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Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Aug. 17

Greenville Covid
City of Greenville, via Flickr

This post will be updated periodically with the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting North Carolina. Scroll down for older updates. For a recap of last week's news, check out Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Aug. 10.

Aug. 21, 2020

4:12 p.m. - UNC Wilmington's chancellor sent a letter to the campus community today reminding students they can be prosecuted for violating Governor Roy Cooper's mandates. Those mandates prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. The message comes one day after NC State University announcedit would join UNC Chapel Hill in moving all undergraduate classes online due to COVID-19 outbreaks, many of which were linked to off campus gatherings. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC

3:39 p.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services has recorded a spike in new coronavirus cases over the last two days. State health officials reported more than 2,000 new confirmed cases today. It had been three weeks since the state last hit that threshold.  Nearly 2,500 people in North Carolina have died since the outbreak began in March. - Will Michaels, WUNC
3:07 p.m. - The state Board of Community Colleges is extending measures that allow campuses more flexibility in how they charge tuition and use student fees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes allow the state's 58 community colleges to use some student activity and instructional fees to address financial impacts, and apply tuition and other fees to future courses if a student can't complete a class during the pandemic.  In a system board meeting today, Interim President Bill Carver said he expects community college enrollment to rise after two UNC System campuses moved all classes online, and students began moving out.

"We will get some of that business because you see what's happening and the challenges that our UNC partners are facing," Carver said. "I think when parents and students have to make the choice and they're back home again, I think the choice is going to be with the community colleges."

Community college enrollment jumped by nearly 30% during the Great Recession, but had been steadily declining until last year. - Will Michaels, WUNC

12:35 p.m. - A medical clinic in Durham will be hosting free COVID-19 testing Saturday. Old North State Medical Society will be offering testing at the White Rock Baptist Church. Testing is available for ages 18 and older. Anyone wishing to get a test must RSVP online.

Meanwhile, UNC Health will hold a mobile COVID-19 screening event at Saint Augustine's University in Raleigh tomorrow morning. The mobile clinic provides testing, education and support services. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:15 a.m. - North Carolina's unemployment rate jumped back up in July after two straight months of declines. The State Commerce Department says last month's jobless rate was 8.5%, up from 7.5% in June. It's down from a high of nearly 13% in April, when employers first started shedding jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 400,000 fewer people are employed now compared to this time last year. – Will Michaels, WUNC

10:50 a.m. - The Cape Hatteras National Seashore saw over 450,000 visitors last month. more than any July since 2003. And it was the fourth highest number of visitors for July in the park's history dating back to 1953. In June, the national seashore experienced historic visitation levels. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

10:40 a.m. - The coronavirus pandemic has put the brakes on planned repairs at a 145-year-old lighthouse in eastern North Carolina. A nonprofit that runs the Currituck Beach Lighthouse is now seeking financial help to finish the work. The Virginian-Pilot reported this week that the lighthouse is awaiting its first makeover since being built in the 19th Century. The Outer Banks Conservationists is hoping to raise $345,000. Tens of thousands of people a year pay up to $10 for a ticket to climb the 162-foot tower and enjoy its panoramic view. The revenues maintain the light and the buildings on the grounds. The tower remains closed to visitors.  – The Associated Press

10:20 a.m. - The Raleigh-Durham International Airport saw a small increase in passenger traffic in July, but overall traffic still remains unusually low because of the pandemic. Traffic in July was down around 77% compared to July of last year, but up about 47% compared to June. July is usually the airport's busiest month of the year. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:55 a.m. - Delegates to the Republican National Convention are meeting in Charlotte on Friday for a series of business meetings before the convention begins next week. Strict health guidelines are in place for the in-person meetings. Even before they arrive in Charlotte, all of the RNC’s 336 delegates and their guests will have been tested for the coronavirus, and all will be tested again upon checking into the Westin Hotel in uptown.

