Cape Fear Valley Health to begin using remdesivir on COVID-19 patients as soon as next week

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.

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5 p.m.
Wake County reports 30 new positive cases of COVID-19, raising the county total to 1,165.

4:50 p.m.
Cape Fear Valley Health (CFVH) announced Friday it will begin using a drug that appears to help some COVID-19 patients recover faster.

Remdesivir is an antiviral that was recently authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in hospitalized adults and children with severe infections, according to a news release.

Over the next few months, the U.S. Cape Fear Valley will receive 607,000 vials of remdesivir after a donation from Gilead Sciences. The first shipment is expected as early as next week.

According to CFVH, patients must meet the following criteria to receive treatment:
  • Suspected or laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (the virus that causes COVID-19)
  • Non-pregnant adult or child
  • Severe lower respiratory tract disease requiring supplemental oxygen
  • Radiographic (X-ray) evidence of lower respiratory tract disease


"We are pleased to have remdesivir available for our hospitalized COVID-19 patients," said Christopher Tart, PharmD, vice president of Professional Services, in a written statement. "There are many requirements on the hospital in order to receive this therapy and our pharmacy team, providers and nurses are all excited to meet this challenge so that we can offer another life-saving treatment for COVID patients from Cumberland County and the region."

4:43 p.m
Lee County said another six county residents have tested positive for COVID-19. The health department has 305 cases confirmed countywide. There have been three deaths associated with COVID-19.

4:30 p.m
Halifax County said it is aware of 684 confirmed tests on residents, resulting in 115 positive cases of COVID-19. There has been one death in the county and 75 patients have recovered.

2:45 p.m
In a news conference, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen outlined new testing recommendations for the state.

"We want to make sure everyone who needs a test, gets a test," Cohen said.

While Cohen has been advocating for anyone with symptoms or who has had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to get a virus detection test, the new guidelines provide specifics for health care providers.

In addition, clinicians are encouraged to test people who have regular contact with high-risk settings--such as long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities and migrant farmworker camps, people who are at high risk of severe illness, people who come from historically marginalized populations such as the black and hispanic/latino communities, health care workers or first responders, and front line workers such as grocery store clerks and gas station attendants.

Cohen clarified that the guidance wasn't for everyone in these groups to seek testing if they have no symptoms, but rather for clinicians to be aware of whether their patients are in these groups.

"We have the capacity and we want to use it," Cohen said.

She also added that state scientists are working to determine what is the appropriate interval for a person who tests negative to be retested--especially in congregate living facilities.

"Testing is a moment in time," Cohen said, encouraging clinicians and people in congregate living facilities to be proactive, rather than reactive to outbreaks.

2:15 p.m.
Orange County reports 34 deaths from COVID-19 and 263 total cases.

1:30 p.m.
Sampson County health officials reported 13 new COVID-19 cases in the county, bringing the county total to 224 positive cases. In the county, 689 COVID-19 tests have been performed--371 of those results were negative and 94 are pending.

One person has died from complications related to COVID-19 in Sampson County.

11:55 a.m.

Wayne County reported two additional COVID-19 related deaths this week. The first person was in a long-term care facility and died May 7. They were in their 60s and had underlying medical conditions. The second person was in their 50s and also had underlying health conditions. They died May 12. In all, 15, people have died from COVID-19 in Wayne County.

The County also said it has a total of 788 total positive cases of COVID-19, and 59 of these cases are attributed to congregate living facilities, 469 cases were offenders from Neuse Correctional Institute, and 260 cases are from outside any type of congregate living areas.

Health officials said 571 people of the 788 have recovered

11:25 a.m.
The number of daily unemployment filings dropped for the third straight day.

According to the Department of Employment Security (DES), 13,941 people applied for unemployment on May 14.

That brings the total number of people who have filed an unemployment claim in North Carolina up to 885,519. Of those, nearly 60 percent have received unemployment benefits (528,511).

