coronavirus


Members of North Carolina's Coronavirus Task Force are scheduled to hold a media briefing at 2 p.m.

NC Hospitals Near Capacity As Coronavirus Hammers The State

Jan 11, 2021
Charles Mandelin and Katie Overbey prepare the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for administering at Duke University Hospital in Durham on Monday, December 14, 2020.
Shawn Rocco / Duke Health

 

North Carolina’s hospitals are quickly filling up with patients stricken by the coronavirus, even as health systems in some of the hardest-hit regions -- the Triad and greater Charlotte area -- take steps to make room for a wave of new patients.

The looming crisis is fueled by lack of clinical staff, not by lack of physical space for beds.

In this file photo dated Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, a bottle of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on a table before being utilized in Topeka, Kansas.
Charlie Riedel / AP

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 Jan. 4.


5:40 p.m. - A county in southeastern North Carolina where older adults make up a large share of the population is appealing to Gov. Roy Cooper to provide more doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Brunswick County Board of Commissioners Chairman Randy Thompson sent a letter to the governor outlining concerns about having enough vaccine for high-risk individuals who want it. Nearly a third of Brunswick County's residents are 65 or older, and are now eligible to get a shot after the state revised the priority groups this week. That's about 46,000 people. Thompson says the county's allocation of 1,500 doses a week is inadequate.

In this file photo dated Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, a bottle of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on a table before being utilized in Topeka, Kansas.
Charlie Riedel / AP

North Carolina prison officials are considering offering rewards to inmates who accept a coronavirus vaccine that will soon become available to them.

Charles Mandelin and Katie Overbey prepare the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for administering at Duke University Hospital in Durham on Monday, December 14, 2020.
Shawn Rocco / Duke Health

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday announced a three-week extension of a 10 p.m. curfew aimed at helping slow the spread of the coronavirus as some counties experienced a bumpy rollout of vaccines for residents over age 75.

Governor Roy Cooper and members of North Carolina's Coronavirus Task Force are scheduled to hold a media briefing on Wednesday.

Governor Roy Cooper and members of North Carolina's Coronavirus Task Force are scheduled to hold a media briefing on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

Duke University Hospital received 2,925 does of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020.
Blyth Morrell / Duke University Hospital

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 Dec. 21.

11:18 a.m. - Guilford County Schools is delaying the return of middle school students for in-person learning by another two weeks. The district had planned for the first group of sixth graders to be back in classrooms on Jan. 7. Now they're scheduled to return Jan. 21. The district says the delay will give administrators more time to review COVID-19 data and guidance for the middle school age group. Guilford County elementary schools are still slated to reopen to students on Jan. 5 and high schools on Jan. 21. – Amy Jeffries, WUNC

The N95 mask, made by 3M.
3M

This past spring, as stockpiles of personal protective equipment ran dry, North Carolina spent more than $220 million on various supplies, sometimes at a hefty markup.

Updated on Dec. 30 at 11:15 a.m. ET

President Trump has signed a major legislative package that includes coronavirus relief and government spending for the next fiscal year.

Just after Congress passed the bill last week — and shortly before Christmas — the president called the measure a "disgrace," in part for not having high enough direct payments to Americans, a move his own party had been against.

Gov. Roy Cooper watches while Tracy Toner gives a COVID-19 vaccination to Duke nurse Arianna Motsinger at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham on Monday, December 21, 2020.
Shawn Rocco / Duke Health

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 Dec. 14.

In a 20-0 vote, with one abstention, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna be authorized for emergency use in adults during the pandemic.

If the agency authorizes the vaccine for emergency use, as is expected, it would become the second to be deployed in the U.S to fight the coronavirus.

The vote in favor of the vaccine was taken to answer the agency's question: Do the benefits of the Moderna vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people age 18 and older?

A house. Two cars. A kid in college. Debi and Nick Lemieur had all the markers of a middle class life. But they both remember one purchase — Nick's $600 bass amplifier — that prompted one of the biggest fights in their four decades of marriage.

"He didn't tell me he hid it in the trunk of the car, and I found it," Debi says, laughing, 14 years later. "To me it was like, oh my God, how much will this screw with our budget?"

Duke nurse Rita Oakes administers the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination to Glenda Faye Tate Williams at Duke University Hospital in Durham on Monday, December 14, 2020.
Blyth Morrell / Duke University Hospital

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 Dec. 7.

