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.  

Artist Shana Tucker looks out her apartment window.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

 

Red-tipped hair swept to the side, Shana Tucker bites her lower lip before looking back at the camera. 

“I learned today that someone that I grew up with is fighting for her life as a result of COVID-19,” she says through tears. “That's the first time that it sat me down and took my breath away.”

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., and Director of NC Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry will hold a briefing on COVID-19 updated. Watch live in English here starting at 2 p.m.

Nags Head
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Like much of North Carolina’s economy, the $25-billion-a-year tourist industry has ground to a halt because of the coronavirus. And on the Outer Banks, where the economy depends almost entirely on visitors, the timing could scarcely be worse.

Alli Shofe
Courtesy of Alli Shofe

"You spend the majority of your life with the people you work with, and we haven’t seen each other in weeks."

Name: Alli Shofe
Age: 40
Hometown: Wilmington
Marital Status: single
Job Status: furloughed dental hygienist
Current savings: $4,000
Healthcare: employer is paying for it, for the time being

A pedestrian uses a face cover while walking in downtown Durham, N.C., Friday, April 17, 2020. Gov. Roy Cooper's stay-home orders remain in effect as the coronavirus has not yet reached its peak in the state according to some hospitals.
Gerry Broome / AP

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 13.

12:17 p.m. - There are 8,830 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. 299 people have died, 451 people are in the hospital with the illness, and 107,894 tests have been completed. - Elizabeth Baier, WUNC  

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

Governor Roy Cooper is responding to the new guidelines for reopening the country announced by President Trump. 

In a state briefing Friday afternoon, Cooper said he was glad to see that the president's criteria largely mirror what North Carolina is doing. And the governor said decisions about easing restrictions will depend on testing.

WATCH: Gov. Cooper Holds Coronavirus Briefing

Apr 17, 2020

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

Watch live in English here starting at 2 p.m.

Concertina wire surrounding a prison
Kate Ter Harr / Flickr Creative Commons

A COVID-19 outbreak at a North Carolina state prison has spread to approximately 150 inmates, health officials said Friday.

Ethan Hyman / ehyman@newsobserver.com

Across the nation, governors are facing grassroots pressure to lift their stay-at-home orders. More than 100 protesters gathered in Raleigh Tuesday to demand that the state reopen for business.

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

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging North Carolinians to utilize telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic.

Agency Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said keeping chronic conditions under control could be especially important to prevent serious complications from COVID-19. And she urged residents who don't have insurance coverage to pursue it through Healthcare.gov.

Courtesy of Ty Meyer

For students and educators around the state, this year’s learning is in a state of flux. Public schools are holding out hope that they will reopen their doors before the school year ends. 

Collin Parker

Has anyone checked on the huggers? As weeks of social distancing wear on, many are missing the comforts of a warm embrace — especially those who live alone. Touch has always been an essential emotional and physiological need. In its absence, more people are seeking out creative solutions. From self-massage and weighted blankets to pet fostering and adoption, those sheltering in place are finding new ways to connect with their bodies and their inner selves.

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

The state is considering how and when residents and businesses will be able to return to life as normal, even if normal will be forever changed. 

While officials in the Cooper administration point out the coronavirus will be a threat until there's a vaccine, they acknowledge current social distancing policies can't go on forever.

Dairy farmers are struggling due to lower milk consumption because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dairy Alliance

Dairy farms in North Carolina are dumping excess milk because of a lack of demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

About half of dairy sales come from food services, including schools, restaurants and hotels, according to Stephanie Ward of North Carolina State University Extension. Those sales are essentially gone because of stay-at-home orders. Ward says milk sales at grocery stores have gone up approximately 20%-25% in the Southeast region of the U.S., but not enough to offset the losses.

A rendering of the ExpressVote machine manufactured by Election Systems and Software.
Election Systems and Software

The threat of hand-to-hand contamination from the new coronavirus while voting entered arguments in a lawsuit seeking to stop the use of touch-screen ballot-marking machines in North Carolina.

In a statewide special, public radio stations from across North Carolina join together to examine the impact of Coronavirus on our health, schools and economy.