The state has paid out $1,907,382,745 in unemployment benefits since people began losing their jobs because of COVID-19 (March 15).

11:20 a.m.
The city of Durham and Durham County extended their respective stay-at-home orders indefinitely, according to our newsgathering partners at The News & Observer.

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said the order will remain in effect until it is rescinded. As of Friday, there were 949 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county and 37 deaths. The Durham County Department of Public Health (DCDoPH) reported17 new cases Thursday night.

11:00 a.m.
North Carolina reported 12,279 new tests, the highest single-day testing report.

Of the tests announced Friday, just 5 percent, or 622 were positive. Officials also reported 26 more deaths related to the virus, for a total of 641 deaths.

RELATED: Why you might see different numbers of COVID-19 cases depending where you look

Fifteen fewer people are hospitalized with severe complications related to the virus, meaning that hospitalizations continue to stay roughly level.

Of the 17,129 total cases, at least 4,073 are in congregate living facilities. At least 400 deaths, nearly two-thirds of all total deaths, are associated with these congregate settings including nusring homes, residential care facilities, correctional facilities and homeless shelters.

HOW ARE WE DOING?

As the state looks to go through the phases of reopening, officials are looking to meet certain benchmarks.

Here's how we're doing on some of those:

Decrease in confirmed cases? Friday marked the second highest single-day report of new cases, the highest report being 691 cases Thursday. However, health officials expect daily cases numbers to increase as the state performs more tests
Decrease in percent of positive tests? Level. Around 7 percent.
Hospitalizations decreasing? The trends chart from NCDHHS shows this is about level.
Testing capacity? While the state reported more than 12,000 tests--more than twice its daily goal, health officials said 8,811 of those tests were completed Thursday--still exceeding the state's testing goal of 5,000 to 7,000 tests daily.
Contract tracers? Have not met this goal. The state still only has 250 and is working to double this workforce to 500.
PPE Supplies? The state does not have enough gowns to handle 30 days--the state has received about 19,000 of 11.3 million ordered gowns. North Carolina does have enough of every other piece of equipment to last at least 30 days.

10:45 a.m.
Johnston County Public Schools said the district would hold "modified" in-person graduations between July 29 and August 1.

A spokesperson for the county said the ceremonies would be held on school campuses, and guests may be limited. Schools may also hold multiple ceremonies for their seniors. Johnston County said each school would decide the best plans for its students.

If in-person graduations are impossible due to social distancing guidelines, the county will hold drive-thru graduations on the same dates.

10:30 a.m.
Wake County Public School System changed its stance on in-person graduations: Class of 2020 will be able to celebrate their accomplishments together.

WCPSS previously cancelled the big district-wide celebration at Reynolds Coliseum, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Friday morning district leaders said they had decided each high school will be allowed to plan its own in-person graduation ceremony.

It's unclear at this time what those graduations will look like, i.e. if they'll be drive-thru celebrations or something else.

9:30 a.m.
The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the accuracy of Abbott's rapid COVID-19 test, which is being widely used across the county.

The FDA said it told the White House that the test President Donald Trump and other administration leaders are using every day may not be accurate.

Federal health officials have been alerting doctors to the potential inaccuracy in the test, which is used at thousands of hospitals, clinics and testing sites across the United States.

The FDA warning came a day after researchers at New York University reported results suggesting Abbott's test can miss up to half the infections caught by a rival test made by Cepheid.

FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Durham will extend its stay-at-home order to match the state's order with the latest update not adding any new restrictions. The city is still requiring people to wear face masks in places where social distancing is not possible.

Wake County Public School System is holding a virtual meeting at 10 a.m. to unveil more plans for graduations. Last week, WCPSS announced there would be no traditional graduation services for seniors this year. ABC11 will carry the meeting live on its website and Facebook page.

Sheriffs in Johnston, Harnett, Craven, Onslow and Halifax counties say they won't send deputies to break up indoor church services.

Cary canceled summer camps through July 3 and Wake Forest has canceled Friday Night on White concert series and Family Movie Nights at Joyner Park.

