LATEST: New positive cases of COVID-19 raises Durham County total to 35

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Here's the latest on the novel coronavirus pandemic in North Carolina:

UPDATES

7:20 p.m.
The Harnett County Health Department announced that two more residents have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, bringing the county's total to six.

According to a news release, the affected individuals are under isolation.

7:00 p.m.
Thursday evening, Durham County announced new positive cases of COVID-19 raising the total number within the county to 35.

According to a news release, the Durham County Department of Public Health is working to determine if the residents came in close contact with others wile symptomatic.

5:35
Wake County announced Thursday evening it is now investigating three new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive test results in the county to 25.

The number includes the recent 4:30 p.m. announcement of the Millenium Tour 2020 at PNC Arena attendee.

5 p.m.
A second Moore County resident has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). The Moore County Health Department was notified of the positive test result on March 19 by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Initial indications are that this case is unrelated to the previous positive case from March 18.

4:30 p.m.
During a Thursday afternoon press conference, health officials confirmed Cumberland County's first two cases of COVID-19.

Health officials do not believe the two cases to be linked to one another and are unrelated.

The Cumberland County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) believes the first person to contract COVID-19 had recently traveled out of state and upon return became symptomatic. That person is currently in isolation at home.

For the privacy protection of the second individual, health officials did not provide much details surrounding the case as it is still under investigation.

The CCDPH will continue to investigate who have been in close contact with the two people.

WATCH: Cumberland County announces 2 COVID-19 cases
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During a Thursday afternoon press conference, health officials confirmed Cumberland County's first two cases of COVID-19.



"The best way to prevent community spread is to stay at home," says Lori Haigler who is the Medical Director with the Department of Public Health.

Cumberland County residents who experience symptoms of COVID-19 are asked to contact the Cape Fear Valley System nurses line at (910) 615-5465, if you have general questions call the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services hotline at (1-866) 462-3821.

3:40 p.m.
A Wake County resident who attended The Millennium Tour 2020 at PNC Arena on March 13 has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was symptomatic while attending the event.

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A Wake County resident who attended The Millennium Tour 2020 at PNC Arena on March 13 has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was symptomatic while attending the event.



The person was at the concert from 8:20 p.m. Friday, March 13, to midnight Saturday, March 14. The individual had floor seats in Section 5 but moved throughout the crowd during the show.

"Because the crowd was so mobile, it would be very difficult to determine who came within six feet of the affected person for 10 minutes or more," said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald. "If you went to the show and spent time on the floor, you may be at risk of exposure."

The Wake County Public Health Division has set up a special information line for people who attended the show or worked at PNC Arena on March 13. Affected Wake County residents can call 919-857-9375.

Wake County is also emailing anyone who bought tickets to the concert to inform them about the situation advise them on next steps.

At this time, the county does not believe anyone at PNC Arena outside of the above-mentioned timeframe was at risk of contracting COVID-19.

In less than an hour, PNC Arena officials issued a statement:

"Wake County officials have made us aware that a guest that attended The Millennium Tour on March 13 tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. As always, the safety and well-being of our guests, employees, vendors, partners and performers are our top priorities. We are assisting local officials in notifying attendees who were present last Friday night, and we will continue to follow the leads of our country, state and federal leaders in mitigating the spread of this illness."

2:30 p.m.
The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau released a report detailing the impact that COVID-19 is having on the tourism and hospitality industry throughout Wake County as a result of the closure of restaurants and hotels and event cancellations.

To date, Visit Raleigh and the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA) are aware of at least 100 conventions, meetings and sporting events throughout Wake County that have been canceled, totaling nearly 50,000 attendees and producing more than $36.2 million in total economic impact. Currently, 11 of these events have been postponed or rescheduled for a later date.

Additionally, more than 50 large-scale public events throughout Wake County have been canceled, postponed or rescheduled.

As a result of the decrease in group, business and leisure travel, hotel occupancy throughout Wake County has dropped more than 30percent in the month of March already as compared to 2019. The week of March 8-14 hotel occupancy was only at 57.4 percent which is not typically seen in Wake County outside of the week of Christmas and New Year's.

