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Coronavirus Live Updates: Week Of April 27

Major the Bull wears a protective facemark in the downtown plaza in Durham, N.C. Friday, March 27, 2020.
Chuck Liddy

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 April 20.

May 1, 2020

5:00 p.m. - The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority's Board of Directors voted Friday to accept $49.5 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The act provides $10 billion in new funds for all airports that are considered part of the national airport system. Under the CARES act, airports must maintain 90% of their workforce – after making adjustments for retirements or voluntary separations – through the end of 2020. RDU's portion of the funding will be used to help pay for debt service, salaries and benefits. - Jason deBruyn, WUNC

1:25 p.m. - The state Department of Health and Human services reports 10,923 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. That's about 400 more cases than yesterday. 399 people have died. 547 people are in the hospital with the virus. More than 133,832 tests have been conducted. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC
1:20 p.m. - A new poll of North Carolina voters shows more than three quarters of respondents support Governor Roy Cooper's extension of the stay-at-home order through May 8.  The Meredith College Poll conducted this week also shows a large majority of citizens don't think things should return to normal immediately.  Few said they would go out to a restaurant, bar, movie theater, or even to get a haircut if the Governor's order were rescinded today. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

1:15 p.m. - Organizers of the North Carolina Folk Festival say the event scheduled for September will continue, but with some modifications. Those modifications will be determined in the coming weeks and months. Organizers say they're waiting to hear guidance from state leadership about what types and sizes of crowds could be allowed by September. The festival has been held in downtown Greensboro annually since 2018. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:20 a.m. - NASCAR is resuming its season without fans starting May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The Charlotte Motor Speedway will then host the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend. Governor Roy Cooper says the race can be held as long as health conditions in the area do not deteriorate. NASCAR's revised schedule goes only through May so far. NASCAR is one of the first major sports organizations to announce specific return to play plans since the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in mid-March. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:15 a.m. - Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has formed a COVID-19 task force for the state's Judicial Branch. The task force will recommend emergency directives, policy changes and best practices to help courts provide increased levels of service to the public in the coming months. Beasley says it's clear the court system will not be in a position to resume normal functions for at least several months and possibly into the fall. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:10 a.m. - Lawmakers in the state House and Senate are still working on a compromise COVID-19 relief package. Yesterday House lawmakers approved a $1.7 billion package. GOP Rep. Perrin Jones praised the bipartisan effort, and noted that the profound impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have not been equally felt. 

"The beautician, the dental hygienist, and the retail clerk all in so-called non-essential occupations, have been affected more significantly than those able to work from home. Make no mistake all work that is legal, ethical and morale is essential," said Jones.

The House acted one day after the Senate authorized a $1.2 billion plan. Legislative leaders have been trying to erase the $500 million difference in their plans for immediate aid. Lawmakers are scheduled to gavel in this morning but if an agreement is not reached, they are likely to return next week. - Jeff Tiberii, WUNC

8:45 a.m. - North Carolina appears to be on track to begin a phased re-opening, when the governor's current stay-at-home order expires on May 8. Gov. Cooper and the state Health and Human Services Secretary, Doctor Mandy Cohen say re-opening the state is completely dependent on what the facts and trends show. Yesterday, Cohen updated the status of the key trends the state is tracking. The number of new lab-confirmed cases and the number of people showing up in the ER with COVID-19-like symptoms are still going up. But she pointed out that the rate of positive tests for COVID-19 is going down, and hospitalizations are leveling. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

8:40 a.m. - Nearly one out of every five working North Carolinians has applied for unemployment since mid-March. There has been another wave of unemployment applicants the past week. An additional 200,000 people filed for help with the state agency since last Friday. After the coronavirus swept through North Carolina, and a stay-at-home order went into effect, there have been close to 950,000 people who have been laid off or furloughed. That means, as of the end of Wednesday, that about 19% of the state’s labor force has applied for unemployment. Payments have gone out to about 40% of those applicants. The maximum weekly benefit from the state is $350. Those eligible for support could also see up to $600 per week in federal unemployment relief. - Jeff Tiberii, WUNC

April 30, 2020

5:12 p.m. - North Carolinians observing the Governor's stay at home order have helped slow the spread of COVID-19, and the state is on track to start gradually reopening the economy.That's the message Governor Roy Cooper gave at his briefing Thursday. "We remain hopeful that the trends will be stable enough to move us into phase one next week," he said.