Thursday's report from the state had the highest single-day total of lab-confirmed cases with 691. 75 percent of North Carolina counties are reporting new cases. The state reported 8,811 total tests on Thursday, exceeding its goal of 5,000 to 7,000 per day.

THURSDAY
10:05 p.m.
The Durham County Department of Public Health (DCDoPH) reports 17 new positive cases of COVID-19, raising the county total to 949.

Health officials continue to monitor outbreaks at four long-term care facilities and one crisis and assessment center. 111 of those cases reported at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 79 at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center, 5 at Durham Recovery Response Center, 3 at Carver Rehabilitation and Living Center and 2 at Hillcrest Convalescent Center.

5:25 p.m.
At least five North Carolina Sheriff's have now vowed to not interfere with any in-house worship services, with the latest being Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp.

In a Facebook post, Tripp expressed solidarity with his fellow Sheriffs saying, "I agree with my fellow Sheriffs, Chip Hughes and Steve Bizzell, I will not interfere or interrupt any in-house worship services."

Tripp also showed confidence towards church attendees believing that they will 'practice what is safe for their individual health and welfare'.

So far, ABC11 has documented that Johnston, Harnett, Halifax, Craven and Onslow county sheriff's will not interfere with activities.

RELATED: Return America rallies to file lawsuit against Gov. Cooper demanding churches reopen

4:45 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced that all 21,000 employees in the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice can get tested for COVID-19 for free starting May 18.

Anyone who works for state prisons, community correction centers or juvenile justice can get tested at several FastMed Urgent Care locations around the state.

"The continued health and safety of our dedicated staff are our priorities as they bravely carry out our public safety mission through this pandemic," said ACJJ Chief Deputy Secretary Tim Moose in a written statement. "We have been committed and actively engaged to offer COVID-19 tests to all of our staff within Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. I appreciate our staff and partners - FastMed Urgent Care, LabCorp, DHHS, and the State Health Plan - who worked so hard to make this happen."

4:10 p.m.
Two more COVID-19 cases have been reported in Halifax County, raising the county total to 107.

So far, the county has seen one COVID-19 related death. Seventy-three patients have recovered according to Halifax County health officials.

4 p.m.
The Lee County Health Department has confirmed nine additional cases of COVId-19, raising the total of confirmed cases in the county to 299.

Of those 299, 133 have returned to 'normal activities', while the other 163 continued to be monitored.

3:30 p.m.
In a news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper announced a new list on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website with every open testing location for COVID-19.

"A key factor in our state's readiness to move to phase 2 is testing," Cooper said. "Testing has to be widely available at low cost or even free if we want to keep people as safe as possible."

Cooper also said as North Carolina works to meet its testing goals, officials also have to consider how well the state is succeeding at the following metrics: COVID-like syndromic emergency room visits, trajectory of new COVID-19 cases, percentage of positive tests, and total number of hospitalizations.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen explained that North Carolina is succeeding in all of those areas except trajectory of positive tests, which continues to increase.

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Dr. Mandy Cohen goes over the metrics and indicators for NC's COVID-19 status on Thursday.



"We didn't see a peak in North Carolina, and that was no accident," Cohen said. "We flattened the curve with our actions, and those collective actions have prevented a peak."

Cohen also said that while the state is seeing more positive cases overall, as testing increases, the percent positive is remaining level.

However, Cohen said these positive trajectories could quickly flip. "Keeping our trends stable still depends on your actions--what you do to protect your loved ones and neighbors."

Cooper also addressed faith leaders and encouraged them to limit in person services.

"I would ask every congregation to pause and consider whether indoor services are the right thing to do for their members," Cooper said. "We must care for and show love to one another."

When asked about the lawsuit against him by faith leaders, Cooper said he hadn't read the text, but emphasized that officials did not want places of worship to become hotspots for the virus.

1:30 p.m.
Sampson County health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases in the county, for a total of 211 laboratory-confirmed cases.

