Nearly 50% North Carolinians have health conditions that could put them at high-risk for severe COVID-19, health officials say

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

Tracking North Carolina COVID-19 cases

8 p.m.
The NC Senate unanimously passed a $1.4 billion COVID-19 relief bill directed at aiding recovery efforts of those hit hardest by the virus as well as supporting research.

Senate Bill 704 passed 48-0. The bill now has to pass through the North Carolina House for approval where it will then move to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk to be signed.

7:50 p.m.
Wake County is reporting 814 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with a total of 16 deaths. The County said the average age of a COVID-19 patient in 44 and 59 percent of those with the illness are female.

6:30 p.m.
Durham County has 20 COVID-19 related deaths after health officials confirmed three more Wednesday. The residents were all over 65 and had multiple underlying health conditions.

There are 724 cases reported throughout Durham County, up 12 from Tuesday evening's update.

5:50 p.m.
Cumberland County is reporting 259 total COVID-19 cases, up 31 since Tuesday. Eight residents have died from COVID-19 complications.

4:30 p.m.
An Apex tattoo shop owner was arrested Wednesday afternoon for violating the governor and Wake County's stay-at-home order.

After receiving complaints from the community, Apex Police arrested and charged Matthew Paul Myers, 38, the owner of Apex Tattoo Factory, with violation of executive order which is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Myers knew he would get arrested for the act, insisting that his rights were being trodden on and essentially ruining his business, according to newsgathering partners at the News and Observer. Myers said that he is losing so much money that he fears he will lose his home and the ability to feed his three children.

No bond has been set at this time, but Myers is being held at the Wake County Jail.

4 p.m.
Governor Roy Cooper is responding to a North Carolina county that has prepared a symbolic order declaring support for reopening businesses while acknowledging its residents are still subject to the governor's stay-home order.

Read more about that here.

Lee County health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday for a total of 154. Of those, 20 have resumed normal activity. There are no lab-confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the county.

2:30 p.m.
In a news conference, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said nearly half of all North Carolinians have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure or lung conditions that could put them at high risk for severe complications from COVID-19. That's why, she said, it's important for the state to follow a phased reopening only when the trends show that the spread of the virus has sufficiently slowed.

"The more we keep down the spread of the virus, the more it helps people who are high risk," Cohen said.

Cohen also said she was working with the state General Assembly as lawmakers finalize how federal funds will be allocated across the state. After looking at a plan put forward in the State Senate on Tuesday, Cohen said she did not feel enough money was allocated to rural communities and basic necessities such as food, public safety and shelter.

"We know we're fighting the largest public health battle that our state has ever faced," Cohen said.

Addressing President Donald Trump's executive order requiring all meat processing plants to stay open, Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry said health and emergency officials are currently monitoring plants across the state where employees have tested positive, implementing prevention procedures and testing workers.

Cohen addressed individual counties attempting to reopen businesses by saying she appreciated the work North Carolinians are doing to stay at home and emphasizing that Gov. Roy Cooper's Stay-at-Home order is still in effect.

"We're in a crisis, and I think confusion is really, really damaging during a crisis," Cohen said. "You have truly flattened the curve. We're doing great as a state-- let us walk through this together. That's how we're going to be strongest."

Cohen referred to a report from epidemiologists and data scientists outlining current trends and models for the spread of disease in North Carolina. While she said they were promising, she emphasized they show the virus is still in our community, and a phased reopening is the best course of action.

She said in order to reopen, the state would need to improve on a number of key metrics in combination--including hospitalizations, percent of positive tests and number of cases and deaths reported each day.

"There's no one trend that everything is going to turn on," Cohen said. "We do need to look at them in combination."

2 p.m.
Sampson County health officials are reporting 14 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 63. This is the largest single day increase in the county.

Of the 14 new cases, 13 are at home and one is in the hospital.

There are three more COVID-19 cases linked to the Smithfield plant in Clinton, bringing the total number of linked cases to 12 at the plant.

1:30 p.m.
UNC System Interim President Bill Roper announced on Wednesday that he expects to reopen the campuses for the Fall 2020 Semester.

"Our institutions have done a remarkable job serving their students during this time of crisis. Our speedy adaptation to remote teaching and learning was a necessary and invaluable step to preserve the continuity of our students' academic pursuits while protecting health and safety," he said in a statement. "But for many in the UNC System, digital learning technologies simply cannot be a long-term substitute for the facilities and community that our campuses provide. The majority of our faculty and students need access to our libraries, labs, classrooms, and medical and agriculture facilities to fully engage with their research, teaching, learning, and service work."

UNC System interim president says he plans to reopen campuses for 2020 fall semester but with changes

Roper said some institutions might consider staggered or shortened academic calendars, while others may take action to reduce student density in campus housing and classrooms.

1 p.m.
Wake County will follow Gov. Cooper's stay-at-home order after it's own order ends on April 30.

Wake County currently has 796 known positive cases of COVID-19. 16 of those patients have died from the virus.

