Coronavirus live updates: State of Emergency declared in Durham County, encourages residents to practice social distancing

WTVD logo
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Coronavirus NC: Sunday COVID-19 updates on deadly pandemic
Coronavirus NC: Sunday COVID-19 updates on deadly pandemicDurham County Chair of the Board Wendy Jacobs declared a formal state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina health officials said Sunday there are 32 coronavirus cases throughout the state.

Here are the latest updates on coronavirus in North Carolina:

  • Wake County - 14 cases
  • Durham County - 1 case
  • Chatham County - 1 case
  • Harnett County - 2 case
  • Johnston County - 2 case
  • Wayne County - 1 case
  • Forsyth County - 2 cases
  • Cabarrus County - 1 case
  • Mecklenburg County (NC) - 4 cases
  • Craven County - 1 case
  • Onslow County - 1 case
  • Brunswick County - 1 case
  • Watauga County - 1 case

NOTE: The numbers in this map may be different from what NCDHHS is reporting. That's because their count does not include cases diagnosed by private laboratories.


9:35 p.m.

Durham County Chair of the Board Wendy Jacobs declared a formal state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday.

The declaration was made following President Trump's declaration of a national emergency, Governor Roy Cooper's Executive Order and the North Carolina State of Emergency issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a news release, Durham residents are encouraged to practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

So far, Durham only has one confirmed coronavirus case in the county.

8:30 p.m.

All Wake County public libraries and facilities will be closing on Monday, March 16.

The facilities will be closed through Friday, March 27.

"The health and safety of our library and park staff and the people who visit our locations remain our No. 1 priority," said Frank Cope, director of Community Services for Wake County in a news release. "We will continue to monitor conditions and will resume regular services and programs when it is deemed appropriate by public health officials."

The closure affects offices and centers at Wake County Parks and Rec locations.

Parks and reserve grounds will remain open, but visitors are asked to practice social distancing.

View a list of county parks here.

7 p.m.

Fort Bragg Schools will be open for staff and students on Monday, March 16 with an early 11:30 a.m. dismissal, according to the Department of Defense Education Activity.

After students are dismissed, Fort Bragg schools will be closed until further notice. Moving forward, all school buildings at Fort Bragg will be closed.

Online learning will be communicated to parents prior to March 18.

6 p.m.

The Wake County Public Health Division announced that there are a total of 14 cases in Wake County. The county is working to confirm who may have come in close contact with the affected people and what their risk of exposure might be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines "close contact" as being within six feet of the patient for 10 minutes or more.

The health department said in a news release:

The affected individuals started showing symptoms of COVID-19 between March 6 and 11. The CDC says COVID-19 is most likely to be transmitted when affected people are symptomatic.

On March 8, a resident flew to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Also on March 8, a resident attended the BrickUniverse Lego Fan Convention at the Raleigh Convention Center from 2 - 4 p.m. Anyone who was at the event during that time period is asked to call our COVID-19 information line at 919-856-7044.

Public health staff believe there is little risk to anyone who came in contact with the affected people at any other locations since they were not symptomatic or in close contact with others. Since these are not locations of concern, Wake County is not releasing their names.

4:15 p.m.

A Target spokesperson has confirmed that a Brier Creek Parkway employee in Raleigh has tested positive for a case of the coronavirus.

"Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members and guests, and we're taking a number of steps to move forward," a Target spokesperson wrote.

Target said they have since placed the employee, who is now quarantined, on paid leave.

The retail company will now work to "deep clean and sanitize the store."

The Wake County Public Health Division said there is "little risk to anyone who came in contact with the affected" person "since they were not symptomatic or in close contact with others."

3 p.m.

A Wake County resident who tested positive for COVID-19 attended the BrickUniverse Lego Fan Convention at the Raleigh Convention Center on March 8 from 2-4 p.m.

The person was symptomatic.

"Because the crowd was so large and so mobile, we have no way to identify who came in close contact with this person during the Lego convention," said Dr. Jose Cabanas, the county's EMS Director/Medical Director who is overseeing public health operations today in the Emergency Operations Center. "We need the community's help to determine who was potentially at risk of exposure to the virus."

The Wake County Public Health Division asks anyone who was at the event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on March 8 to call a COVID-19 information line at 919-856-7044.

At this time, the county does not believe anyone at the Lego convention outside of the 2 p.m.-to-4 p.m. timeframe on March 8 was at risk of contracting COVID-19.

2 p.m.

Wilson County Government announced a woman tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from out-of-state travel. Officials said the woman became symptomatic, had a negative flu test and was tested for COVID-19 Friday. The woman is being hospitalized outside of Wilson County.

