Durham County now at 800 COVID-19 cases; Gov. Cooper outlines first phase of reopening

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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10 p.m.

ABC11 spoke to businesses ahead of the state's phase one reopening Friday. Some businesses are ready to open up shop while some are going to wait a little longer.

Laura Gerenser of Adventures in Bloom decided not to reopen right away even though she could've. Her store is aiming for June 1.

"There's literally nothing that says I couldn't have opened," said Gerenser. "However talking to my staff, talking to my own family we just didn't feel it was the right time to open back up. You just have to take everything day by day. Let's see what tomorrow brings."

Mandy Becker of Swagger Boutique opened up shop this week with limited capacity, hand sanitizer at checkout and closed dressing rooms.

"It was just time to just get back to work, to have our employees back making money so we could pay our rent and all the items we have in our store," said Becker. "I'm not fearful of being open. I feel like we're taking all the precautions that we can. People have been at big box stores all this time and I feel like we can do a better job of making sure everything is clean and making sure people are the right distance apart so no I'm not fearful."

7:45 p.m.
The total number of COVID-19 cases confirmed among Durham County residents is 800.

The Durham County Department of Public Health also confirmed two more COVID-19-related deaths of residents, for a total of 28 in Durham County.

The residents who died were both older than 65 and had multiple underlying health conditions.

6:45 p.m.
Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, questioned what he called Gov. Roy Cooper's blanket statewide order.

"Gov. Cooper's announcement today is largely a continuation of the existing lockdown," Berger said in a statement. "A statewide stay-at-home order still remains in place, and nearly every business that applied for essential status has already been operating at limited capacity so long as they practice social distancing."

The governor outlined his Phase 1 reopening plan in a media briefing Tuesday aftenoon.

"We were told 'flattening the curve' to prevent overloading hospitals justified a lockdown. Hospitals are not overloaded, and in fact they're laying people off," Berger said.

He also noted that in North Carolina right now, more than half of the state's 100 counties comprise less than 10 percent of confirmed cases.

"So what is the theory to support this plan - eliminate infections or just delay them? Gov. Cooper apparently disagrees with Colorado's Democratic Governor and others who say that a continuing shutdown will not cause a peak in COVID-19 cases to be any less severe, it will only push it down the line," Berger said. "Why is a blanket, one-size-fits-all statewide order justified? I'm concerned that Gov. Cooper is ignoring more reasonable approaches and the experiences of the majority of states."

5:45 p.m.
Regarding schools, Gov. Cooper said officials are hopeful that North Carolina's schools and universities will be operating in the Fall.

"We know that most likely COVID-19 will still be here but we hope that we will have flattened the curve and will have instituted safety measures, social distancing, sanitizing to make schools and universities as safe as possible and people are working on those plans right now to make sure that can happen," he said.

5:30 p.m.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina's Secretary of Health and Human Services, outlined where the state is currently on those four metrics.

First, Cohen said the number of COVID-like syndromic cases in North Carolina emergency rooms is declining again after a small peak.

Cohen also said the state was continuing to see the number of COVID-19 cases announced each day increase, but there are signs that number may be leveling out. Cohen said this was the only benchmark the state had yet to meet, but added that because the state had doubled the number of tests it is doing each day, the number of cases would logically increase.

Additionally, Cohen said the percentage of positive tests out of total completed tests is decreasing--another positive sign.

Finally, Cohen also noted the number of hospitalizations in the state continues to stay roughly level.

Cohen said more than 4,000 people applied to be contact tracers in the state, and the state supply chain for personal protective equipment is finding larger supplies of all PPE except surgical gowns.

"We're not perfect, but we're stable," Cohen said.

5:12 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina will enter Phase One of the state's three-part plan to "reignite" its economy, allowing most stores and parks to open but keep businesses like bars and salons closed.

In a news conference Tuesday, Cooper said his new Executive Order will officially enact Phase One as of 5 p.m. on Friday, May 8.

"I have seen countless stories of North Carolinians looking out for each other as we work to make it through day by day," he said. "Whenever you stay home, sanitize a grocery cart, go out wearing a face covering and stay physically distant, you are looking out for your neighbor."

The revised stay-at-home order will allow retail stores that were previously designated as "nonessential"--including clothing, sporting goods and houseware stores--to welcome customers for the first time since March. The businesses, however, must screen their employees for symptoms, ensure capacity never exceeds 50 percent of the building's total fire capacity, maintain social distancing among shoppers, and conduct routine maintenance and sanitation.

Read more about that here.

3:27 p.m.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians released a statement regarding the announcement that an agreement had been struck to begin immediately distributing $4.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds to Native American tribes.

