Coronavirus NC: Gov. Cooper says we're going to 'enter a new normal' as COVID-19 numbers grow

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Thursday, April 16, 2020
Coronavirus NC: Latest updates on COVID-19 in North Carolina
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Coronavirus NC: Latest updates on COVID-19 in North Carolina

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

7 p.m.

27 new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Durham County Wednesday evening, raising the county total to 376.

In the meantime, the Durham County Department of Public Health is monitoring outbreaks at three Durham long-term care facilities. AS of now, 75 COVID-19 cases were reported at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, six at Durham VA Healthcare System Community Nursing Home and four at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center.

5:55 p.m.

Johns Hopkins University said there are at least 619,607 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States and at least 27,760 confirmed deaths.

5:45 p.m.

Three new COVID-19 cases have been reported in Lee County, raising the county total to 19.

According to a news release, of the 19 cases, 16 people continue to be monitored by the county Health Department and three have returned to normal activities.

5:35 p.m.

Johnston County officials announced its ninth COVID-19 related death. All of the counties nine deaths are patients ages 65 or higher.

Seven of the deaths were linked to Springbrook Rehabilitation & Nursing Center. The seven deaths are included in the 35 COVID-19 cases in residents. 12 staff who live in Johnston County have the virus along with seven who live in another county.

At Johnston Correctional Institute, there are three inmates and three staff who have tested positive.

5 p.m.

A third person in Cumberland County has died from complications with COVID-19.

The person was in their 80s and was a resident of Village Green Health and Rehabilitation and had underlying medical conditions, according to the Cumberland County Department of Health.

The death is among seven cases associated with the long-term care facility; five involve patients and two are staff members.

As of Wednesday evening, Cumberland County now has 94 positive COVID-19 cases within the county.

4:55 p.m.

An 81-year-old man is the first person in Wake County to die as a result of complications from COVID-19, the county announced Wednesday afternoon.

"It's heart-breaking," Regina Petteway, Wake County Human Services director said in a news release. "My deepest sympathies go out to his family and loved ones, and I know that everyone working to slow the spread of this virus shares that sentiment. We must continue to do all we can individually to make a collective difference in the impact COVID-19 has on our community. And that means staying at home."

4 p.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper said at a media briefing that "as we ease restrictions, we're going to enter a new normal."

The governor said with a vaccine still perhaps a year away, vulnerable populations will continue to be at risk.

"In our new normal, we will still have to decrease the risk of exposure for older people and those with underlying health conditions," Cooper said. "In our new normal, you may see more people wearing masks or getting their temperature checked. Sporting events may have no in-person crowds. A new normal can get us back to work, back to school and back to play but in a new way for a while."

The lifting of restrictions will need to be gradual, the governor said.

"Rather than an on-off switch, think of it as a dimmer switch," Cooper said.

In order to lift restrictions, Cooper said North Carolina would need to make progress in three areas. testing, contact tracing and trends.

NC Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said North Carolina's measures are working to "flatten the curve."

"Our plan is to stay ahead of the curve," Cohen said.

Cohen said the next steps "will be driven by science and data."

She said the three areas of improvement that Coper outlined would be used to help determine when to dial up or dial down social distancing measures.

2:55 p.m.

In the past 24 hours, the Division of Employment Security has made more than $100 million in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation payments to North Carolinians receiving unemployment assistance.

The FPUC program provides an additional $600 in weekly unemployment insurance benefits to eligible claimants for weeks beginning March 29 and ending by July 31, 2020. Individuals who are still owed FPUC payments will be paid retroactively.

DES says it is working as quickly as possible to roll out the two remaining federal unemployment programs to ensure timely and accurate payments for eligible North Carolinians:

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This program provides unemployment compensation for individuals not eligible for regular unemployment insurance, such as independent contractors and self-employed workers, and those who have exhausted any extensions to unemployment insurance.

DES estimates its online filing system will be ready to accept claims for this assistance program around April 25, 2020.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This program provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits for those who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits. DES will update the public as a timeline for this program is available.

2:40 p.m.

Moore County officials said there has been another COVID-19 related death, totaling four in the county. There are 88 confirmed cases in Moore County to date.

2:20 p.m.

A Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools worker helping with the school district's Meals for Students program tested positive for COVID-19.

The school district said the employee was not involved with prepping or handing out food.

Staff members with the program had already been taking precautions to stay safe--such as wearing gloves and masks, using hand sanitizer, having daily temperature checks and regularly sanitizing food transportation vehicles.

However, the news of the positive test has caused the school district to take additional steps in the name of safety.

Essential staff is being divided up into multiple teams and only one member of each team will report to work at any given time. Social distancing measures will also be strengthened.

"We believe this will provide a better opportunity to keep the food initiative and critical operations rolling in case a staff member or volunteer gets sick," Acting Superintendent Patrick Abele said in a statement.

1:15 p.m.

Three more people have died from COVID-19 in North Carolina. All three of the victims were residents at Louisburg Nursing Center.

Franklin County Health Department said the facility has now lost five residents to the virus.