5:05 p.m. - UNC Charlotte's men's basketball coach is under quarantine after he was notified by COVID-19 contact tracers. Ron Sanchez will miss the team's next two games, including one tomorrow against North Carolina A&T. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and Division of Public Health Pharmacist Dr. Amanda Fuller Moore will give a press briefing Thursday about COVID-19 vaccines and the distribution of those vaccines in North Carolina.

Emma Wikstrom begins the first day of in-person teaching of second grade on Monday at Davis Drive Elementary in Cary, NC.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

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 Nov. 30.

6:50 p.m. - The town of Youngsville says its Christmas parade generated $11,000 for needy children. The outpouring benefiting the "Shop With a Cop" program followed a national television appearance by the mayor. On Fox and Friends, Mayor Fonzie Flowers said parade-goers were being encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing and he put in a plug for the charity. Franklin County health officials concerned about the risk of coronavirus spread had scolded town leaders for deciding to go ahead with the annual event last weekend. - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

An image of UNC's Old Well
yeungb / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Dozens of UNC-Chapel Hill faculty have signed an open letter urging the university to reverse course and offer only remote classes this spring. The university's top spokesperson says the reopening plans could be subject to change until early January.

photo of drive-thru coronavirus testing in Chatham County
Staff Sgt. Mary Junell / U.S. Army Photo

North Carolina's overall death rate is projected to rise by 5% this year, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state Department of Health and Human Services says the death rate has been rising for the last several years, but officials expected it to increase by 2-3%. At her latest press briefing, state Health Secretary Dr.

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

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 Nov. 23.

5:40 p.m. - A superior court judge has appointed a special master to review a state program aimed at protecting North Carolina prison inmates at higher risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other civil rights groups, a Wake County judge appointed Thomas Maher to monitor state compliance with its Extended Limits of Confinement program, which allows some incarcerated people to serve their sentences on home confinement. Maher is the executive director of Duke University's Center for Science and Justice and the former head of the state's Office of Indigent Defense Services. - Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

4:50 p.m. - Newly reported cases of COVID-19 topped 5,000 for the second consecutive day in North Carolina. According to the state Health Department's website, 5,303 new cases have been reported, just under yesterday's record mark of more than 5,600. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are at 2,157.


Gov. Cooper spoke to CNN yesterday and said the numbers are alarming. The governor says that's why he issued a mask mandate and lowered the capacity of indoor gatherings. His latest executive order is scheduled to expire next week.

"All of our options are on the table to tighten things down, we know we may need to do that. Our hospitals have capacity right now, we've been staying in close contact with them," said Cooper.

State officials are expecting a limited supply of vaccine for health care workers soon, once inoculations are greenlit by federal authorities. - Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

4:40 p.m. - Franklin County health officials are taking town leaders in Youngsville to task over plans for a Christmas Parade tomorrow. In a statement, county health director Scott LaVigne says even with mask wearing and social distancing, the event poses a grave health risk. In the past two weeks, Franklin County's positivity rate for COVID testing has been 8.5%, more than 3% higher than the state's target threshold for controlling community spread. Youngsville's Town Administrator told WUNC the board believes the parade can be held safely and that canceling the church-organized event would be an infringement of people's constitutional rights. - Rusty Jacobs, WUNC


11:45 a.m. - A Franklin County town will hold its annual Christmas Parade on Saturday in defiance of state officials concerned about the spread of COVID-19. Town Administrator Phillip Cordeiro says the parade in Youngsville could draw up to 300 spectators along the two-mile route that passes through downtown.

Cordeiro says town officials spoke on Monday with county and state public health representatives, who wanted the event canceled, especially as newly reported cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations for the illness are surging. But he suggests there are constitutional issues at stake with an event organized by area churches.

“So we don't feel that it's right for us as a town to silence them and to tell them that they can't, you know, freely assemble in public to celebrate, again, the reason for the holiday season,” Cordeiro said.
Cordeiro says spectators are being urged to wear masks and observe safe physical distancing protocols. – Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

11:25 a.m. - North Carolina is anticipating initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in an as little as two weeks. Governor Roy Cooper announced earlier this week it would be Pfizer's vaccine, which must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. He said it will be challenging to get it to rural communities. Duke University experts agree rural areas could have difficulty getting that kind of refrigeration. Thomas Denny is a professor of medicine at Duke.

