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 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.:

Nursing home residents sit around a table.
PJ Johnson

Nursing homes are hotspots for spreading the coronavirus. Long-term residents can more easily stay isolated from family and friends, but workers and short-term patients travel in and out of nursing home communities. Many may be asymptomatic, unknowingly providing an opportunity for the virus to enter and exit vulnerable communities. 

Rachel Zhuang reopens the doors of Style Brows on Saturday morning at University Mall in Chapel Hill, 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 May 18.

9:00 a.m. -- Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order that extends the prohibition of utility shut-offs and implements a moratorium on evictions. The order lasts for three weeks, prevents landlords from initiating eviction proceedings against a tenant for nonpayment or late payment of rent, and prevents landlords from assessing late fees or other penalties for late or nonpayment, among other measures. "North Carolinians need relief to help make ends meet during the pandemic," Cooper said. "Extending housing and utility protections will mean more people can stay in their homes and stay safe as we all work to slow the spread of this virus." - Elizabeth Baier, WUNC

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.

President Donald Trump, pictured here with his cabinet at a COVID-19 briefing.
White House / Twitter

President Donald Trump threatened Monday to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if the state's Democratic governor doesn't immediately sign off on allowing a full-capacity gathering in August despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Meet 'The Coronavirus Hunter' Ralph Baric

May 25, 2020
Image of Epidemiologist Ralph Baric
Christopher Janaro/christopherjanaro.com

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 took most of the world by surprise — but not Ralph Baric. He is an epidemiologist at UNC-Chapel Hill who has been dubbed “the coronavirus hunter.”

Updated Sunday, May 24, 2020 

Gov. Roy Cooper's Phase 2 reopening took effect Friday at 5 p.m., letting North Carolinians sit down for a pint or glass of wine at their favorite restaurants. And at the last minute, state officials decided some breweries, and other distillers can open, too, according new guidance on the governor's website. But it appears you'll still have to wait to visit most bars.  

African American Research Collaborative

national poll, in collaboration with the NAACP and the Yale School of Medicine, shows African Americans are a lot more trusting of local elected officials than President Donald Trump, during the coronavirus pandemic. But blacks aren’t as favorable of governors in the South.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

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. 


Dan Meyer, left, of Raleigh, NC, waits one hour to pick up a Mother's Day brunch on Sunday at Flying Biscuit in Raleigh's Cameron Village.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

A Friday morning meeting of the state's popularly elected department heads had a partisan edge to it as members of the Council of State's GOP majority questioned Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen on their plan for easing coronavirus-related public health restrictions.

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.

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 2 p.m.:

Once North Carolina’s gradual reopening shifts into Phase 2 Friday afternoon, more places like restaurants, salons, and pools will be given the green light to open up again.

While some business owners are anxious to reopen as fast as possible, others are more cautious. How customers will balance feeling safe and resuming their pre-pandemic lives remains an open question.

We check back in with Christina Pelech, owner of the Fuss & Bother hair salon in Durham, about her next steps as a small business owner, and how she anticipates life in her shop to look during Phase 2.


Kristy Dactyl

As colleges across the nation deliberate over whether to continue holding classes remotely in the fall, UNC system schools — including North Carolina A&T State University, NC State University, UNC-Greensboro, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — have already announced their tentative plans for campus reopening.

A tattoo and piercing shop on Hillsborough Street is closed during the coronavirus pandemic in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

North Carolina's unemployment rate ballooned to just over 12% in April as the state dealt with a coronavirus-related economic slowdown, state officials said Friday.

Nurse's COVID-19 Death Raises Questions About Delayed Testing At NC Prison

May 22, 2020

Barbara Anne Stewart died at a hospital in Danville, Va., on May 7 at age 57.

Five weeks earlier, she had come home from her job as a nurse at the Caswell Correctional Center complaining she didn't feel well.

The Old Well and flowers on the campus of UNC- Chapel Hill.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

Universities in the UNC System are beginning to release early plans for how they might reopen their campuses to students and faculty in the fall.

NASCAR is one of the first U.S. sports to return to competition amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it comes with big changes. No fans are allowed, and, at least for now, all the races are at or near the sport's hub in Charlotte. Officials hope excitement around the return to live racing will bring new fans. 

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen 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.:

Rudell leans against a white wall while holding a mug.
Yuri Vaysgant Photography

As a holiday weekend typically celebrated with travel and social gatherings approaches, Governor Roy Cooper announced the state’s plans for proceeding with Phase Two of reopening. 

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 is letting North Carolina restaurants, barber shops and salons welcome patrons inside starting this holiday weekend, reporting on Wednesday that the state's COVID-19 trends remain largely stable.

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

Watch live here starting at 5 p.m.:

Courtesy of Trey Roberts

Over one million North Carolinians have student loan debt, and the average borrower owes about $25,000. Even under normal circumstances, education debt can be prohibitive. 

Tables sit vacant and pollen-covered at Kabab and Curry, a restaurant on Hillsborough Street during the coronavirus pandemic in Raleigh, N.C. on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

With the state considering whether to allow dining in restaurants again as soon as this weekend, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association has unveiled a new training program aimed at protecting diners and restaurant staff from the coronavirus.

Some dental offices in North Carolina are starting to reopen with enhanced precautions due to COVID-19.
Quang Tri Nguyen / Unsplash

Some dental offices in North Carolina are starting to reopen.

The CDC and the American Dental Association recommend that patients wait in their cars and are asked about travel history and possible COVID-19 symptoms before going in for their appointments. Dental staff are encouraged to wear more personal protective equipment, including disposable gowns and face shields.

Retired couple Pat McAulay (left) and Margaret Roesch on their front porch.
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Before the shelter in place rules came into effect and businesses shut down, retired couple Pat McAuley and Margaret Roesch were forging ahead with a bold idea, to build a community where LGBTQ seniors feel at home.   

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

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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