Wake County identifies 2 new COVID-19 outbreaks in Raleigh

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

What can we help you with? View our COVID-19 information and resources page here



5:56 p.m.
Wake County health officials identified two new COVID-19 outbreaks at two assisted living communities for older adults.

Public Health officials received positive test results from staff and residents at Sunrise at North Hills, located at 615 Spring Forest Road, and Abootswood at Stonehenge, at 7900 Creedmoor Road. No other information on the residents or employees were provided.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines an outbreak as two or more people -- residents or employees- testing positive for the virus.

As of Thursday night, Wake County reports 5,590 total confirmed cases within the county, up 175 from Wednesday.

5:30 p.m.
The Moore County Health Department said two residents and one staff member of Seven Lakes Assisted Living and Memory Care have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Health Department is working with the facility on a plan for testing all affected residents and staff.

This marks the third COVID-19 outbreak at a congregate living facility in Moore County. In a congregate living setting, a COVID-19 outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases.

In total, there have been 511 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Moore County.

4:27 p.m.
Wayne County said it has 1,847 total positive cases of COVID-19 with 88 of these cases attributed to congregate living facilitie. A total of 452 cases were from Neuse Correctional Institute and NCDPS has announced that all currently housed inmates have recovered.

Most people have recovered, leaving 266 known active cases in Wayne County.

The health department said four additional people died of COVID-19 this week. One was in their mid-50s with underlying medical conditions and died June 25. A second patient, in their early 60s with underlying medical conditions, died June 26. The third died June 30 and was in their early 70s with underlying medical conditions. The fourth patient also died June 30 and was in their mid-30s with underlying medical conditions.

So far, 29 people have died from COVID-19 complications in Wayne County.

3:45 p.m.
Final test results received this week show that all juveniles who agreed to undergo testing in the state were not infected by the coronavirus at the time they were tested.

In mid-June officials with the state Juvenile Justice section of the N.C. Department of Public Safety provided testing to all juveniles in secure custody in the four youth development centers and seven juvenile detention centers operated by the state.

Going forward during the coronavirus pandemic, all youths entering juvenile justice facilities will be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their admission. If the juvenile and/or guardian refuses to allow testing, the juvenile must remain in quarantine for 14 days. Juveniles who are tested will stay in quarantine until testing results have been determined, and up to 14 days.

3:41 p.m.
In Cumberland County, 7 percent of COVID-19 tests taken have been positive, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The County has remained at 7 percent since Monday, below the state average of 8 percent.

The Department of Public Health reported 100 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths since June 29. Cumberland County's case count is now 1,327 and there have been 41 deaths.

"As we head into the 4th of July holiday weekend, we strongly encourage the public to celebrate safety. Avoid mass gatherings. If you are going to be around others outside of your household, wear your face cloth coverings and stay six feet apart from others. Remember your hand sanitizer if you won't have access to soap and water," said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Health Director.

2:45 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday vetoed a number of bills related to reopening businesses in the state.

He vetoed a bill that would have allowed gyms and fitness centers to reopen, a bill that would have allowed bowling alleys and skating rinks to open and a bill that would have allowed amusement parks and arcades to open.

He also vetoed a bill that was meant to allow July 4 fireworks and other celebrations to go on without concerns over violating the mass gathering order.

"At this critical time, opening bowling alleys, skating rinks, and other indoor entertainment facilities runs contrary to both the troubling trends regarding COVID-19 deaths in North Carolina as well as scientific and medical data, which establishes that COVID-19 is significantly more likely to be transmitted in these settings," he said in a statement. "Opening these higher-risk facilities would spread COVID-19 and endanger the State's flexibility to open the public schools. Given the rapidly evolving nature of this pandemic, executive officials are best positioned to make emergency determinations about public health."

2:30 p.m.
NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a news conference on Thursday that the current trends in North Carolina indicate that there is 'rapid viral spread' happening in the state.