Louisburg Nursing Center is just one of several nursing and long-term care centers in North Carolina that have been hit hard by the virus outbreak.

11:30 a.m.

Halifax County health officials said there is one more COVID-19 case, making for a total of 29 positive cases, 11 recovered and one death.

11 a.m.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services now reports at least 5,123 people have tested positive for COVID-19, and 117 have died from the virus.

The new numbers show 99 more laboratory-confirmed cases Wednesday than Tuesday, along with 9 more deaths.

Those increases come after 2,788 more tests were conducted.

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

Mecklenburg County has more than 1,000 cases--the highest of any county. It is followed by Wake County with 510 cases and Durham County with 330 cases.

Outbreaks have been reported in at least 30 nursing homes and 9 residential care facilities across 24 counties. Six correctional facilities have outbreaks.

CORONAVIRUS MAP: Tracking COVID-19 across North Carolina

8:45 a.m.

As millions of Americans receive their stimulus checks, be mindful of scammers wanting to get your money. When checking the status of your stimulus payment, make sure you only use this website or the IRS app IRS2Go.

ABC11 Troubleshooter has warned about some of these schemes related to the stimulus payments where scammers duplicate banking websites and the IRS website to try and intercept your personal information to get your payment. Read more here.

7 a.m.

Check your bank account! Stimulus checks have been arriving for some Americans over the last couple days, but Wednesday is the day the government says most people will get their direct deposit.

CLICK HERE to check the status of your check

Millions of Americans who qualify for economic stimulus checks and have direct deposit set up with the IRS will receive them by the end of the day Wednesday. The first payments will go to those who have already filed their 2018 and 2019 tax returns. Social Security recipients will get payments even if they haven't filed a return.

Not everybody is eligible for these stimulus checks. For example, if you owe child support, the government could use the money to pay off that debt.

Morning headlines

The number of coronavirus cases surpassed 5,000 in North Carolina on Tuesday with a focus on the rise of cases at nursing home facilities. It was North Carolina's deadliest day of the pandemic so far, with 22 deaths. There have been 108 deaths in the state with 5,024 cases across 93 counties. Wake County (504) and Durham County (349) have the most in the ABC11 viewing area.

Durham Public Schools will resume feeding children and families twice a week starting Thursday.

Importance of social distancing

There have been outbreaks at three long-term health care facilities in Durham County. 54 cases were confirmed at Durham Nursing and Rehab Center, five at Durham VA Healthcare System Community Nursing Home and four at Treyburn Rehab Center.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said social distancing guidelines are helping combat the spread of the virus.

Stores like Sam's Club and Publix are setting aside shopping hours specifically for first responders and healthcare workers. Sam's Club is setting aside two hours every Sunday for what it's calling "hero hours." The medical professionals can shop without a membership from 8 to 10 a.m. each Sunday. Publix is designating Thursday nights (8-9 p.m.) and Friday morning (7-8 a.m.). Walmart is launching a pickup hour for high-risk customers older than 60 to limit interaction with employees.

Gov. Roy Cooper will hold a COVID-19 briefing Wednesday at 4 p.m. ABC11 will carry the briefing on-air and online at


11 p.m.

A 105-year-old Raleigh woman who saw her father become ill during the 1918 flu pandemic spoke to ABC11 about how we should approach the current COVID-19 pandemic.

A Fayetteville tackle shop said business has increased as more people take up fishing as their social distancing hobby.

As more cases of COVID-19 pop up in jails and prisons across the state, a Fuquay-Varina supplier is transforming its entire company to hopefully save more lives and provide more PPE to staff and inmates.

8:30 p.m.

Wake County is reporting 504 COVID-19 cases, up nine from Monday.

7:55 p.m.

25 more Durham County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the county total to 349.

Durham County officials confirmed another COVID-19 related death of a resident, for a total of two in the county to date. The patient was over 65 and had underlying health conditions.

5:45 p.m.

A partnership between Durham Public Schools, Durham County Government, the Durham Public Schools Foundation and local nonprofits and restaurants organized as "Durham FEAST," will launch a new meal support program for children and families starting on Thursday, April 16, 2020. Families coming to school sites across Durham County will receive free children's breakfasts and lunches prepared by Durham restaurants, while adults will receive shelf-stable food supplies and/or family-style casseroles.

The schedule is available here.

5:25 p.m.

Johnson County officials announced 104 total COVID-19 cases, 10 of which are being hospitalized. 86 are at home. There have been a total of eight deaths, all with patients ages 65 or higher.

Six of the deaths were linked to Springbrook Rehabilitation & Nursing Center. The six deaths are included in the 35 COVID-19 cases in residents. 12 staff who live in Johnston County have the virus along with seven who live in another county.

At Johnston Correctional Institute, there are three inmates and three staff who have tested positive.

5:20 p.m.

Cumberland County officials said there are a total of 90 cases, up four from Monday.

5 p.m.

The North Carolina Department of Employment Security said it has paid nearly $101,000,000 in unemployment benefits to more than 150,000 North Carolinians as of April 13. Of that total, nearly $72,000,000 went to people who designated "COVID-19" as their reason for separation from their employer.