Starting May 1, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Morrisville, Raleigh, Rolesville, Wake Forest, Wendell, and Zebulon along with portions of Angier, Clayton and Durham located within Wake County will follow Gov. Cooper's stay-at-home order.

Read more on that here.

Gov. Cooper announced last week that he has a three-phase plan for lifting these restrictions.

11 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services now reports a total of 9,948 COVID-19 cases in the state. That's up 380 from Tuesday.

Twelve more deaths have been reported. Two more counties now have cases, bringing the total to 96. Currently, 551 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, up 88 from Tuesday.

196 of the deaths in North Carolina are linked to nursing home and residential care facility outbreaks.

The state reports that 5,688 more tests were completed in the last 24 hours, which is much higher than Tuesday's total of 2,832. The state's goal is 5,000 to 7,000 tests daily.

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



This is why North Carolina does not report coronavirus recoveries

Here's how North Carolina health officials determine and report coronavirus deaths

WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES

Wake County is expected to make an announcement Wednesday regarding the next steps for its stay-at-home order. It's currently set to expire on Thursday. Wake County's order limits movement outside people's homes except for essential jobs and tasks mostly related to health and food. Last week, the state's stay-at-home order was extended through May 8.

Here are the phases of Gov. Cooper's reopening plan

Gov. Cooper said Tuesday that he would not allow local governments to ease restrictions further than the guidelines laid out by the state stay-at-home order.

"We know this virus does not respect county lines," Cooper said. "We know that there are people that live in one county, work in another county and maybe shop in yet another county."

Gov. Roy Cooper laid out a plan to reopen North Carolina, but here's what has to happen first

However, he said officials are looking into the possibility of allowing some regional loosening of restrictions after May 8.

Durham County is reporting 151 new cases of coronavirus with a significant chunk of them connected to an outbreak at the Durham Butner Correctional Facility. Neighboring Person County has reported its first coronavirus-related death.

North Carolina is reporting more than 9,500 cases with 342 deaths and 463 hospitalizations. 28.5 percent of the cases are in congregate living facilities. More than half of the state's deaths have been linked to nursing homes and residential care facilities.

In Raleigh, house and senate leaders are focused on more than $2 billion worth of emergency funding. Lawmakers are planning to vote on a spending plan with funds going to a reserve fund for local governments to address budget shortfalls. Some money would help the UNC system move classes online and sanitize campuses before opening back up. $50 million from the deal would buy PPE ventilators and sanitizing wipes. Leaders hope to vote by the end of the week.

Gov. Roy Cooper is confident the state will reach the goal of testing between 5,000 and 7,000 people per day soon. State officials are asking for federal help to expand testing. Gov. Cooper maintains public health is the state's top priority.

ReOpen NC protesters gathered outside the General Assembly in Raleigh Tuesday morning. Activists who want the North Carolina government to roll back coronavirus safety regulations on businesses voiced their concerns again. Four arrests were made.

Gov. Cooper said it's likely the Coca-Cola 600 will be held as scheduled at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend. If held, the NASCAR race would be the first public sporting event since the early rounds of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro in March.

TUESDAY
9:30 p.m.
Prison officials said Butner inmate William Walker Minto, 73, died April 28. Walker had tested positive for COVID-19 after going into respiratory failure on April 15.

Minto had long-term pre-existing medical conditions and had been in custody at the FCI Butner I adjacent minimum
security satellite camp since Oct. 11, 2019.

8:30 p.m.
Person County reported its first COVID-19 related death. The patient died on April 27 and had underlying health conditions.

Person County is now reporting 20 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of this event. Of these 20 total confirmed cases: 14 have been released from isolation.

8:00 p.m.
Durham County has reported at least 712 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths, including one new death. County officials said the person who died was older than 65 years old and had multiple underlying health conditions.

Officials said of the new cases reported, more than 95 percent were linked to an outbreak at the Butner Correctional facilities located within Durham County only. The federal prison has facilities in both Durham County and Granville County. According to the federal Bureau of Prisons, 241 cases and five deaths have been linked to the Butner Correctional Complex.

6:10 p.m.
782 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Wake County with 16 deaths.

6 p.m.
Cumberland County health officials said there are 228 positive COVID-19 cases with a total of eight deaths.

4:50 p.m.
Lee County health officials said 136 residents tested positive for COVID-19 including 11 new cases Tuesday. 20 of the cases have resumed normal activity. There are no lab-confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the county.

4:40 p.m.
Sampson County health officials said there are four new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 49.

As reported Monday, there is an active outbreak of COVID-19 at Smithfield Packing Company in Clinton, NC. There are now seven confirmed cases at the plant.

WATCH: Gov. Cooper says 'we can't let our guard down just yet'
EMBED More News Videos



3:45 p.m.
Halifax County is reporting a total of 58 positive cases of COVID-19 with one death and 26 patients recovered.

3:35 p.m.
At least one protester was taken into custody during the ReOpen NC protests in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday. Footage from Chopper 11 HD showed State Capitol Police putting a protester in the back of a police vehicle and driving off. More on the protests here.

