NC Coronavirus Updates

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

WUNC is also compiling a list of organizations asking for support during this unprecedented time.  

There have been more than 700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than a dozen outbreaks at state correctional facilities. Five inmates at state prisons and one person on prison staff have died from the virus.

State officials say they’ve been following CDC guidelines for testing and treatment, but some argue officials aren’t doing enough for inmates. On Monday, a state judge sided with civil rights groups, and ruled that state prisons must come up with a plan to test every inmate for COVID-19.

We hear from Elaine White about her experience being incarcerated during the pandemic, and why she is concerned for the health of people at correctional facilities. And we check in with WUNC data reporter Jason deBruyn about testing at state prisons.


furniture on the street
70023venus2009 via Flickr

Updated June 19, 3:30 p.m.

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s moratorium against evictions ends on June 21. Those living in federally-subsidized housing — also called Section 8 — have until July 25.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry will be available today for a briefing regarding COVID-19.

Watch live here starting at 2 p.m.:

The Republican National Committee has tentatively decided to move much of its political convention to Jacksonville, Florida, while leaving some of the business aspects of the convention in Charlotte, according to a story in the Washington Post.

Robert Willett / The News & Observer via AP

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's administration has ordered the closure of a small stock-car track that's allowed large crowds to gather repeatedly for weekend races, declaring it an “imminent hazard” for COVID-19's spread.

Since the start of Phase 2, some of the state’s key COVID-19 metrics haven’t been trending in the ways North Carolina’s leaders had hoped. On Tuesday the number of hospitalizations hit a new high, with the state Department of Health and Human Services reporting 774 people in the hospital with COVID-19. This peak comes after North Carolina also saw its single highest day of new cases reported over the weekend.

We talk with Dr. David Wohl, infectious disease physician at UNC School of Medicine, about the upticks in hospitalizations and what it means for the road ahead. We also hear about a memorial for George Floyd this past weekend in Raeford, North Carolina.
 


Barbed wire perimeter fence.
Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

North Carolina has failed to protect inmates from COVID-19, according to a ruling from a Wake County Superior Court judge. The litigation against Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety highlights evidence and affidavits that contradict DPS’ claimed safety measures. 

Charlotte 2020 Host Committee
Charlotte Regional Vistors Authority

As President Donald Trump plans to move his presidential nomination acceptance speech to a different venue, the city of Charlotte continues its plan to host the Republican National Convention this August. 
 

 

 

After a week of protests against police brutality in Asheville and across the country, local educators are using history to make sense of what feels like an unprecedented moment. 

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

  Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are planning to vote this week on a measure that would allow President Donald Trump to speak in front of a packed Republican National Convention without some of the restrictions officials have required elsewhere to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Creative Commons / https://bit.ly/2XGdqGz

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 June 1.

6:30 p.m. - Opponents of the Governor's order banning mass gatherings plan to rally in Alamance County tomorrow. An announcement from ReOpen NC says it is sponsoring a fundraiser for Ace Speedway's legal defense. A judge issued a temporary restraining order against the racetrack, which had been hosting crowded stock car racing events the past three weekends. Since April, ReOpen NC has held repeated rallies in the state capitol to protest restrictions on business and activity meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

Travis Bell, a dentist in Greensboro, said even though he closed his office in March, he's continued to work through the shutdown to provide emergency procedures to patients.
Courtesy Travis Bell DDS

Since the coronavirus was classified as a pandemic, it has changed how the dental industry operates.

The demographic breakdown of COVID-19 cases remains a grim reminder of rampant racial health disparities in our nation. For black and Latinx communities especially, the consequences of longstanding gaps in healthcare have been intensified by the pandemic.

Hispanics account for 39% of confirmed COVID-19 cases, but only comprise about 10% of the total population. But there are several barriers prohibiting Latinx folks from getting adequate testing and treatment during the pandemic. We talk with Eliazar Posada, community engagement and advocacy director for El Centro Hispano, and Paola Jaramillo, cofounder of Enlace Latino NC, about outreach within the Latinx community.


NC DHHS

Thirty-nine percent of the people with confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina are Hispanic. But Latinos only make up 9.6% of the total population. Health experts say the disproportionate rate is due to working and living conditions as well as access to culturally-appropriate health care and information. 
 

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, Senior Deputy Director for the Division of Public Health Dr. Cardra Burns and Director of NC Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry will be available today for a briefing regarding COVID-19.