A " mall closed" sign is shown at an entrance of City Creek Center Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer / AP

The $2 trillion coronavirus aid package approved by the federal government is far from enough to help struggling families, according to Duke University professors.

Glenwood Avenue in downtown Raleigh has seen far less traffic than normal as retail businesses, including bars and restaurants, are closed to dine-in traffic.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Business optimism fell to a low point not seen since the Great Recession. But tucked in the latest survey of chief financial officers are breadcrumbs of hope for reviving the economy after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

A facemask created by a 3D printer at N.C. State University.
N.C. State University

Amid a national shortage of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, UNC experts say health care systems may have to mitigate the problem by re-using PPE or producing supply from available materials.

Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the North Carolina Coronavirus Task Force will hold a briefing on COVID-19 updates. Watch live here starting at 2 p.m.

Donn Young

Seventy-two of the 33,863 people currently detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday, April 13. That is a higher infection rate than the general U.S. population, and immigrant rights groups dispute those official numbers, saying new detainees are not tested upon arrival. 

Courtesy of Jon Reep

The news is filled with constant updates about the coronavirus pandemic, from outbreaks in prisons and nursing homes to an ever-increasing number of deaths. Mental health experts have been vocal about the need to take breaks from the news, but what specifically can help us reset? Try humor.

Deployments, job losses, and the Pentagon's "stop movement" order are among the factors contributing to financial stress for troops and their families.

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 addressed questions Monday afternoon about the timeline for loosening social distancing measures and getting North Carolina businesses up and running again. 

Cooper said his administration is considering how and when to ease up to boost the economy while still preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

N.C. Prisons began staff medical screenings to reduce chances of COVID-19 getting into facilities. Efforts began March 20 and were implemented system-wide after no-touch thermometers arrived.
N.C. Department of Public Safety

In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina prisons will release some non-violent offenders early, officials with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced Monday.

Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody of UNC Health.
UNC Health

UNC Health has launched a hotline for its health care workers to access mental health services.

Any employee of UNC Health can call the line to speak with a trained mental health provider and get a referral for other resources, including social workers, therapists, or online support groups.

A sunrise from Cape Hatteras beach
National Park Services / Facebook

Visitors aren’t allowed on the Outer Banks right now because of COVID-19. But there's a new way to absorb the tranquility of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

On the seashore's Facebook Page, the National Park Service has posted a 24 minute video of nothing but the sun rising and waves lapping on the beach.

Playgrounds throughout Durham, N.C. city parks were closed March 26, 2020 after Mayor Steve Schewel issued a stay-at-home order for the city in an effort to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
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 6.

The state department of health and human services reports 6,493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. 172 people have died, 465 people are in the hospital from the illness. More than 78,000 tests have been completed. 

Black North Carolinians account for 38% of COVID-19 related deaths in the state — based on the available racial data in lab-confirmed cases. African Americans make up approximately 22% of the state population. - Laura Pellicer

4:29 p.m. - It’s become a competition for the soldiers of 647th Quartermaster Company to see who can crank out the most face masks during a shift to protect against the coronavirus. The parachute rigging unit is essential to Airborne operations at Fort Bragg. On any given day, their shed is filled with paratroopers in red ball caps, busy packing parachutes and readying supplies for jumps. While that work continues, soldiers across the room are laser focused on tiny pins and buzzing sewing machines. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, riggers are now making hundreds of cloth face masks per day to fight the virus for personnel around the sprawling Army base in North Carolina. - Associated Press

3:18 p.m. - A COVID-19 outbreak at a North Carolina state prison has spread to more than 250 inmates, prison officials said Friday.  State prisons Commissioner Todd Ishee said during a media briefing that 259 inmates had tested positive as of Friday afternoon at Neuse Correctional Institution, a state prison in Goldsboro. He said none currently require hospitalization and that 98% of those testing positive were asymptomatic. All 700 inmates have been tested but some test results are pending.