3:30 p.m.
At least 190 of the 342 deaths related to COVID-19 in North Carolina have been linked to nursing homes and residential care facilities across the state.

Monday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a full list of all nursing homes with ongoing outbreaks.

Currently, the most deadly outbreak is at Louisburg Healthcare and Rehab Center in Franklin County. At least 62 cases and 18 deaths have been linked to the nursing home.

Read more here.

3:00 p.m.
In a news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper highlighted the state's continued efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina and increase testing and contact tracing efforts statewide.

While the North Carolina has not quite reached its goal of testing between 5,000 and 7,000 people per day, Cooper said he was confident the state would get to that point soon.

"If we get this testing and tracing humming a long which is what we want to do, that means we can be better protected as we begin to lift restrictions," Cooper said.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen highlighted the disparity in funds from the federal CARES Act allocated to different health care providers during the news conference as well. Cohen said providers who see patients with private insurance or Medicare received twice as much funding as providers who see patients without insurance or those on Medicaid.

While Cohen again advocated for the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina, she said she asked Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to approve an emergency waivor to assist with funds with testing and prevention and to create a relief fund for North Carolina health care providers who serve uninsured patients and patients on Medicaid.

"There's still time to get this right. Congress just allocated another $75 billion to this relief fund," Cohen said. "Thirty percent of those funds should be targeted to our safety net healthcare providers."

Still zeroed-in on sourcing personal protective equipment for North Carolina, Department of Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry announced FEMA would give personal protective equipment including gloves, gowns, eye protection and surgical masks to more than 430 nursing homes in the state.

So far, Sprayberry said, the state has ordered at least $335 million in personal protective equipment.

When asked about reopening the state, Cooper said he would not allow local governments to ease restrictions further than the guidelines laid out by the state stay-at-home order.

"We know this virus does not respect county lines," Cooper said. "We know that there are people that live in one county, work in another county and maybe shop in yet another county."

However, he said officials are looking into the possibliity of allowing some regional loosening of restrictions after May 8.

11:00 a.m.
At least 9,568 COVID-19 cases have been reported across 96 counties in North Carolina, an increase of more than 400 cases from the previous day. Health officials reported 36 more deaths related to the virus, for a total of 342 deaths.

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



The numbers were released as ReOpen NC protestors began to march in downtown Raleigh.

Gov. Roy Cooper laid out a plan to reopen North Carolina, but here's what has to happen first

How are we doing?
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the number of emergency department visits for COVID-like illnesses continues to decline. However, the number of COVID-19 cases reported per day continues to increase, which is one of the metrics the health department would like to see decrease or level before reopening North Carolina.

Additionally, while the percentage of positive tests out of all tests decreased, the total tests reported for the last five days has not met the state's goal of 5,000 to 7,000 tests daily. Tuesday, only 2,832 new tests were reported.

Here are the phases of Gov. Cooper's reopening plan

Currently, 463 people are hospitalized with severe symtpoms due to COVID-19. While that number is trending slightly upward, it has remained fairly level over the past week. In order to reopen the state, Gov. Roy Cooper said he would like to see a 14-day downward trajectory or sustained leveling in the number of people currently hospitalized.

10:20 a.m.
Another jump in unemployment claims brings the total number of COVID-19 related unemployment claims to 741,612.

That's according to the North Carolina Department of Employment Services. The DES said it has paid out $910,632,167 to 346,424 people since March 15.

On April 27, 32,613 new filers asked for assistance. That's the third highest single day request since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

8:30 a.m.
Duke University says it has confirmed the first known case of COVID-19 in a dog.

The positive test came from a study researchers at the university are doing to try and create a better understanding of the virus. The ultimate goal is to create better tests, treatments and a vaccine for the new virus.

TUESDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Tuesday is a big day in Raleigh as lawmakers come to the state capitol to consider a $1.4 billion emergency spending plan. The money would be used to help small businesses and expand COVID-19 testing and tracing. Some money would also be allocated toward helping schools further their remote learning efforts.

Blocks away, another Reopen NC protest is planned to further the group's mission of pressuring state leaders to allow businesses to reopen.

Reopen protests have happened in several states across the country. However, polls show the majority of Americans support coronavirus restrictions and a slower return to normal.

Meanwhile, one of the Reopen NC organizers confirmed that she had recently tested postive for COVID-19. She said she has ended her quarantine and plans to be at the Tuesday rally.

The protesters want North Carolina to reopen for business. But state health official say doing so too quickly could cost lives. That's why Gov. Cooper recently extended the state's stay-at-home order to May 8 after it was originally set to expire Wednesday.

Gov. Roy Cooper's task force on Telehealth will meet Tuesday morning. Its focus is on connecting rural areas with critical health care information. The state is reporting 9,142 COVID-19 cases and 306 deaths. Outbreaks continue to be a problem at congregate living facilities. There have been 159 deaths at the facilities, enough to count for 51 percent of the state's fatalities.