DES said nearly 580,000 claims have been filed between March 15 and April 13, more than 500,000 of which are related to COVID-19. On April 13, DES said North Carolinians filed 18,712 claims.

4:25 p.m.

Lee County officials said 2 more residents tested positive for COVID-19, making a total of 16.

2:40 p.m.

Chatham County reported its first COVID-19-related death--a resident at The Laurels of Chatham County Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility told county officials the individual had been in declining health for some time prior to their COVID-19 diagnosis.

"We are extremely saddened by the passing of a Chatham County resident due to this horrible virus," said Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long in a written statement. "We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the individual's family, as well as the residents and staff of The Laurels."

Chatham County officials reported 75 COVID-19 cases.

2 p.m.

In a news conference, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said she is "mildly optimistic" that North Carolina is beginning to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the state. While she acknowledged that there may be a lag in reported cases and hospitalizations, Cohen said that in order to determine how quickly COVID-19 is spreading, she has been watching the doubling rate--in other words, the number of days it takes for the number of cases to double. Cohen said because the doubling rate continues to increase, she believes social distancing measures are working and North Carolinians should continue to stay-at-home.


Cohen said though predictive models are not a crystal ball, epidemiologists are able to forecast the situation in North Carolina about a week in advance. Cohen said she continues to see a slow uptick in cases, but no peak at this time. She said this is a sign that residents need to continue their social distancing efforts, especially in areas where cases are rising more rapidly--in Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle.

Cohen also advocated for more affordable health insurance options for North Carolinians, and encouraged those who lost their employer-provided health insurance to look for plans on

"We want to make sure folks have access to care right now," Cohen said, recognizing that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting communities of color across the state.

1:50 p.m.

The Moore County Health Department said a third county resident has died because of COVID-19 . There have been 85 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Moore County.

1 p.m.

At least one protester was arrested in downtown Raleigh during a ReOpenNC rally.

More than 100 protesters gathered outside the North Carolina legislative building. The protest was organized to call on state leadership to end the Stay-at-Home order and other COVID-19 health protections, which have resulted in mass layoffs and an economic slowdown.

12 p.m.

Alamance County's current case count is 41. Twenty-one of these confirmed cases have been released from isolation by the Health Department. Of the remaining 20 active cases, 2 are receiving care in a hospital.

"The NC DHHS COVID-19 case count map continues to show an unusually high increase in COVID-19 cases for Alamance County on April 14," the county said in a release. "This increase is due to several large batches of LabCorp test results from a federal contract with no addresses listed. Because LabCorp is headquartered in Alamance County, when they have positive communicable disease test results with no address listed, the results default to Burlington because of the location of LabCorp and are then reported by default to the Alamance County Health Department."

LabCorp, NC DHHS, and Alamance County Health Department are all working together to "remedy this immediate issue and work toward permanent process changes that will reduce the chances of this happening in the future. We are so sorry for any distress that this may cause our community." the county added.

10:58 a.m.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 22 additional COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state total to 108 and marking the largest single-day increase during the outbreak so far.

The health department is now reporting 5,024 cases, an increase of 208 since Monday.

Officials say 65,039 tests have been conducted and 418 people are currently hospitalized with the disease.

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

9:45 a.m.

Halifax County added three new positive test results and said one more has recovered. This brings the county's COVID-19 results to: 28 positive cases, 10 recovered, and 1 COVID-19-related death.

7:45 a.m.

A drug commonly used to treat head lice is showing promise in killing the virus that causes COVID-19.

Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug that's been in use since the 1970-80s. A recent study showed it killed the novel coronavirus in a laboratory setting in less than 48 hours.

Much testing is still needed to see if this could become a treatment for humans who get COVID-19, but experts are hopeful. Full story.

Tuesday morning updates

Wake County has 496 COVID-19 cases, up 22 from Monday afternoon. On Monday, Wake County identified a second COVID-19 outbreak at a local long-term care facility. New social distancing guidelines for nursing homes and grocery stores went into effect on Monday evening in North Carolina.

A Wake County healthcare company, Halo Health, is offering free COVID-19 antibody tests to front line healthcare workers and first responders Tuesday at Raleigh's Cameron Village. Front line workers who want to get a free test Tuesday need to sign up first on the Halo Health website.

RELATED | What to do when your loved one is in a North Carolina nursing home with a COVID-19 outbreak

Thirty-four more Durham County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing its number to 324.

In North Carolina, the number of cases could surpass 5,000 on Tuesday after the number rose to 4,816 on Monday. North Carolinians can text COVIDNC to 898211 to receive general information and updates about COVID-19 and North Carolina's response. You can also dial 2-1-1 for information and help on dealing with questions pertaining to food, health care or child care.

The state's legislature is funding a year-long study that they hope will help state officials determine when they can safely reopen the economy.

The number of coronavirus cases hit 2 million worldwide on Monday, according to ABC News.

The U.S. is the global leader in the number of cases and deaths. More than 577,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive and at least 23,000 have died.

A national economic task force is expected to be announced soon, possibly Tuesday, the plan to reopen the economy. President Trump will hold a media briefing at 5 p.m.