"We are grateful to President Trump, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Secretary Bernhardt and Secretary Mnuchin for their efforts to disburse these funds to Tribal Nations," said Principal Chief Richard Sneed. "While much work remains to be done, we appreciate their thoughtful approach to navigating a thorny issue and look forward to working with them to resolve other outstanding issues."

3:24 p.m.
In the Council of the State meeting on Monday, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall warned residents about buying from online pharmacies. She said a major announcement is coming Wednesday with the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies about the risks of buying from them. According to Marshall, research shows a whopping 97 percent of online pharmacies are fake or operating outside of the U.S. law.

Consumers can go to verifybeforeyoubuy.org to find out if the online pharmacy they are considering working with is legit.

North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell was also in the meeting. He is getting over his own battle with COVID-19.

He said he was in the hospital for several days but was alert the whole time. He had this warning about the FDA rushing to approve products: "What I'll tell you as a survivor of that is that there are a lot of products being sold right now or a lot of things are being said right now about the efficacy of certain products and they simply don't work. The FDA will give preliminary approval to certain things and then a few days later, they pull that approval back."

11:30 a.m.
Approximately 100 people turned out in Raleigh for a ReOpen NC protest.

The protesters gathered outside NC General Assembly and allowed several speakers to talk about why they thought it was time to reopen business and repeal stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

11 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is now reporting 12,256 confirmed cases in the state. That's an increase of 408 from Monday.

22 more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 452.

Here are the 3 phases of Gov. Roy Cooper's reopening plan

Robeson(45), Wake(28) and Rowan(25) counties saw the biggest increases in cases.

63 of the new cases and 11 of the deaths were associated with congregate living settings.

80 percent of the state reported no new deaths in the last 24 hours.

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

After a day of missing the testing benchmark, the state hit it once again in the last 24 hours with 5,361. The state aims to test 5,000 to 7,000 patients each day.

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

HOW ARE WE DOING?

Gov. Roy Cooper has previously outlined his plan for the three phases of reopening for North Carolina. But before that can happen, the state needs to meet certain benchmarks, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen has said.

Here's how we're doing on some of those:
Decrease in percent of positive tests? We decreased in the last 24 hours. 6 percent of tests came back positive in the last 24 hours. It has been previously hovering around 8 percent.
Hospitalizations decreasing? We are leveling out. The state saw a 7 percent increase from Monday but Cohen said the numbers we're seeing have been considered level.
Testing capacity? The state hit this benchmark with 5,361 tests reported in the last 24 hours. This comes after two days of not meeting that threshold.
Contract tracers? 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.

10:00 a.m.
Another increase in unemployment filings brings North Carolina's total to 1,032,117--866,570 of those claims are directly related to COVID-19.

The state has paid out $1,335,391,588 to 449,988 people since March 15. That means more than half of the people who have filed for unemployment still have not received any compensation.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Roy Cooper responds to frustrations as nearly 1 million North Carolinians file for unemployment

8:00 a.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper will hold a public briefing at 5 p.m. He's expected to talk more about moving North Carolina into the first phase of his reopening plan.

The state's stay-at-home order has been in effect since March 30, but it is scheduled to expire Friday, May 8.

Cooper's three part approach to reopening the state falls in line with recommendations from the federal government. During each phase, officials will be monitoring the number of positive cases and any noticeable spike in cases, the percentage of positive tests and the number of overall hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

Phase 1 of the reopen plan includes opening more retail businesses, but requiring them to adhere to social distancing policies and heightened sanitation precautions.

We explain more about the reopening phases here:
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Gatherings will still be limited to no more than 10 people and restaurants and bars will not yet be allowed to have dine-in services. Likewise, salons, barbershops and gyms must remain closed.

Parks will likely be allowed to reopen.

SEE ALSO: What must happen in order for North Carolina to reopen

Phase 2 of the reopening plan can likely happen 2-3 weeks after phase 1. Phase 2 includes a lifting of the stay-at-home order and allowing limited dine-in services at restaurants.

Cooper is expected to lay out more specifics of this plan at 5 p.m. ABC11 will stream his briefing live on ABC11.com.

WATCH: May 3 marked two months since North Carolina's first COVID-19 case. Here's a timeline of what has happened since
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TUESDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Two protests and a press conference are scheduled for Tuesday morning in Raleigh as North Carolinians with conflicting views on the reopening of the state make their voices heard.

North Carolina medical professionals are going to be protesting what they believe is a "premature opening up" at the legislative building in Raleigh at 9:30 a.m.

Then at 10:30 a.m., ReOpen NC is holding a press conference and a protest contained to a parking lot.

"In the interest of Public Safety, Tuesday's protest rally will be primarily contained to the public parking lot at 16 W. Jones. No scheduled march is planned at this time," the activist group said in a statement.

The state could see the first phase of easing restrictions by the end of the week. The stay-at-home order is currently scheduled to last through Friday.

Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force will hold a briefing on COVID-19 updates at 5 p.m. On Monday, Cooper signed a bill with more than $1.5 billion in emergency relief funding for the state.

Wake County saw its fourth outbreak at a long-term care facility. County health leaders said several employees and residents at UNC Rex Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center of Apex have COVID-19. An outbreak is considered two or more positive cases.

The death toll in the state sits at at least 430 after eight more deaths were announced Monday. On Monday, the state announced 184 new cases, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 11,848.

More than 1 million unemployment claims have been filed in North Carolina since mid-March. More than 840,000 of those claims are related to COVID-19.

Carlie C's will be giving out up to 40,000 pounds of chicken Tuesday morning in conjunction with House of Raeford Farms at Manna Church on Cliffdale Road in Fayetteville. The giveaway starts at 8 a.m.

MONDAY
8 p.m.
Wake County health officials reported the fourth outbreak at a long-term care facility in the county.

According to a news release, multiple people--including both employees and residents--at UNC REX Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center of Apex tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Health officials did not specify how many cases or deaths had been reported at the facility.

"As we've seen with previous outbreaks, the coronavirus can spread quickly through communities where people live near each other in relatively close quarters," said Dr. Jeff Williams, a representative for the Wake County Emergency Operations Center's public health branch, in a written statement. "We're working closely with this facility to minimize the number of people exposed to the virus."



7 p.m.
Durham County is reporting 790 total positive COVID-19 cases, up 23 from Sunday. There have been two more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing that total to 26. The residents were over 65 and had multiple underlying health conditions.

6:55 p.m.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners announced the county received $194 million as part of the federal CARES Act.

In a news release, leaders said $4 million would be made available as loans for small businesses, and $1 million would go to independent contractors--including barbers and hairstylists who won't be able to open until Phase 2 of Gov. Roy Cooper's reopening plan.

"Coronavirus has taken its toll on our small businesses, and many of them are struggling to make ends meet," Commissioner Matt Calabria said in a written statement. "That's why we're working to provide them with the support they need to stay afloat as we weather this crisis together."

An additional $2 million will go to the county's housing department to help support residents experiencing homelessness or struggling to pay rent.

6:10 p.m.
Robeson County reported 45 more positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 281. There have been six deaths.

The oldest person who tested positive was 74 and the youngest patient is a 4-year-old.

5:55 p.m.
There are 320 COVID-19 cases throughout Cumberland County, up 31 since Saturday. Eight residents have died from complications from the virus.

The average age for positive cases is 44 with 53 percent of cases being female. African-Americans make up 37 percent of the cases.

5:15 p.m.
Halifax County reported two new COVID-19 cases, bringing the county total to 71 cases with 1 death. The county said 364 people have tested negative for the virus and 45 COVID-19 patients have recovered.

County officials said the cases are spread across the county and there are no "hotspots."

4:45 p.m.
Lee County Health Department reported 17 new COVID-19 cases since Friday, including seven cases identified Saturday, five identified Sunday and five more identified Monday.

The county has confirmed a total of 205 cases, 39 of whom have resumed normal activities.

2:45 p.m.
A provision included in the COVID-19 bill signed into law Monday by Governor Cooper grants a five-month extension of the expiration date on more than two dozen DMV credentials.

The bill also allows the DMV to waive any penalties for a late registration renewal during the extension period. Customers who already paid a $15 fee for a late renewal in March or April will be reimbursed.

The five-month extension applies to any credential that expires on or after March 1, and before August 1.

The list includes: Driver license, Learner's permit, Limited learner's permit, Limited provisional license, Full provisional license, Commercial driver license, Commercial learner's permit, Temporary driving certificate, Special identification card, Handicapped placard, Vehicle registration, Temporary vehicle registration, Dealer license plate,Transporter plate, Loaner/Dealer "LD" plate, Vehicle inspection authorization, Inspection station license, Inspection mechanic license, Transportation network company permit, Motor vehicle dealer license, Sales representative license, Manufacturer license, Distributor license, Wholesaler license, Driver training school license, Driver training school instructor license and Professional house-moving license.

The bill also extends the due dates for motor vehicle taxes that are tied to vehicle registration to correspond with the extended expiration dates.

In addition, there is also an extension of the expiration of an Intrastate Medical Waiver for up to five months, if the DMV Medical Review Unit determines the extension is appropriate.

And it confirms the validity of a driving eligibility certificate dated on or after Feb. 9, and before March 10, to meet the requirements for a license or permit until 30 days after the date the Governor rescinds the State of Emergency Executive Order or the date the DMV reopens all driver license offices, whichever is earlier.

11:45 a.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed two COVID-19 relief bills, which outline how North Carolina will distribute $1.5 billion from the federal CARES Act to North Carolinians.

Read more about the bills here.

"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and they deserve our support right now," Cooper said. "I hope the spirit of consensus that brings us together today will continue."

North Carolina Senate Leader Phill Berger said he admired the leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly. Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue added that he understood that the restrictions are difficult, but said the efforts by North Carolinians had saved lives.

"The bipartisan work we've accomplished shows what we can do when we put people above politics," Blue said.

House Speaker Tim Moore echoed Blue's sentiments, adding, "It's been very refreshing to see everyone put aside whatever differences they had or thought they had, and be able to work together for the common good."

House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson stressed that the bills signed into law Monday were just a beginning and said he is planning work on the next bill.

"Science tells us there will be peaks and there will be lows," Jackson said. "This virus is not going away."

Jackson said he hopes the next bill will expand health care and provide more help for the more than 1 million unemployed workers in the state.

10:50 a.m.
An additional 184 cases of coronavirus were reported Monday morning, bringing the state's total to 11,848. Eight more deaths were announced, making 430 virus-related deaths since late March.

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

The state reported another 23 were hospitalized with another 2,604 tests administered. The number of tests is down 40 percent from Sunday. The state aims to test 5,000 to 7,000 patients each day. The numbers range across 99 counties.

Since Friday, Mecklenburg (83), Wilkes (73) and Wake County (52) have added the most new cases.

Rowan (4), Durham (3), Johnston (3) counties saw the most new deaths.

Mecklenburg and Wake counties still lead the state in cases and Mecklenburg and Guilford counties lead the state in deaths.

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

There are now 498 people hospitalized in the state.

Avery County is the only county in the state without a confirmed case of COVID-19 at this time.

10:30 a.m.
Now more than 1 million unemployment claims have been made in North Carolina since March 15, with 84 percent of them related to COIVD-19.

More than $1 billion ($1,267,645,207) has been paid out for claims in that period. 1,008,641 claims were made since March 15. 847,748 of the claims were related to the virus.

The single-day high for claims filed was April 24, when 54,4495 claims were made. 11,869 claims were filed on Friday, May 3.
MONDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to sign a $1.5 billion package to address the new coronavirus pandemic in North Carolina that will send money to schools, hospitals, local governments and researchers.

Here's what the North Carolina coronavirus relief package means for you

The package includes $85 million going to five universities to help research the virus, $50 million going toward buying personal protective equipment and $25 million going toward expanding testing and tracing. Around $150 million will go to further education with new computers and school nutrition programs. The bill will also delay car inspections and license renewals until August.

Deleted from the bill was a Senate provision to raise the maximum weekly state unemployment benefit from $350 to $400 once federal benefits are exhausted and a House provision to let still-shuttered restaurants sell take-out mixed drinks

Cooper will share updates on the state's response at 11:30 a.m. ABC11 will stream the update on its website and Facebook page.

What does reopening North Carolina look like? We break it down
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The state is looking to enter Phase 1 of reopening this week. (Here are the 3 phases of Gov. Cooper's reopening plan) State officials want to see a downward trajectory in sustained cases for 14 days before moving forward. They also want to ensure hospitals have enough protective gear and supplies for all patients. Should the state enter Phase 1, the stay-at-home order will remain in place and gatherings will be limited to 10 people or less. Phase 1 would last 2 to 3 weeks.

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

Gov. Cooper said there's always a chance the state would have to return to a previous phase if there's a large spike in cases and deaths.

On Sunday, North Carolina health officials reported 11,664 COVID-19 cases throughout 99 counties, up 155 since Saturday. Wake County is reporting 887 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 19 deaths.

32 states have lifted at least some restrictions related to COVID-19. Seven states will take at least one step toward reopening on Monday.

The experimental drug Remdesivir is expected to arrive in hospitals across the country this week. Health officials believe the drug could help patients recover from the virus faster.

Delta, JetBlue and United Airlines are now requiring passengers to wear masks during flights. Last week, a woman's video of a nearly full flight went viral. Ride-hailing company Uber will soon require all passengers and drivers to wear masks. Walgreens and Costco are also requiring customers to wear masks now.
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