Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Oct. 26

Oct 26, 2020

Credit City of Greenville, via Flickr / https://bit.ly/3avgM3O

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 Oct. 19.

Oct. 30, 2020

7:35 a.m. – Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence – widely regarded as the best quarterback in the ACC and a top NFL Draft prospect – tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Thursday. According to CBS Sports, Lawrence tested positive on Wednesday. He will miss the Tigers’ game Saturday against Boston College, but he could be cleared for No. 1 Clemson’s bout with No. 4 Notre Dame on Nov. 7.

"The only thing that hurts is missing an opportunity to be with my teammates this weekend and play the game I love," Lawrence said in a statement. "I hate that I can't be there, but I'll be watching from isolation and pulling for our guys."

The ACC mandates that athletes who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for at least 10 days. Lawrence, a junior from Cartersville, Georgia, is fifth in the nation in passing with 1,833 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air. – Mitchell Northam, WUNC

7:20 a.m. - On Thursday, four more elementary schools in Wake County reported individuals associated with their school tested positive for COVID-19. A total of eight elementary and high schools across the school district have at least nine cases of COVID-19. Some pre-k through third grade students resumed in-person learning in Wake County on Monday. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:05 a.m. - Two people who attended President Trump's campaign rally in Gastonia last week have tested positive for COVID-19. The Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services says the people likely did not contract the virus at the event but both contracted it independently. The county health department says it is conducting contact tracing and is alerting the public due to the large number of attendees, and so people can assess their own risk. – Cole del Charco, WUNC  

Oct. 29, 2020

10:10 a.m. - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says a company that he had accused of price gouging on personal protective equipment has been fined $150,000. The AG’s office said in a statement that Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier filed the judgement on Wednesday against the New Jersey-based Stephen Gould Corporation. Stein’s lawsuit claimed the company pitched millions of masks to state agencies, some hospitals and nonprofits at a markup of more than 100 percent. He said it would have led to tens of millions of dollars in profits. North Carolina’s price gouging statute prohibits charging too much for critical goods or services in times of crisis. It remains in effect until Nov. 13. – The Associated Press

8:35 a.m. - A spokesperson for a company run by a North Carolina restaurant owner says the owner has won a lawsuit filed against his insurance company for coverage of business losses due to the pandemic. Giorgios Hospitality Group spokesperson Jennifer Noble Kelly told WRAL-TV Wednesday that a Durham County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Giorgios Bakatsias and another owner in the lawsuit earlier this month. Bakatsias and the other owner, Matt Kelly, sued Cincinnati Insurance Company in May for payment of lost business income and other expenses as a result of the pandemic. A spokeswoman for the insurance company says the company doesn't believe business interruption coverage applies in this case. – The Associated Press

7:40 a.m. - Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order Wednesday preventing landlords from evicting tenants who are unable to pay their rent. The executive order requires landlords to inform renters of protections they may have under the CDC rent moratorium that lasts through December. Landlords must also allow tenants to fill out a declaration that they qualify for rent non-payment before initiating eviction procedures. Between 3,000 and 4,000 North Carolina households are unable to pay rent, according to the National Council of State Housing Agencies. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:25 a.m. - An unidentified person who attended a campaign rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Forest has tested positive for COVID-19. The State Department of Health and Human Services says the person attended a rally for Forest in Burnsville in western North Carolina on Oct. 15. State health officials encourage people who have attended a mass gathering of any kind to get tested for COVID-19. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:15 a.m. - An elementary school in Wake County reports that an individual associated with the school has tested positive for COVID-19. Forest Pines Elementary School says this individual was last on campus on Tuesday. Some pre-k through third grade students resumed in-person learning in Wake County on Monday. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

6:55 a.m. - The State Health Department has some recommendations for safe Halloween celebrating this weekend.  At a briefing Wednesday, State Health Director Dr. Mandy Cohen said she's having a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt with her daughters at a nearby park.

"And I'll also lay Halloween candy out on a large table outside our front door,” Cohen said. “That way no one has to dig their hands into a candy bowl, or even ring our doorbell."

Cohen warned social gatherings have been leading to more COVID-19 cases across the state.  Even for those who plan to celebrate, there are things that can help, like keeping gatherings outside, cracking a window, and limiting groups to smaller sizes.  More information can be found at the NCDHHS website. – Cole del Charco, WUNC

Oct. 28, 2020

4:10 p.m. - State Health Secretary Doctor Mandy Cohen says the state is reporting fewer COVID-19 clusters in construction sites and food processing plants. But, she says there's an increase in disease transmission at religious and social gatherings. Cohen urges North Carolinians to keep gatherings small and outdoors and to wear masks around people who do not live in your home. She also stressed the importance of ventilation and hand washing. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

4 p.m. - Governor Roy Cooper has signed a new executive order to strengthen protections against evictions amid the ongoing pandemic. Now, landlords must inform tenants they may qualify for rent non-payment under the current CDC rent moratorium, and before starting evictions. Cooper says the order is meant to supplement rental assistance available through the NC Hope program. That program pays landlords and utility companies directly for those who can't pay rent or utility bills due to financial impact of the coronavirus. Cooper said 23,000 applications have already been submitted. - Celeste Gracia and Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

11:35 a.m. - Three high schools in Wake County have each reported one positive case of COVID-19 with an individual in an athletics teams. Panther Creek High School in Cary, Heritage High School in Wake Forest and Fuquay Varina High School all say the individual who tested positive at their school was last on campus last week. High school sports in Wake County resumed activities in phases on Oct. 1. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:15 a.m. - Rockingham County Schools is moving to all virtual learning after at least 13 different schools reported cases of COVID-19 since re-opening for in-person classes last month. The county's board of education voted for the move earlier this week. The board will re-evaluate plans in December. Rockingham County Schools returned for in-person learning on Sept. 21. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:35 a.m. - The Jaycee Burn Center at the UNC Medical Center saw a significant increase in pediatric patients while school buildings were shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring. Kitchen mishaps were a big driver, with children scalded – for instance – by spilled coffee or from grabbing a hot pot off the stove.