This case is not yet reflected in NCDHHS's case count.

1 p.m.

Durham County announced Durham County Libraries will be closed until further notice. No fines since March 6 will be accrued.

12 p.m.

Cary Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources facilities will be closed until further notice as Wake County sees its 14th coronavirus case. Classes, events, camps and facility rentals are canceled.

9 a.m.

Many church services and masses across the state were canceled due to the pandemic.

NC executive order bans mass gatherings of over 100 people. But what does it mean?

Pastor Andy Thompson of World Overcomers Christian Church in RTP has a message for those who have had services canceled.

A Sunday message for those whose church service was canceled due to the coronavirus

Harris Teeter will start closing all stores at 9 p.m. starting Sunday in order to clean and restock stores amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Walmart, Wegmans, Harris Teeter cutting hours to clean, restock in response to coronavirus

RELATED: How to stock up for coronavirus: What you need, and why you shouldn't panic-buy


In a Saturday news conference, Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order that closes all North Carolina public schools for two weeks, the order also bans mass gatherings of more than 100 people.

Gov. Roy Cooper orders all K-12 public schools to close as more coronavirus cases are announced

North Carolina health officials said there were 23 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

The NCDHHS case numbers may differ from other numbers that have been released by other agencies because they may not include cases diagnosed by private laboratories.

8:20 p.m.

Harnett County health officials announced a second resident has tested presumptive positive for coronavirus on Saturday.

According to a news release, the affected person is currently in isolation at this time.

7:10 p.m.

Wake County Public Health Division announced they will continue to investigate people who may have been in close contact with the ninth person who tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus.

6:45 p.m.

Johnston County announced a second resident has tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.

"This is not unexpected since this case is associated with our initial case as they reside in the same household," said Johnston County Health Director Dr. Marilyn Pearson in a news release. "It's likely that more individuals will test presumptively positive for the virus."

According to health officials, the person is in isolation at this time.

5:15 p.m.

The Wake County Public Health Division announced an eleventh person has tested positive for COVID-19.

Health officials said the person remains at home in isolation.

4:20 p.m.

In a Saturday news conference, Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order that closes all North Carolina public schools for two weeks, the order also stops mass gatherings of more than 100 people.

WATCH: Gov. Cooper issues executive order of NC

RELATED: Gov. Roy Cooper orders all K-12 public schools to close as more coronavirus cases are announced

"Hindsight is 20/20. I don't want any regrets in our rearview mirror when this pandemic subsides," Cooper said. "I am guided by a clear goal - doing all we can to keep people from getting sick and to make sure that those who do have excellent care and treatment."

The warning was issued as guidance on Thursday that ordered the stop of mass gatherings, now it is enforced.

The order does not apply to restaurant, shopping malls and other retail stores, but health officials are urging people to be mindful of "social distancing" as guidance by the CDC.

3:00 p.m.

Wake County officials announced Saturday a WCPSS teacher at Fuquay-Varina Elementary tested positive for COVID-19. The person began feeling ill on Tuesday, March 10. Wake County Public Health Division is currently contacting anyone who may have come into close contact. Officials are still determining a timeline of places the person may have been while symptomatic.

All Wake County Schools will be closed from March 16 through at least Friday, March 27.

WATCH: Parents react to teacher testing positive for COVID-19

Wake County officials announced Saturday a WCPSS teacher at Fuquay-Varina Elementary tested positive for COVID-19.

2:50 p.m.

New Hanover County officials said Saturday a Brunswick County resident who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 flew into ILM Airport on Tuesday, March 10 while symptomatic. The resident drove home and didn't visit any New Hanover County locations. The person is in self-isolation.

1:10 p.m.

The spouse of Nash UNC Health Care staff member tested positive for coronavirus, according to UNC Health spokesman Alan Wolf. The staff member was tested, does not have the virus and will remain quarantined at home. There are no confirmed cases in Nash County.

Wake County Schools sent an update Saturday saying "maximum flexibility" will be used when excusing absences.

Wake County Public Schools will stay open, excuse absences with 'maximum flexibility'

Some grocery store chains announced shorter hours in order to provide proper restocking and sanitation.

Starting Saturday, Publix will begin closing at 8 p.m.

Early Saturday, The House approved legislation to provide direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic.


9:20 p.m.

Cape Fear Valley Health said it has had a presumptive positive COVID-19 case at an outpatient facility.

Harnett County officials said the person traveled "multiple places" and tested presumed positive upon returning home.

