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.  

Courtesy Brooke Cox

The pandemic has had an especially harsh impact on high school seniors in North Carolina. They've missed events they can't get back, like final performances, sports seasons, proms and graduations. Still, many have shown resilience and hopefulness.

WUNC reporter Cole del Charco has been collecting some of their stories, and will share them on a regular basis over the next few weeks. The first perspective comes from senior Brooke Cox from South Point High School in Belmont.

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry
N.C. Department of Public Safety

In a briefing Monday afternoon, state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said North Carolina has much of the personal protective equipment needed for healthcare workers to conduct ongoing COVID-19 testing.

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)

Four North Carolina nursing homes have each had at least 10 deaths of residents diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data released on Monday by state health officials.

The Department of Health and Human Services agreed to specifically identify more than 70 long-term facilities, rehabilitation centers or adult care homes where outbreaks have occurred and give updates on them twice weekly.

Learning Interrupted

Apr 27, 2020

Our state's educational institutions have been turned upside down by the pandemic. School buildings are empty, and resources are evaporating.

The upheaval is being felt by the more than 1.5 million public-school students, and the 1 million students in public, private, and community colleges, as well as tens of thousands of teachers, faculty members, principals, food-service employees, bus drivers, etc.

We talk to WUNC education reporters Liz Schlemmer and Cole del Charco about the many changes students, parents, and others are facing.


New Hanover County Health Department
New Hanover County Health Department

New Hanover County expanded testing for COVID-19 starting Monday.

Any resident in the county who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call 910-798-6800 and a nurse will screen them over the phone. Those who then meet the criteria will be referred to a drive-thru site in downtown Wilmington to get tested for free.

A view of the North Carolina legislature building through the Bicentennial Plaza in downtown Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

A North Carolina legislative session anticipated months ago to repeat the acrimony from last year's budget impasse between Republicans and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper begins Tuesday with expectations of consensus to address  COVID-19.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and Director of NC Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry will hold a coronavirus response briefing at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Watch live here:

Semi-Automatic handguns are displayed at Duke's Sport Shop, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in New Castle, Pa.
Keith Srakocic / AP

The coronavirus pandemic has driven up gun sales across the nation, including in North Carolina. While there's no way to track the types of guns sold, gun store owners in Wake County are saying most of the increased demand is from first-time gun owners, and those buying firearms for self defense.

Sarah Blake Morgan / AP Photo

Maj. Brian Minietta's eyes are locked down the barrel of a camera lens. He sways gently back and forth in silence, then his gruff voice belts out, in singsong: "A little patience ... yeah, yeah!"

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 April 20.

5:00 p.m. - The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority's Board of Directors voted Friday to accept $49.5 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The act provides $10 billion in new funds for all airports that are considered part of the national airport system. Under the CARES act, airports must maintain 90% of their workforce – after making adjustments for retirements or voluntary separations – through the end of 2020. RDU's portion of the funding will be used to help pay for debt service, salaries and benefits. - Jason deBruyn, WUNC

A hallway with a row of red lockers at a public school in Durham.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

North Carolina's public school buildings, already shuttered for the past month due to COVID-19, won't reopen this school year, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday.

The decision was largely expected. Cooper originally closed K-12 schools in all 115 districts in mid-March for two weeks, then extended his executive order through May 15.

Courtesy Jen Miles Guilderton

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

Protestor holds a sign that reads 'end the tyranny.'
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Governors find themselves in the political crosshairs of the pandemic — navigating the threat of an economic depression with a second wave outbreak. This week, states began diverging from the federal government’s recommended strict restrictions. 

Speedway Children's Charities, a nonprofit founded by Speedway Motorsports owner and chief executive Bruton Smith, receives more National Rifle Association funding than any other school or charity in the nation.
Mike McCarn / AP

The governor of North Carolina said Thursday that NASCAR teams can work in their race shops if they maintain social distancing guidelines, clearing a potential hurdle to resuming the season in coming weeks.

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

Governor Roy Cooper extended North Carolina's stay-at-home order until at least May 8. The order was issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

This means the social distancing measures in place since March 30 will continue. Those include the mandated closures of restaurants for dine-in service and bars, along with the closure of other close-contact businesses.