1:00 p.m.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced a Wilson County patient is the first case of 'community spread' in the state. That means the source of the infection is unknown and the person did not have any known contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, nor did they travel to a state or country with a high number of cases.

  • WATCH: Gov. Roy Cooper announces a Wilson County patient is the first case of 'community spread' in the state.

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"Confirmed community spread is a signal that we need to accelerate to the next phase of work which is mitigation," Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said during a news conference. She emphasized continuing to follow social distancing guidelines and stressed the need for additional resources for health care workers.

"Everyone must do their part to slow the spread of this virus," Cohen said. "Our individual actions matter."

Cooper also said he is working closely with the federal government to determine what economic resources will be made available for the state and residents.

"This is going to be hard on our economy," Cooper said. "People at home are worried about that next rent payment."



When asked about the status of unemployment benefits, Cooper said officials are working to process all of the applications. Lockhart Taylor, assistant secretary for the Division of Employment Security, said while he has no time table for when residents can expect their unemployment benefits, he said the first payments will be sent in the next two weeks.

Taylor said once employees apply for unemployment, their former employer must respond to the application and both can select "COVID-19" as a reason for the separation.

Taylor also said in order to process the applications, his department needs to hire 50 additional positions to validate applications and work in the department's call center.

Cooper also said schools will likely remain closed for longer than the mandated two weeks, but did not have a precise timeline.

"We're gonna be out of schools for a while," Cooper said.

Cohen said as health officials move their focus from testing patients to mitigating the spread of the virus and protecting people from further exposure, health officials are urging North Carolinians, especially those in high-risk groups, to continue to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people.

"I hope all North Carolinians can heed our words now about social distancing and we don't have to take further measures," Cohen said.

11:50 a.m.
President Donald Trump said the FDA is approving two drugs -- the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine and HIV treatment drug Gilead's remdesivir -- for coronavirus treatment.

10 a.m.
The state is now reporting 97 cases of the coronavirus. Wake and Durham counties have the most cases with 22 and 32 respectively. Many of the Durham County cases are related to a Duke University overseas travel group. It was announced on Wednesday that eleven members of that group were positive. Prior to that, 15 others were reported to have the disease.

In total, 22 counties in North Carolina have been affected.

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9 a.m.
The U.S. Small Business Administration granted the state's request for disaster declaration for small businesses. The declaration allows for businesses to apply for low-interest SBA disaster loans.

"Many small businesses are desperate right now and this SBA approval will help," said Governor Cooper. "Even more is needed and we will continue to push for additional assistance while we work to protect the health of North Carolinians."

6 a.m.
Thousands of North Carolinians find themselves unemployed in the wake of the novel coronavirus's impact on the American economy.

RELATED | Impacted by coronavirus? Here's how to file for unemployment in North Carolina

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order Tuesday that disallowed dine-in service at restaurants and bars. This declaration left many in the service industry out of work, including bartenders, servers and other kitchen staff.

Cooper has also issued an order banning mass gatherings that bring 100 or more people together, essentially forcing many hospitality venues to close.

At least 4,700 people have filed for unemployment in North Carolina. Officials say the best method for that is online at des.nc.gov. Calling to file for benefits could be time-consuming with the high amount of calls expected. Those coming to the unemployment office will likely be referred to the online service.

RELATED | Restaurant restrictions will 'devastate economy,' Lt. Gov. Dan Forest says

If you're looking for work, grocery stores and distribution centers are likely to have openings.

Wednesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 63 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, across 18 counties. There are 22 known cases in Wake County. Cooper will lead a media briefing with the state coronavirus task force at 1 p.m. ABC11 will carry the briefing on-air, on its website and on Facebook.

For the first time in 45 years, Durham's Meals on Wheels' agency is suspending its service temporarily. Before that, Meals on Wheels representatives will be delivering meals to clients on Thursday. They'll double the drivers to help deliver meal packs of 10, hopefully enough to last the rest of the month.

