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.  

Lawyers representing residents of a nursing home in Rowan County have filed suit against the facility, which has the largest documented outbreak of COVID-19 of any nursing home in the state.

The mayors of Gaston County's 12 cities and towns pushed back Wednesday night against county statements earlier in the day that businesses could open, despite Gov. Roy Cooper's extension of a stay-at-home order until May 8.

Legislators look out the window to see packed protestors.
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

North Carolina lawmakers gaveled in Tuesday for a legislative session unlike any other — their first since the coronavirus pandemic hit the state. 

Creative Commons/Steve Mohundro

“Writers write.” “Publish or perish.” Even without a global pandemic, writers face constant pressure to produce new material. But for the first-time novelist, publishing a book when bookstores are closed for browsing, signings and readers is particularly tough. 

Disruptions to everyday life caused by the coronavirus pandemic are putting a strain on veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Some are seeking help virtually.

State lawmakers began session Tuesday as REOpenNC protesters gathered on Jones Street in downtown Raleigh.
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

The state House and Senate are split over how much COVID-19 relief to provide in the immediacy. The discord may be typical, but it's hardly business at usual on West Jones Street in Raleigh.

The General Assembly will need to reach agreement on the amount to earmark for small business loans and whether to provide COVID-19 medical coverage for those in the healthcare gap.

As North Carolina’s stay-at-home order continues, hundreds of protestors – like Gary Jesmock — are having weekly marches in Raleigh.

The governor of North Carolina said Tuesday that NASCAR can go forward with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway without fans in attendance at the end of May unless health conditions deteriorate in the state.

Here And There

Apr 28, 2020

As they did last week, several hundred protestors marched in Raleigh today, calling for the state to be "re-opened" immediately.

At about the same time, the General Assembly began its short session, looking to allocate about $1.5 billion, and Governor Roy Cooper gave his latest update.

But instead of what's going on in the city, it's the rural and suburban nature of North Carolina that might be helping protect us from the worst of the pandemic.

We talk to Keith Debbage, a professor of geography at UNC-Greensboro, about why some states with similar sized populations are experiencing much worse Covid-19 outcomes.


Winston, the McLean family pet, became the first dog to test positive for COVID-19.
Heather McLean / c/o Duke University

A dog belonging to a family in the Triangle has tested positive for COVID-19. It's the first known case of the coronavirus infecting a dog in the United States.

Steve Helber / AP Photo

For many people, travel insurance has been little more than a box that pops up on a booking site to offer some cheap peace of mind.

Sign reads: No worries! We have plenty of toilet paper.
Courtesy of Lisa Leatherwood

Nursing homes are the source of more than 40% of North Carolina’s reported COVID-19 deaths so far. These facilities house some of our most vulnerable community members, many of whom need personal care — things like help going to the bathroom or brushing teeth. As of Tuesday, the data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that 48 nursing homes and 20 residential care facilities (which include adult and family care homes) have outbreaks

Courtesy Brooke Cox

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.

WUNC reporter Cole del Charco has been collecting some of their stories, and will share them on a regular basis over the next few weeks. The first perspective comes from senior Brooke Cox from South Point High School in Belmont.

North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry
N.C. Department of Public Safety

In a briefing Monday afternoon, state Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said North Carolina has much of the personal protective equipment needed for healthcare workers to conduct ongoing COVID-19 testing.

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 North Carolina nursing homes have each had at least 10 deaths of residents diagnosed with COVID-19, according to data released on Monday by state health officials.

The Department of Health and Human Services agreed to specifically identify more than 70 long-term facilities, rehabilitation centers or adult care homes where outbreaks have occurred and give updates on them twice weekly.

Learning Interrupted

Apr 27, 2020

Our state's educational institutions have been turned upside down by the pandemic. School buildings are empty, and resources are evaporating.

The upheaval is being felt by the more than 1.5 million public-school students, and the 1 million students in public, private, and community colleges, as well as tens of thousands of teachers, faculty members, principals, food-service employees, bus drivers, etc.

