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.  

Drew Shindell, Duke University Professor of Earth Science
Duke University

Environmental experts at Duke University say the COVID-19 pandemic could have wide-ranging implications for the way the world produces and consumes energy.

Courtesy of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian

The Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority has been mass testing asymptomatic residents and visitors to territories held by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In restricting EBCI borders and closing businesses, Principal Chief Richard Sneed preempted most counties and Gov. Roy Cooper.

Courtesy of UNC Libraries

Work-arounds are his specialty. In the Bull City, ID cards are available to undocumented residents, and a chunk of property tax revenues recycle back into affordable housing initiatives. But Steve Schewel’s use of establishment power to bend establishment norms took some practice. 

Hi Wire Brewing

Little Brother Brewing is a small, boutique brewery owned by the Collie and McCoy families. Located in downtown Greensboro since 2017, the brewery has a regular menu of about nine beers, including "Jim's Lunch" - a stout American brew - and "The Big Slow" - a smoke bacon porter.

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

Stating “pandemics cannot be partisan,” North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday defended his eased stay-at-home order as criticism mounted from elected Republican officials and demonstrators who gather weekly outside his home.

As people return to North Carolina's stores and parks during Phase 1 of the gradual reopening, there are growing concerns about the health and safety of workers at meat and poultry processing plants across the state.

Last month, President Donald Trump deemed meat processing plants essential infrastructure, and ordered them to stay open for the sake of the country's food supply chain. But working shoulder-to-shoulder on an assembly line poses serious risks for workers, as health experts have repeatedly urged people to keep at least 6 feet apart.

We talk with WUNC's Celeste Gracia and Laura Pellicer about the conditions at two specific plants in North Carolina, and how workers are coping with the decision to go to work despite possible risks to their health.


Flooding in a small town street
North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency

The Atlantic hurricane season begins in less than a month. Researchers predict an active season with as many as 22 named storms, a small portion of which may become major hurricanes. But it takes only one storm to cause major damage, and emergency managers are preparing for the worst.

Duke Health's Raleigh Hospital
Duke Medicine

Hospitals in North Carolina are ready to start seeing more non-COVID-19 patients as state public health restrictions are slowly being eased.

Hospitals paused certain elective procedures and clinic visits back in mid-March. All part of the effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus and to conserve limited supplies of personal protective equipment, like gowns and masks.

View of Western North Carolina from Clingmans Dome
Jim Renfro / National Parks Service

The reopening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a little too tempting of a draw Saturday as scores of nature lovers from dozens of states crowded trails and trekked into blocked-off areas, a spokeswoman said.

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

Around the Triangle, people enjoyed state parks and open spaces this weekend, as the state transitioned from a stay-at-home order to Phase 1 of easing of certain COVID-19 restrictions. Officials say they are monitoring data as residents continue to embrace a phased-in reopening of businesses.

As the state of North Carolina transitions from the Stay At Home order to Phase 1 of easing certain COVID-19 restrictions, people around the Triangle enjoy reopened state parks and open spaces.
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 4.

1:17 p.m. -  The state Department of Health and Human Services reports 18,512 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That's up more than 500 cases from yesterday. 659 people have died and 493 people are in the hospital sick with COVID-19. - Elizabeth Baier, WUNC

Courtesy of UNC Chapel Hill Athletic Communications. Photo by Jeffrey A. Camarati.

The cancellation of college and professional sports across the state has impacted fans, stadium employees, nearby businesses, and others, but it might be most devastating for college athletes, some of whom will never get the chance to compete again.

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.

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