Cooper has touted a phased approach to re-opening the state to ensure there isn't a spike in cases that could overwhelm hospitals. The governor previously extended his stay-at-home order through next Friday, May 8. The first phase of lifting restrictions includes modifying that order to allow people to travel to certain retail businesses that could re-open. Stores will be required to enforce social distancing measures and clean often.  Gatherings would still be limited to ten people. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

4:49 p.m. - Burlington-based LabCorp says it took a hit from the coronavirus pandemic in the first quarter and is delaying hiring, suspending 401k contributions, and implementing some furloughs. That's despite the fact that the company has been a key player in the national ramp up of testing for COVID-19. In a Securities and Exchange filing, the company reports it suffered from a 50% drop in demand for its testing overall, which it is says was only marginally offset by the demand for diagnostic COVID-19 tests.
LabCorp hopes to get a boost from new COVID-19 antibody testing in the coming weeks. The company says it should have the capacity to process over 200-thousand antibody tests per day by mid-May. - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

4:22 p.m. - A flyer that's being place on parked cars along part of North Carolina's coast is telling visitors to go home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday that the message is emblematic of an ongoing debate over the value of stay-at-home orders and the need to restart the crucial tourist economy on the Outer Banks. The flyer that's been distributed in Dare County said: "Stop being so selfish and ignorant about this." Dare County rebuked the sentiment in a statement. The county plans to allow nonresident property owners to come back on Monday. - Associated Press

4:03 p.m. - The COVID-19 outbreak means North Carolina's intermediate-level appeals court will make history by hearing oral arguments in a case using online video. Three judges from the state Court of Appeals plan to listen to lawyers remotely on Thursday through videoconferencing, which will be a first for the court. It's an appeal of a verdict in a civil lawsuit in which the plaintiffs alleged battery and won a monetary award. Members of the public also can watch the arguments online, like they can in person under normal circumstances. - Associated Press

2:33 p.m. - The state Board of Education has extended emergency leave for school employees until May thirty-first. The emergency sick leave policy allows districts to continue to pay and provide benefits to staff who cannot work remotely, who have child or elder-care needs, or are at high risk, among other exceptions. Previously the order only lasted through the end of April. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

1:45 p.m. - Cone Health is using two specially equipped ambulances specifically for transporting patients with COVID-19. The ambulances were converted into rolling negative pressure rooms. A commercial restoration business in Greensboro installed filtration systems that clean the air in the confined patient care area in the ambulance and safely vent it outside. The ambulances have been used in more than 60 transports since they first arrived nearly two weeks ago. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

1:30 p.m. - State Superintendent Mark Johnson has announced a task force to look at how public schools can re-open in the fall. The task force includes bipartisan members from county school superintendents to the officials from the Governor's office. Johnson says the task force will focus on improving opportunities for remote learning, developing guidelines for social distancing in schools, and addressing learning gaps in students. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:10 a.m. - Carteret County is allowing visitors and non-resident property owners back to the county. The county originally placed travel ban restrictions last month to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Officials are also allowing rentals of condos or RV campsites to resume. The county's state of emergency is still in place. Officials are urging residents and visitors to continue practicing social distancing. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:35 a.m - Gaston County officials say they won't enforce Governor Roy Cooper's stay-at-home order if businesses want to reopen with modifications to allow for social distancing and extra sanitation. The County commission chairman says Cooper's order is too restrictive.  The new county proclamation encourages continued teleworking and maintains restrictions on visitation at nursing homes. During the state coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Doctor Mandy Cohen suggested the county's proclamation would cause confusion that could be damaging in a public health crisis. Cohen also said the governor's stay-at-home order is working, and that the curve indicating the spread of the coronavirus in North Carolina is flattening. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

8:30 a.m. - The state senate has unanimously approved a $1.3 billion COVID-19 relief bill. But the measure must now be squared with house legislation before any money will be disbursed. The Republican-controlled General Assembly is trying to hash out plans to distribute more than a billion federal dollars across North Carolina. The state senate provides $125 million to fund small business loans and $15 million for community and free health clinics. That's instead of expanding Medicaid coverage to get more low-income people in the state access to coronavirus testing and treatment. The bill would also extend the deadline for paying corporate and individual income taxes until July 15. The House plan is $1.7 billion, including $40 million for Medicaid expansion. The House is expected to vote on its relief measures today. - Rusty Jacobs, WUNC


April 29, 2020

6:55 p.m. - When the state opened unemployment filing to people who are self-employed last week, it resulted in the biggest spike in claims since many businesses in the state were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last Friday, nearly 55,000 people filed unemployment claims. Claims previously jumped in mid-March, shortly after the governor waived the waiting period and expanded eligibility to include workers whose hours had been reduced. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