If you have questions, you can call the North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline at 866-462-3821 or 2-1-1.

WEDNESDAY UPDATES
9:30 p.m.
A Pinehurst OB/GYN physician with FirstHealth of the Carolinas tested positive for COVID-19. The doctor last interacted with patients last Friday morning.

According to a news release, OB/GYN physician John Byron M.D. of Southern Pines Women's Health Center first began exhibiting symptoms on Tuesday, March 17 and learned of his positive test on Wednesday.

"We believe that Dr. Byron would have been in an early incubation period and less likely to be infectious during contact with patients and staff," FirstHealth infectious disease expert Paul Jawanda, M.D., said in a news release.

Officials believe he acquired the infection from a recent visit to Germany shortly after it was added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of high alert countries. After learning of the countries placement, Dr. Byron began to self-quarantine.

It is unknown at this time if this case is related to the first case reported in Moore County.

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Steve Daniels WTVD tiene los ultimos detalles sobre coronavirus para nuestro amigos que hablan español.



6:20 p.m.
Eleven additional members of the Duke community linked to the group who traveled abroad have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.

According to a Wednesday news release, most of the 11 individuals traveled internationally and are being quarantined at their homes off-campus after returning to Durham.

The 11 individuals will remain at home until they receive medical clearance.



5:55 p.m.
Wake County health officials announced Wednesday evening they are investigating five new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive test results to 22.

The county is working to confirm who may have come in contact with those affected and what their risk of exposure might be.

"We aren't surprised that the number of positive test results in Wake County is increasing," said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald. "While it's important to track the data, it's even more important to reinforce the social distancing message. By doing things like working from home and staying six feet away from others while running necessary errands, we can slow the spread of this virus."

5 p.m.
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed a second coronavirus response bill by a sweeping 90-8 tally, sending it to President Donald Trump.

The Treasury Department said it wants to dedicate $500 billion to start issuing direct payments to Americans by early next month as the centerpiece of a $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy as the coronavirus epidemic threatens a body slam to taxpayers and businesses.

4:20 p.m.
New Hanover County Public Health officials have identified the county's first presumptive positive case of COVID-19. Officials said it was a travel-related incident. The person went to their doctor with symptoms on Monday, March 16. The person was isolated immediately and on Wednesday, test results showed a presumptive positive.

"While this is the first case of the novel coronavirus in our community, it is something we've been preparing to respond to with our state and local partners," said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. "Our Public Health team is working closely with this individual to monitor their wellbeing and to make contact with anyone they have had close contact with over the last two weeks to mitigate any potential spread of the virus."

4:15 p.m.
Moore County announced its first positive case of coronavirus on Wednesday.

"With increased testing, more cases are expected," said Moore County Health Director Robert Wittmann. "We would advise all Moore County residents to continue to follow all recommended control measures to protect themselves and others from the virus."

Officials said they were first notified of a positive test on Wednesday by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Officials said they will provide no further information about the person at this time.

3:20 p.m.
Duke Health, UNC Health and WakeMed released a rare triple-joint statement announcing that effective immediately, they are "prioritizing and rescheduling" some non-emergent or non-critical surgeries, procedures and appointments. This will allow medical teams to "provide the most appropriate and timely care" for patients while at the same time allowing them to shift in response to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak.

RELATED: Cancer, heart surgeries delayed as coronavirus pandemic alters care

Affected patients will be contacted by their individual healthcare providers regarding any changes to planned surgeries, procedures or ambulatory appointments. If patients do not hear from their providers prior to scheduled appointments, they should contact those providers.

2:00 p.m.
In a news conference Wednesday, Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo-Tilson said new data shows that pregnant women are considered high-risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms. Pregnant women, people who are over 65 and those with underlying health issues are asked to stay home and avoid social interaction, especially in large groups.

Tilson said more than 1,800 COVID-19 tests have been completed statewide, both at the state laboratory and at private and academic institutions. Tilson said there is no backlog of tests in North Carolina and health care workers are able to get test results for their patients within one business day.