She said that we're not in "dire straits" but there is still reason to be concerned.

EMBED More News Videos

Dr. Mandy Cohen explains her concern over COVID-19 trends and metrics.



Cohen explained that one of the early detection signs of coronavirus -- the number of COVID-like syndromic cases -- continues to rise in the state. That's concerning, she said, because the number isn't impacted by other forces, like testing. That trend is simply an early warning indicator of a rise in cases so the fact that the line is trending upward is troubling.

She also said that the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to trend up.

Not only is the number of new cases increasing but they are growing at a faster rate. That is an indication that there is 'rapid viral spread' in the state, she said.

The percent of positive tests has remained level at about 8 to 9 percent, however, the goal is for that number to be closer to 5 percent, Dr. Cohen said.

The number of hospitalizations has also remained about level.

The state still has the capacity to meet demand, however, hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, she said, and it takes longer to see the impact of viral spread on hospitalizations that it does on other metrics.

"This isn't where I'd hoped we'd be for July 4th weekend," Dr. Cohen said. "And, unfortunately, we don't get a holiday from COVID-19."

She reiterated the important of practicing the 3 Ws -- wear a cloth face covering, wait 6 feet apart and wash your hands often with soap and water.

12:39 p.m.
The Sampson County Health Department is reporting eight new cases, which brings the total to 1,085 positive cases.

12 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported on Thursday the second-highest number of hospitalizations so far in the pandemic. Still, Dr. Mandy Cohen said during a news conference on Wednesday that the hospitals do continue to have enough capacity to care for patients.

912 people were hospitalized as of Thursday morning. The highest hospitalization count recorded in the state was on June 23 with 915 people hospitalized.

The state reported 1,629 new cases on Thursday. During the last couple of days, NCDHHS has also been reporting more tests, with more than 20,000 completed daily over the last two days.

18 more deaths were reported on Thursday, bringing the total in the state to 1,391.

Dr. Cohen stressed on Wednesday the importance of face coverings and avoiding large gatherings going into the holiday weekend.

"Wear a mask because you want to protect your loved ones and your neighbors," said Dr. Cohen. "Wear a face covering because you want to reignite the economy and support businesses. Wear a face covering so our children can be back at school where they can grow, learn and thrive."

When asked about holiday travel playing a role in possible virus spread, Cohen said most of North Carolina's cases are driven from local transmission and community spread such as workplace exposure and large gatherings.

According to Cohen, North Carolina is seeing a "slow but steady increase" compared to states that now serve as cautionary tales for how things can change quickly.

THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES
As North Carolina reported its highest single-day increase for both cases and completed tests, Gov. Roy Cooper said state education leaders weren't yet ready to issue a directive about how schools should plan to reopen in the coming school year. But some districts, including Durham Public Schools and Wake County Public School System, are moving forward with their own plans.

Wednesday, a source with knowledge of Wake County's reopening plan said leaders are forming a plan that incorporates both in-person and at-home education. However, the source said that parents and students shouldn't expect a formal decision to come out of Thursday's Board of Education meeting, rather, the board plans to listen to school staff about their ideas for what a reopening plan with "moderate" social distancing--as described by the Strong Schools NC Public Health Tool Kit--could look like.

The WCPSS Board of Education is expected to meet at noon Thursday. You can watch that meeting here on ABC11.com.

Meanwhile, Wake County Public School System officials said they would not host their usual food distribution sites for families on Friday due to the Fourth of July holiday. Instead, families will be able to grab additional meals Thursday so they will have food for the weekend.

Durham Public Schools also put together a plan under which students in grades K-8 will have in-person instruction, while high school students will have online instruction only.

As cases continue to rise across the state, student athletic programs are putting summer workouts on hold. Both Durham Public School and Cumberland County Schools are delaying workouts until at least July 20. Summer extracurricular activities, like marching band practice, are also delaying in-person meetings until at least July 20 or moving online entirely.

