / Twitter

North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said he fully supports President Trump's decision to declare meat processing facilities essential and mandate them to stay operational.

Holden Thorp
Washington University in St Louis

Recent polls have shown that a strong majority of Americans trust the most prominent scientists during this pandemic, like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.

Their ability to communicate complicated scientific topics has helped them gain the public trust, for the most part. But that doesn't mean there's not a lot of misinformation put out every day; some of it extremely harmful.

Governor Roy Cooper and members of the North Carolina coronavirus response team will hold a public briefing at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Watch Live here:

Talking Science

Apr 30, 2020

There's perhaps never been a time where effective and accurate science communication has been more crucial. It's become, quite frankly, life and death for tens of thousands of people.

We talk with Holden Thorp, the editor-in-chief of Science, one of the leading scientific journals in the world.

Before taking that role, he was a chemist, the provost at Washington University in St Louis, and the chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill.


A banana with a condom on it.
Pixabay

Can you do condom demonstration over Zoom? What about teaching comprehensive sexual education? In the midst of a pandemic, the answer is unclear. On this segment of Embodied, host Anita Rao talks with Elizabeth Finley about gaps in sex ed brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. 

ICU bed modeling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sheps Center for Health Services Research

Updated modeling shows social distancing is working, and the spread of the coronavirus has slowed in North Carolina.

But that doesn't mean the state is in the clear.

Paying for the Pandemic

Apr 29, 2020

It's been another busy day in Raleigh as state lawmakers try to shape and support North Carolina's recovery from COVID-19, and decide how much money they will have and where to spend it.

There's some evidence that Medicaid expansion might have bipartisan support, at least during the pandemic.

We speak with WUNC's Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about the competing budget proposals, and what differences might need to be reconciled before the state can get financial relief.


Here And There

Apr 28, 2020

As they did last week, several hundred protestors marched in Raleigh today, calling for the state to be "re-opened" immediately.

At about the same time, the General Assembly began its short session, looking to allocate about $1.5 billion, and Governor Roy Cooper gave his latest update.

But instead of what's going on in the city, it's the rural and suburban nature of North Carolina that might be helping protect us from the worst of the pandemic.

We talk to Keith Debbage, a professor of geography at UNC-Greensboro, about why some states with similar sized populations are experiencing much worse Covid-19 outcomes.


Sign reads: No worries! We have plenty of toilet paper.
Courtesy of Lisa Leatherwood

Nursing homes are the source of more than 40% of North Carolina’s reported COVID-19 deaths so far. These facilities house some of our most vulnerable community members, many of whom need personal care — things like help going to the bathroom or brushing teeth. As of Tuesday, the data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that 48 nursing homes and 20 residential care facilities (which include adult and family care homes) have outbreaks

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry
N.C. Department of Public Safety

In a briefing Monday afternoon, state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said North Carolina has much of the personal protective equipment needed for healthcare workers to conduct ongoing COVID-19 testing.

An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the structure of coronavirus. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAM / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Four North Carolina nursing homes have each had at least 10 deaths of residents diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data released on Monday by state health officials.

The Department of Health and Human Services agreed to specifically identify more than 70 long-term facilities, rehabilitation centers or adult care homes where outbreaks have occurred and give updates on them twice weekly.

Learning Interrupted

Apr 27, 2020

Our state's educational institutions have been turned upside down by the pandemic. School buildings are empty, and resources are evaporating.

The upheaval is being felt by the more than 1.5 million public-school students, and the 1 million students in public, private, and community colleges, as well as tens of thousands of teachers, faculty members, principals, food-service employees, bus drivers, etc.

We talk to WUNC education reporters Liz Schlemmer and Cole del Charco about the many changes students, parents, and others are facing.


New Hanover County Health Department
New Hanover County Health Department

New Hanover County expanded testing for COVID-19 starting Monday.

Any resident in the county who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call 910-798-6800 and a nurse will screen them over the phone. Those who then meet the criteria will be referred to a drive-thru site in downtown Wilmington to get tested for free.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and Director of NC Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry will hold a coronavirus response briefing at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Watch live here:

Semi-Automatic handguns are displayed at Duke's Sport Shop, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in New Castle, Pa.
Keith Srakocic / AP

The coronavirus pandemic has driven up gun sales across the nation, including in North Carolina. While there's no way to track the types of guns sold, gun store owners in Wake County are saying most of the increased demand is from first-time gun owners, and those buying firearms for self defense.

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