Attendees will also have to undergo daily health screenings and temperature checks before they’re allowed into the Charlotte Convention Center, and everyone will have electronic badges that track their movements and can be used for contact tracing if someone tests positive. The RNC says there will be no parties or receptions associated with the event, and masks and social distancing will be enforced. The event itself will be over by Monday afternoon, when delegates nominate President Trump for a second term. Nick de la Canal, WFAE

8:05 a.m. - UNC Chapel Hill is pausing all undergraduate instruction next Monday and Tuesday to allow students to make the transition to remote learning. Undergraduate classes will resume on Wednesday, Aug. 26. The university says students may also need time to move out of dorms.

Meanwhile the university will begin testing students in three residence halls Friday through Sunday. Students in Ehringhaus, Hinton James and Granville Towers will be tested. Clusters of COVID-19 cases have been identified in each of these residence halls. The university says it will also begin posting daily outbreak updates to the campus dashboard Friday. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

Aug. 20, 2020

7:50 p.m. - ECU is putting football activities on pause indefinitely. The university's athletics director issued the announcement this afternoon citing an evaluation of the latest round of COVID-19 testing. No details on the number of players or staff affected were provided. Just last week the Pirates said they had set a new date to face Marshall for their first football game of the season on September 12th. - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

4:55 p.m. - Twenty-one people incarcerated at the Wake County Detention Center have tested positive for COVID-19. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office says the outbreak comes after 6 months without a confirmed case. Those with confirmed cases are being quarantined into individual cells, and those awaiting test results are being isolated until they test negative. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC
4:15 p.m. - North Carolina has completed more than two million COVID-19 tests to date, according to today's report from the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency mistakenly reported that count earlier this month, after a tabulation error of data from a commercial laboratory. Nearly 8% of all tests are positive. 32,000 people have tested positive since yesterday. 34 more have died. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC


3:58 p.m. - NC State University announced today it will be moving all of its undergraduate classes to online instruction beginning Monday due to COVID19 outbreaks among students. In a letter to the campus community, NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson said "the actions of a few are jeopardizing the health and safety of the larger community." This week, the University has reported three clusters of COVID-19 cases in off-campus and Greek housing. As of today, the university has at least 500 students in quarantine or isolation. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC
12:25 p.m. - A star football player at Wake Forest University has opted out of the upcoming season. In a statement, redshirt junior Sage Surratt cited the ongoing uncertainties and risks associated with COVID-19 in announcing his decision to opt out. The wide receiver says instead he will focus on training for the 2021 NFL draft. Surratt, a native of Lincolnton, caught 66 passes last season for 1,001 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games. He was named First Team All-ACC. His brother, Chazz Surratt, is a linebacker at UNC. – Celeste Gracia and Mitchell Northam, WUNC

12:15 p.m. - The Wake County Board of Education has approved the purchase of 85,000 Chromebooks for students across the district. The school district will spend nearly $24 million on the laptops. The district will be purchasing the Chromebooks from Lenovo, a tech company with operational headquarters in Morrisville. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:05 p.m. - A new report suggests the city of Greensboro is facing an affordable housing crisis, and it’s likely to get worse due to the pandemic. The research, done by consulting firm HR&A Advisors, was presented to city council on Tuesday. It revealed that in 10 years, the city may need as many as 11,000 housing units for low-income families.

The estimate was made before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a deep recession. HR&A Consultant Philip Kash said that number would likely increase if its effects were taken into account.

“No one knows exactly how this crisis is going to play out. But there is certainly expectations that a large, significant portion of jobs that are lost will simply not come back,” Kash said. “Each one of these groups, we expect, to really impact eviction and foreclosure.”

