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.  

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

North Carolina is entering the first phase of reopening after the coronavirus-related shutdowns. Outdoor church services are OK now, shoppers can return to malls, and the gates on state parks are coming up. 

As they review the week's political news, Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch and Becki Gray from the John Locke Foundation say wheher they'll be venturing out. 

And they offer their reactions to more outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat processing plants, the governor signing a pair of coronavirus relief bills, and the state transportation agency getting a scathing audit report. 
 


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

COVID-19  remains a "lethal threat" to North Carolina residents who don't take it seriously, Gov. Roy Cooper said on Friday as rules he issued so more businesses can open and the public enjoy more of the outdoors take effect.

UNC-Chapel Hill graduating senior Amy Martin wears a homemade Carolina facemask during her graduation photoshoot in Coker Arboretum last week.
Jared Weber / For WUNC

Void of all context, the scene at UNC-Chapel Hill's Old Well this week was indistinguishable from years past. The monument glowed with sunshine, providing a classic Carolina backdrop for graduation photoshoots. One by one, students posed for snapshots - photo evidence that they graduated during this most unusual semester.

North Carolina state parks will open May 9.
NC Parks / Twitter

Almost every state park will be open Saturday.

Trails, restrooms, and boat ramps will be accessible again at 29 parks that had been closed under the governor's stay-at-home order which is now being eased.

Changes

May 8, 2020

Phase 1 begins today in North Carolina. Retail stores and state parks can resume operations, with some changes to try to ensure public health.

Another thing that many health experts say has to change: North Carolina needs to do more testing.

North Carolina's testing capacity has grown, and we are 15th in the country in total tests conducted, but we have still tested fewer people per capita than all but a handful of states.

Rose Hoban, editor of North Carolina Health News, weighs in on testing and the state's Phase One re-opening.


Virginia Hardy, East Carolina University vice chancellor of student affairs.
ECU

East Carolina University celebrated graduation online Friday morning. It's one of a number of modified college graduation ceremonies taking place in the state this weekend.

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

Cooper speaking at a press conference.
Governor Roy Cooper

 

North Carolina transitions into the first phase of easing coronavirus restrictions today at 5 p.m. Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, announced the new guidelines on Tuesday: retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity with cleaning and social distancing standards, while bars, salons, gyms and entertainment venues will remain closed. People can visit non-family members in small gatherings. 
 

photo of drive-thru coronavirus testing in Chatham County
Staff Sgt. Mary Junell / U.S. Army Photo


  Gregoria Riva’s two year-old son jumps up and down, the TV playing in the background. He is bored, she says, but she can’t risk letting him play outside with other kids. Riva is the sole caretaker of young Santiago. And until recently, she was employed at a meat processing plant, one of the workplaces with increased risk for COVID-19.

Sara Fearrington is a Waffle House worker and married to a husband with a chronic lung condition. She advocates for higher pay and better health benefits for frontline workers.
Sara Fearrington / Contributed

In order to make it to her first shift at Waffle House, Sara Fearrington gets up at 5 a.m. to be out the door on time to catch the first bus into the downtown Durham terminal. She then transfers to the No. 12 line out to the restaurant on Highway 55, which usually gets her there at about 6:45 a.m. – enough time to get ready and clock in by 7 a.m.

UNC Chapel Hill Counseling and Psychological Services staff. Doctor Allen O'Barr is kneeling farthest to the left in white shirt and beard.
UNC Counseling and Psychological Services

Some universities are expanding their mental health services to reach students remotely.

Doctor Allen O'Barr is director of UNC Chapel Hill's Counseling and Psychological Services. He's been seeing students through confidential online conferences. That allows the office to maintain on-going services and help students cope with new stress or grief related to the coronavirus pandemic.

A view of Glenwood South, a normally bustling part of downtown Raleigh, almost completely empty due to COVID-19.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

As Governor Roy Cooper begins easing restrictions on some businesses starting Friday, local retail stores are taking precautions to open safely.

Some stores are limiting the number of people allowed inside or offering shopping by appointment for customers with health risks.

Immunity

May 7, 2020

In making the decision on when to reopen North Carolina's economy, Gov. Roy Cooper says he is being guided by one thing: Data. 