Watch live here starting at 2 p.m.:

A Grubhub delivery driver picks up two boxes of pizza
Ben McKeown / 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 May 26.

7:05 p.m. - Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would have allowed bars to reopen outdoor areas. Bars closed in March under an executive order issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Lawmakers cited economic losses in the hospitality industry as a reason to strong-arm a reopening. But Cooper says the bill could cause COVID-19 transmissions to accelerate and would limit government's ability to respond. - Rebecca Martinez, WUNC

A child care subsidy for essential workers expires this weekend, but there's funding making its way through the General Assembly that could help.

The aid program was set up by the state health and human services department for workers like nurses and bus drivers after the governor issued his stay-at-home order.

Media Coalition Sues Cooper, Cabinet Agencies For COVID-19 Records

May 29, 2020
N.C. Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

A coalition of more than two dozen media outlets – including North Carolina Public Radio – filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking the release of a list of records related to COVID-19 that the state had, so far, refused to provide.

The lawsuit names as defendants Gov. Roy Cooper and two of his Cabinet secretaries, Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Erik Hooks, secretary of the Department of Public Safety.

Top GOP leaders said  Thursday their health protocols for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte will rely on pre-travel health surveys, daily health care questions that can be answered by an app and thermal scans of all attendees.

Two African-American students at St. Augustine's University interact in front of a laptop computer.
Courtesy of St. Augustine's University

 

Maria Lumpkin was drawn to St. Augustine's University years ago. She remembers driving into campus for the first time and seeing the historic stone chapel, quarried and built in 1895 by students who were just one generation free from slavery.

Vote Here sign
Erik Hersman / Creative Commons https://bit.ly/1ezRl1S

 

Temporary and permanent changes to mail-in absentee ballot rules in North Carolina and funds to improve safety at in-person voting sites this year during the COVID-19 pandemic received overwhelming approval Thursday by the state House.

PxHere / Public Domain

 North Carolina legislators are wading into Gov. Roy Cooper's business reopening decisions, as the state Senate voted Thursday to let bars serve customers again despite his recent executive order keeping them closed due to COVID-19.

Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force will hold a briefing on COVID-19 updates.

Watch live here starting at 2 p.m.:

Workers cutting meat
U.S. Government Accountability Office

Meat processing facilities in North Carolina have seen coronavirus outbreaks among their workers, disrupting supply chains and causing concerns about meat shortages. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services told a North Carolina news collaborative on Tuesday that there are 2,146 cases in 28 outbreaks at meat processing facilities. 

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina voters would have more options in requesting absentee ballots and officials would get funds to keep precincts cleaned and staffed, according to legislation advancing at the General Assembly to address COVID-19 challenges.

Davis Turner / Novant Health via AP

  With a loud whir and a whoosh, a fixed-wing drone slingshots out of a medical warehouse, zips through hazy skies at 80 mph, pops open a belly hatch and drops a box of medical supplies. Slowed by a little parachute, the box drifts downward and lands with a plop, less than 8 minutes after launch.

Brooke Bust-Webber/WUNC

Summer for many families in North Carolina is filled with beach weekends, getaways to the mountains, bountiful produce and other fun in the sun. But how much of that will be possible this season with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?


North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

North Carolina legislators are starting to debate proposed election rule changes this fall so people have wider paths to cast ballots despite COVID-19  health risks.

The main objective of the all the stay-at-home orders was to flatten the curve and make sure hospitals across the state didn’t become overrun. That has so far been successful in North Carolina. But, as "stay-at-home" becomes "safer-at-home," there’s been a spike in cases, percentage of positive tests and hospitalizations. Meanwhile, hospitals and health care workers in other states have seen a greater surge, and are now seeing a greater decline.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health care employees have worked tirelessly to treat COVID-19 patients — and in many cases save those patients’ lives — while risking their own life in the process. The emotional and mental stress doctors, nurses and others in the medical field experience inside the hospital will likely stay with them after the pandemic subsides.

We check back in with Bevin Strickland, a nurse and doctoral student at UNC Greensboro who recently returned home after working on a contract at Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens, New York. WUNC reporter Liz Schlemmer talked with Strickland about the transition back to North Carolina and the psychological toll of working in critical care during the pandemic.


North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force are scheduled to hold a briefing on COVID-19 updates this afternoon. 

Watch live here starting at 3 p.m.:

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