Kash said the council should immediately focus on supporting emergency rental assistance, legal aid, and rehousing assistance programs. - April Laissle, WFDD

10:35 a.m. - American Airlines will soon drop flights to Greenville for a month. The major airline is also dropping flights to 14 other smaller U.S. cities from Oct. 7 through Nov. 3. At the end of September, a federal requirement to serve those communities expires. The airline company lost more than two billion dollars in its most recent quarter because of the pandemic. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

10:25 a.m. - The Sans Souci ferry will resume service this Saturday. The ferry had suspended service in June because of COVID-19 related budget issues. The Sans Souci ferry is one of only three remaining inland cable ferries in North Carolina. It crosses the Cashie River in rural Bertie County. Versions of the ferry have been around on the river since the 1800s. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:10 a.m. - UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University each reported new clusters of COVID-19 cases Wednesday. UNC-Chapel Hill has clusters at Morrison residence hall and Zeta Psi fraternity house. Those are the fifth and sixth clusters the university has reported. In response, UNC Athletics is suspending all athletic activities for all sports teams until at least 5 p.m. Thursday. NC State University has one new cluster at the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House and another at the Kappa Delta Sorority house. Those are NC State's second and third clusters this week. – Liz Schlemmer, WUNC

7:55 a.m. - The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has unveiled a model for how fall sports could be played in the spring 2021 semester. The new scheduling model aims to eliminate air travel and have teams play regionally, split into divisions. North Carolina A&T State University and North Carolina Central University would be a part of the Southern division. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:10 a.m. - Orange County has extended its state of emergency until Oct. 31. This extension allows governing bodies to continue meeting virtually. It also authorizes Orange County to extend emergency procedures and request state and federal aid. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

Aug. 19, 2020

7:55 p.m. - Amid rising numbers of COVID-19 cases at UNC - Chapel Hill, Carolina Athletics announced today it is immediately suspending all athletic activities for all sports teams until at least 5 p.m. Thursday. Campus recreation facilities also will be closed. Student-athletes will still have access to academic support, medical care and nutrition. The announcement comes as UNC - Chapel Hill and NC State University are each reporting new clusters of COVID-19 cases this evening.

UNC has clusters at Morrison residence hall and Zeta Psi fraternity house. Those are the 5th and 6th clusters that university has reported. NC State University has one new cluster at the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority House and another at the Kappa Delta Sorority house, both located in the university's Greek Village. Those represent NC State's second and third clusters this week. The North Carolina Health Department defines a cluster as 5 or more related cases. - Rebecca Martinez & Liz Schlemmer, WUNC

5:37 p.m. - Students learning remotely rely on Internet service more than ever. Governor Roy Cooper announced today  that the state will allocate $12 million to expand broadband Internet access in 11 counties. He said 8,000 families and 250 businesses will benefit. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

4:23 p.m. - A clinical trial to test a COVID-19 vaccine is underway at 90 sites around the country, including at UNC Health, which will soon begin enrolling 500 participants. It's the first large scale vaccine trial in the U.S. Dr. Cynthia Gay is the principle investigator at UNC. She says they're aiming to sign up volunteers from a broad range of racial and ethnic backgrounds.

"The LatinX community has been the most impacted in the United States and the most impacted in North Carolina," Gay said. "So we want to have them benefit from the advances we're making in vaccines and treatment and be a part of that."

People of color are underrepresented in clinical trials generally. That's a concern because people of different ages, races, and ethnicities can react differently to treatments and preventive medicines. Half of the study participants will receive the vaccine, and the other half a placebo. UNC scientists will monitor the effects. - Jason deBruyn, WUNC

3:53 p.m. - Clusters of COVID-19 infections have been identified at NC State, Appalachian State, and East Carolina Universities. These, just a day after UNC - Chapel Hill moved all its undergrad classes online to limit viral spread. When asked about contact tracing, State Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said at a briefing this afternoon that university leadership are identifying transmission patterns.

"Some of them are amongst their athletic teams that have been practicing together and have been on campus for longer," she said. "A number of them had been related to some sorority, fraternity, other Greek life events where they live in the same location. A couple of others they think might be linked back to a social gathering."