The patient resides in Harnett County and is recovering in self-isolation at home per CDC guidelines.

Harnett County Public Health is creating a timeline of where this case went and places visited while symptomatic.

Cape Fear Valley said it expects confirmation of the findings from the Health Department on Monday.

RELATED: How Asian countries decreased rate of COVID-19 spread

RELATED: NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, Elon, NCCU, Wake Tech: Universities take precautions amid Coronavirus pandemic

RELATED: Duke Energy won't disconnect power for nonpayment of bills as coronavirus causes financial hardship

8:20 p.m.

A Wake County resident has tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, raising the county total to nine, Wake County Health officials said.

According to the Wake County Public Health Division, the case is related to the group of patients who tested positive earlier this week after coming in contact with a symptomatic person at Biogen in Research Triangle Park.

"We are working to quickly establish a timeline of their movements, so we can effectively identify places they visited and determine if anyone was at increased risk of exposure," said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald. "We will reach out to those who came in close contact with this person to assess their condition and take appropriate next steps."

7:45 p.m.

Wake County Public School System said they will remain open and continue to operate on a regular schedule. The school district is following guidance from health officials.

"We are doing this because we understand that the public school system plays a vital role in our community, far beyond our core purpose of teaching and learning," the district said in a Facebook post. "We understand that keeping the public school system open is critical for the health and safety of our community."

5:40 p.m.

The Durham Performing Arts Center canceled all of its showings of Les Mis from March 13 to March 15.

Affected ticket buyers who purchased using a credit card will receive an automatic refund.

Those who purchased with cash are asked to return to the Ticket Center to receive a refund.

5:30 p.m.

The City of Durham issued a State of Emergency Friday evening.

"We are all aware of the significant public health dangers posed by COVID-19," said Mayor Schewel. "We know that social distancing is one of the most important ways of keeping us all safe. I know this will be a hardship on venues like DPAC and the Carolina Theatre, and I am very grateful for their close cooperation as we make these decisions together."

The State of Emergency prohibits groups of 100 or more person to gather within any government-owned buildings in the city.

The Declaration expires at 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 28.

5:20 p.m.

A Wayne County resident tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The person is in quarantine at home. Wayne County officials did not say how the resident may have gotten the virus or if they were in contact with others while symptomatic.

Duke University announced that three graduate students tested positive for the coronavirus while traveling overseas. All three are receiving treatment outside the United States and are doing well. All students who were on the same trip that have returned to Durham will remain in isolation for 14 days. Duke said any that were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms have been tested and are awaiting results.

5:10 p.m.

ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson debunked several coronavirus hoaxes, including a voicemail intended to create fear and emails meant to steal your personal information.

5:00 p.m.

In a news conference, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo-Tilson said all 15 positive cases in North Carolina either traveled internationally or had contact with someone who was showing symptoms. No cases have been contracted through community spread, meaning the source of the infection is unknown.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state lab completed 101 tests as of 8:45 a.m., and has the supplies to complete 600 more. However, she said private laboratories are ramping up their testing capabilities and are reporting any positive tests to the state health department.

Cohen said anyone who has a fever, symptoms or a lower respiratory illness and tests negative for the flu should get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

"We're asking folks to use their best judgement and be vigilant," Cohen said.

Cohen also doubled down on Thursday's guidance not to close schools preemptively, citing similar recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, she said the situation is changing rapidly.

"We know that closing schools potentially can have a lot of unintended consequences," Cohen said.

Cohen cited a CDC statistic, saying 40 percent of children often get their childcare from their grandparents.

"So if we close the schools, how many kids are going to be with grandma and grandpa--understandably, because mom and dad have to go to work," Cohen said. "Then, they're putting grandma and grandpa at risk."

3:30 p.m.

Duke Chapel, the Nasher Art museum and Duke Gardens are expected to be closed to visitors until May 7.

3 p.m.

Orange County declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a news release, county officials said the declaration allows the county to implement emergency procedures and receive state and federal resources.

2:30 p.m.

Cardinal Gibbons High School announced it will be closed from March 17 to March 30.

2 p.m.

Wake County declares State of Emergency in response to COVID-19. "Although the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus remains low in Wake County, I signed a State of Emergency declaration today as a proactive move to ensure we have the flexibility we need to respond to this ever-changing situation in the days and weeks ahead," said Chairman Ford. "This is largely an administrative action and should not heighten fears or fuel panic among our residents."

During a news conference, Durham Public Schools offered more information about the district's plans to close schools between March 16 and April 3. DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga said students will be given supplemental educational materials starting March 23. DPS will have a daily feeding program for Durham County Children starting March 23, similar to its summer meals initiative.

1:30 p.m.

Orange County announced all libraries would be closed to the public. Activities are also suspended at Passmore Senior Center and Seymour Senior Center. All Department of Parks and Recreation classes and sports leagues are suspended until further notice.

Shaw University in Raleigh asked that all students who have left campus for spring break do not return. Classes will be held online through the end of the spring semester.

1 p.m.

Experts say "social distancing" is the best way to mitigate the impact of the new coronavirus pandemic that's now taking a hold of America. But what does it mean, and why is it effective? More information here.

12:40 p.m.

Raleigh's Dreamvile Festival has been postponed and moved to Aug. 29 at Dorothea Dix Park. A release from the festival said all tickets for the event, originally scheduled for April, will be honored. Ticket-holders unable to attend the rescheduled event will be offered refunds.

"While this decision has been extremely difficult to make, the safety of our fans, artists and staff is always our top priority, and nothing will ever take precedence over your well-being," a statement read.

11:30 a.m.

Carowinds announced it will delay its seasonal park opening until April 3. Carowinds Camp Wilderness and the Springhill Suites will remain open.

"Our guests and associates are considered family," Carowinds said in a written statement. "We have their well-being at the forefront of our decision-making."

11:15 a.m.

As of Friday morning, the North Carolina Department of Public Health is still reporting 15 cases in the state including:

  • 8 in Wake County, including the only CDC-confirmed case
  • 1 in Durham County, who was diagnosed and is in isolation out of state
  • 1 in Mecklenburg County
  • 1 in Cabarrus County
  • 2 in Forsyth County
  • 1 in Chatham County
  • 1 in Johnston County

However, NCDHHS stipulated that their count does not include cases diagnosed by private laboratories. Currently, one case has been reported by a private laboratory company in Onslow County at Camp Lejeune.

9 a.m.

Cumberland County Board of Education grants superintendent emergency powers to respond to COVID-19.

Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. may now take any lawful action he "deems necessary to promote the safety and well-being of Cumberland County School students," without asking the board first.

RELATED: 'Shortages at every turn:' Duke, UNC labs jump in to make coronavirus test as states struggle to keep up

This comes on the heels of Durham Public Schools, Orange County Schools, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools announcing that classes would be canceled starting Monday, March 16. Many schools are also developing plans to switch to online classes.

Cumberland County Schools has canceled all out-of-state and out-of-district field trips, but classes remain on as of Friday morning.

MORE COVERAGE: As schools switch to online courses amid COVID-19 concerns, students who lack access to internet, computers suffer

5:45 a.m.

American Airlines is suspending flights from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to London. The announcement comes after President Trump put travel restrictions into place between the U.S. and Europe.

The airline will continue to operate flights to and from Europe for at least the next seven days to make sure customers and employees can return home. Suspended flights are expected to resume on May 7.

American will reduce its international capacity 34 percent during the summer and 50 percent in April. Flights from Charlotte to Frankfurt and Munich are also suspended.

On Tuesday, Delta said it would cut its domestic flight capacity 10 to 15 percent to correspond with the demand.

Many items out of stock at Harris Teeter on Hillsborough Road in Durham:


North Carolina currently has 15 presumptive positive cases, including one that has been confirmed by the CDC. Eight of the North Carolinians infected with COVID-19 are from Wake County; other patients have tested positive in Chatham County, Durham, Forsyth County, Mecklenburg County, Johnston County, and Camp Lejeune.

Testing challenges across the state (and indeed across the country) means that more people could be infected but not have yet had their case tested.

WATCH: What is Social Distancing?

What social distancing is and tips to prevent the spread of disease


10:50 p.m.

Duke officials made the "difficult decision" to suspend "residential activities" on the campus and is now urging as many students as possible to not be on campus for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. Students are asked to vacate their residency as soon as possible.

9:30 p.m.

In response to the COVID-19 concerns, the City of Raleigh will not disconnect water for non-payments.

"During this time, we want to ensure all Raleigh Water customers have access to clean drinking water and wastewater service," officials said in a news release.

The City of Raleigh says it will continue to monitor guidance from public health agencies and provide updates on the policy moving forward

9:00 p.m.

The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh said that it is "waiving the obligation for the faithful to attend Sunday Mass" but is not issuing a diocesan-wide cancellation of Masses.

8:00 p.m.

Durham Public Schools has made the "difficult decision" to close for students effective Monday, March 16.

7:00 p.m.

A Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune dependent has tested presumptively positive for COVID-19.