Ishee said no coronavirus-related deaths have been reported at any of the state's prisons. Statewide, prison officials have been allowing some nonviolent offenders to leave prison early and complete their sentence under community supervision. - Associated Press

2:00 p.m. -  State emergency officials are continuing to ramp up procurement of healthcare equipment and supplies and distribute it across the state. The Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry said that just yesterday the state ordered $12.8 million worth. Speaking to North Carolina's emergency response commission earlier today, Sprayberry said the state distributed gear to 42 counties yesterday.  

Over the next week, the state is expecting to receive 2.2 million N-95 masks, other protective equipment along with two refrigerated trucks that may be needed to handle the dead. Sprayberry said the state is unlikely to receive any more supplies from the depleted national stockpile. - Cole del Charco
Jessica Whichard with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina says food banks are buying excess produce from local farms that have extra supply due to a lack of sales to restaurants. She says one challenge lately has been sorting through that food with fewer volunteers to help. North Carolina food banks are utilizing delivery and pick up to get food to people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senior citizens who receive meals through a federal nutrition program are getting their monthly food boxes delivered at home. Food banks are also pulling food orders together for families ahead of time and loading them into their cars to limit person-to-person contact. - Celeste Gracia

1:15 p.m. - Nearly 150 inmates at a state prison in Goldsboro have tested positive for COVID-19. The spike in cases comes after all 700 offenders at the Neuse Correctional Institution were tested for the illness. Previously the state division of prisons said 30 inmates at the facility had tested positive for COVID-19. Testing was also offered to all staff members at the prison. - Celeste Gracia

11:55: a.m. - There at least 46 nursing homes and residential care facilities with outbreaks of COVID-19 across North Carolina, three more than yesterday. The state department of health and human services reports that includes facilities from Durham, Orange and Johnston counties. There are at least seven correctional facilities with outbreaks of COVID-19, up one from yesterday. - Celeste Gracia

The state department of health and human services reports 5,859 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. That's nearly 400 more than yesterday. 152 people have died, almost 429 people are in the hospital from the illness. More than 72,000 tests have been completed. - Celeste Gracia

11:45 a.m. - The state's unemployment division expects to triple its staff to meet the unprecedented surge in unemployment claims. The division expects to have more than 1,600 people to help process claims and issue payments with the addition of staff from the workforce division and private call centers by the end of next week. Officials say that will be the largest number of people handling unemployment claims in the state's history. Well over 600,000 unemployment claims have been filed since March 15, most attributed to the COVID-19 outbreak. Only about a third of those who've applied have received payments. - Celeste Gracia

The state Department of Health and Human Services is providing additional funding to the state's Medicaid program to support nursing homes with older adult Medicaid beneficiaries at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. N.C. Medicaid will offer expedited hardship payments and enhanced reimbursement rates to facilities with multiple COVID-positive residents. This targeted Medicaid funding is meant to help adult care homes provide the more intensive care needed for residents with COVID-19 and limit the spread of the coronavirus. - Celeste Gracia

11:30 a.m. - Health care workers at UNC Health can participate in a national clinical trial to test the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in preventing health care workers from getting COVID-19. To enroll, people must first participate in a program that asks health care workers to share clinical and life experiences in order to understand the perspectives and problems faced by those on the COVID-19 pandemic front lines. - Celeste Gracia

North Carolina has received more than $2 billion from the federal government as part of the federal coronavirus relief package approved last month, said N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell. The money is the first disbursement from the federal government of more than $4 billion expected for North Carolina. The General Assembly  will decide how the state’s money will be spent as part of legislation expected toward the end of this month. -  Celeste Gracia

 Greensboro based manufacturer Precision Fabrics Group is supplying material needed to make isolation gowns for healthcare workers in need of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The company has sent more than seven thousand pounds of material to a health care system in Arizona. - Celeste Gracia 

Data scientists who are tracking the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina say state officials should use caution when considering whether to lift social distancing measures. Governor Roy Cooper said this week he would increase efforts to track the virus and determine when the state might see a peak in COVID-19 cases. Aaron McKethan, a data and health policy professor at Duke University, says lifting social distancing measures entirely could still cause a spike in cases that overwhelms hospitals.