Cohen says that – unlike K-12 schools – colleges and universities do not have to report COVID-19 clusters to the state. However, she advises these institutions to take proactive measures to contain clusters they identify. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

3:27 p.m. - Many Americans are making home improvements while sheltering in place from the pandemic. North-Carolina-based retailer Lowe's reports its second-quarter revenue surpassed analysts' expectations, bringing in more than $27 billion. Lowe's and rival Home Deport have reported sales surges in stores and online. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC 

1:08 p.m. - The Durham County Clerk of Court office is closed until next Monday. In a press release, the county says the office is closing because of recent exposures to COVID-19. The courthouse remains open but some court functions have been suspended for the remainder of the week. District court is canceled and will resume next Monday. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:55 p.m. - Wake County will be offering free drive-thru COVID-19 testing again next week at the Sunnybrook Parking Deck in eastern Raleigh. Appointments must be scheduled online. Tests are reserved for those who have COVID-like symptoms, work in high-risk settings or have been in close contact with a known positive case of COVID-19. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:40 p.m. - The state tourism agency will use $10 million from the federal coronavirus relief package to advertise safe travel in North Carolina. Visit NC Director Wit Tuttell says the campaign will work with local tourism offices. He says local offices are eligible for up to $100,000 each in ad spending.

“It's to get people to start traveling but to get them to do it in a safe and socially distant way that helps prevent the reintroduction of the epidemic,” Tuttell says.

The state Travel and Tourism Board approved the funds Tuesday. The plan now moves to the Economic Development Partnership board. The travel ad funding would become available later this month and must be spent by year's end to comply with the CARES Act. North Carolina has lost $6.8 billion in visitor spending since the beginning of March. – Celeste Gracia and Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

12:10 p.m. - State officials say NC EdCloud is now functional again after the second outage this week. NC EdCloud is a statewide, online management system that runs programs like Canvas and PowerSchool. Staff, students and parents had trouble logging in this morning. NC EdCloud was also down Monday morning. This is the first week most students across the state have returned to online learning. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:05 p.m. - A tree farm in Alleghany County is reporting a large outbreak of COVID-19 in its workers. Bottomley Evergreens and Farms reports 112 workers have tested positive for COVID-19. No deaths have been reported. Congregate facilities are required to report outbreaks to the state department of health and human services, which publishes bi-weekly updates. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:27 a.m. - Duke University is investigating seven instances of students not complying with COVID-19-related rules. The university says the students could face disciplinary action that includes probation, suspension or permanent dismissal from Duke. Students are expected to follow several protocols, including wearing masks, maintaining social distance and not gathering in groups larger than 10 people. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:09 a.m. - Appalachian State’s football team suspended practice Tuesday until further notice because of a cluster of COVID-19 cases found on the team, including seven students and four staff members. University officials plan to meet every day to review confirmed cases and outline a plan of action to care for individuals who need to be in isolation or quarantine. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

Aug. 18, 2020

5:00 p.m. - To reduce COVID-19 transmissions, the State Division of Motor Vehicles will close 60 offices where it's difficult to maintain federal guidelines for physical distancing. The remaining offices will be transitioned to handle appointment-only visits. The DMV says they'll limit the number of customers allowed inside at the same time, depending on the office size. They will also no longer conduct road tests except for commercial driver’s license and medical reassessments. All customers for the driver license offices will be asked to complete a wellness questionnaire. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

4:45 p.m. - More than 850 UNC Chapel Hill students have asked to cancel their housing contracts after the university announced Monday it would pivot to online classes due to its COVID-19 cases. Many immediately began moving out of dorms. The university expects to issue guidance soon on housing and dining refunds.UNC System President Peter Hans has said other universities do not need to modify their plans at this time.

According to data reported on system schools' online COVID-19 dashboards, the next largest outbreak is at Appalachian State University -- where 47 students are in isolation. Chancellor Sheri Everts says that number is high because the university tested more than 2,000 people at pop up events. UNC Pembroke and East Carolina University each have more than 25 active positive cases, while most UNC System schools are reporting fewer than 10. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC

3:59 p.m. - There are two week's left in the North Carolina Utilities Commission's moratorium on disconnections. Duke Energy says it will give customers an additional month to settle up with the power company. Spokesperson Meghan Miles says customers with an outstanding balance should set up a payment plan or make arrangements with the company for other financial assistance before October."After October 1st, a customer could be subject to disconnection due to non-payment, Miles said. "So it's important they reach out, discuss their options, so they can prepare."