4:03 p.m. - This afternoon, a man in Apex was arrested for violating the Governor's stay-at-home order by re-opening his tattoo parlor.  Matthew Myers was expecting to be arrested when he decided to open his shop, WRAL News reports.  Myers' wife said he was unable to get a small business loan after applying, and the two of them have attended rallies in Raleigh opposing the Governor's order. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

2:52 p.m. -Wake County's local stay-at-home expires Thursday. The county has announced it will follow the governor's statewide order going forward. Gov. Roy Cooper has extended the statewide order through May 8. It directs people to keep at least six feet away from others and limits gatherings to no more than 10 people. Wake County had previously banned all gatherings of people outside their household.  - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

1:53 p.m. - UNC System Interim President Bill Roper says he expects for the campuses of North Carolina's public universities to reopen in the fall. In a press release, Roper said data show the state's social distancing measures are "paying off." He said these trends will only continue if North Carolinians remain diligent, but he looks forward to welcoming students and faculty back. Roper said UNC System schools will take measures to protect their health and safety. Those efforts might include staggered or shortened calendars, and allowing vulnerable people to continue teaching or learning online. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC

12:35 p.m. - In a letter to the North Carolina General Assembly today, the executive director of the state elections board urged lawmakers working on coronavirus recovery legislation to make sure they appropriate matching funds for more than $10 million in federal money. The North Carolina General Assembly is in session this week working on COVID-19 recovery bill that could spread more than $1.5 billion across the state — but it currently has no money for elections. Counties need help purchasing supplies such as one-time-use pens, hand sanitizer, masks and cleaning services to make sure polls are sanitary for upcoming elections. The 11th Congressional District has a second Republican primary on June 23, with early in-person voting starting on June 4. - Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

12:30 p.m. A committee of the UNC System Board of Governors is recommending a freeze on tuition and fees at all public universities for the upcoming academic year. The UNC System had initially set a cap allowing universities to raise undergraduate tuition for North Carolina residents by up to 3% in the fall. Most universities were seeking the maximum increase. Instead, students across the board may see no rise in their tuition or fees this fall. The recommendation will go before the full board for a vote in May. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC

12 p.m. - Senator Thom Tillis has announced North Carolina is receiving $16.5 million in federal aid for local housing authorities across the state. The funding is to help housing authorities manage and maintain resident services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money comes from the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:55 a.m. - The Greensboro Transit Agency's fixed bus routes are not running until further notice.  The Agency says it was notified on Monday that a driver had tested positive for COVID-19.  After alerting other bus operators, but not being able to disclose the name of the patient because of HIPPA, a number of operators expressed concern at not being made aware of the affected employee’s identity and responded by choosing not to report for work today.  The transit agency says it has no choice but to halt operations until they have enough staff.  - Cole del Charco, WUNC

11:30 a.m. - The state Department of Health and Human services reports 9,948 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. That's 380 more cases than yesterday. 354 people have died. A little over half of those deaths involved nursing homes or residential care facilities. 551 people are in the hospital with the coronavirus. More than 118,440 tests have been conducted. 98 of the state's 100 counties have identified cases of the virus. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:25 a.m. - A pick-your-own strawberry farm near Greensboro has temporarily closed after laboratory tests confirmed eight workers tested positive for coronavirus. Rudd Farm said on its Facebook page it took preventative measures and used a drive-through service to maintain social distancing. The Greensboro News and Record reported the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed eight cases linked to on-site housing for farm workers. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

