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.  

North Carolina lawmakers this week approved a plan to provide teachers with a one-time bonus. Meanwhile temperature checks at the General Assembly building were halted — albeit briefly — as the capital city moved to require masks to curb COVID-19. And a group of lawyers sent a letter to the governor and legislative leaders arguing Confederate monuments violate the state constitution. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch discuss those developments, and two major rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court.


As state officials continue to heed the call for social distancing and face coverings, researchers and health experts have been busy examining the trends and forecasting possible scenarios for the pandemic’s future.

We talk with Kim Powers, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, about her work modeling the projection of COVID-19 in North Carolina.

We also hear about the work of a historic site to celebrate Juneteenth, while social distancing.

Courtesty of Cassandra Brooks

 

Cassandra Brooks owns and operates The Little Believer's Academy, with daycare centers in Clayton and Garner. After working a corporate job at IBM, it was her dream to start her own business caring for children.

The next phase of North Carolina’s gradual reopening is in jeopardy as many of the state’s health trends continue to move in the wrong direction. Hospitalizations on average are on the rise, while 1,154 people have died from the virus.

We talk with Rose Hoban, editor and founder of North Carolina Health News and a registered nurse, about the positive test rate in the state and other alarming trends that could influence the next steps.  Host Dave DeWitt also reflects on the special experience of his son’s high school graduation.


Senior Airman Ian Beckley

 
As businesses reopen and summer weather lures people into public spaces, health officials in North Carolina worry about the pandemic’s increasing toll on the population. Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state topped 45,000 this week. 

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

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said on Monday he'll announce early next week whether businesses still shuttered because of COVID-19 will be allowed to reopen.

Cole del Charco / WUNC

High school graduations across the state have taken a different form due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as drive-throughs and virtual celebrations became the norm. Instead of walking across a stage, shaking hands and throwing caps into the air, the class of 2020 had to find new ways to celebrate.

Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force are scheduled to hold a media briefing on COVID-19. Watch live here starting at 2 p.m.

Creative Commons / https://bit.ly/2Cac52r

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 8.

6:30 p.m. - Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill that would have allowed gyms and bars to reopen immediately amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.  Public health restrictions ordered by the governor has kept those businesses closed for months.  Just two weeks ago, Cooper vetoed a similar bill that would have opened bars. The governor will announce next week whether he'll modify his current executive order to let more businesses reopen. – Cole del Charco and Amy Jeffries, WUNC

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.

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