One data point the state is not focused on: The number of people who have recovered from COVID-19. An even more unknowable number right now is how many people have had it, and, because they were asymptomatic, never knew it.

Those are two groups that could be vitally important, because their blood may contain antibodies that could provide some immunity.

We talk to Dr. Alena Markmann and Dr. Luther Bartelt about immunity, and the treatments they are utilizing now to treat COVID-19 patients.


Members of the North Carolina coronavirus response team will hold a public briefing at 2 p.m. Thurs.

Watch Live here:

When this year’s seniors started their final year of high school, they could not have imagined that their spring would involve canceled proms, drive-thru cap and gown pickups and postponed graduation ceremonies.

The National Guard via Flickr. Photo by Sgt. Michael Baltz.

Five faculty members at the East Carolina University College of Nursing are volunteering behind the scenes to identify nurses across the state who can pick up shifts at long term care facilities.

Ethan Guentensberger

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.

Lighthouse
Courtesy of Outer Banks Visitors Bureau

Three counties on North Carolina's tourist-reliant Outer Banks announced plans Wednesday to lift coronavirus-related visitor restrictions, although they warned of the need to continue to practice social distancing amid the ongoing pandemic.

Carter-Finley Stadium, where the North Carolina State University Wolfpack play home football games.
N.C. State Athletics

Eight of the 14 football-playing members of the Atlantic Coast Conference are making plans for reopening campuses this fall while four others have publicly said they are exploring scenarios for a return following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

It's National Nurses' Day. And this year, nurses - and all medical professionals - have certainly earned a little extra recognition. 

We talk with Rose Hoban, the editor of North Carolina Health News and a registered nurse, about what nurses are experiencing.

Also, we hear from a high-school senior who missed out on his final baseball season.

 

Members of the North Carolina coronavirus response team will hold a public briefing at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Watch Live here:

https://twitter.com/ncgop

The North Carolina Republican Party has delayed its convention by two months because of the continuing COVID-19 outbreak.

Phased Reopening

May 5, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper's Phase One Reopening plan begins Friday. The announcement came after Dr. Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the COVID-19 data trends in North Carolina are "stable."

Phase One doesn't throw things wide open. Salons, gyms, and dining areas, for example, cannot open. But other businesses can reopen, if they practice certain social distancing measures.

Host Dave DeWitt and Reporter/Producer Will Michaels explain and analyze what people and businesses can do now, that they couldn't do before.


Gov. Roy Cooper says the state can start the first part of a three-phase reopening plan Friday evening — but that doesn't mean North Carolina's stay-at-home order will be lifted immediately.

Student, Classroom, school, class
Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

The pair of COVID-19 recovery bills passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper provide broad relief and numerous funding streams dedicated to K-12 public school students.

Those individual line items - paid for with federal aid - cover a cornucopia of students' needs.

"Today's bills provide for feeding schoolchildren, summer learning programs to help them catch up and funding to purchase computers for students who need them," Cooper said at a press conference.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

Since the coronavirus pandemic swept into North Carolina a couple of months ago, Dr. Mandy Cohen has become a familiar figure.

The state health and human services secretary appears in near daily briefings with the governor and other officials leading the response. 

The decisions are hard, she says, especially when the science around COVID-19 is still evolving. 
 
On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, she talks about balancing public health protections with the consequences, how worried she is about reopening the economy, and how much sleep she's getting (hint: not much). 
 


AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Stimulus checks are rolling into bank accounts across the country, but many have experienced confusion about when, and if, their portion of the $2 trillion economic relief package is coming. 

Courtesy of Jenni Lawson

North Carolina’s coastal counties draw millions of visitors each year with their scenic shorelines and festive events. Tourism is the primary economic driver in beach communities like Corolla, in Currituck County, but the coronavirus will prevent hotels, restaurants, vacation rentals and events from operating at full capacity this summer. 

Steven R Shook

She did not expect to be the only person of color in a classroom, and certainly not as the teacher.  Before she was elected mayor of Elizabeth City, Bettie J. Parker taught math for 33 years at the local high school.
 

 

bus stop sign
Chuck Liddy / For WUNC

As federal politicians argue about pandemic relief payments for state and local governments, more than 600 North Carolina cities, towns, and counties are trying to develop budgets for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

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