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

Unemployment claims surpassed half a million, and various industries across North Carolina asked for help this week.

The coronavirus outbreak took dozens more North Carolinians and led to a hot spot in Orange County. In their usual review of the week's political news, Rob Schofield, of NC Policy Watch, and Becki Gray, from the John Locke Foundation, address some recent pushback to the stay-at-home order, and share how they will celebrate the holiday weekend.


Apr 10, 2020

Today: Reporting.

Earlier this month, when Governor Roy Cooper issued his executive order that people stay-at-home, he listed out some essential businesses and operations that could continue.

The list included the obvious, like grocery stores and pharmacies. But the "essential" list also included car mechanics, hardware stores, and news media outlets. No one believes for a second that reporters are on-par with health-care workers or pharmacists on the list of most essential. But, access to verified, accurate information is important.

We speak about the essential nature of news with Rose Hoban, editor of North Carolina Health News, and we hear from WUNC's Jay Price about how a reporter manages risk, and how this pandemic is different from the war-zone reporting he has done in the past. 

Small businesses in Brightleaf Square shopping center.
Laura Candler

County governments in North Carolina could lose an average of $4 million in sales tax revenue as a result of changed spending habits caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to an ongoing study from N.C. State University.

Anastasiia Chepinska / Unsplash

North Carolina banks and other lenders are trying to keep up with a surge of applications for small business disaster loans during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Catholic priests live video stream the Palm Sunday mass inside the Jesus de Medinaceli church in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, April 5, 2020.
Bernat Armangue / AP

Thousands of churches across North Carolina — and around the world — are preparing to celebrate Easter this weekend. But parishioners will likely be celebrating virtually and at home.

Cape Hatteras
scott1346 / Flickr, Creative Commons,

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.

sedar virtual coronavirus Passover
Kathy Willens / AP

Jews around the world celebrated the holiday of Passover this week, gathering around dinner tables to retell the biblical story of being led out of slavery in Egypt by Moses. As with many people of different faiths, Jewish people had to adapt their rituals to the constraints of living amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Social gathering apps enabled Jewish families to come together virtually for traditional Passover meals, called Seders – at least those who do not adhere to strict religious rules limiting the use of technology on certain holidays.

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 people at Wellington Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Knightdale have tested positive for the coronavirus, the first outbreak of COVID-19 at a long-term care facility in Wake County.

Congregate Living

Apr 9, 2020

Even if the term is unfamiliar, the situation probably isn't. If you've ever lived in a college dormitory, you've been in a congregate living situation… where you live side-by-side with other people, maybe sharing bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and various public spaces.

That term has taken on new importance now, especially in places like nursing homes. It's led Governor Roy Cooper to issue new rules.

As the numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to climb, so do the number of survivors. The Department of Health and Human Services is not providing statewide data on the number of people who have been treated and released from hospitals, but Dale Folwell is one of them. He's North Carolina's State Treasurer. Now in recovery, Folwell talks to WUNC's Jeff Tiberii.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, 3/10/2020 in response to more confirmed cases of the coronavirus in North Carolina.
Jay Price / WUNC

Governor Roy Cooper has signed an executive order mandating new social distancing measures at retail stores. 

The order requires businesses limit the number of people inside at one time to no more than 20% of the capacity allowed by the fire code.

It also encourages business owners to provide hand sanitizer to their customers, create special shopping hours for older adults, and install shields at check-out counters.

Smart Start
Smart Start

Administrators of North Carolina's early childhood education program estimate the COVID-19 crisis could cause up to one-third of child care facilities to close if they don't get immediate financial relief from the N.C. Legislature.

Child care centers are getting subsidies from the state Department of Health and Human Services during the pandemic – but leaders of Smart Start they say it's not enough to make up for lost revenue.

Dr. Amir Barzin of UNC School of Family Medicine

Patients needing hospital care continue to be the highest priority for COVID-19 tests at UNC Health's Respiratory Diagnostic Center in Chapel Hill.

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 4 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and staff walk down steps on Capitol Hill
Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is out of the Democratic presidential race. Former Vice President Joe Biden is now the presumptive nominee who will face President Donald Trump in November. 

Chuck Liddy / For WUNC

North Carolina’s unemployment filings since March 16 hover just over 470,000, and about 87% of those claims are related to COVID-19. This amounts to years worth of claims that need to be processed in only a matter of weeks. 