The county has tested 669 total people, 55 of which have recovered from the virus, according to health officials. One person has died.

11:00 a.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported the state's largest single-day increase of cases, with 691 new COVID-19 laboratory-confirmed cases and 18 deaths. So far, 16,507 cases and 615 deaths have been confirmed.

Sixteen percent or 116 new cases are from Mecklenburg County.

Of the total cases, 3,939 are in congregate living facilities including nursing homes, residential care facilities, homeless shelters and correctional facilities. More than half of all deaths, 381, are associated with congregate living settings, 318 of which were nursing home residents.

RELATED: Why you might see different numbers of COVID-19 cases depending where you look

The state reported 8,811 total tests, exceeding the benchmark to test between 5,000 and 7,000 people every day.

According to health officials, 14 fewer people are in the hospital with severe symptoms due to COVID-19, for a total of 507 hospitalizations.

HOW ARE WE DOING?

As the state looks to go through the phases of reopening, officials are looking to meet certain benchmarks.
Here's how we're doing on some of those:

Decrease in confirmed cases? After days of lower numbers, today was the highest daily increase of the number of reported cases.
Decrease in percent of positive tests? Level. Around 7 percent.
Hospitalizations decreasing? The trends chart from NCDHHS shows this is about level.
Testing capacity? The state met its goal in the last 24 hours with 8,811 tests.
Contract tracers? Have not met this goal. The state still only has 250 and is working to double this workforce to 500.
PPE Supplies? The state does not have enough gowns to handle 30 days, however, the state now reports it does have enough N-95 masks.

9:30 a.m.

Cary is canceling its summer camps through July 3. The cancellation applies to parks, recreation and cultural resources camps. Refunds will be issued.

The town says camps scheduled for July August are still being assessed.
9 a.m.

Almost 3 million more Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week even as many states began to ease restrictions put in action from COVID-19. Roughly 36 million people have now filed for help in the two months since the coronavirus first forced millions of businesses to close, permanently in some cases.

THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES

A conservative activist group planning to file a lawsuit to pressure Gov. Roy Cooper into allowing churches to services indoors during the pandemic. Return America is holding a rally and news conference Thursday morning in front of the North Carolina General Assembly. The group believes pastors and congregations across the state are being denied their ability to assemble.

Durham mayor to extend stay-at-home order, keep face covering requirement

In Johnston County, sheriff Steve Bizzell says he won't prevent people from going to church this Sunday. Bizzell says he took an oath to defend the constitution which allows people the right to freely worship. Bizzell feels churches have the opportunity to reopen with 'reasonable restrictions' like many retail businesses. In a statement, he said that he would "lay down his badge and go home" before preventing people's rights to gather and freely worship.

Cumberland County will serve its 1 millionth curbside meal since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. They'll be giving out meals at E.E. Smith High School Thursday at 11 a.m. Cumberland County officials said there are 425 reported coronavirus cases with 11 deaths.

Gov. Cooper will hold a media briefing Thursday at 3 p.m. as his team is still considering the timing for the next phase of reopening. ABC11 will carry the briefing on-air and online.

WEDNESDAY
6:20 p.m.
Durham County is reporting 932 COVID-19 cases, up 18 from Tuesday.

Officials said there has been another death from the virus, for a total of 37 deaths within the county.

5:40 p.m.
Cumberland County officials said there are 425 reported coronavirus cases, up 26 since Tuesday. To date, 11 residents have died from the virus.
Halifax County has 105 reported cases of COVID-19 with 66 of those recovered. There has been one death.

Sampson County health officials are reporting 16 new cases, which brings the total to 193 positive cases. There has been only one county death to date.

Lee County said there are eight more COVID-19 cases Wednesday for a total of 290 county-wide. There have been three deaths throughout the county.

5 p.m.
In a message from the sheriff, the Johnston County Sheriff proclaimed that neither he nor his deputies would prevent people's rights to "assemble peaceably" during the coronavirus pandemic.