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases are rising in 38 states. About 40 percent of the nation's counties and cities have either halted or reversed reopening plans. According to John's Hopkins University, more than 686,500 cases have been reported in the US, with more than 10.7 million cases worldwide.



WEDNESDAY

5:35 p.m.
Wake County health officials have identified a COVID-19 outbreak at a Raleigh long-term care facility.

Health officials said this is the second outbreak at the Capital Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located at 3000 Holston Lane, after some residents and staff tested positive for the virus at the facility.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines an outbreak as two or more people -- residents or employees- testing positive for the virus.

As of Wednesday night, Wake County reports a total of 5,379 COVID-19 cases, up 105 from Tuesday.

3:20 p.m.
Durham Public Schools said Wednesday that it put together a plan for reopening schools under the state's "Plan B" requirement. Governor Roy Cooper has asked all school districts and charters to come up with three plans for the 2020-21 school year, depending on the severity of COVID-19.

Plan B means that there would need to be increased social distancing with schools at no more than 50 percent and buses at no more than 33 percent capacity.

After considering feedback from the Spark Re-Opening Task Force of administrators, educators, and health professionals, Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga presented this Plan B to the school board, which approved it unanimously.

Read more about that here.

3:10 p.m.
In a Wednesday news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper made it clear that one of his main priorities is to reopen schools with in-person instruction in August but did not issue a statewide directive on how schools should open.

The governor vowed to allow the state's 115 school districts to take extra time to ensure their teachers and staff are prepared for each of the three potential scenarios as spelled out in StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit, which was updated on June 30.
WATCH FULL UPDATE:
EMBED More News Videos



According to officials, this includes districts stocking up on thermometers and personal protective equipment (PPE), installing fiber or plexiglass barriers where applicable, and marking six feet spacing for seating and other areas to facilitate the appropriate social distancing.

Gov. Cooper announced Wednesday that public health staff and emergency management began delivering a two-month supply of PPE to schools across the state. The protective gear will go to school nurses and staff who provide health care to children.

In total, the shipments include more than 16,500 thermometers, 7,200 face shields, 81,000 gowns and more than 347,000 surgical masks.

Schools have been closed for in-person instruction since March 14 and the new academic year for traditional schools is only a few weeks away.

Gov. Cooper is asking schools beginning classes in July to conduct lessons remotely until a decision is made for in-person learning. When asked about universities and other higher education, the governor said more decisions will be made in the coming weeks.

Schools are required to create the following three plans which spell out what's mandated and what's recommended regarding social distancing and minimizing exposure; face coverings; protecting vulnerable populations; cleaning and hygiene; monitoring for symptoms; handling suspected, presumptive, and confirmed COVID-19 cases; communication and combating misinformation; water and ventilation systems; transportation; and coping and resilience.

Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing Will be implemented assuming state COVID-19 metrics continue to stabilize and/or move in a positive direction. All requirements in the guidance apply to Plan A.

Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing Will be required if state COVID-19 metrics worsen and it is determined additional restrictions are necessary. All requirements in the guidance apply, with additional requirements in the Social Distancing and Minimizing Exposure and Transportation sections.

Plan C: Remote Learning Only Will be implemented only if state COVID-19 metrics worsen significantly enough to require suspension of in-person instruction and the implementation of remote learning for all students, based on the remote learning planes required by Session Law 2020-3. The requirements listed in the guidance would not apply, as students and staff would not be gathering in groups on school grounds.

School districts may choose to implement a more restrictive plan but may not choose to implement a less restrictive plan than established by NCDHHS, NCSBE and NCDPI.

Gov. Cooper said the goal is to give districts flexibility because they are all different.

"We are not issuing a statewide directive today on how schools should be open in the fall. But we will soon," Cooper said. "We want to get our students back in the classroom, and we want to make sure we get this right. My number one opening priority is classroom doors. So we encourage our public schools to continue that planning, with a special focus on how teachers, staff, and students can best be protected - especially those who are high-risk."

