Celeste Gracia

Morning Producer

Celeste Gracia was born and raised in deep south Texas. She’s always loved to read and write, so when she discovered journalism in high school, she knew it was for her. She graduated from the University of North Texas. She previously interned at CBS News Radio in New York and Morning Edition in Washington D.C. She constantly craves cookies & creme ice cream and enjoys singing along to Broadway musicals.

A pro-Trump caravan participant drives past counter-protesters holding 'Black Lives Matter' signs in downtown Hillsborough on Sat., Sept., 26, 2020.
Mitchell Northam / WUNC

The Orange County Republican Party hosted a 'Trump Train' Saturday to show support for President Donald Trump and other North Carolina Republicans on the ballot this November. The caravan began in Hillsborough and made its way to Mebane, before looping back to the organization’s headquarters in Hillsborough.

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

A study looking at the effects of GenX on pregnant mice found the chemical compound causes serious problems in both mother and offspring. 

Protesters march through the streets of downtown Raleigh on Aug. 28, 2020, in support of Black lives and against police brutality.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Updated at 10:32 a.m. Aug. 29, 2020

Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Raleigh Friday night to denounce police violence and the recent killings of Black Americans. Protesters marched peacefully for about three hours carrying signs with slogans including "Abolish the Police" and "Black Lives Matter."

Enayet Raheem / Unsplash/ Creative Commons

North Carolina is at risk of losing more than $5.3 billion in federal funding because of a low response rate to the U.S. Census. The managers of the state's population estimates say North Carolina is also at risk of not gaining a 14th congressional seat. 

Courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Vacation rentals in North Carolina were booked at higher rates in 2020 than in the past two years, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Sale Sign Home Real Estate
DavidDubov, via Flickr / https://bit.ly/3gfly6R

The housing market in the Triangle is booming despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from real estate analysis firm Metrostudy.

Pregnant woman.
Montse PB via flickr, Creative Commons

There’s an old wives’ tale about hurricanes having an effect on pregnant women that can cause a premature birth.

However, according to a recent study from East Carolina University, that claim is actually true.

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

Starting Friday, the city of Raleigh will be requiring face coverings in public. Durham and Orange counties have already implemented local requirements.

A picture of lights on a police car.
Alejandro Mejía Greene/JubiloHaku / Flickr Creative Commons

The family of a man who was killed by a Raleigh police officer last year has filed a lawsuit against the officer and Raleigh's city manager and police chief. 

Some dental offices in North Carolina are starting to reopen with enhanced precautions due to COVID-19.
Quang Tri Nguyen / Unsplash

Some dental offices in North Carolina are starting to reopen.

The CDC and the American Dental Association recommend that patients wait in their cars and are asked about travel history and possible COVID-19 symptoms before going in for their appointments. Dental staff are encouraged to wear more personal protective equipment, including disposable gowns and face shields.

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.

A view of Glenwood South, a normally bustling part of downtown Raleigh, almost completely empty due to COVID-19.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

As Governor Roy Cooper begins easing restrictions on some businesses starting Friday, local retail stores are taking precautions to open safely.

Some stores are limiting the number of people allowed inside or offering shopping by appointment for customers with health risks.

McDougald Terrance residents and supporters protested in front of Durham City Hall on January 6, 2020.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

The Durham Housing Authority says all of the families of a housing complex who were displaced at the beginning of this year have returned to their homes now.

In January, nearly 300 families from McDougald Terrace evacuated their homes and moved into hotels because of concerns over elevated carbon monoxide levels. Over the past few months, DHA says it inspected the 346 units at the housing complex and replaced several hundred furnaces, water heaters and stoves.

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.

Lawyers representing residents of a nursing home in Rowan County have filed suit against the facility, which has the largest documented outbreak of COVID-19 of any nursing home in the state.

Winston, the McLean family pet, became the first dog to test positive for COVID-19.
Heather McLean / c/o Duke University

A dog belonging to a family in the Triangle has tested positive for COVID-19. It's the first known case of the coronavirus infecting a dog in the United States.

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.