"There's so much uncertainly I'm pretty much lost in terms of what I'm supposed to do"

Vidant Health James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital.
Vidant Health

A North Carolina-based health system is enacting furloughs, reducing salaries and cutting employee benefits at its hospitals because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Vidant Health said in a news release on Wednesday that it's faced with challenges which have been intensified by the coronavirus pandemic, including a traditionally underserved population with a high burden of disease and a growing number of patients relying on Medicare and Medicaid. Those issues have combined to impact the system's revenue, the news release said.

A woman dressed in black, wearing a mask looks gazes off towards a stream of light
Kate Medley / WUNC

 Death is a taboo topic. Acknowledging it feels like an admission of defeat — that there is no hope left. But in the face of a pandemic, death surrounds us. 

Nina Jones Mason, the manager of Ellis D. Jones & Sons Funeral Directors in Durham, NC, seats funeral attendees with six feet distance as a precautionary measure during COVID-19.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

North Carolina's stay-at-home order includes a prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people. In Durham, that restriction is no more than five people. Even though health experts say social distancing is critical in saving lives during this pandemic, it's been difficut for people not to gather at funerals.

"I feel like over the course of a weekend the whole world changed"

Name: Katie Button, of Asheville, 37-years-old. Married with two children.
Job Status: Self-employed; Owner of two restaurants and an event space
Current revenue: $0
Savings: "I don't have anything. I am looking for some smart ways to have some funds available to us. Our lender/banker recommend we look into a home equity line. I'm lucky to own my own home and I feel fortunate to even have that option."
Entrepreneur: Button is a three-time finalist for the James Beard Award. In partnership with her parents and husband she owns popular Asheville restaurants Curate Tapas Bar and Button & Co. Bagels.

Lighthouse
Courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

The Outer Banks is opening up to at least some outsiders again after barring visitors for weeks.

Local officials are opening Dare County's part of the barrier islands to non-resident property owners in phases beginning May 4. This will let them prepare houses for the summer rental season.

Empty public space in downtown Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Wake County has lost an estimated $47.2 million as tourism has come to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a report from Visit Raleigh, more than 85 large scale events have been canceled or rescheduled. Hotel occupancy rates this month are down almost 70% from usual levels. As a result, the county has postponed planned projects including expansions at the Marble Kids Museum or Dorothea Dix Park.

Protesters rally in downtown Raleigh, calling on Governor Roy Cooper to reopen the state.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

County commissioners in several North Carolina counties are urging Governor Roy Cooper to give them the authority to ease stay-at-home orders. Various news outlets report local officials in Gaston, Lincoln and Wilkes counties have reached out to the governor's office.

FLICKR/CC, Ronnie Pittman

In North Carolina and across the nation, black communities are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. But there has been little consensus about why that may be the case. 

Protesters rally in downtown Raleigh, calling on Governor Roy Cooper to reopen the state.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

A few hundred people gathered Tuesday in downtown Raleigh for a "ReOpen NC" rally. They were protesting Governor Roy Cooper's stay-at-home order, which was put in place to limit coronavirus infections in North Carolina.

Courtesy Dan Epstein

"It just seems like the whole system was set-up to fail us."

Senior Airman Mariah Haddenham

The weeks of stay-at-home orders have created space for some families to spend more time together than ever before. This could mean more bonding, family meals and joyful activities. But for others it makes for a dangerous situation.

Courtesy Bevin Strickland

Bevin Strickland is an ICU nurse, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a single mother of three. Two weeks ago, she started a temporary position at Mount Sinai hospital, in New York City, one of the nation’s coronavirus hot spots.

North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

More North Carolinians have died from COVID-19 in a matter of weeks than of the flu during the entire flu season, which started in September.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen noted at a briefing Monday afternoon that North Carolina's first COVID-19 death occurred on March 24.

"So in less than a month, we've already surpassed flu deaths for this year," she said. "COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States.

The Nash Printing Plant produced posters for the prisons from the CDC.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

A large COVID-19  outbreak at an eastern North Carolina prison has led officials to shutter a nearby facility and transfer its offenders elsewhere so guards can help relieve staff at the beleaguered Neuse Correctional Institution.

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