While classrooms were shut down, there was a 28% increase in burn injuries to school-aged children, according to the center and 9% more pediatric admissions compared to the March-to-May timeframe in 2019.The burn center typically sees spikes when school is out of session. The uptick this spring was similar. – Jason deBruyn, WUNC

7:20 a.m. - A least five people have died from a COVID-19 outbreak connected to a church in Mecklenburg County. The Charlotte Observer report 143 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a week-long event from earlier this month at the United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte. – Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

7:05 a.m. - The Orange County Courthouse is closed to the public until next Friday because of a positive case of COVID-19 inside the courthouse. The courthouse plans to re-open on Monday, Nov. 9. Some court matters will be heard online as previously scheduled. Other matters, including traffic court and criminal district court, will be rescheduled automatically. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

Oct. 27, 2020

4:25 p.m. - A least five people have died from a COVID-19 outbreak connected to a local church. The Charlotte Observer reports Mecklenburg County Public Health has now identified 143 cases of COVID-19 linked to convocation events at the United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

2:55 p.m. - More than 1,200 people are being in treated for COVID-19 in hospitals. The state Health Department reports COVID-related hospitalizations have topped 1,000 every day for three straight weeks. – Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

2:10 p.m. - Elon University has more than 200 active COVID-19 cases on campus and more than 460 students in quarantine. University officials say they're increasing testing. They'll also suspend Greek Life events and some sports to reduce the spread of coronavirus. – Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

1:40 p.m. - The ACLU is suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons, alleging that the prison in Butner is failing to protect for the population and manage the spread of coronavirus. The complaint says 26 incarcerated people with disabilities there have died from COVID-19. Plaintiffs ask the court to require that the prison follow federal guidelines to slow the spread of disease and provide adequate healthcare. – Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

7:35 a.m. - Elon University is expanding its restrictions on campus after finding additional cases of COVID-19 on campus. Late last week the university implemented several restrictions, including banning visitors inside residence halls. On Saturday, the university suspended all Greek life in-person activities and is asking students to limit social interactions to no more than five people inside or outside. The university plans to test up to 3,000 students this week. In-person classes are continuing. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:20 a.m. - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sending over 3 million rapid coronavirus tests to North Carolina. The tests will be distributed at the discretion of Gov. Roy Cooper. As of Monday, the federal health department said it had already shipped 1.3 million tests. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:10 a.m. - North Carolina's tech sector posted 7% fewer job openings in September than a year earlier. But compared to the 18% drop nationwide, it suggests the tech sector here is more resilient. The latest report from the NC Tech Association shows job postings down 29% in the Greensboro-High Point area and down 19% in the Durham-Chapel Hill metro. Meanwhile postings were up 29% in Asheville and 68% in Wilmington. – Naomi Prioleau, WUNC

Oct. 26, 2020

11:55 a.m. - Wake County residents can now apply for financial assistance to help pay for childcare and remote learning supervision. The program is meant to accompany a statewide program that will help families pay for extra childcare expenses during October and November.  The Wake Supports program will provide families with help in August, September and December. Families can receive up to $870 per child, per month. Payments will be made directly to child care providers. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

10:05 a.m.  - About 8,000 of Wake County's youngest public-school students returned to in-person instruction Monday morning. It's part of the district's plan to eventually fully re-open for elementary and middle school students over the next few months. About half of Wake County's 160,000 students have opted to remain in remote learning. – Dave DeWitt, WUNC

7:40 a.m. - First and second graders in Guilford County will not be returning to in-person learning Monday. Guilford County Schools announced the change late Friday, citing rising trends of COVID-19. Some pre-k and kindergarten students will continue learning in-person. All other students will keep learning online until another announcement is made. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:30 a.m. - UNC-Chapel Hill will require students, faculty and staff to be tested for COVID-19 regularly in the spring semester. In a message Friday, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the university is still working out how often tests will be mandated and how the tests will be administered and processed. The university also plans to offer only single occupancy rooms for on-campus housing and says it will expand quarantine and isolation spaces for students who test positive for COVID-19. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:15 a.m. - Health officials have ordered a church in Charlotte to close because of a large outbreak of COVID-19 linked to the church. The Charlotte Observer reports more than 121 cases and at least three deaths have been tied to the outbreak at the United House of Prayer for All People. Cases have been tied to a weeklong event the church held earlier this month. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:05 a.m. - Some pre-k through third grade students are resuming in-person learning Monday in Wake County. Administrators estimate classrooms will be no more than a third full. The majority of students will continue learning online. For those returning, masks are required while on school grounds at all times. Before entering the building, students and staff must pass a health screening and temperature check.

At a Friday press conference, Wake County Board of Education Chairman Keith Sutton asked parents to remain flexible.

“Things are going to change,” Sutton said. “There will be no two days that are alike."

Sutton says the district will be responsive as the situation changes. Officials say they plan to respond to any potential COVID-19 cases by quarantining or isolating students and staff and cleaning classrooms and buildings as needed. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

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

Previous weekly updates: