RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.
COOPER PREPPING PHASE 2 GUIDELINES
Governor Cooper used the word "hope" multiple times Monday when asked if Phase 2 of the state's reopening would indeed begin on Friday -- allowing non-essential businesses like barber shops or hair and nail salons to see customers again.
"One of the reasons that these kinds of businesses have been closed is because of the close personal contact and the inability to social distance," Cooper said. But the governor said he's working with business leaders and health experts to issue best practices for more businesses.
The NC Board of Barber Examiners told ABC11 that there is no new guidance from the governor's office yet, so it has been directing hair stylists to its COVID-19 page with steps from the Centers for Disease Control on stopping the spread inside local shops.
Meanwhile, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, state largest trade group for restaurants and hotels is rolling out Count on Me NC. The program developed in partnership with government and health officials is a statewide campaign to train restaurants, hotels, museums and other attraction how to reopen safely after the stay-at-home order expires.
Businesses that complete the training receive certificates - visual cues for staff and guests to see COVID safety is a priority. But a big part of the campaign is also for customers. There's a pledge for guests including promises to wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands.
"To both the customers and the people performing these services, you both have real responsibilities here to protect each other because you're also protecting each other's families and friends," Cooper said.
Halifax County is reporting 125 positive cases including one COVID-19 related death, and 81 patients recovered. This is an increase of 10 cases since Friday.
Durham County is now reporting 1,040 COVID-19 cases, up 44 since Sunday.
North Carolina reported 2,522 more patients are presumed to have recovered from COVID-19 in the last week, according to new data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
In total, 11,637 patients are presumed to have recovered.
NCDHHS estimates a median recovery time of 14 days from the day a patient went in for their first COVID-19 diagnostic test for non-fatal cases who were not hospitalized. If a patient was hopsitalized, that median recovery time jumps to 28 days.
Officials note actual patients' recovery times could be longer or shorter depending on the severity of their illness. The guidelines for reporting recoveries was chosen based on guidance from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lee County says it has 18 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, with 12 reported on Saturday and six more identified Monday. The county has 323 total cases.
The Lee County Health Department continues to monitor 165 active cases. There have been three deaths attributed to COVID-19.
All 100 North Carolina counties have reported cases of COVID-19 after Avery County reported its first case Monday.
Avery County officials said 438 tests have been given including 405 negatives, 32 pending and one positive.
In a news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper said officials are not yet ready to make a decision whether North Carolina will be able to move into phase 2 of reopening when his current executive order expires Friday.
"We're hoping that this can happen," Cooper said. "We're going to continue to look at the indicators"
Cooper said that health leaders have been working closely with the North Carolina business community to discuss what a safe step forward would look like and the kinds of restrictions that may be placed on businesses that could open in phase 2, including salons, bars and restaurants and gyms.
"We believe that economic prosperity and the health of the people can go hand in hand," Cooper said.
However, he said ultimately, public health and safety is the top priority for leaders, and health officials will continue to look at the data before making a decision later this week.
"We have flattened the curve, but the threat of COVID-19 is still with us," Cooper said.
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen pointed out that North Carolina saw its largest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases to date over the weekend--an increase of 853 cases between Friday and Saturday.
"Any increase like this is concerning and a reminder about how quickly this virus can spread," Cohen said.
While she said health officials are looking into the data to determine what may have caused this sharp spike in cases, she recognized that the state is continuing to test more people, and the percentage of positive tests as compared to total tests has remained mostly level at around seven percent.
"We also know that we are easing restrictions and folks are moving around more," Cohen said. "With more movement, there's more chance for this virus to spread."
Cohen said as more North Carolinians venture outside to shop and go to parks, they should make the three W's part of their daily routine: wearing a face covering, waiting six feet away from others and washing hands frequently.
When asked about possible COVID-19 parties, where residents gather in an attempt to spread the virus and create herd immunity, Cooper sharply responded, "That is completely irresponsible and absolutely unacceptable."
Cohen followed up on the question, adding, "There is no circumstance under which we want folks to actively pursue getting COVID-19." She explained the danger with these situations is that those who contract the disease from one of these events will still run errands in the community, such as going to the grocery store, presenting a greater danger for people with chronic conditions.
"We are nowhere near herd immunity," Cohen said. "A party will not help us. Please do not do that."
"If you do that, you can easily kill someone you love," Cooper added.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 511 new COVID-19 cases and 2 new deaths, for a total of 19,023 cases and 661 deaths.
North Carolina also reported 6,811 completed diagnostic tests for a total of 255,755 tests. Of the tests reported Monday, 7.5% were positive.
Of the more than 19,000 total cases, 4,218 are in congregate-living facilities, including nursing homes, homeless shelters and correctional facilities. More than 60 percent of the total deaths have been attributed to people living in congregate living settings, including at least 352 deaths in nursing homes.