The governor stressed school is where children learn academics, build social skills and become tomorrow's leaders. Gov. Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen both highlighted recent reports that mention in-person learning being beneficial and having a positive impact.

Dr. Cohen cited data surrounding children possibly transmitting COVID-19 at a lower rate and how new information can help developing plans evolve more.

According to Gov. Cooper, the state has spent the last few weeks getting feedback from those with boots on the ground in the education community.

Dr. Cohen said decisions on reopening schools go back to what we can do together to slow virus spread and noted how North Carolina is not "on fire" compared to other states.

Gov. Cooper mentioned how his mother was a teacher and understands the sacrifices made by educators.

"How to re-open North Carolina school buildings, bus garages, and administrative offices is a critical decision, and we are incredibly thankful for Governor Cooper's thoughtful and thorough approach," Tamika Walker Kelly, President of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said in a statement on Wednesday. "COVID information is changing on a daily basis, and the health and safety of all of our state's educators, students, and their families is at stake. It is far more important to get this decision right than to get it done quickly. NCAE looks forward to working with the Governor and the State Board of Education to ensure educator voices continue to be heard in the planning to safely re-open our schools for students and all educators."

With Wednesday bringing the state's highest increase in numbers. Dr. Cohen stressed the importance of face coverings and avoiding large gatherings going into the holiday weekend.

"Wear a mask because you want to protect your loved ones and your neighbors," said Dr. Cohen. "Wear a face covering because you want to reignite the economy and support businesses. Wear a face covering so our children can be back at school where they can grow, learn and thrive."
When asked about holiday travel playing a role in possible virus spread, Cohen said most of North Carolina's cases are driven from local transmission and community spread such as workplace exposure and large gatherings.

According to Cohen, North Carolina is seeing a "slow but steady increase" compared to states that now serve as cautionary tales for how things can change quickly.

Gov. Cooper explained his "pause" on loosening restrictions was in an effort to prevent moving backward like Florida and Arizona have had to do recently.

3 p.m.
North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest filed a lawsuit against Gov. Cooper, saying the Democratic incumbent has failed to seek or receive support for a half-dozen executive orders since March from the Council of State.

"This lawsuit is not interested in the substance of Gov. Cooper's orders," Forest said at the Legislative Building last week. "In times of crisis, the rule of law is more important than ever. We must do the right thing in the right way. No one - governor or citizen - is above the rule of law."

Cooper and his administration have said he has other authority--citing several laws--to act on his own without the council's "concurrence" to protect health and safety. The 10-member council is composed of Cooper, Forest and eight other statewide elected officials. Six council members are Republican.

2:05 p.m.
Sampson County is reporting 20 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 1,077. There has been another death, bringing the total number of county deaths to seven.

2 p.m.
Halifax County officials are reporting two new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 323. There have been four deaths from the virus county-wide.
12:30 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday reported the highest single-day increase in cases since the start of the pandemic.

1,843 new cases were reported on Wednesday.

17,660 tests were completed and 901 people remain hospitalized. That's down seven from Tuesday.

The percent positive in the state has remained around 9 to 10 percent in the last week.

So far, 1,373 people have died in North Carolina after contracting COVID-19. That's up 30 from Tuesday.

In congregate care facilities alone, the state is reporting 7,756 cases, 819 deaths and a total of 217 outbreaks.

11:30 a.m.
Out! Raleigh Pride has officially canceled its 2020 celebration.

The event, originally scheduled for May 30, had been postoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, organizers said that even if restrictions were lifted to the point that they could hold the event later this year, they didn't want to hold an event that might put people at risk for illness or exclude those who are high-risk for severe infections.

Next year's Pride is scheduled for June 6, 2021 on Fayetteville Street. "It willbe the first time we've celebrated Out! Raleigh during Pride month, and we are so hopeful everyone can come together and be in commjnity again!" organizers wrote on the group's website.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.