COVID-19 has now killed more than 210,000 people worldwide. More than 3 million people have been diagnosed. The U.S. is closing in on 1 million cases with at least 988,000 cases. Ohio and Texas are the next states scheduled to ease restrictions this week. President Trump's task force is revising the number of deaths expected from COVID-19 in the U.S., putting the estimate between 60,000 and 70,000.

MONDAY
8:15 p.m.

Durham County official said there are 565 COVID-19 cases. One more patient has died, making a total of 16 coronavirus-related death to date in the county.

The latest death was a resident under 65 with multiple underlying health conditions.

There are currently four outbreaks at Durham long-term care facilities and one crisis and assessment center. Three were previously identified and two more outbreaks additional have been confirmed at Hillcrest Convalescent Center and Durham Recovery Response Center.

  • 111 cases at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

  • 47 cases at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center

  • 5 cases at Durham Recovery Response Center

  • 4 cases at Durham VA Healthcare System Community Nursing Home

  • 2 cases at Hillcrest Convalescent Center


6 p.m.
Cumberland County said two more people have died from COVID-19 complications. Both were in their 80s and had underlying medical conditions.

There are 224 total cases and 8 deaths in Cumberland County.

In Robeson County, officials said there are 34 new cases ranging from ages 15-71. In total, there are 129 cases and 3 deaths.

4:10 p.m.
Lee County said it has 125 positive cases of for COVID-19. That includes seven new cases identified Saturday, 11 new cases identified Sunday, and 15 cases Monday.

3:45 p.m.
Halifax County said it has five new positive COVID-19 cases (one as of midnight Saturday, four more for Sunday; there are no new cases today so far), bringing the total known cases in the county to 56, with one death.

Of 312 tests, 247 were negative and nine test results are pending.

WATCH: ABC11's Steve Daniels breaks down new COVID-19 data from NCDHHS
EMBED More News Videos

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released new data Tuesday highlighting trends around the COVID-19 pandemic.



2:00 p.m.
In a news conference, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced a new partnership that will allow the state to begin hiring at least 250 people over the month of May to trace close contacts of any residents who test positive for the novel coronavirus.

Through the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative, the state will begin accepting applications online immediately. Cohen said special consideration will be give to applicants who are currently unemployed and have community engagement experience.

Cohen said approximately 70 percent of the state's local health department said they could handle their contact tracing workload with their current staff, so the department will focus on overwhelmed communities.

In addition, Cohen announced that the health department would begin reporting the locations of all nursing home outbreaks in the North Carolina, as well as how many cases are in each nursing home.



"We've been trying to always strike the balance of transparency and getting good data to folks, protecting public health and protecting individual privacy," Cohen said.

In addition, Department of Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry addressed the state's supply of personal protective equipment. While the state has a substantial supply of gloves, procedure masks and face shields, Sprayberry said North Carolina has less than a week's supply of N95 masks and gowns, based on the current volume of requests.

Sprayberry did say, however, that he expects to be able to source more personal protective equipment within the next four to six weeks.

11:45 a.m.
Seventy inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh have tested positive for COVID-19. 161 offenders were tested during the weekend.

The state Department of Public Safety says a majority of those are showing no symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

Before the weekend, 10 offenders in NCCIW tested positive. They were placed in isolation in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines and provided any necessary advanced medical care.

All offenders at the prison, as well as the entire staff, have been issued face masks, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. They also said cleaning regimens have been increased.

Based on the test results, Prisons is enacting its contingency plan to do to the following in accordance with CDC guidelines:

  • Separating the offenders who have tested positive from the offenders who tested negative.
  • Isolating all offenders in a group who have tested positive in two dorms.
  • Quarantining in three dorms for 14 days the offenders who have tested negative, with close monitoring of their health and twice daily temperature checks.
  • Ensuring staff do not mix between the positive and negative dorms.


10:20 p.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting an additional 312 cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 9,142 cases in 95 counties. There have been seven new deaths attributed to COVID-19 since Sunday, bringing the state's total to 306. That's up 37 since Friday.

This is why North Carolina does not report coronavirus recoveries

NCDHHS reported that 473 people remain hospitalized and 109,920 tests have been completed.

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



Here are the 3 phases of Gov. Roy Coopers plan to reopen North Carolina
Gov. Roy Cooper laid out a plan to reopen North Carolina, but here's what has to happen first

MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES

Two long-term care facilities in Durham reported coronavirus outbreaks over the weekend, the Hillcrest Convalescent Center and the Durham Recovery Response Center. Durham County is now monitoring outbreaks at four Durham long-term care facilities and one crisis and assessment center.

In Cumberland County, a Tele-Town Hall will happen with state and local leaders discussing the unemployment benefits system Monday at 6 p.m.

President Trump will talk with state governors about the COVID-19 response and the country's economic revival during a video conference at 2 p.m. The nation's Coronavirus Task Force will address the nation at 5 p.m.

American Airlines is responding to video of a crowded Charlotte-bound flight on Saturday. Passenger Erin Strine said she was "stunned" to be on a flight that appeared to be almost completely full, and became overwhelmed with fear in her assigned middle seat. The flight left from JFK Airport in New York.

Restaurants, movie theaters and private social clubs are allowed to reopen on Monday in Georgia. The state's guidelines are allowing restaurants to open for dine-in service. Oklahoma and South Carolina are also lifting restrictions on Monday. Tennessee's stay-at-home order expires on Thursday but the state is allowing some businesses to reopen on Monday.

In North Carolina, the state is reporting 299 coronavirus-related deaths and 8,830 confirmed cases.

SUNDAY
6:20 p.m.
The Durham County Department of Health is monitoring COVID-19 outbreaks at two more health care facilities within the county. The facilities being: Hillcrest Convalescent Center and Durham Recovery Response Center.

In total, the county is now monitoring outbreaks at four Durham long-term care facilities and one crisis and assessment center. The totals are as follow:
  • 111 at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • 47 at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center
  • 5 at Durham Recovery Response Center
  • 4 at Durham VA Healthcare System Community Nursing Home
  • 2 at Hillcrest Convalescent Center


The DCoDPH also reports four new COVID-19 related deaths, raising the county total to 15. Health officials said all of the residents were over 65-years-old and had multiple underlying health conditions.

Since Saturday, Durham County has seen nine new COVID-19 cases, raising the county total to 555.

5:00 p.m.
Wake County reports 668 COVID-19 cases in the county, 12 more than Saturday.

3 p.m.
Halifax County health officials said Edgecombe and Halifax Counties Communicable Disease Teams discovered the Vidant Health discrepancies versus what was reported by the state lab.

Both teams reached out to the State Lab, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Communicable Disease Branch, Vidant North, Vidant Edgecombe and the main Vidant Hospital. The issue was found and corrected.

Vidant issued the following statement:

"On April 25, Vidant Health sent an electronic update to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) which contained inaccurate COVID-19 test results. We determined this was a technical error affecting 122 results and the data feed issue has since been corrected. It is important to point out that the actual lab test results in Vidant's electronic medical record were correct; there was a technical issue with transmitting data to the state. We are currently working with NCDHHS to update the data. We apologize for any confusion this has caused the state, local health departments and patients."

11:10 a.m.
North Carolina health officials are now reporting 8,830 cases in North Carolina. That's up 288 from Saturday. Saturday's numbers were revised to 8,542 cases after an error in reporting.

As of Sunday, 299 deaths have been reported, an increase of 10 from Saturday.

According to the health department, 107,894 tests have been completed and 451 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

10:15 a.m.
NCDHHS officials said some COVID-19 test results reported by Vidant Health were incorrectly reported as positive. Vidant is currently working to fix the transmission problem. The total revised case count for Saturday, April 25 is 8,542. It was previously reported as 8,623.

9:30 a.m.
The CDC has added six new symptoms to its list including chills, shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

Coronavirus: Headache, loss of taste among list of 6 new possible COVID-19 symptoms, according to CDC

As of Sunday morning, data from Johns Hopkins University shows the total number of coronavirus cases in the United States is 939,249.



Wake County is reporting 661 COVID-19 cases while Durham County is reporting 546.

SATURDAY

6:45 p.m.
One more Durham County resident has died from COVID-19 related complications. This marks the eleventh death in the county.

Durham officials said the person was over the age of 65 and had multiple underlying health conditions, putting them at high risk for severe illness from the virus.

Since Friday, five new people have tested positive for COVID-19, raising the county total to 546.

The Durham County Department of Public Health continues to monitor COVID-19 outbreaks at three long-term care facilities:
  • 111 cases at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • 43 at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center
  • 4 at Durham VA Health Care System Community Nursing Home


5:35 p.m.
The Cumberland County Health Department reports 200 total positive cases of COVID-19 within the county. Since Friday, the county has seen an 11 case increase.

2:45 p.m.
Halifax County health officials said there are 53 COVID-19 cases including one death. 24 of these cases have recovered.

2 p.m.
The death toll for coronavirus infections has topped 200,000 worldwide according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

1 p.m.
Wake County officials said there are 651 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths.

11 a.m.

North Carolina health officials reported 8,623 cases of COVID-19 in 95 counties, up 571 from Friday. There have been 289 deaths, up 20 from Friday.

456 of the cases are currently hospitalized. 105,265 tests have been completed.

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

RELATED: One of the world's largest suppliers says this is reason behind the toilet paper shortage

FRIDAY

6:50 p.m.
Eleven more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Wake County, raising the county total to 642.

Wake County Department of Health reports 13 people have died from COVID-19 related complications.

6:40 p.m.
One Durham County resident has died from COVID-19 related complications, raising the total number of deaths to 10, according to the Durham County Department of Public Health.

Health officials said the person was over the age of 65-years-old and had multiple underlying health conditions.

Durham County health officials reported an increase of 41 new cases of COVID-19 raising the total number of cases in the county to 541.

The DCoDPH said it is continuing to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks at three Durham long-term care facilities. As of now, the following COVID-19 case totals have been confirmed for all residents and staff at the facilities:
  • 111 at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • 41 at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center
  • 4 at Durham VA Healthcare System Community Nursing Home


5:05 p.m.
Cumberland County reported 16 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the county total to 189.

"Health department staff continue to work diligently to conduct case investigations for each positive case in Cumberland County. Contact tracing is a key public health strategy to identify and notify close contacts of positive cases so they can be quarantined," said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green in a written statement.

5:00 p.m.
Three more residents at the Louisburg Nursing Center in Franklin County have died from complications related to the novel coronavirus, county health officials said.

Out of 61 residents at the nursing home, 53 have tested positive for COVID-19 and 14 have died from the virus. Nine residents are in the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms.

4:00 p.m.
Lee County health officials confirmed 12 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county total to 92. Of those cases, seven have resumed their normal daily activities.

This is why North Carolina does not report coronavirus recoveries

3:15 p.m.
The Halifax County Department of health is monitoring three additional cases of COVID-19, raising the county total to 47.

According to officials, of those 47 positive results, 1 person has died from COVID-19 related complications. 24 of the positive cases have recovered.

3:05 p.m.
In a joint statement, the Durham City and County announced Friday that they plan to lift some restrictions placed on business while extending its stay-at-home order until May 15.

"Thanks to the efforts of the Durham community we are flattening the curve, slowing the spread of the virus and not overwhelming our healthcare system," Durham board of County Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs said in a news release. "But we must continue to stay the course as our numbers of positive cases continue to rise."

During the extended period, businesses in Durham will be able to offer delivery or curbside pick-up as long as they follow safety precautions such as social distancing. The extension comes a day after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper extended the state's stay-at-home order until May 8.

Like the state, Durham City and County plans to monitor the metrics of testing, tracing and trends to guide how the county and city will plan to reopen.

In the meantime, the extended order has set new guidelines that encourage safety precautions such as social distancing, sanitation requirements as well as health screenings for businesses:
1. Employers shall conduct basic health screenings at the beginning of every employee's shift, which shall include:
a) Discussion about any shortness of breath, coughing, or sore throat;
b) Employers are strongly encouraged, to the extent they are able, to also take the temperature of each employee.

If an employee exhibits any of the listed symptoms or has a temperature above 100.4 degrees, the employer should provide the employee with a face mask, and the employee will be required to leave the workplace.

Additionally, the order provides "safety precautions applicable to all activities" by realtors during the extended period:
1. Anyone entering a home pursuant to this section must wear a mask and gloves and must not touch surfaces inside the home to the greatest extent possible. Lights must be turned on and interior doors opened prior to entry. Hand sanitizer or sanitized wipes must be provided to anyone entering a home before and after entering a home; and
2. Anyone entering a home pursuant to this section must assert that to the best of their knowledge, they are not currently ill with a cold or flu, do not have a fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath, or exhibit other COVID-19 symptoms; and have not been in contact with a person with COVID-19, and will adhere to and follow all precautions required for entering the property at all times.

3 p.m.

A Moore County deputy tested positive for COVID-19 late Thursday night.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said the Sheriff's Office is working with the Moore County Health Department to notify anyone who has been in contact with the deputy.

2 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a media briefing that North Carolina's schools will not reopen this school year.

"Today, we've had to make another tough choice. Together with Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson and School Board Chairman Eric Davis, we decided to continue remote learning for the rest of the school year for our K-12 public schools," Cooper said.

With remote learning set to continue through the end of this school year, Cooper announced that the state had entered into partnerships with AT&T and Duke Energy Foundation to provide 100 and 80 wi-fi hotspots, respectively, to school buses.

Cooper said these hotspots will help students who do not have home internet access.

Looking ahead, the governor said the jury was still out on summer school and summer camps.

"The opening of schools in the summer and fall and the availability of summer camps are going to depend on meeting health guidelines that will be established later," Cooper said.

He added, "I have every confidence that we will find a way to get schools open safely in the new school year."

10:45 a.m.
There were 444 more coronavirus cases confirmed in North Carolina by the state's Department of Health and Human Services. The new figures showed an additional 16 deaths to bring the total to 269.

There have now been 8,052 cases in the state across 93 counties.

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



RELATED | Here's how North Carolina health officials determine and report coronavirus deaths

10:40 a.m.
Wake County Public School System is prepared to continue remote learning with students "for as long as needed."

Superintendent Kathy Moore said the district believes it's critical to offer remote learning opportunities to all students.

"It's beneficial but should not be a cause of undue strain (to families)," she said.

Moore said the district was awaiting Gov. Roy Cooper's Friday announcement about the next steps for public schools in the state. Cooper is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m.; ABC11 will carry the news conference live on ABC11.com.

Moore also went over the district's grading policy for this year. The policy falls right in line with what North Carolina Department of Public Instruction recommended--full details can be found here.

According to the policy, students in grades 9-11 can request numerical grades. However, it's unclear at this time how those grades will be calculated.

"State education officials have promised additional guidance on this topic--and posted an FAQ just today. Once that information is received an processed we will provide more details about how grades will be handled in Wake County," Moore said.

10:30 a.m.
733,917 unemployment claims have been filed in North Carolina since March 15, according to the state. 628,244 were related to job losses from COVID-19.

Self-employed workers and independent contractors can file for unemployment starting Friday.

9:10 a.m.
The state confirms an inmate at Neuse Correctional Institution has died from pre-existing conditions complicated by COVID-19. This marks the second coronavirus-related death in the North Carolina prison system.

On Wednesday, it was confirmed an offender at Pender Correctional Institution died at the hospital from COVID-19.

Currently, there are 465 inmates that have tested positive for COVID-19 at Neuse Correctional.

All healthy offenders have been separated from those who have tested positive in order to stop the further spread of the virus at the facility, according to Wayne County officials. While they may be contagious, around 98 percent of the offenders who have tested positive at the prison have shown no symptoms.

"This situation is concerning but not a cause for panic," said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. "We are working in conjunction with our great partners in Wayne County and with the excellent team at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. We have quarantine and isolation protocols in place, operating in keeping with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. And we have dispatched reinforcements for the staff at Neuse Correctional. The security and medical teams are providing top-notch service in the face of the what are likely some of the most challenging times in their professional lives. They are the unsung heroes of North Carolina's law enforcement community."

FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES

On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper extended the North Carolina stay-at-home order until May 8--the order was initially set to expire on April 29. Cooper also announced a three-phase plan to reopen the state.

Cooper feels that before the order can be lifted, there needs to be a sustained decrease in cases, testing needs to be increased by double the current level and the state needs adequate personal protective equipment.

On Friday, Wake County school leaders believe Cooper will announce a delayed opening or cancellation of classes through the school year. The Wake County School Board is scheduled to meet virtually at 10 a.m., and Cooper will give his plan for the state's public schools at 2 p.m.

Self-employed workers in North Carolina can now apply for unemployment. Independent contractors and self-employed workers who lost jobs due to COVID-19 can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance starting Friday. Those interested can apply at des.nc.gov.

On Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction recommended new grading policies for students. Under the recommendations, no students would receive a failing grade for the spring semester.

Many students would also be able to determine if they wanted their numerical grade to count, or if they wanted the class to be judge as pass/withdrawal. Click here for specifics about the NCDPI's recommendations, but know that NCDPI recommendations are not official unless approved by the North Carolina Board of Education.

SEE ALSO: WCPSS seniors to be graded pass/fail for semester, decision not yet made for other students

As for COVID-19, the state is reporting 7,608 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 253 deaths. Although the state's medical experts say those numbers are surely lower than the reality.

A $484 billion stimulus package is heading to President Trump's desk that includes $310 billion to replenish the tapped-out loan program for small businesses. The bill comes as 26 million people have filed for unemployment since mid-March.

THURSDAY UPDATES
7:10 p.m.
Durham County Department of Health reports two additional COVID-19 related deaths, raising the county total to nine. Officials said both residents were over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions.

In the meantime, 500 Durham County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, a 31 case increase since Wednesday night.

6:55 p.m.
Wake County reported 633 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 11 deaths across the county. The average age of COVID-19 patients in the county is 49 years old.

6:40 p.m.
Orange County extended its stay-at-home order through May 8, the same day Gov. Roy Cooper's order is set to expire.

"We are monitoring the stats for Orange County and the state daily, and when the data indicates it is safe for us to ease these restrictions, we will do so," said Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair Penny Rich in a written statement.

6:30 p.m.
Cumberland County health officials reported an increase of 19 COVID-19 cases since Wednesday, bringing the county total to 173 cases.

In order to reduce the spread of the virus, county departments, including the Department of Public Health, will be closed Friday.

5:40 p.m.
Alamance County has reported its first COVID-19 related death. The patient, who was older than 65 and had underlying medical issues, had been hospitalized.

"We are deeply saddened by this news and our hearts are with their precious family who have lost someone they love and cherish. This loss affects our entire community," said Health Director Stacie Saunders. "It is so important that each of us take steps to protect ourselves and others to prevent the spread of this virus, especially to our most vulnerable populations. We urge the community to continue to practice social distancing and the recommended general precautions in order to protect themselves, their loved ones, and our neighbors."

5:20 p.m.

Sixteen additional cases were reported in Lee County, raising the overall number of cases to 80.

Of those 80 cases, the Lee County Health Department continues to monitor 73 of them. Seven of which have returned to normal activities.

4:10 p.m.
In agreement with Gov. Cooper's stay-at-home order extension, the Mayor of Fayetteville has extended the citywide curfew until May 8. Curfew hours remain the same.

4:10 p.m.
The Harnett County Health Department is monitoring a COVID-19 outbreak at a long-term care facility after 50 residents and staff tested positive.

According to the health department, 45 of those residents and 5 employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The county has since seen 113 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 48 of those have since recovered. Five have died.

3:25 p.m.
Gov. Cooper announced that North Carolina's Stay-at-Home order will be extended by eight days.

Cooper's initial order, which went into effect March 30, was set to expire on April 29. The new order will expire on May 8.

More information here.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen outlined the trends surrounding COVID-19 in North Carolina, including what needs to happen for the state to reopen.

WATCH: Full NCDHHS media briefing Monday
EMBED More News Videos

Full media briefing: State officials discuss the latest developments on COVID-19 in NC



First, Cohen explained that the number of COVID-like syndromic cases has been decreasing for the past 14 days. However, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases is still increasing, albeit more slowly than at the start of the outbreak.

"We want to see a decrease or a sustained leveling of cases," Cohen said, explaining that there may not be a peak of cases in North Carolina, but the number of cases reported daily may level out, and that sustained leveling would allow North Carolina to begin to reopen.

Additionally, Cohen said the percentage of positive tests has been leveling, if not decreasing slightly, but health officials would like to see that number decrease significantly over the next 14 days.

"A lot of positive signs, but we're not there yet," Cohen said.

Cohen also said the number of people in the hospital has stayed relatively level since the start of the outbreak.

"We would love to see this trend downward, but leveling is a good sign," Cohen said. "We know we aren't seeing an upward trend in hospitalizations."

WATCH: DHHS Secretary Cohen explains trends surrounding COVID-19 outbreak in North Carolina
EMBED More News Videos



Cohen laid out plans to increase the state's testing capacity from 2,500-3,000 tests per day to 5,000-7,000 tests per day, as seen over the past two days.

Cohen also said the department would double the number of contact tracers employed to identify close contacts of infected individuals. The state currently has 250 tracers and hopes to increase that number to 500.

In addition, Cohen said the state would continue to get personal protective equipment-particularly surgical gowns and N95 masks-so the state has enough to supply health care workers, nursing home staff, prison staff and first responders with equipment for 30 days.

2:30 p.m.
Halifax County reports four more positive cases of COVID-19, raising the county total to 44. One person has died from COVID-19 related struggles.

Twenty-two residents have since recovered from the virus, according to the Halifax County Health Department.

1:10 p.m.
Eight more COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Wake County, and one more person has died of the virus.

The update brings Wake County up to 630 confirmed cases and 11 deaths.

Those numbers were reported after the state health department update its website to show at least 7,608 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 253 deaths attributed to the virus.

12:30 p.m.
North Carolina independent contractors and self-employed workers out of work because of COVID-19 can start applying for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance beginning Friday, April 24, DES announced. Read more about how to apply here.

State health director talks reopening economy, COVID-19 testing
EMBED More News Videos

Dr. Betsey Tilson answers COVID-19 questions for ABC11.



11 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 388 more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 7,608 cases. At least 253 deaths have been reported statewide.

This is how North Carolina reports COVID-19 deaths

As North Carolina emphasizes testing as a major pillar of Gov. Roy Cooper's plan to reopen the state, public and private laboratories have completed at least 96,185 tests, an increase of nearly 6,000 tests from the previous day.

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

At least 1,133 reported cases were in nursing homes from 40 ongoing outbreaks, nearly 1 out of every 6 cases. At least 95 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19.

While the majority of laboratory-confirmed cases are in people between the ages of 25 and 49, the majority of those who have died from complications related to the disease are 65 years and older. Additionally, though roughly the same number of men and women have tested positive for the virus, more men have died from COVID-19.

CORONAVIRUS MAP: Tracking COVID-19 across North Carolina

10:05 a.m.
More than 14,000 more people filed for unemployment in North Carolina on April 22.

The state's Division of Employment Security said that brings the total of unemployment claims to 719,452 since COVID-19 layoffs began on March 15. The group said 617,422 of the unemployment claims are directly related to COVID-19.

'I'm desperately in need of help:' Some in North Carolina still haven't been able to get unemployment benefits

So far, the state has only paid 281,050 people--that's less than 40 percent of those who have filed.

The division is overwhelmed, since it previously only handled a few thousand claims per week. State leaders are working to increase the divisions capability to handle and service all of the unemployment claims.

SEE ALSO: NC Unemployment FAQs

9:15 a.m.
To reopen or remain closed: That is the question on everybody's mind as stay-at-home orders across the country begin coming to their initial expiration dates.

Thousands of ABC11 viewers have responded to unofficial online polls asking if they think the state is ready to reopen. The overwhelming response has been against reopening.

That response is in line with national polls that show 80 percent of Americans believe stay-at-home orders are working and should continue, at least for a little while longer.

Gov. Roy Cooper is slated to speak at 3 p.m. Sources tell ABC11 that Cooper will talk about his plan for reopening the state.

State Health Director Dr. Betsey Tilson, one of Cooper's advisors, said nobody wants to reopen the state more than Cooper. She said he continues to look at trends in the state's COVID-19 cases, fatalities, hospitalizations, etc. to determine the safest course for North Carolina.

WATCH: State health director talks reopening economy, COVID-19 testing

8:40 a.m.
More than 4.4 million applied for unemployment benefits last week, as more than 26 million have applied for aid since the coronavirus pandemic began forcing American businesses to close.

In North Carolina, more than 700,000 have filed unemployment claims since March 15.
Related topics:
health & fitness
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.