11:20 a.m. - The state Department of Transportation has canceled this summer's contract for the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry. This comes as the department expects to lose $300 million,because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The passenger ferry was introduced last summer as a transportation alternative for people traveling between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Vehicle ferries will continue between the two islands for the rest of this year. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:20 a.m. - The Piedmont Triad International Airport reported a nearly 55% drop in passengers in March compared to March 2019 as travel has virtually stopped during the pandemic. The total number of passengers in the first quarter of 2020 at the airport is down by almost 17%. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:45 a.m. - Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras has joined more than 50 other large public-school districts asking the US Congress to approve funding for local school systems in the next coronavirus supplemental appropriations bill. In a letter, a national coalition of large public school districts requests an additional $175 billion in educational stabilization funds. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:40 a.m. - The North Carolina Poison Control has seen an increase in exposures to household cleaning products as concerns about the spread of coronavirus remain top of mind. In March the poison control received a 50% increase in calls about cleaning products compared to March 2019. The center says opportunities for poison exposures may increase as people spend more time indoors and use cleaners more frequently. The poison control urges people to use cleaning products as directed on the label to avoid a poisoning exposure and to store cleaning products safely. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:35 a.m. - State lawmakers continue work today on appropriating billions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief. There is not yet agreement on just how much to disperse right now. State lawmakers have about $3.5 billion remaining from the federal CARES Act. Presently the House wants to deploy $1.7 billion, or, about $500 million more than the Senate. The federal government has indicated the money should be allocated by the end of the calendar year. Senators say their plan provides a more prudent approach, and allows for more flexibility this summer. The House wants to appropriate more money for small businesses loans. It also plans to provide funds for COVID-19 testing and treatment for people in the healthcare coverage gap – something the Senate has not agreed to. Several lawmakers said they are optimistic that the $500 million spending gap between the chambers can be worked out this week. - Jeff Tiberii, WUNC

8:30 a.m.  - A Senate bill filed Tuesday would provide emergency unemployment benefits starting in August through December to match previous wages.  Another provision would permanently raise the cap on weekly unemployment benefits from three hundred and fifty dollars to four hundred. - Cole del Charco, WUNC


April 28, 2020

5:01 p.m. - The state Court of Appeals will host its first oral arguments online later this week.  The Court says it hopes using the virtual conferencing technology Webex will help provide continued access to the justice system during the coronavirus pandemic.  The public can watch the session online at two p-m on Thursday. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

3:38 p.m. - Governor Roy Cooper says NASCAR can hold the Coca-Cola 600 without fans at Charlotte Motor Speedway at the end of May if health conditions do not deteriorate in the state. The governor said at a briefing Tuesday afternoon that he and state public health officials have had discussions with NASCAR and the speedway. Cooper said he believes the race can go forward on Memorial Day weekend for the 60th consecutive year. NASCAR gave teams its latest revised schedule yesterday showing racing, which has been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, resuming May 17 in South Carolina. - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

2:25 p.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services is expanding a hotline for mental health resources to staff who work in child care programs. The Hope4Healers helpline already provides mental health support for health care professionals throughout the state. The hotline was originally launched last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The number is 919-226-2002. Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:35 p.m. - The state department of health and human services reports 9,568 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. That's over 400 more cases from yesterday. 342 people have died and 463 people are in the hospital with the virus. 96 out of the state's 100 counties have identified cases of COVID-19 and 112,752 tests have been completed. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:30 p.m. - The state is aiming to double the number of people who conduct contact tracing, notifying those who may have had been exposed to a COVID-19 patient. The state Department of Health and Human Services plans to hire 250 more contact tracers over the next month. In a press briefing yesterday, Secretary Mandy Cohen said the effort will support local health departments and double the number of contact tracers in the state to 500. However, reporting from NPR suggests that even with the planned hiring, North Carolina's need for contract tracers won't be met. According to analysis from the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the ratio should be 30 workers per one hundred thousand residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. By that estimate, North Carolina would be short by more than 2,500 workers. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:25 p.m. - The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded $500,000 to the North Carolina Community College System to create a scholarship fund for community college students affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will serve community college students who live in eligible rural counties that are tobacco-dependent or economically distressed, demonstrate financial need and have been affected by COVID-19. The scholarships are available to students now through June. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:20 p.m. - Duke Health researchers have discovered COVID-19 in a dog. Dr. Chris Woods says to his knowledge, this is the first time the virus has been detected in a dog. The pet dog belongs to a family who is participating in a research study led by Woods. He adds that little additional information is known at this time as his team works to learn more about the exposure. - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

10:15 a.m. - Even as more entities such as grocery stores and nursing homes require temperature checks for employees before they go to work, that won't catch everyone infected with the coronavirus. Doctor David Weber, the head of epidemiology for UNC Hospitals, says many people who exhibit other symptoms of COVID-19 may not even have a low-grade fever of 100 degrees. But Weber says, screenings now include a wider range of symptoms, beyond fever and cough.

"We expanded that to fever or lower respiratory symptoms. Then we added in upper respiratory symptoms, such as sneezing and sore throat ... Then we've added on things like loss of sense of smell and taste, extreme fatigue, nausea, shaking chills, and chills, headache and others."