Medical student Claire Chen, right, takes a man's temperature while screening for possible coronavirus cases at a makeshift camp for the homeless Saturday, March 28, 2020, in Las Vegas.
John Locher / AP

Dr. Brian Klausner holds a special passion for providing medical care to homeless patients.

"The homeless community is just particularly vulnerable," said Klausner, medical director of WakeMed Community Population Health. "There is a lot of reason for concern."

As the coronavirus spreads throughout North Carolina, health experts like Klausner almost universally worry about how quickly COVID-19 could spread in homeless populations. Not only are those who suffer homelessness more susceptible to illness, but they also lack homes in which to shelter. If one person contracts the virus and then stays in a shelter, that person could easily spread the virus to others in that shelter.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought big changes to one of the defining aspects of military life -- boot camp. But some people question if the changes are adequate to protect trainees.

Local government officials and staff from Dare County and its municipalities met in March at the Dare County Emergency Operations Center for a briefing from public health and emergency management officials regarding COVID-19
Dare County / Twitter

A group of non-full-time-residents has filed a federal lawsuit against Dare County for prohibiting them from accessing their properties in the county.

Last month, Dare County declared a state of emergency and cut off entry to non-residents to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Courtesy of UNC System

The University of North Carolina System is tightening its belt in anticipated billions of lost state tax revenue in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

State Employees Association of North Carolina
State Employees Association of North Carolina

The organization that represents state employees is calling on Governor Roy Cooper and the legislature to approve hazard pay for some state workers, and send others home.

State Vs Federal

Apr 8, 2020

In a conference call on March 16, President Donald Trump told governors it should try to get ventilators and other life-saving equipment on their own.

Three-and-a-half weeks later, states are competing against each other and against other countries for a limited supply of PPE, ventilators, and other vital tools in combating COVID-19.

We talk to Rose Hoban, editor of North Carolina Health News, about how that dynamic between the federal and state government is playing out in hospitals.

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 3 p.m.

(AP Photo/ Daniel R. Patmore)

As of April 7, a surge of COVID-19 cases at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner sent the total number of infections to 62 — the highest among the nation’s federal prisons, according to The News and Observer.

YouTube thumbnail from coronavirus and mental health video.
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically transformed home and work life in North Carolina. For many, it has blurred the line between the once separate realms of home, office and school. And with that comes new sources of stress and anxiety. 

Courtesy of April Dudash/Duke Health

A few weeks ago, as Duke Regional Hospital prepared for its first coronavirus cases, the unit headed by Dr. Megan Brooks was tapped to handle incoming patients suspected of having COVID-19.

Empty public space in downtown Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

North Carolina's elected officials on Tuesday pledged cooperation and prepared for prolonged social distancing restrictions as COVID-19- related deaths jumped by a third statewide. Worries also deepened about the growing number of infections behind prison and jail bars.

"We will get through this, particularly we will get through this if everyone does his or her part," Gov. Roy Cooper said during the regular monthly meeting of the Council of State, composed of the 10 statewide executive branch leaders.

Governor Roy Cooper during a COVID-19 update.
Governor's Office / Twitter

Governor Roy Cooper says he plans to implement more restrictions for retail stores to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

During Tuesday afternoon's briefing, Cooper did not say exactly what would be in the order, but he applauded businesses that have limited the number of customers in their stores at one time to promote social distancing.

Predicting The Curve

Apr 7, 2020

Predicting how the COVID-19 pandemic will play out in North Carolina is a difficult task. Yesterday, some of the state's best minds from Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, and RTI crunched the data and offered up their best prediction for what hospitals could expect.

Their message: We need to stay home for a longer period of time.

We talk with WUNC's Will Michaels. He spends most of his waking hours watching the numbers and the various models, and he explains the importance of yesterday's prediction.

Empty Blount Street in downtown Raleigh
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

The state has distributed nearly $29 million in unemployment benefits since the coronavirus outbreak began. Governor Roy Cooper says the money has gone to more than 110,000 people who filed jobless claims in the last three weeks. 

But those applying for help continue to grow. As of Tuesday morning, more than 450,000 North Carolinians had applied for unemployment benefits with the state since mid-March, according to figures provided by the Division of Employment Security.

In other words - more than 11% of the state's entire labor force has lost work in less than a month.

Lonon faces away from the cemetery while walking away.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

COVID-19 is changing all aspects of life — including the rituals we associate with death. All funerals have been upended, but veterans have now lost one particularly important ceremony: burial with military honors.