While Tilson continued to urge North Carolinians to practice social distancing, she recognized the stress of isolation.

"Social interaction is what makes us human," Tilson said. "All this can really take a toll on our mental health."

In the same news conference, Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry said the state would open 2-1-1 as a non-emergency line for North Carolinians with questions about the novel coronavirus including how to get food assistance or support for families. Callers will then be routed to the appropriate department within the state government. Residents can also text 'COVIDNC' to 898211 to get automated text message updates about COVID-19 in North Carolina.

Sprayberry emphasized that those who do not have an emergency should not call 9-1-1 for assistance and should call 2-1-1 instead.

Sprayberry also stressed that the state government has no plans to ask grocery stores to close. "We know that everyone needs groceries," Sprayberry said. "Please resist the urge to stockpile food or engage in panic buying."

Tilson also added the states does not plan to ask hair salons to close.

Attorney General Josh Stein warned North Carolinians to stay vigilant against price gouging and scams.

To date, Stein said, his office has received 136 price gouging complaints for grocers, hand sanitizer and cleaning products. His office is currently investigating the claims to see if any of the accused businesses broke the price gouging law that went into effect when Governor Roy Cooper issued a State of Emergency.

Stein also said North Carolinians should watch out for scams including phishing attempts, telemarketing and robocalls, groups offering miracle cures and people claiming to collect money for charity.

"There are no miracle cures," Stein said. "If someone is promising you that, they are trying to steal your money."

Stein also advised that residents who want to give to others during this time go through well-known organizations like local food banks or the Red Cross.

Stein said North Carolinians who want to report a potential scam can call 877-5NOSCAM.

12:30 p.m.
The first case of coronavirus in Hoke County has been documented. The patient was notified on Wednesday after being tested on Monday. The patient is in isolation at home.

12:15 p.m.
President Donald Trump announced the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development will suspend all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.

Trump will evoke the Defense Production Act and will sign it later today. Two hospital ships are being prepared (Mercy and Comfort).

Coronavirus map shows where COVID-19 has spread in US

10:45 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports the official number of positive coronavirus cases is at 63. The official count is updated each day by 11 a.m., but cases that arise after that are not reflected until the following morning

9:30 a.m.
UNC Health set up triage tents to screen patients before they enter the hospital.

"We want to ensure that people walking through the threshold of the emergency department need to be there, meaning they need active resuscitation, they need to be cared for for an acute issue," Dr. Daniel Park, a physician in the department of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, said in a recorded interview. "If they are otherwise well and they want to be tested, we are referring them out to the respiratory diagnostic centers for testing there."

Park added the screenings are to protect any immunocompromised or otherwise vulnerable patients inside UNC hospitals.

Park said the idea of the tent is to provide drive-up screenings for patients with respiratory symptoms so patients wouldn't have to leave their cars.

6:00 a.m.

Triangle hospitals are changing their response to the novel coronavirus weighing decisions as the virus continues to evolve and spread.

Wednesday morning, Duke Hospital began setting up tents in the parking lot.

How does coronavirus testing work?

The hospital said the tents will be used for testing in case there's a sudden surge of patients. Duke did a few drive-up screenings of COVID-19 for a small group of patients. The patients got prescriptions.

RELATED | Restaurant restrictions will 'devastate economy' Lt. Gov. Dan Forest says

Duke is building up its capabilities to offer drive-up testing. Duke says the plan is fluid and they're not able to administer tests to large amounts of people yet.

Wednesday is also the first full day that restaurants will deal with Governor Cooper's executive order that disallows dine-in service to keep the virus from spreading.

Watkins Grill in Raleigh was operating as a makeshift takeout establishment on Wednesday morning as customers grabbed breakfast.

Employees at Watkins, like most in the service industry, are all too familiar with seismic impact the novel coronavirus has had on business. One long-time worker was fearful they could go out of business.

"I've been here 30 years," said an emotional Rhonda Self. "It's just been really hard."

Self said Watkins would offer its full menu for takeout. Many restaurants throughout the area are offering takeout and delivery service.
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