Weber says UNC Health is requiring all its workers and patients to wear masks to guard against the spread of the coronavirus by asymptomatic carriers. - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

10:05 a.m. - 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. Some of the deadliest outbreaks at nursing homes on Monday's list had already been disclosed by local health departments. The Louisburg Healthcare and Rehab Center has 14 deaths, while Pruitt Health-Carolina Point in Orange County has 11 deaths. The Citadel at Salisbury and Autumn Care in Cornelius both had 10 deaths. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

10:00 a.m. - The State Archives and North Carolina Museum of History are collecting materials that reflect the experiences of North Carolina citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizations are looking for original, first-person materials, including journals, photos, videos or advertisements. Physical objects cannot be collected right now so the organizations are asking people to save items for future collection, but record and submit information about them now. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:55 a.m. - Currituck and Dare counties say they will work together to coordinate reentry for visitors to the Outer Banks. Officials from both counties are starting to discuss a timeline for visitor re-entry. Currituck County is removing the tentative May 15 visitor re-entry date from their State of Emergency and plans to move forward with a coordinated plan between the two counties. When a date for visitor re-entry is made, the decision will be announced jointly by the counties. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:50 a.m. - The Forsyth County Courthouse is reopening to the public today after closing last week when an employee at the courthouse tested positive for COVID-19. Officials say the courthouse was thoroughly sanitized this past Saturday. Officials remind the public that all visitors are screened before entry is allowed but people are encouraged to handle business online. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:45 a.m. - The North Carolina Utilities Commission is extending its suspension of scheduled hearings through May 8th in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The commission says it will reach out to people who are affected, and that it will continue to accept and process filings submitted through its electronic filing system. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

8:15 a.m. - Outside the legislature advocacy groups across the political spectrum are pressing lawmakers to consider demands on a range of issues. REopenNC has already held protests in Raleigh and plans to rally today. The group wants Governor Roy Cooper to immediately lift his stay-at-home order, which they say violates their constitutional rights. Another group, NC United for Survival, which includes immigrants' rights and social justice organizations, demands legislators suspend evictions and foreclosures until the end of the year and expand mail-in voting. - Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

8 a.m. -  State lawmakers will convene in Raleigh today to consider policy proposals designed to help people and entities effected by COVID-19. Among dozens of provision, the legislation is expected to appropriate money for coronavirus research, ease requirements for school calendars and public school testing, and make loans available for small businesses. No votes are expected in either chamber today. But with recent history as a reminder, surprises at the General Assembly are a possibility. - Jeff Tiberii, WUNC


April 27, 2020

6:10 p.m. - The North Carolina Utilities Commission is extending its suspension of scheduled hearings through May eighth in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  The commission says it will reach out to people who are affected, and that it will continue to accept and process filings submitted through its electronic filing system. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

6:05 p.m. - North Carolina is extending phone hours and adding more staff to respond to the growing number of people seeking help with unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. The leader of the Division of Employment Security told the Raleigh News and Observer over the weekend said he'd be willing to do even more. There has been an average of 80,000 calls a day since the middle of March when businesses began to close. And lots of complaints of unanswered phone calls. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

4:49 p.m. - Another coastal county has reopened its beaches for residents. The Carteret County Department of Human Services announced Monday that officials are reopening all of its maintained beach access points. The county says beach-goers should continue to practice social distancing and avoid mass gatherings to limit the spread of COVID-19, and they should review rip current risk and surf advisories. - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

3:55 p.m. - The State Department of Health and Human Services has begun posting more details related to the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.  Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a briefing Monday afternoon that ongoing outbreaks in congregate living settings will be updated on the D-H-H-S website twice a week.

"The report will include names of facilities where there is an outbreak -- that's two or more cases - as well as a number of positive cases at that facility," she said.

Previously, the state was only providing the number of affected facilities and the counties where those outbreaks had been identified. The new disclosures come after a coalition of media outlets, including WUNC, threatened to file a public records lawsuit. Some local health departments had already been releasing the names of nursing homes with outbreaks. Cole del Charco, WUNC

2:25 p.m. - The Coronavirus pandemic could delay the removal of a seventy-two foot long fishing vessel that has been grounded for weeks on a beach on the Outer Banks.  The scallop harvesting boat is considered a safety hazard as curious people climb aboard its rusting hull.  The boat’s owner is responsible for its removal, but the owner lives in Texas. And stay-at-home orders have limited travel between states. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

1:39 p.m. - According to a new report, 70 inmates in one housing unit at a state prison in Raleigh have tested positive for COVID-19. The state department of public safety says a majority of those identified cases are asymptomatic. State officials tested 161 offenders in one housing unit at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women over the weekend. This compound is separate from the rest of the prison. Before this expanded testing, 10 offenders in the prison had tested positive for COVID-19. Celeste Gracia, WUNC