As businesses reopen during Phase 1, Johnson County Sheriff Steve Bizzell criticized Gov. Cooper's stay-at-home orders, demanding that churches have the opportunity to reopen with 'reasonable restrictions' like many retail businesses.

The sheriff argued that the governor's restrictions are inconsistent by pointing out that retail businesses operate daily under rules, while places of worship cannot operate once a week.

"Retail businesses are allowed to operate daily under rules; however, church folks can't even go to church once a week which is inconsistent and unfair, and quite frankly, morally wrong. All we're asking the Governor is to allow indoor worship services with reasonable restrictions, somewhat similar to local businesses.

Outlined in Gov. Cooper's plan to reopen the state, places of worship would be allowed to reopen at a reduced capacity during Phase 2.

In Bizzell's closing statement, he said that he would "lay down his badge and go home" before preventing people's rights to gather and freely worship.

Read the letter in its entirety:

"Our pastors and church leaders have been patient and have adhered to government authority thus far regarding the Governor's restrictions on holding indoor worship services.

Church families are law abiding citizens, salt of the earth people that should stand in unison to protect our First Amendment rights to "assemble peaceably" and to exercise our freedom to worship."Retail businesses are allowed to operate daily under rules; however, church folks can't even go to church once a week which is inconsistent and unfair, and quite frankly, morally wrong. All we're asking the Governor is to allow indoor worship services with reasonable restrictions, somewhat similar to local retail businesses.

If social distancing and other guidelines are good enough to allow big box stores to operate, why is it not good enough for in person church services? It's as though churches have been treated differently. For example, currently worship services are limited to 10 people, but 50 people can utilize the same space for a funeral.

I think our pastors and church leaders would be more inclined to implement safety guidelines for their brothers and sisters, even more so than businesses do for their customers. Why can't churches be trusted to open and take precautions to protect their people's health and well-being?

As Sheriff of Johnston County, the deputies and I took an oath that we would endeavor to support, maintain, and defend the Constitution for the people of this county. As long as I'm Sheriff, my deputies nor I will forego that oath and interfere or prevent church goers to peaceably assemble and exercise their constitutional right to freely worship. Before I would do that, I would lay down my badge and go home!

NOW, LET'S HAVE CHURCH!
"

4:40 p.m.
Durham mayor Steve Schewel told ABC11 on Wednesday that he would extend the city's stay-at-home order and added the order would be simplified.

"We're not adding requirements to the order that we have previously in place. We're not adding any new restrictions. We're gradually loosening our restrictions, just as the governor is, and I think that's the right way to go," the mayor said.

The decision comes on the heels of a Moody's Analytics report that pushes Durham near the top of the list for cities in the country that will recover well from Covid-19. The report attributes areas with large universities and low- density population as main reasons for outperforming other cities across the nation.

2 p.m.
At a media briefing, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen urged patience in response to being asked about Senate Leader Phil Berger's call to reopen hair salons and barbershops.

Berger, R-Rockingham, noted in a release that 25 states, including nearly every state in the Southeast, have reopened hair salons and barbershops in some capacity, and three more have announced reopenings in the next few days.

"It's time to follow the lead of the majority of states in our region and the country. Hair salon owners and employees can't work and many of them still can't get unemployment assistance from the Cooper Administration," Berger said. "Gov. Cooper needs to provide counties with the flexibility to reopen hair salons and barbershops if they choose."

Up to now, Cooper's position has been to subject small business owners to fines and arrest. It's time to take a different approach and let these small business owners and employees return to work legally and safely, Berger said.
"The majority of states in our region and the country have reviewed the science, facts, and data and reached a different conclusion than Gov. Cooper's," Berger said. "What is his strategic endgame in choosing a different path based on similar facts and data? We need a view into his administration's goals and thinking."

Cohen said the governor's team wants to move through the phases of reopening in a measured way.