"I think of it as not one peak, but a series of peaks, and our job in the public arena is thinking about how to prepare for the second, third and beyond peaks," says KcKethan. McKethan says the state will also need to be prepared to contain small outbreaks of the virus when it does decide to ease social distancing measures. - Will Michaels

11:15 a.m. - Forsyth and Guilford counties have ended their local stay-at-home orders and are now just following the governor's statewide directive. Forsyth County Commission Chair David Plyler says there was a lot of confusion among residents in his county about which order to follow. The governor's stay-at-home order is currently set to expire on April 29th. Plyler says the county is ready to continue observing the guidance from state officials.

Meawhile, Wake County has extended its local order through April 30th with slight changes. The county will allow all retail businesses to operate if they provide delivery or curbside pickup options and will allow faith organizations to hold drive-in services. - Celeste Gracia

 

7:19 p.m. - North Carolina's Emergency Operations Center has now been up and running for 38 days in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. That's longer than after hurricanes Matthew or Florence. In a further indication that the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic will continue, state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said at a briefing Thursday his agency has formed a food supply chain working group and that the USDA has assured a shipment would be arriving in mid-May to support school feeding programs. -Amy Jeffries, WUNC

4:23 p.m. - The volume of passengers traveling through Raleigh-Durham International Aiport was down nearly 52% in the month of March compared to a year earlier. Stay-at-home orders and guidelines that limited travel due to the coronavirus curtailed air travel starting in mid-to-late March. The airport says traffic is now hovering around 4% of what it was last year. That's in line with the sharp declines other U.S. airports are experiencing. - Cole del Charco, WUNC

3:30 p.m. - A North Carolina-based chicken processor is selling its products directly to consumers across the south as the coronavirus crisis as interrupted normal food distribution. House of Raeford Farms began sales at a single location three weeks ago and expanded to six of its seven plants in the southeast. Customers can drive to a designated site and wait in their cars as their order is brought to them in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana. -Cole del Charco, WUNC

2:02 p.m. - The 2020 REX Hospital Open has been canceled, in response to the evolving coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, title sponsor UNC REX Healthcare said  it was in complete agreement with the decision by the PGA TOUR to cancel additional Korn Ferry Tour events. - Jason deBruyn, WUNC

1:22 p.m. - The ban on tourists in the Outer Banks has caused large piles of uncollected seashells to form during the coronavirus pandemic. A video posted to Facebook by the Cape Lookout National Seashore shows multitudes of colorful shells spread out across the beach as waves splash over them. Park facilities at the Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras National Seashores are closed due to the virus, but the grounds are open to residents. The shells remain uncollected since visitors are the ones that tend to gather them during the springtime.  Cole del Charco, WUNC

12:04 p.m. - Wake County is extending its stay at home order through April 30th with some modifications. Under the updated order, all retail businesses in the county are allowed to operate if they provide delivery or curbside pickup options. It also reiterates the need for employers to conduct basic health screenings and send workers home if they are sick. The order also allows faith organizations to hold drive-in services. Wake County officials point to data to show that social distancing efforts are helping to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but urge residents to continue practicing social distancing to flatten the curve. Celeste Gracia, WUNC

11:30 a.m. - There at least 43 nursing homes and residential care facilities with outbreaks of COVID-19 across North Carolina. The state department of health and human services reports that includes facilities from Guilford, Wake and Cumberland counties. There are at least six correctional facilities with outbreaks of COVID-19. Celeste Gracia, WUNC

10:56 a.m. - The state Department of Health and Human Services reports over 5,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. About 130 people have died. Around 450 people are hospitalized with the illness. Over 70,000 tests have been completed. 94 of the state's 100 counties have identified cases of COVID-19. - Celeste Gracia, WUNC

Photo: The state Department of Public Instruction revealed a dramatic drops in student performance on standardized tests.
sandersonhs.org

With K-12 schools operating remotely because of COVID-19, the state has taken the extraordinary step of easing grading and testing requirements. Here’s what that means for public school students.

Student sits at table doing homework on laptop with hand on forehead, looking frustrated.
Courtesy of Ty Meyer

 


College sophomore Ty Meyer has been spending lots of time in parking lots lately, mostly at McDonald's or his local library. It's often his best option for accessing wifi to turn in homework. One of his NC State University classes requires him to upload video assignments. 

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