coronavirus

Nicole Willis, left, of Clayton, NC, dines with her friend Crystal Keefe of Raleigh, on Saturday morning at Mama Dip's Kitchen in Chapel Hill, NC.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Over the weekend, restaurants in most of North Carolina were allowed to serve sit-down customers again, though with social distancing and restrictions on capacity.

But the pandemic is expected to continue taking a harsh toll on an industry that has become one of the state's largest. It's likely to do lasting economic damage, especially in the neighborhoods, towns, and cities that have built reputations as eating destinations in recent years as the restaurant industry boomed.

Stylist Mike Wood trims the hair of Vina Vinluan on Saturday at Salon2eleven in Carrboro, NC. Amidst COVID-19, Salon2eleven is offering customers the option of hair styling services indoors or outdoors. As the state of North Carolina transitions from the
Kate Medley / For WUNC

A lot of people across North Carolina were out and about over the Memorial Day weekend as more state restrictions on where you can go and what you can do have been lifted. And while restaurants are filling up again – to 50% capacity anyway – personal grooming also seems to top people's to-do list.

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As restaurants, salons and pools reopen (partially) in North Carolina over the Memorial Day weekend, there are varying levels of worry about the coronavirus. 

Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation chat about the loosening of public health restrictions, more record-setting unemployment numbers, and the news that there will be no criminal charges against the chemical manufacturer Chemours for contamination in the Cape Fear River. 


Members of the Chinese American Friendship Association of North Carolina stuff bags with facemasks in front of the Cary Senior Center.
Jared Weber / For WUNC

Some folks saw posts on social media. Several received messages from elected officials. Others heard via word of mouth. Regardless, by the time May 1 arrived, a line of cars curved two blocks down the road from the Cary Senior Center, as drivers waited to pick up 10 free facemasks from their cars.

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Among the political disputes playing out in North Carolina these days is how best to hold elections this November. 

There are safety concerns for casting ballots in person, and financial considerations for elections officials expecting a significantly larger contingent wanting to vote by mail because of the coronavirus. 

Author David Daley joins the WUNC Politics Podcast to talk about the perils for democracy during a pandemic. And he discusses his 2016 book about gerrymandering, "Ratf**ed". 
 


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Several sheriffs across the state signaled this week they won't enforce North Carolina's ban on church services held indoors. 

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are getting ready to meet in Raleigh again next week for a session where the coronavirus pandemic will still be looming large. 

The John Locke Foundation's Becki Gray and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch consider those developments and whether it's a matter of if or now when U.S. Sen. Richard Burr steps aside as he's dogged by an insider trading investigation. 


An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the structure of coronavirus. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Alissa Eckert, MS, Dan Higgins, MAM / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

President Trump and White House officials deliver remarks and take questions regarding coronavirus testing. The briefing comes as states continue to debate when and how to relax restrictions and reopen their economies. 

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North Carolina is entering the first phase of reopening after the coronavirus-related shutdowns. Outdoor church services are OK now, shoppers can return to malls, and the gates on state parks are coming up. 

As they review the week's political news, Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray from the John Locke Foundation say wheher they'll be venturing out. 

And they offer their reactions to more outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat processing plants, the governor signing a pair of coronavirus relief bills, and the state transportation agency getting a scathing audit report. 
 


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.

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Since the coronavirus pandemic swept into North Carolina a couple of months ago, Dr. Mandy Cohen has become a familiar figure.

The state health and human services secretary appears in near daily briefings with the governor and other officials leading the response. 

The decisions are hard, she says, especially when the science around COVID-19 is still evolving. 
 
On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, she talks about balancing public health protections with the consequences, how worried she is about reopening the economy, and how much sleep she's getting (hint: not much). 
 


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This week in state politics, lawmakers returned to the North Carolina General Assembly to deliberate how much of the available federal aid should be dolled out immediately.  

Meanwhile, another wave of unemployment claims rolled in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

And a giant of the state Legislature died. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch discuss balancing economic health and public health, and the legacy of the dry-witted former Sen. Tony Rand. 


Holden Thorp
Washington University in St Louis

Recent polls have shown that a strong majority of Americans trust the most prominent scientists during this pandemic, like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.

Their ability to communicate complicated scientific topics has helped them gain the public trust, for the most part. But that doesn't mean there's not a lot of misinformation put out every day; some of it extremely harmful.

Courtesy of Justin Catanoso

When in-person classes were cancelled for the semester at Wake Forest University, Professor Justin Catanoso knew he would have to break some of his own rules. 

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced a couple of tough calls this week in the face of increasing frustration with social distancing restrictions.

He extended his stay-at-home order. And he declared public school buildings will stay shut for the rest of the academic year. 

Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch discuss what lessons could be learned from online learning, and what decisions state lawmakers should make in response to the coronavirus crisis when it's their turn next week.
 


Courtesy Jen Miles Guilderton

"I lost seven contracts in three weeks. My current employment situation is dire."

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As the Republican leader of the state Senate, Phil Berger is the most powerful man in North Carolina politics. For weeks, he's been pushing for random COVID-19 testing so the state can get a handle on the outbreak and reopen for business. 

Meanwhile, the legislative leadership decided to close the doors of the General Assembly to the public, just before lawmakers are set to reconvene for an in-person session. Berger says that wasn't an easy call. 

The senate leader talks about protests against the governor's stay-at-home order, social distancing, and missing baseball on this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast. 
 


Artist Shana Tucker looks out her apartment window.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

 

Red-tipped hair swept to the side, Shana Tucker bites her lower lip before looking back at the camera. 

“I learned today that someone that I grew up with is fighting for her life as a result of COVID-19,” she says through tears. “That's the first time that it sat me down and took my breath away.”

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There were new calls this week for the reopening of business across North Carolina — there was even a protest in Raleigh against the governor's stay-at-home order. 

The General Assembly will soon be convening to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but top leaders in the state House and Senate have announced the legislative building will be closed to the public. 

Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch discuss the growing discord and whether the evidence suggests the state is ready to ease social distancing restrictions. 
 


Donn Young

Seventy-two of the 33,863 people currently detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday, April 13. That is a higher infection rate than the general U.S. population, and immigrant rights groups dispute those official numbers, saying new detainees are not tested upon arrival. 

YouTube thumbnail from coronavirus and mental health video.
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically transformed home and work life in North Carolina. For many, it has blurred the line between the once separate realms of home, office and school. And with that comes new sources of stress and anxiety. 

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Republican Greg Murphy represents eastern North Carolina's 3rd District in the U.S. House. He's also a urologist, and the only doctor on Capitol Hill still seeing patients. 

He's been on social media in a lab coat or scrubs often lately to update constituents on the coronavirus outbreak. He's delivered a mea culpa about one claim: sunlight, he'd said, can kill the virus — several fact checks rated that false. 

On this edition of the WUNC Politics Podcast, Rep. Murphy talks social distancing, the federal response to COVID-19, and being both a physician and a politician in the middle of a pandemic.


lowe's
Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

Home Improvement store Lowes says it will limit the number of customers who can enter a store at one time. That decision comes about a week after Governor Roy Cooper's stay-home order, and after many stores saw large crowds of shoppers.

Student practices wheel throwing in an East Carolina University ceramics class.
Courtesy of East Carolina University

Teachers and college professors have been given a huge challenge this month -- how to quickly adapt their classes for long-distance learning. North Carolina teachers are getting creative to engage their students.

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WUNC

North Carolina is rounding out its first week under a statewide stay-at-home order. 

Two years' worth of unemployment applications have suffocated the state agency charged with handling them. 

And the coronavirus pandemic has now reached into the state's nursing homes, prisons, and even the legislative building. 

Becki Gray of the conservative John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of the progressive NC Policy Watch discuss what's transpired, what lawmakers should do to prepare for the inevitable budget shortfalls, and the conundrum of political fundraising during a crisis. 
 


Leoneda Inge / WUNC

As more people adhere to social distancing guidelines, there's one truly essential place where it's tougher to follow the rules: the grocery store.

Molly Milroy / Chai Pani Restaurant Group

Home cooking is taking a creative turn as folks take fewer trips to the grocery store. Listeners chimed in with their favorite quarantine recipes, including cookbook author Sandra Gutierrez reminding us of the infinite versatility of canned tomatoes. 

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

Around the Triangle, streets and restaurants, businesses and college campuses have remained largely empty this week, after Gov. Roy Cooper issued an Executive Order directing North Carolinians to shelter in place for a month. The order went into effect at 5 p.m. Monday, March 30 and will last until April 29.

Photographers Chuck Liddy and Ben McKeown captured some of the empty spaces around our community.

 

Kevin Fuller
Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

Governor Roy Cooper's statewide stay-at-home order went into effect earlier this week. That presents a particular problem for the 9,000 North Carolinians who make up the state's homeless population.

Curbside sign reads: Please remain in your vehicle, we will be right with you.
Ben McKeown / WUNC

North Carolina is still in the early phase of its COVID-19 outbreak. The statewide case count jumped over the weekend, from 888 last Friday to about 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday morning. 

The Irreverent Warriors, seen here holding a 2016 'silkies hike' in Jacksonville, N.C., has been forced to suspend its hikes and hangouts because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sean Berry / U.S. Marine Corps

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced most of us into social isolation. But for veterans with mental health issues, staying at home runs counter to advice they've long received to get out and interact with the world.

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