Coronavirus Live Updates: Week Of April 6

Apr 6, 2020

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 March 30.

April 10, 2020

3:45 p.m. - Orange County is reporting its first resident death from complications associated with COVID-19. The patient was under Hospice Care at PruittHealth – Carolina Point, one of two nursing home facilities in Orange County where there are outbreaks of COVID-19. Carolina Point has at least 66 residents with confirmed cases of the illness.  Two other residents of Carolina Point have died.  - Celeste Gracia, Will Michaels, WUNC

11:30 a.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services says there are now over 3,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. That's up from around 3,600 cases yesterday. 74 people have died from the illness, an increase of 9 deaths from yesterday. About 420 people are hospitalized. 91 of the state's 100 counties have identified cases of COVID-19. The state says over 57,000 tests have been conducted. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

10:31 a.m. - 17 staff members at a federal prison complex in Butner have tested positive for COVID-19. That's up from one case previously confirmed. 59 inmates have also tested positive for the illness. The complex is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The agency is quarantining all inmates in every institution for 14 days to decrease the spread of the virus. All visiting at the facility has been suspended until further notice. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:45 a.m. - Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina says it will speed up payments to providers as they deal with potential short-term cash flow challenges from COVID-19. The health insurance company says it's also suspending many administrative requirements to help hospitals prepare for a surge of COVID-19 patients soon. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

April 9, 2020

4:54 p.m. - Governor Roy Cooper says the state has distributed more than $40 million in unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooper said the Division of Employment Security has processed nearly 500,000 jobless claims since the crisis began, but he did not say how many people have received benefits. The governor says more payments from the federal government of up to $600 a week will start going out by the end of next week. Will Michaels, WUNC

3:36 p.m. - Orange County health officials now say 66 residents at the Carolina Point nursing home outside of Chapel Hill have COVID-19. That's more than half of the facility's resident population. It also has 20 cases among its staff. Two residents have died. Meanwhile, the Moore County health department also reported a spike in cases at a home in Pinehurst, with 45 out of 96 residents testing positive. And the Johnston County Health Department says Springbrook Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Clayton now has 20 confirmed cases among residents, up from 11 reported yesterday. Six staff members there have also tested positive. - Will Michaels, WUNC

2:51 p.m. - UNC Chapel Hill is launching a research organization to develop new drugs for future pandemics. The initiative hopes to raise $125 million to discover five new drugs in five years to be ready for the next pandemic. Research will focus on viral families that cause the majority of epidemics and pandemics. The university is working with the Structural Genomics Consortium - a non-profit research group - and UNC's Eshelman Institute for Innovation. Celeste Gracia, WUNC

1:37 p.m. - Governor Roy Cooper and leaders in the legislature say they support extending vehicle inspection deadlines during the coronavirus pandemic. State Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said today they would vote for a bill to make the extensions retroactive when the legislature reconvenes. In the meantime, they say they support any flexibility law enforcement will allow with current deadlines. The state Highway Patrol is not prioritizing registration violations during the pandemic. - Will Michaels, WUNC

1:12 p.m. - UNC Chapel Hill is launching a research organization to develop new drugs for future pandemics. The initiative hopes to raise $125 million to discover five new drugs in five years to be ready for the next pandemic. Research will focus on viral families that cause the majority of epidemics and pandemics. The university is working with the Structural Genomics Consortium - a non-profit research group - and UNC's Eshelman Institute for Innovation. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:47 a.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services says there are now over 3,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. That's up from 3,400 cases yesterday. 65 people have died from the illness, an increase of 12 deaths from yesterday. Almost 400 people are hospitalized. 91 of the state's 100 counties have identified cases of COVID-19. The state says over 47,000 tests have been conducted. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:50 a.m.- Officials in Wrightsville Beach are increasing fines for people who violate beach closures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Violators could face fines of up $650 and potential court costs. Before the change, offenders faced a misdemeanor that carried a $150 fine. Last weekend, Wrightsville Beach police issued 18 citations to people violating the beach closure rule. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:20 a.m. - State officials are ramping up testing at nursing homes and putting new preventative measures in place as more facilities report cases of COVID-19. The state Department of Health and Human Services is now requiring that staff wear masks and be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before their shifts. Governor Roy Cooper says the state has enough supplies to test all residents and staff members at nursing facilities. "This increased testing will tell us which employees or residents may have the virus, but aren't showing symptoms, so they can be isolated," he said.