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 percent of positive tests? In the last 24 hours we've seen 7 percent positive tests. This has been roughly level for the past week.
Hospitalizations decreasing? Even though 18 more people were reported to be hospitalized with symptoms related to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the number of total hospitalizations has remained roughly level, around 500 people.
Testing capacity? The state did meet it's goal in the last 24 hours with 6,811 tests.
Contract tracers? The state still only has 250 and is working to double this workforce to 500.
PPE Supplies? While the state reports enough procedure masks, face shields, N95 masks and gloves to cover at least 30 days, the state still has a 0-day supply of surgical gowns. Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry has repeatedly said gowns are the hardest piece of protective equipment to acquire nationwide, and the state is working hard to get more.
An experimental vaccine saw positive early results in a human trial.
The vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc., generated antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19 in study volunteers who were given either a low or medium dose.
The early testing was only done on a limited number of volunteers. The next step is to expand the test group and determine an optimum dosage amount.
Triangle-area Ruth Chris Steak Houses will treat first responders a free meal on Thursday.
The restaurant welcomes police, fire and medical employees to their choice of a steak or chicken sandwich with an apple and chips. The chain is recognizing May 21 as Ruth's Chris Annual First Responders Day to thank them for their noble service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than $2 billion has been paid out in unemployment benefits in North Carolina as of Monday.
$2,110,614,826 is the total amount paid since March 15. The state reports that 896,113 individuals have filed claims, but just 537,641 have been paid.
Because some people are forced to file multiple claims, the state said it has received a total of 1,203,234 claims since March 15. The state's stay-at-home order began March 30.
The daily amount of filed claims has been leveling off, with 6,991 filed on Sunday. To compare with figures earlier in the pandemic, there were 16,984 claims filed on May 11 and 28,019 claims filed on April 29. The single-day high was 54,495 in late April.
MONDAY MORNING STORYLINES
The Wake County Board of Commissioners is meeting Monday to consider federal funding for rent assistance to help families struggling to make payments. More than 100 religious leaders in Wake County will urge commissioners to use the $194 million from the CARES Act for COVID-19 relief. Religious leaders are concerned there will be a possible wave of eviction hearings when the courts reopen in June.
The board is also considering a $5 million award for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The board will hold a remote meeting at 2 p.m. about sending the money to the North Carolina Rural Development Center, Inc. The award would establish an NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program. The board will take public comments online Monday and Tuesday before voting.
This week, Gov. Roy Cooper will decide whether to move forward to starting Phase 2 of the state's reopening plan. The earliest Phase 2 could begin would be Friday. Under Phase 2, gyms, entertainment venues, playgrounds, bars and restaurants could all reopen under modifications and social distancing measures. Over the weekend, several state parks were packed with visitors, including Umstead State Park in Raleigh. Gov. Cooper is scheduled to give an update Monday at 2 p.m. ABC11 will carry the update on-air and online.
More than 18,000 cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in North Carolina with 659 deaths. Health officials say the big uptick in cases comes from testing from a food processing plant. The specific plant was not identified.
The U.S. death toll is about to reach 90,000 with more of the country reopening Monday. There's growing concern over crowds gathering at restaurants and beaches. Videos of big crowds at beaches and restaurants throughout the country circulated online over the weekend. In Florida, gyms will be allowed to reopen and Massachusetts is expected to announce more reopening plans Monday.
Two more COVID-19 patients in Durham have died from complications, raising the total number of virus-related deaths to 39. The Durham County Department of Public Health (DCoDPH) says both patients were over the age of 65-years-old and had multiple underlying health conditions.
As of Sunday night, there are a total of 996 COVID-19 cases within the county, 16 more than Saturday.
The DCoDPH is monitoring COVID-19 an additional breakout at the Veritas Collaborative Adult Hospital, raising the total number of breakouts at congregate living facilities within the county to six. The hospital said two staff members tested positive.
Wake County reports nine new cases of COVID-19 Sunday night, raising the county total to 1,216.
North Carolina health officials reported 530 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 18,512. Seven more people have died, bringing the total of state deaths to 659.
The state will report the updated amount of recoveries by 4 p.m. Monday.
Since Saturday, there have been 10,358 more completed coronavirus tests reported throughout North Carolina, exceeding the state's testing goal of 5,000 to 7,000 tests daily.
There have been 248,944 tests to date.
Twelve more patients are hospitalized, bringing the state total of hospitalizations to 493.
Avery County is still the only county without a reported COVID-19 case.
There are 1,199 coronavirus cases in Wake County, up 17. There are currently 28 deaths reported county-wide.
As of Sunday morning, there are 1,467,884 COVID-19 cases in the United States.