Not being stationary is an important factor in reducing risk of viral spread, Cohen said. Whereas in grocery stores or other businesses, people can circulate, maintain spacing and move freely, at hair salons, people are sitting for long periods of time and remaining stationary and in close proximity. That's one of the main reasons those businesses were not included in the Phase 1 reopening, Cohen explained.

As for Phase, 2, it's all about risk, Cohen said. Both salons and restaurants are sit-down businesses.

"We still see a lot of virus fear. We want to be sure we don't see a surge of cases," Cohen said.

She preached patience, and she noted that we are less than two weeks away from thinking about Phase 2, when barbershops and similar businesses can reopen.

"Hold on there, I know everyone wants a haircut, including me," Cohen said. "But hold on a bit longer as we watch our trends."
She stressed that people need to keep doing the three Ws -- wearing a face covering, waiting six feet apart and washing hands frequently.

"I do think that we will get there when we pull together as a state," Cohen said. "We are in this together, right? All of our actions influence everything that's going on, and I think if we can pull together as a state that we'll be back, getting haircuts, and at our favorite restaurant but in a different way. We'll have to protect ourselves in different ways than we have before, but we will get there."

2 p.m.
Starting today, families affected by school closings because of COVID-19 are beginning to receive additional food benefits as part of the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program announced by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

The program provides a food benefit on an EBT card to North Carolina families whose children have access to free and reduced lunch at school. Families will receive about $370 in P-EBT benefits per child, provided in two installments. Families can use the P-EBTbenefitto purchase food items at EBT authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores.

Most eligible families will automatically get the additional funds on their existing EBT cards, State Health Director Dr. Mandy Cohen said.

Read more about that here.

12 p.m.
Visit Raleigh released a report detailing COVID-19's impact on the tourism and hospitality industry in Wake County.

According to the report, hotel lodging tax collections were down 64.3 percent in March compared to 2019. Prepared food and beverage tax collections were down 39 percent in March, marking the lowest March collection since 2011.

Visit Raleigh and GRSA have booked 130 conventions, meetings and group sporting events throughout Wake County that have been canceled, totaling more than 143,000 attendees and resulting in more than $59.3 million in total lost economic impact.

You can read the full report here.
11 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 20 more deaths in the state in the last 24 hours. Since the start of the pandemic, 597 people have died from complications of the disease.

About 62 percent of the deaths in the state have been linked to congregate care facilities.

On Wednesday, 470 more cases were reported compared to the day before, bringing the total to 15,816.

Why you might see different numbers of COVID-19 cases depending where you look
NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said at a media briefing on Monday that an estimated 9,115 North Carolinians have recovered from the virus.

HOW ARE WE DOING?

As the state looks to go through the phases of reopening, officials are looking to meet certain benchmarks.
Here's how we're doing on some of those:
Decrease in confirmed cases? Last week was up slightly but daily case count is much lower this week. 470 new cases added on Wednesday, the highest of the week but lower than last week.
Decrease in percent of positive tests? We have seen about 5 percent positive tests this week, which is lower than around 8 percent last week.
Hospitalizations decreasing? The number has been increasing all week with 46 more on Wednesday than the day before but the trends chart from NCDHHS shows this is about level.
Testing capacity? The state met its goal in the last 24 hours with 8,213 tests.
Contract tracers? Have not met this goal. The state still only has 250 and is working to double this workforce to 500.
PPE Supplies? The state does not have enough gowns to handle 30 days, however, the state now reports it does have enough N-95 masks.

10 a.m.
The NCDOTis suspending operations of the Piedmont passenger rail service until further notice due to COVID-19 impact on revenue.

Starting Monday May 18, people traveling between Raleigh and Charlotte will make trips on Carolinian trains 79 and 80.

6:45 a.m.
Starting Thursday, you can buy a beer and donate money to help people who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hi-Wire Brewing in Asheville is releasing a beer titled Donate To Service Industry Workers By Drinking This Beer. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the beer will be donated to North Carolina-based and national support groups helping bartenders, waitstaff and chefs.
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