The state is requiring any residents who test positive for COVID-19 to be isolated and cared for separately by designated staff. The new policies come as a nursing home in Orange County reports at least 60 cases of COVID-19 and two deaths. Another in Moore County has at least 31 cases. Johnston County reports 14 cases and 2 resident deaths at a nursing center in Clayton. - Will Michaels, WUNC

6:30 a.m. - Governor Roy Cooper has issued an executive order that provides emergency flexibility to expand hospital beds, equipment and healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The order allows hospitals to more quickly increase the number of beds for critically-ill patients. Ambulatory surgical facility are now able to operate as a temporary hospital. The order will also allow out of state licensed workers to practice in North Carolina during the emergency. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

April 8, 2020

6:15 p.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services has opened two hotlines for mental health resources during the coronavirus pandemic.  One of them called Hope 4 N-C connects anyone to a live person to provide mental health and resilience support, and to help cope with the crisis.  The number is 855-587-3463.  Another is specifically for health care workers who are experiencing stress at 919-226-2002. Will Michaels, WUNC

3:33 p.m. - There are now coronavirus outbreaks in at least 21 residential facilities in North Carolina, including 18 at long-term care facilities like nursing homes. State health officials say among them is a cluster of 60 cases at a nursing home in Orange County, but they did not identify the facility. Two of those people have died. Meanwhile, authorities in Moore County say at least 26 people at a nursing home in Pinehurst have tested positive for COVID-19. The state is now requiring all nursing facility staff to wear masks. Will Michals, WUNC

3:01 p.m. - Harris Teeter is limiting the number of customers inside its stores to half of each building's code capacity to further enforce social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. The Matthews-based grocery store chain says this rule will go into effect 5 p.m. Wednesday. The company has already installed plexiglass cough shields at its stores to protect workers at the cash registers from possible coronavirus exposure. Stores also have floor decals directing customers to stand at safe distances from each other during checkout. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:41 a.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services says there are now over 3,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. That's up from close to 3,200 cases yesterday. 53 people have died from the illness. Almost 390 people are hospitalized. 90 of the state's 100 counties have identified cases of COVID-19. The state says nearly 43,000 tests have been conducted. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:17 a.m. - The infamous Lost Colony theatre production on the North Carolina coast has canceled the upcoming season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Roanoke Island Historical Association says the outdoor drama, which was scheduled to start its 83rd season at the end of May, has been canceled for the first time since World War II. The association is refunding tickets for this year, which can be applied to performances in 2021. - Will Michaels, WUNC

11:05 a.m. - The North Carolina-based clothing company Hanes-Brands is putting nearly 600 workers on temporary furlough during the coronavirus pandemic. The organization's headquarters are in Winston-Salem. Hanes did not say how many of the layoffs are in North Carolina. Company executives say they have also temporarily closed about 1,200 stores in the U.S., Europe and Australia. - Will Michaels, WUNC

10:30 a.m. - FEMA has approved North Carolina's request to provide housing alternatives for residents with unstable housing who need to quarantine or isolate because of the coronavirus. The state will work with local partners to provide more than 1,600 units of individual housing using dorms, hotels, or trailers. FEMA will pay 75 percent of the costs, and North Carolina will pay the other 25 percent. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

8:20 a.m. - A federal prison complex in Granville County is now one of four prisons in the country where early releases of inmates is a top priority to help ease the outbreak of the coronavirus inside the facility. The Raleigh News and Observer reports the prison complex in Butner has at least 60 identified cases of COVID-19 in both inmates and staff. No deaths have been reported. It's not clear how soon the prison would start releasing eligible inmates. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:50 a.m. - A group of non-North Carolina residents who own property in Dare County are suing the county for prohibiting them to enter Dare County and access their properties. Last month, Dare County declared a State of Emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic and prohibited the entry of non-resident property owners. The group alleges the order is unconstitutional and demands that the county allow them to access their properties immediately. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:15 a.m. - A coastal city in Brunswick County has canceled its Fourth of July celebration over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. The city of Southport announced that it's also canceling all pubic events through Labor Day. The Mayor of Southport, a doctor who specializes in internal medicine, recommended these events be canceled to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Officials said the Fourth of July celebration will return next year. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

