NC Coronavirus Updates


News coverage and resources related to the spread and response to the coronavirus in North Carolina and beyond.

For more information about the vaccine, check out Q&A: What We Know About North Carolina's COVID Vaccine Rollout.

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.

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper unveiled a modified stay-at-home order on Tuesday that requires the state's roughly 10.5 million residents to remain off the streets between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Markus Spiske / Unsplash/ Creative Commons

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has released a list of hospital systems that will get the initial shipment of a forthcoming coronavirus vaccine.

North Carolina schools could forfeit millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief money that was earmarked for summer learning programs, State Auditor Beth Wood says. An audit released last week urges state education officials to keep better track of the emergency money.

Not long after the pandemic forced schools to close last spring, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction got $316 million in federal relief money.

Chris Carlson / AP Photo

Six months ago, Apple and Google introduced a new smartphone tool designed to notify people who might have been exposed to the coronavirus, without disclosing any personal information. But for the most part, Americans haven't been all that interested.

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

AP Photo / Gerry Broome

As coronavirus trends continue to worsen, North Carolina’s top public health official reiterated Thursday the same messages of mask wearing, hand washing and physical distancing that have been promoted for months with mixed success.

gavel at courtroom
William Johnson / US Airforce Photo

After more than eight months without jury trials, Union County is holding its first Superior Court trial this week.

Scheduling that trial — or any trial — hasn't been easy. District Attorney Trey Robison said one felony case his office tried to schedule had to be delayed because the defense attorney was quarantined. Another — a breaking-and-entering case — couldn't be tried because someone in the defendant's household contracted COVID-19.

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.

ADVANCE — Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina said on Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will complete his recovery at home.

Budd, who won his third term last month to represent the central 13th Congressional District, said in a video message on social media that he has “very mild symptoms." He said he'll be working remotely from his family farm with his staff in the district and in Washington.

Daniel Schludi / Unsplash / Creative Commons

Updated at 6:10 p.m.

Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that North Carolina could receive a limited supply of a COVID-19 vaccine in as soon as two weeks. Hospital workers will be first in line to get it.

Governor Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force share an update on COVID-19.

Watch, live, here starting at 3 p.m.

niversity researches have developed a software to address the mental health challenges the Hispanic community faces amid the COVID19 pandemic.
Courtesy of Francisco Gonzalez / NCSU

Researchers at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T University have found that Hispanic communities are at a greater risk for mental health challenges during the pandemic.

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

Daniel Schludi / Unsplash / Creative Commons

North Carolina’s Health Director, Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, expects a limited supply of coronavirus vaccine will be available here by the end of the year. That assumes, of course, that the Food and Drug Administration approves its emergency use sometime in the next few weeks.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Greensboro-based Cone Health operates in two of the state's red zones for COVID-19 numbers.

Monday marks the return of in person teaching at Wake County Public Schools. Students arrive at Davis Drive Elementary to temperature checks and health screenings in the carpool line.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

While COVID-19 surges across the state, schools are adjusting plans for in-person learning. But the tough calls have been left almost completely to local school districts, as state and federal agencies are offering only minimal guidance.

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.

Any other year, Americans would be gearing up for the big Thanksgiving travel weekend; traffic jams and long lines at the airport would just be a reality of life. But TSA is quiet at Raleigh Durham International Airport, where the pandemic has cut air travel by two-thirds. Tested host Leoneda Inge talks with passengers and an RDU spokesperson about the changed travel landscape.

Creative Commons / Via pxhere

The state's tourism industry group says nearly 4,000 businesses have signed on to a campaign promoting consumer safety during the pandemic. Visit North Carolina has been promoting its Count on Me NC program, which has provided training about proper physical distancing, hand-washing and mask wearing. Ads encourage customers to look for the "Count on Me NC" label.

Está historia está disponible en español en La Noticia

They had it all planned out. For her quinceañera, Marlena Modica would wear the white gown her grandmother had gifted her oldest sister — one of many family traditions. The day would start with a religious ceremony followed by a large party with friends and family. Modica’s parents would proudly show off their little girl becoming a young lady.

La Secretaria del Departamento de Salud, Dra. Mandy Cohen y la Asesora de NCDHHS para hispanos / latinos al COVID-19, la Dra. Viviana Martínez-Bianchi, presentan una sesión informativa sobre COVID-19 a las 3 p.m.


In a new county COVID alert system, the state distinguishes the counties with the highest levels of viral spread.
Governor Roy Cooper Twitter

Governor Roy Cooper is unveiling a new county-level alert system to highlight COVID-19 hotspots. Counties will be marked yellow, orange or red to indicate the severity of concern.

Gov. Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force are scheduled to hold a media briefing on COVID-19. 

Watch live here starting at 3 p.m.

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

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. 

Cary Town Council members Ya Liu (left) and Lori Bush talk during the May 1 facemask giveaway. Liu, Cary's first Asian American councilmember, has been one of CAFA's lead organizers in their philanthropic efforts.
Chinese American Friendship Association of North Carolina

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. 9.

4:41 p.m. - Some restaurants in North Carolina are going the extra mile to limit the spread of COVID-19 as they serve patrons. Chef Cheetie Kumar of Garland in downtown Raleigh joined the state health department's briefing this afternoon. Kumar says her restaurant is only serving outside. And instead of reusable dishes, they're plating entrees on banana leaves.

North Carolina is seeing record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations, and Black and Latinx people continue to make up a disproportionate share of them. Without a vaccine, public health experts say testing is a key tool for keeping COVID at bay, and strengthening access to testing in underserved communities remains a necessity. It's a compelling enough argument to convince host Leoneda Inge to get tested herself.

Leoneda talks with Deepak Kumar, director of NCCU’s Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute, about improving health services for communities of color. And she speaks with Dr. Cardra Burns and Ben Money from the NC Department of Health and Human Services about the state’s recent testing efforts.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen will share an update regarding COVID-19. Watch, here, live starting at 2 p.m.

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.