We talk to WUNC education reporters Liz Schlemmer and Cole del Charco about the many changes students, parents, and others are facing.


New Hanover County Health Department
New Hanover County Health Department

New Hanover County expanded testing for COVID-19 starting Monday.

Any resident in the county who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call 910-798-6800 and a nurse will screen them over the phone. Those who then meet the criteria will be referred to a drive-thru site in downtown Wilmington to get tested for free.

A view of the North Carolina legislature building through the Bicentennial Plaza in downtown Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

A North Carolina legislative session anticipated months ago to repeat the acrimony from last year's budget impasse between Republicans and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper begins Tuesday with expectations of consensus to address  COVID-19.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and Director of NC Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry will hold a coronavirus response briefing at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Watch live here:

Semi-Automatic handguns are displayed at Duke's Sport Shop, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in New Castle, Pa.
Keith Srakocic / AP

The coronavirus pandemic has driven up gun sales across the nation, including in North Carolina. While there's no way to track the types of guns sold, gun store owners in Wake County are saying most of the increased demand is from first-time gun owners, and those buying firearms for self defense.

Sarah Blake Morgan / AP Photo

Maj. Brian Minietta's eyes are locked down the barrel of a camera lens. He sways gently back and forth in silence, then his gruff voice belts out, in singsong: "A little patience ... yeah, yeah!"

Major the Bull wears a protective facemark in the downtown plaza in Durham, N.C. Friday, March 27, 2020.
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 20.

5:00 p.m. - The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority's Board of Directors voted Friday to accept $49.5 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The act provides $10 billion in new funds for all airports that are considered part of the national airport system. Under the CARES act, airports must maintain 90% of their workforce – after making adjustments for retirements or voluntary separations – through the end of 2020. RDU's portion of the funding will be used to help pay for debt service, salaries and benefits. - Jason deBruyn, WUNC

A hallway with a row of red lockers at a public school in Durham.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

North Carolina's public school buildings, already shuttered for the past month due to COVID-19, won't reopen this school year, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday.

The decision was largely expected. Cooper originally closed K-12 schools in all 115 districts in mid-March for two weeks, then extended his executive order through May 15.

Courtesy Jen Miles Guilderton

"I lost seven contracts in three weeks. My current employment situation is dire."

Protestor holds a sign that reads 'end the tyranny.'
Kate Medley / For WUNC

Governors find themselves in the political crosshairs of the pandemic — navigating the threat of an economic depression with a second wave outbreak. This week, states began diverging from the federal government’s recommended strict restrictions. 

Speedway Children's Charities, a nonprofit founded by Speedway Motorsports owner and chief executive Bruton Smith, receives more National Rifle Association funding than any other school or charity in the nation.
Mike McCarn / AP

The governor of North Carolina said Thursday that NASCAR teams can work in their race shops if they maintain social distancing guidelines, clearing a potential hurdle to resuming the season in coming weeks.

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 extended North Carolina's stay-at-home order until at least May 8. The order was issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

This means the social distancing measures in place since March 30 will continue. Those include the mandated closures of restaurants for dine-in service and bars, along with the closure of other close-contact businesses.

"There's so much uncertainly I'm pretty much lost in terms of what I'm supposed to do"

Vidant Health James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital.
Vidant Health

A North Carolina-based health system is enacting furloughs, reducing salaries and cutting employee benefits at its hospitals because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Vidant Health said in a news release on Wednesday that it's faced with challenges which have been intensified by the coronavirus pandemic, including a traditionally underserved population with a high burden of disease and a growing number of patients relying on Medicare and Medicaid. Those issues have combined to impact the system's revenue, the news release said.

A woman dressed in black, wearing a mask looks gazes off towards a stream of light
Kate Medley / WUNC

 Death is a taboo topic. Acknowledging it feels like an admission of defeat — that there is no hope left. But in the face of a pandemic, death surrounds us. 

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