6:45 a.m. - Governor Roy Cooper has issued an executive order that creates more flexibility in law enforcement training and certification. The order waives a requirement of consecutive weeks of training so that trainees who may need to isolate or quarantine can pick up their training where they left off. Specific training programs addressed by the order include the Basic Law Enforcement Training and Detention Officer Certification. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

April 7, 2020

6:52 p.m. - The city of Southport will cancel its Fourth of July celebration over concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak, officials announced Tuesday. It would have been the city's 225th festival, but was canceled on the advice of Mayor Joseph P. Hatem, who is also a doctor who specializes in internal medicine. The city also announced that it is canceling all pubic events through Labor Day. "This was a difficult decision, but the most prudent one and will overall prevent disease and save lives," Hatem said in a statement. - Associated Press

5:09 p.m. - The Raleigh City Council will not put a referendum on this November's ballot for a bond that would have funded the development of Dix Park. Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said Tuesday that consideration of the bond, which would have been worth up to $250 million, will be pushed back until next year. Baldwin said the decision was made in light of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn. She says the city will still pursue an affordable housing bond this year. - Will Michaels, WUNC

3:12 p.m. -  N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says will provide financial assistance for essential workers to help pay for child care during the pandemic. The department says people who have an income lower than 300% of the poverty line are eligible for a subsidy.  The agency is also paying child care establishments who are still open during the outbreak $300 per month for each full-time teacher and $200 a month for other full time workers. - Will Michaels, WUNC

2:51 p.m. - Police in Winston-Salem have created an online form for residents to report what they believe to be violations of the statewide stay at home order. The form asks for the location and description of the alleged violation. Governor Roy Cooper's executive order prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people. Authorities can pursue violations as class 2 misdemeanors. This week, police in Hillsborough accused a man of organizing a block party that attracted up to 50 people. - Will Michaels, WUNC

12:45 p.m. - Researchers at UNC Chapel Hill are helping test a new anti-viral drug for treatment of COVID-19. The university says it's trying to determine the effectiveness of the drug, which was discovered at Emory University in Atlanta. Scientists say it's had promising results in tests on mice at preventing lung injury from COVID-19. The disease can cause secondary complications like pneumonia, especially in high-risk individuals. Clinical trials on humans are expected to begin later this spring. - Will Michaels, WUNC

10:36 a.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services says there are now more than 3,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. That's up from close to 2,900 cases yesterday. 46 people have died from the illness. 350 people are hospitalized. 90 of the state's 100 counties have identified cases of COVID-19. The state says over 41,000 tests have been conducted. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

9:40 a.m. - At least 59 inmates and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 inside a federal prison complex in Granville County as of Monday. News outlets report the number of cases is up significantly from 11 reported on Sunday. The low security federal prison complex in Butner is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The agency is quarantining all inmates in every institution for 14 days to decrease the spread of the virus. All visiting at the facility has  also been suspended until further notice. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

6:50 a.m. - Though the state is no longer requiring it, Forsyth County is continuing with contact tracing to limit the spread of COVID-19. The infected person is asked to provide a list of anyone who was within six feet of the individual for 10 minutes or more. The county is enlisting help from county workers who are impacted by school building closures. Eight school nurses are currently helping the county with the process. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

6:15 a.m. - Attendance at many state forests in North Carolina is two or three times higher than usual for this time of year. That's stretching the resources of the sites and making it harder for people to practice proper social distancing. State officials are asking the public to strictly follow social distancing guidelines to help keep public lands safe and open during the COVID-19 pandemic. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC
 

April 6, 2020

7:39 p.m. - Wake County commissioners voted unanimously to set aside nearly $9 million more in local funds to support efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The county says the money allows it to buy more personal protective equipment for health care workers and expand its emergency management services. The county has now spent nearly $13 million on coronavirus mitigation measures. It has a little more than 300 of the state's 2,900 cases of COVID-19. Will Michaels, WUNC