Miles says Duke Energy will give customers with payment plans 12 months to repay overdue bills. That's in line with a directive from the Utilities Commission. -Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

1:25 p.m. - The State Department of Health and Human Services is reporting almost 1,300 new cases of COVID-19 since Monday. This average daily increase comes after the state reported the lowest daily increase in months Monday. Hospitalizations rose by 46 since Monday, bringing the total number of patients in the hospital to over 1,000. Hospitalizations had been under 1,000 for the past few days. The state reports almost 50 more deaths since Monday. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

1:15 p.m. - Chapel Hill town officials are asking for the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to take more action to stop the spread of COVID-19 among students. In a letter sent to university leaders, the town council suggests several action items, including establishing clear consequences for students who violate the UNC Community Standards and working with UNC Health to expand capacity for student testing. Town officials also say the university needs to establish a more comprehensive plan for monitoring student compliance and following up on gathering violations, both on and off campus. The university announced Monday it would be suspending in-person classes due to an outbreak. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:45 p.m. - RTI International has furloughed over 1,100 employees and will permanently lay off almost 50 other workers. In a filing with the state department of commerce, the large research company based in Research Triangle Park cites COVID-19 as a reason for the furloughs and layoffs. Layoffs will be effective Aug. 28. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:05 a.m. - Harnett County Schools have postponed in-person learning for students until the end of September. The school system had originally planned for students to return to in-person instruction later this month. Students will continue learning remotely until Sept. 28. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC 

9:51 a.m. - A federal judge in North Carolina has released an inmate who is eight months pregnant from a jail that has seen dozens of coronavirus cases. The Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday that the woman’s lawyer had asked U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler to release her because of an outbreak in the Mecklenburg County Jail. Brittany Cowick was among a group of federal inmates who asked the courts to reconsider their detention after four dozen Mecklenburg inmates tested positive for COVID-19. Cowick left the jail last week and is on house arrest at her mother’s home in Lenoir. She still faces trial on drug charges that federal prosecutors say are connected a methamphetamine ring. – The Associated Press

9:45 a.m. - A delay from a commercial lab that reports COVID-19 test results to the state health department caused a lower than expected case count on Monday. WRAL reports the state did not receive the labs' testing data in time to be included in Monday's daily update. The delayed data is expected to be counted in today's numbers. This is the second time reporting delays have led to lower daily numbers of new cases. On Monday the state reported about 560 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest daily increase in months. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:05 a.m. - East Carolina University has identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases in a residence hall on campus. The university says the cluster is at Gateway Residence Hall. This is the first cluster of cases ECU has announced. A cluster is defined as five or more cases in close proximity. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:48 a.m. - Full-time athletic department employees at UNC Greensboro will be placed on a partial furlough starting on Sept. 1 until the end of this year. UNCG Athletics projects a minimum 20% revenue decrease over this year because of the pandemic. The athletics department is also implementing several other cost-cutting measures, including an 18% reduction for all sports budgets and a 30% reduction for all administrative units. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:40 a.m. - Duke University reports seven more students have tested positive for COVID-19 since last week, bringing the total number of positive cases to 11. The university has administered 5,700 tests for students who have returned to campus since Aug. 2. Students who test positive are required to isolate until getting medical clearance. All incoming students are required to get a COVID-19 test before they are permitted to enter university housing or attend in-person classes. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:32 a.m. - The State Department of Health and Human Services estimates around 10,000 people have recovered from COVID-19 in the past week. Since March, almost 128,000 people are estimated to have recovered. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:25 a.m. - The Wake County Board of Commissioners has approved an $11 per-hour minimum wage for election workers this fall. County poll workers have typically been paid just over $8 an hour. Commissioners originally declined the County Board of Elections' request for the pay increase in January over budget concerns. But COVID-19 has changed the equation. Commissioner Jessica Holmes re-introduced the idea for a pay hike to help recruit younger people and incentivize others as the pandemic has scared away some traditional poll workers. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:15 a.m. - Marshall and Appalachian State will meet on the football field on Sept. 19 after three of their other nonconference contests were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The schools announced Monday that the Thundering Herd and Mountaineers will play in Huntington as part of a home-and-home series. Marshall will travel to Boone, North Carolina, in September 2029. The schools also have a previously announced home-and-home series over the next two seasons. Appalachian State had games called off at Wisconsin and at home against Morgan State and UMass. – The Associated Press