Empty public space in downtown Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Wake County has lost an estimated $47.2 million as tourism has come to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a report from Visit Raleigh, more than 85 large scale events have been canceled or rescheduled. Hotel occupancy rates this month are down almost 70% from usual levels. As a result, the county has postponed planned projects including expansions at the Marble Kids Museum or Dorothea Dix Park.

Dairy farmers are struggling due to lower milk consumption because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dairy Alliance

Dairy farms in North Carolina are dumping excess milk because of a lack of demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

About half of dairy sales come from food services, including schools, restaurants and hotels, according to Stephanie Ward of North Carolina State University Extension. Those sales are essentially gone because of stay-at-home orders. Ward says milk sales at grocery stores have gone up approximately 20%-25% in the Southeast region of the U.S., but not enough to offset the losses.

A facemask created by a 3D printer at N.C. State University.
N.C. State University

Amid a national shortage of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, UNC experts say health care systems may have to mitigate the problem by re-using PPE or producing supply from available materials.

Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody of UNC Health.
UNC Health

UNC Health has launched a hotline for its health care workers to access mental health services.

Any employee of UNC Health can call the line to speak with a trained mental health provider and get a referral for other resources, including social workers, therapists, or online support groups.

Small businesses in Brightleaf Square shopping center.
Laura Candler

County governments in North Carolina could lose an average of $4 million in sales tax revenue as a result of changed spending habits caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to an ongoing study from N.C. State University.

Catholic priests live video stream the Palm Sunday mass inside the Jesus de Medinaceli church in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 5, 2020.
Bernat Armangue / AP

Thousands of churches across North Carolina — and around the world — are preparing to celebrate Easter this weekend. But parishioners will likely be celebrating virtually and at home.

Dr. Amir Barzin of UNC School of Family Medicine

Patients needing hospital care continue to be the highest priority for COVID-19 tests at UNC Health's Respiratory Diagnostic Center in Chapel Hill.

Medical student Claire Chen, right, takes a man's temperature while screening for possible coronavirus cases at a makeshift camp for the homeless Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Las Vegas.
John Locher / AP

Dr. Brian Klausner holds a special passion for providing medical care to homeless patients.

"The homeless community is just particularly vulnerable," said Klausner, medical director of WakeMed Community Population Health. "There is a lot of reason for concern."

As the coronavirus spreads throughout North Carolina, health experts like Klausner almost universally worry about how quickly COVID-19 could spread in homeless populations. Not only are those who suffer homelessness more susceptible to illness, but they also lack homes in which to shelter. If one person contracts the virus and then stays in a shelter, that person could easily spread the virus to others in that shelter.

Local government officials and staff from Dare County and its municipalities met in March at the Dare County Emergency Operations Center for a briefing from public health and emergency management officials regarding COVID-19
Dare County / Twitter

A group of non-full-time-residents has filed a federal lawsuit against Dare County for prohibiting them from accessing their properties in the county.

Last month, Dare County declared a state of emergency and cut off entry to non-residents to limit the spread of COVID-19.

UNC Health set up a medical triage tent in front of its main hospital in Chapel Hill specifically for coronavirus patients.
Jay Price / WUNC

UNC Health is planning for a surge of COVID-19 patients in the coming weeks.

Emergency services director Christian Lawson said UNC hospitals have an adequate amount of personal protective equipment available for nurses and doctors right now.

Duke University Chapel
Bill Snead / Duke University

Under the governor's statewide stay-at-home order, religious entities are considered essential, but gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

As a result, many places of worship are now live streaming their services online.
Duke University Rabbi Elana Friedman says that so far, her student congregants seem to like it.

"There's some excitement to being able to join a service in your pajamas and have your pets with you," she said. "There's some time efficiency that some people have noted that has been helpful."

Farmers in North Carolina are finding new ways to get produce to customers amid the coronavirus outbreak.
NC State Extension / Twitter

Farmers in North Carolina are finding new ways to get produce to customers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

While there's still a large demand for fresh food, the typical ways of distributing it have been disrupted. Restaurants operating under social distancing restrictions need significantly less produce. Some farmers markets have closed temporarily.

Tables sit vacant and pollen-covered at Kabab and Curry, a restaurant on Hillsborough Street during the coronavirus pandemic in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association estimates nearly half of all hotel workers in the state will be laid off as the coronavirus pandemic curtails travel.