5:13 p.m. - The North Carolina Medical Society, in partnership with Greenlight Ventures, will offer medical practices a way to provide telemedicine visits during the coronavirus outbreak. Not all practices in the state are set up to offer remote visits, and this partnership makes those services available to all practices free of charge until June 30. - Jason deBruyn, WUNC

4:18 p.m. - Authorities in Hillsborough say they will charge a man with violating North Carolina's statewide stay-at-home order. Police say they are trying to serve the charge to 32-year-old Tocee Mitchell, who's accused of being involved with a block party that attracted up to 50 people over the weekend.  Governor Roy Cooper's executive order prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people. Violations are class 2 misdemeanors. Will Michaels, WUNC

3:40 p.m. - State prisons are suspending their intake of offenders from county jails for two weeks in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  The Department of Public Safety says the move is designed to contain the virus after it's been detected in at least three state prisons.  The department says it's also drastically reducing the number of transfers during that time.  The suspension goes into effect Tuesday evening. - Will Michaels, WUNC

2:04 p.m. - Applications for food and nutrition services were up nearly 40 percent in the last week of March as the coronavirus pandemic entered the acceleration phase. The state Department of Health and Human Services says it received more than 14,000 applications for food stamps in that week. That's up from about 10,000 in the same week last year. The department says it expects the number to increase in the coming weeks.  - Will Michaels, WUNC

12:45 p.m. - A former furniture executive in the Triad has died of complications from COVID-19. The family of Frederick Brown Starr says he died last week at the age of 87. Starr became president and CEO of Thomasville Furniture Industries in 1982, and also served as president of the Piedmont Triad Partnership.  He was most recently CEO of Thompson Traders in Greensboro. - Will Michaels, WUNC

11:24 a.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services says there are now close to 2,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. That's up from nearly 2,600 cases yesterday.  33 deaths from the illness have been reported. 270 people are hospitalized. 89 of the state's 100 counties have identified cases of COVID-19. The state says over 40,000 tests have been conducted. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

10:30 a.m. - A second round of furloughs from Cape Fear Valley Health in Fayetteville means a total of 650 people are temporarily out of a job. The health care organization announced the furloughs after temporarily closing some services and rescheduling others. Cape Fear Valley Health says the move clears up space at its hospitals for what is still expected to be an influx of patients with COVID-19.  - Will Michaels, WUNC

8:25 a.m. - Guilford College has furloughed about 130 staff employees for the next two months. The Greensboro News and Record reports that's just over half of the college's 250 non-faculty employees. The furloughs are intended to help the small, private college save money while the campus is closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:45 a.m. - Fort Bragg is restricting visitor access starting tonight at midnight. Visitors from outside of 50 miles of Fort Bragg will not be allowed on base. There are some exceptions for out-of-area visitors, including caregivers. Any visitor passes that have not been used since March 1st will be revoked. Military officials say there will still be full access to those who require it, including veterans and contractors. Celeste Gracia, WUNC 

7:06 a.m. - Duke University is implementing new restrictions in compliance with stay-at-home orders issued by state and local governments. Several campus entrances are now closed or restricted. All campus buildings are closed to the public and only accessible to those with Duke credentials. The Sarah P. Duke Gardens are closed, along with athletic facilities. Access to Duke hospitals is limited to health care providers, patients and vendors. Running and walking trails, including those on the East Campus and in the Duke Forest, are still open. All visitors must practice social distancing and keep a six foot distance from others at all times. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

6:56 a.m. - About two dozen residents at an assisted living center in western North Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19. Cherry Springs Village in Hendersonville says all residents are under quarantine and individuals who tested positive are being treated in isolation. The large number of positive cases followed additional testing of residents when a single case at Cherry Springs was confirmed last week. More than a dozen congregate settings, including nursing homes and adult care homes, are currently in ongoing outbreaks in North Carolina. - Associated Pres

6:35 a.m. - President Trump says there is no contingency plan for the Republican National Convention that's set to be held in Charlotte at the end of August. During a press briefing on Saturday, the president insisted the convention will happen as scheduled despite threats from the coronavirus. Trump said by the end of August, the country will be in good shape. - Celeste Gracia, 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