“We're gonna have to be prepared to supplement those areas, provide portable types of cooling devices to get vaccines distributed,” said Thomas Denny, a professor of medicine at Duke. “I think we have to work with what we have and begin to plan to have distribution that includes adequate cold chain provisions.”

Rural areas in North Carolina are experiencing a dramatic spike of COVID-19 cases. Healthcare workers are expected to be offered the vaccine first. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:35 a.m. - Wake County Public Schools is reporting 68 new cases of COVID-19 in students and staff over the past week. The school system has reported almost 220 cases overall since classes began in late October. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:20 a.m. - A Lee County Commissioner has died from COVID-19. News outlets report Kevin Dodson had been hospitalized with COVID-19 before his death. Dodson was elected commissioner in November 2016 and served as vice chairman of the board from December 2018 to November 2019. He was set to finish his term on the board this month. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:05 a.m. - The very first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine expected to arrive in North Carolina later this month will go to long term care facilities and hospitals. Included in the next major phase of the rollout after that would be frontline workers who have multiple chronic conditions and are at the highest risk for exposure. That group includes police and firefighters and people who work in food processing, transportation, grocery stores and teachers.

State health Director Betsy Tilson presented the updated vaccination priority plans to the State Board of Education on Thursday.

“We do not anticipate that we will have enough supplies for the majority of people, really until the spring,” Tilson said.

All other education staff could be vaccinated in phase two along with frontline workers without chronic conditions. And K-12 students would be vaccinated in the third phase just before the general population – if data from clinical trials shows good results in children. – Cole del Charco, WUNC

6:50 p.m. - Thousands of North Carolina students may have to take in-person end-of-grade or end-of-class tests this year, despite the pandemic. Federal and state laws require schools in North Carolina to test most students in person at the end of a class or grade. The tests are a substantial part of a student's score, and can make the difference in moving to the next grade. Those requirements are still in place, even with widespread remote learning.

This week, the State Board of Education decided to move forward with requesting a waiver, and will take a final vote in January. The Trump Administration has told states that no waiver will be granted for in-person instruction. It's not yet known if the Biden Administration will change that policy. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

6:40 p.m. - COVID-19 precautions have brought court proceedings in North Carolina to a crawl. County prosecutors are dropping charges for some low-level offenses such as traffic violations. 

Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather says his office is also refering people charged with simple drug posession to recovery agencies and other service providers. He says otherwise it could take two years to fully prosecute such cases because of how long trials are being delayed during the pandemic.

"Are we willing to spend that amount of time if we know that means that someone who has lost a kid is going to have to wait that much longer to get their cases resolved? To me that choice is clear," said Merriweather. 

Statewide, the number of pending felony cases has increased 15% compared with last year. - Jason deBruyn, WUNC and North Carolina Watchdog Reporting Network 

6:30 p.m. - State Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen says the 11.4% percent positivity rate for newly returned COVID-19 tests is "alarming." Addressing reporters today, Cohen said she is worried.

"I know this is a particularly hard time of year to stay home and away from family and friends, yet it is the best way we can take personal responsibility and show our care for them as we fight this global pandemicm" said Cohen. 

Cohen says wearing masks and keeping a safe distance from people you don't live with continue to be among the most important public health measures. Cohen says she expects North Carolina to get a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine for health-care workers soon, once it's authorized by the FDA. - Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

12:35 p.m. - North Carolina has recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases Thursday. The State Department of Health and Human Services web site shows more than 5,600 positive cases reported. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to rise too, with the latest data on the state DHHS web site showing more than 2,100 COVID-related hospitalizations across North Carolina. – Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

11:45 a.m. - A recent poll shows notable uncertainty among North Carolinians when asked if they intend to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 42% of those surveyed last month by High Point University said they would get a vaccine to prevent contracting the novel-coronavirus-related illness. 31% said they would not and 27% said they weren't sure. State health officials say they're hopeful the first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in North Carolina later this month, with the first doses going to front-line health care workers. – Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

9:55 a.m. – Police say a North Carolina store owner was given a citation for encouraging customers NOT to wear a mask while inside her store, violating orders to preserve public health during the coronavirus pandemic. Wendell General Store owner Regina Harmon was cited Wednesday with one count of aiding and abetting the violation of an executive order. Harmon's store posted signs stating: “Masks not required, exceptions to every rule” and “We request that you not wear a face covering.”