1:15 p.m. - The city of Greensboro is offering free face coverings for residents starting Wednesday. Residents can pick up one face covering for each member of their household at different locations throughout the city. The face coverings will be made of reusable fabric. Public health officials recommend wearing face coverings in all public settings where social distancing is hard to maintain. The city is partnering with Cone Health and United Way of Greater Greensboro to provide these face coverings. Celeste Gracia, WUNC

12:33 p.m. - The state department of health and human services reports there at least 66 outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes and residential care facilities across North Carolina. Those outbreaks account for just over 1,600 cases in North Carolina as the state-wide case total has passed 9,100. 151 people at these facilities have died from the illness, accounting for almost half of the total deaths in the state. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:55 a.m. - The state department of health and human services reports over 9,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. That's about 300 more cases than yesterday. To date, 306 people in North Carolina have died from the illness. Almost half of those deaths have been from people in nursing homes or residential care facilities. Around 470 people are in the hospital. 95 of state's 100 counties have identified cases of the coronavirus. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:20: a.m. - New Hanover County is expanding testing for COVID-19 starting today. Residents who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call a hotline and a public health nurse will screen them. Those who meet the criteria will be referred to a drive-thru testing site for free. The county says it can test up to 2,400 residents over the next four weeks through a contract with a private lab. The county’s screening process allows for testing on people even with mild symptoms, which is less restrictive than the current testing protocol in place by the state and CDC. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:15 a.m. - More coastal towns are starting to reopen beaches with strict social distancing restrictions. Some towns lifting restrictions include Carolina Beach, Oak Island and Holden Beach. Groups must stay six feet apart and no groups can have more than ten people. Public parking lots and public restrooms also remain closed. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:10 a.m. - Hyde County will allow non-resident property owners to start re-entering Ocracoke Island on May 11. The county has also extended its stay-at-home order until May 22. These changes are amendments to the county's stay-at home order that passed Friday. The county reiterates the need for social distancing and urges residents to wear face coverings in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:57 a.m. - The North Carolina General Assembly will hold a special session this week to consider emergency funding in response to the coronavirus crisis. State elections officials are urging lawmakers to approve $2 million in matching funds that would secure another $10 million in federal money. North Carolina Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell says counties are struggling to find the money needed otherwise to make sure polling sites for early voting and Election Day this fall will be sanitary. She says that means adequate amounts of hand sanitizer as well as masks for poll workers and voters. Brinson Bell says they are also considering purchasing a pen for every voter to avoid cross-contamination. Additional funds are also needed for an anticipated surge in absentee-by-mail voting, says Brinson Bell. Typically, she says about 4 or 5% of voters cast ballots by mail. This year, elections officials expect that number to jump to between 30 and 40%. - Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

8:50 a.m. - North Carolina's tech sector appears to be faring better than other industries in the state, but the head of the NC Tech Association Brooks Raiford says the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still being measured. The NC Tech Association is surveying some of its members and CEOs of companies with significant tech operations in North Carolina on a bi-monthly basis. In the latest survey, the vast majority of those polled reported demand for their business has increased or remained stable. But nearly 10%reported laying off or furloughing employees. A separate analysis from the Tech Association found hiring last month was down almost six percent compared to March of 2019. However Raiford points out restrictions affecting businesses didn't start going into effect until mid-March. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

Local government leaders across North Carolina are beginning to plan for significant losses in revenue from sales taxes. Jillian Johnson, mayor pro tem of Durham, spoke on a panel organized by Duke University Friday just before heading to a city budget meeting. She said Durham gets about 30% of its revenue from sales taxes, which have undoubtedly plummeted. At the same time, communities will have greater need than what the city's resources can provide, she said. Duke University is partnering with the city to provide grants to non-profits and small businesses. Johnson said Durham will also draw on its rainy day fund, and is waiting to hear what federal aid might be passed through to smaller cities from the state government. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC

This post is compiled and edited by Elizabeth Baier, Jason de Bruyn, and Laura Pellicer.

Previous weekly updates:
Coronavirus Live Updates: Week Of March 9
Coronavirus Live Updates: Week Of March 16
Coronavirus Live Updates: Week Of March 23
Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of March 30
Coronavirus Live Updates: Week Of April 6
Coronavirus Live Updates: Week Of April 13
Coronavirus Live Updates: Week Of April 20

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