Aug. 17, 2020

4:36 p.m. - The North Carolina Healthcare Association and AARP North Carolina have released a new booklet with advice on caring for COVID-19 patients after they've been released from the hospital. The booklet is available in English and Spanish. It contains information about symptoms and testing sites, and it recommends questions for healthcare providers, such as medications and managing disease transmission. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

3:55 p.m. - Effective Wednesday, UNC Chapel Hill will move all undergraduate classes to remote learning. This comes amid a series of coronavirus clusters on campus. 130 students have tested positive for COVID-19. That's nearly 14% of those tested. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

2:30 p.m. - The Wake County Board of Commissioners is considering establishing an $11 per hour minimum wage for election workers this fall. County poll workers have typically been paid just over $8 per hour. The county would reallocate about $145,000 from salary and benefits reserves for the increase. Wake County Board of Elections Director Gary Simms says it's modest, but a positive development.

"What we're hoping it will do is maybe be an incentive if someone wanted to take a vacation day and also one of the big things is we're hoping it will encourage a younger generation that normally doesn't engage in working as an elections official out there," Simms said.

Poll workers could be in short supply this fall as regular volunteers, who are often older, opt-out this time for fear of exposure to the coronavirus. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:45 p.m. - The State Department of Health and Human Services reports about 560 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 since yesterday. That's the lowest daily increase of cases in months. Hospitalizations increased by almost 50 since Sunday, but remain under 1,000. No new deaths have been reported since Sunday. 7% of tests are coming back positive. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:42 a.m. - A glitch in the platform most schools are using for online learning has been fixed, the State Department of Public Instruction says.  For hours Monday morning, an outage of NC EdCloud caused problems for staff and students logging in to the system. Monday is the first day of online learning for most K-12 students. – Cole del Charco, WUNC

10:35 a.m. - The Town of Kill Devil Hills will postpone its fireworks event until December. The town's fireworks were first scheduled for Independence Day, and then postponed for Labor Day. The town decided to push it back again because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns. The event will now celebrate the anniversary of the first flight by the Wright Brothers. Town officials say they may livestream the event to make it more accessible for the public. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:33 a.m. - Wake Forest University has canceled its fall homecoming and is postponing commencement for 2020 graduates until the spring. The university said it was necessary to cancel these events because of the ongoing risk of large gatherings. Homecoming was originally scheduled for November. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:25 a.m. - Four employees at a middle school in Durham have tested positive for COVID-19. Shepard Middle School will be closed until Wednesday for disinfecting and cleaning. Remote learning for students will continue to start today as planned. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:18 a.m. - Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has postponed jury trials for another 30 days to help mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19 in courthouses. Beasley also extended other emergency directives, including requiring a COVID-19 coordinator for each judicial facility and prohibiting crowded sessions of court where social distancing cannot be observed. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:10 a.m. - North Carolina's bars have been closed for 152 days, but who's counting?  Well, the North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association is – with a ticker on its website. The organization sued Gov. Roy Cooper in June over executive orders keeping bars closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Cooper recently announced that bars will stay closed until at least Sept. 11. That means the Labor Day grand opening of a new bar called "The Living Room" in downtown Durham will be postponed as well. Owner Brint Hayes says he'll open as soon as he can.

“I'm pretty neutral. You know, one aspect, you want to be open, in another aspect you want to be able to make sure you are protected and being safe,” Hayes said. “So, right now I'm just playing the waiting game.”

Hayes joins the owners of more than 1,000 bars and taverns across the state waiting on the green light from the governor to open. – Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

This post is compiled and edited by Elizabeth Baier, Mitchell Northam and Laura Pellicer.

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Stories, features and more by WUNC News Staff. Also, features and commentary not by any one reporter.
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