Gov. Roy Cooper’s mask requirement has been in place since June. Wendell police say officers cited Harmon after consulting with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office. – The Associated Press

9:20 a.m. - A town in North Carolina is planning to hold a Christmas parade despite concerns from county health officials that the event could facilitate the spread of the coronavirus. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Wednesday that Youngsville plans a mile-long parade with up to 300 people watching. The town has faced repeated warnings from the Franklin County Health Department that COVID cases are rising.

The county also said that the parade would violate Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order limiting crowds. Town Manager Phil Cordeiro told county officials that Youngsville’s parade falls under the same First Amendment exemption. He also said the parade is a permitted religious service because it starts in the parking lot of a church. – The Associated Press

7:25 a.m. - The Greensboro City Council has passed an ordinance that strengthens the mayor's recent COVID-19 enforcement order. Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaugn recently announced penalties for businesses that violate reduced occupancy orders. The Greensboro News and Record reports the city council's ordinance says places where people can't maintain enough social distance will be deemed illegal public nuisances. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

More than 50 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers are involved in trials to test vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, and the agency is calling on vets to volunteer.

Gerry Dincher / Creative Commons/ www.flickr.com/photos/gerrydincher/47946641412/in/photostream/

Just as families are gathering for the holidays, many rural communities are dealing with a growing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Mack Brown UNC College Football
Robert Willett / The News & Observer via AP, Pool

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 Nov. 16.

8:05 a.m. - Three state prisons have closed because of an increase in COVID-19 cases among inmates. The Charlotte Observer reports these facilities were also closed because of the number of staff that have been out of work at some facilities.

Inmates at Randolph Correctional Center in Randolph County, Southern Correctional Institution in Montgomery County and Piedmont Correctional Institution in Rowan County are being transferred to other facilities across the state. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

Leoneda Inge

The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 is surging. And there is also a growing number of people getting tested for the disease, for the first time. A program based at a historically Black university in Durham is organizing COVID-19 testing and collecting valuable data at the same time.

Furniture out on the sidewalk in front of a red brick building
70023venus2009 / Flickr / CC

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratorium protects North Carolina tenants from evictions until the end of the year. Any tenant can provide their landlord with a declaration form that attests they are unable to pay their rent and at risk of homelessness.

A graphic of an Asian woman, colored red with a white mask, holding a baby colored yellow, against a blue background.
Pixabay

In September, 865,000 women left the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Eighty percent of the people who stopped working or looking for work that month were women. It’s no coincidence that this large drop out happened around the same time that the fall semester began: data confirms that mothers disproportionately shoulder the burden of childcare, supervising virtual learning and domestic work. 

N.C. Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Tuesday that lowers the limit on indoor gatherings in North Carolina.

More than 10 million people have now been confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus in the United States as the spread of the virus accelerates at an alarming pace across the nation.

The U.S. now accounts for about one-fifth of all of the 50 million infections worldwide, more than any other nation. The data comes from Johns Hopkins University.

In this Aug. 18, 2020 file photo, a student works outside Ehrighaus dormitory on campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Gerry Broome / AP

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. 26.

4:50 p.m. - Students in Cumberland County will return to in-person learning in January, given that COVID-19 metrics are trending in the right direction at that time. The Cumberland County Board of Education approved a plan today for students to return to classrooms on a staggered schedule starting January 7. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

A car decorated with pro-Trump stickers and decals makes its way through downtown Hillsborough Saturday as part of the "Trump Train" to show support for President Trump and other North Carolina Republicans on the ballot this November.
Mitchell Northam / WUNC

There doesn't appear to be a strong correlation in North Carolina between counties that voted for President Donald Trump, and counties with high numbers of new COVID-19 cases, according to a WUNC analysis.

Governor Roy Cooper in a candid photo wearing his black face mask where he gives coronavirus briefings.
File Photo, Courtesy Governor Roy Cooper Twitter

The United States hit a new record this week: more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases in one day. The virus is surging around the country — including in North Carolina. The state broke its own record last week with 2,886 new infections in one day on Thursday, Oct. 29. 

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