Coronavirus NC: Decision on Gov. Cooper's Stay-At-Home order expected later this week

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.
Cumberland County Schools is closing the meal site at Douglas Byrd Middle School for 14 days after a person who worked at the site tested positive for COVID-19.

Cumberland County health officials said they are tracing any close contacts of the patient and will alert anyone who was within a 6-foot radius of the patient for more than 10 minutes.

Cumberland County Schools said the worker was wearing gloves and a face mask during food distribution, and the risk of exposure to anyone who came through the drive-thru line is low because close contact was limited.

School officials said all staff and volunteers are wearing face masks, keeping six feet of separation when possible, not leaning into families' cars when delivering food, washing their hands, minimizing contact with cars and doorknobs, providing pre-wrapped utensils and disinfecting common surfaces regularly.

"I am grateful to all of our Child Nutrition staff and volunteers for working hard to provide meals for our students," said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. in a written statement. "Our thoughts are with the individual, and we are hopeful for a full recovery. We will continue to follow the guidance of local health officials and take the necessary precautions to keep our staff, volunteers and families safe."

All other meal sites will continue to operate.

6:40 p.m.
Durham County now has 439 COVID-19 cases.

The Durham County Department of Public Health has also confirmed two COVID-19-related deaths, for a total of six COVID-19-related deaths confirmed within the county to date.

The residents were younger than 65 years old and had multiple underlying health conditions.

The Durham County Department of Public Health said it is continuing to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks at three Durham long-term care facilities. As of now, the following COVID-19 case totals have been confirmed for all residents and staff at the facilities:
  • 91 at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • 20 at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center
  • 4 at Durham VA Healthcare System Community Nursing Home


6 p.m.
As North Carolina reports more than 200 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths, state health officials on Tuesday explained how they report that statistic each day.

In a news conference, Department of Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mandy Cohen said COVID-19 deaths are determined by medical examiners.

Health officials said deaths are reported to the state in two ways: through laboratory-confirmed cases reported by hospitals and through death certificates.

In a written statement, a representative for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said laboratory-confirmed deaths are reported by hospitals and physicians to local and state health departments, usually within hours or days of a patient's death. These deaths only include patients who previously tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, and who died without fully recovering from the disease.

More information here.

4:50 p.m.
Lee County confirmed three more cases of COVID-19. There are 41 active cases, seven previous cases have resumed normal activities. There are no confirmed deaths in the county at this time.

4:10 p.m.
Johnston County reported 119 confirmed cases in total as of 4 p.m.

There are eight people hospitalized, and 101 are recoveirng at home.

Ten people have died in Johnnston County, and al lof them were 65 or older.

4 p.m.
Halifax County officials said three more COVID-19 cases bring the county total up to 39. 20 of the 39 cases are recovered.

2:30 p.m.
During a news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper said he will make an announcement this week about whether he plans to extend the stay-at-home order set to expire next week.

"We are working to ease restrictions in a responsible way, in a staged way," Cooper said. "We understand that we can't stay at home forever and this is not something that is sustainable long term. But what we have to do is ease back into it to make sure that this virus does not spike, which it very easily could do."

Cooper also announced new budget proposals for federal money designated to North Carolina, saying the funds will be allocated to public health and safety, schools and other core state government services, and small businesses and assistance for local governments.

During the news conference, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the testing task force is working to increase access to COVID-19 testing in communities of color--stressing the disproportionate numbers of members of the black and African American community who have COVID-19 or have died from COVID-19.

"These disturbing trends are not going unnoticed by me or my team," Cohen said.



Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry emphasized the state's continued mission to acquire personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked by ABC11's Andrea Blanford about the status of the personal protective equipment shortage, Cooper said some hospitals and medical systems have enough equipment, others may not. In addition, Sprayberry and Cooper both stressed that first responders do not have the equipment they need to safely respond to emergencies. Cohen also said nursing homes are requesting protective equipment in large numbers as outbreaks arise in assisted living facilities across the state.

2 p.m.
Cooper announced on Tuesday that he signed an executive order that allows furloughed workers whose employers have paid them a severance or furlough payment to receive unemployment benefits.

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

Cooper said he is working with legislators to try to codify the order into law next week when the General Assembly returns.

12:45 p.m.
As fewer people hit the roads in North Carolina, the Department of Transportation is dealing with a $300 million budget shortage for the fiscal year ending June 30.

In a news release, the department said NCDOT revenue is funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and DMV fees-all of which have dropped.

NCDOT said 50 major projects scheduled to start over the next 12 months have been delayed.

The changes do not affect construction projects currently underway.

In addition, NCDOT said the department is allowing critical purchases only, laying off temporary workers and consultants, suspending or decreasing programs and services, and implementing a hiring freeze except for public safety positions.

NCDOT said it is developing plans for potential furloughs, but no decision has been made at this time to enact them.

11:30 a.m.
Approximately 300 people gathered outside North Carolina General Assembly to protest the safety precautions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina.

ReOpen NC is the group behind the protest. They came out for the second time in the last couple weeks to show support for reopening businesses in the state.

10:55 a.m.
North Carolina reports 34 more people have died of COVID-19, bringing the total death toll of the virus up to 213. That is the largest single-day increase in fatalities so far in the state.

The first death in North Carolina was reported on March 25, meaning COVID-19 is to blame for 213 deaths in 27 days.

The state health department said 6,951 people have tested positive for the virus. Many more are expected to have had the virus and recovered without getting tested.

As of Tuesday morning, 427 people remained in the hospital receiving treatment for the virus.

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

10 a.m.
The state's division of employment security reports that 689,424 unemployment claims have been filed between March 15 and April 20. 593,235 of those claims were related to job loss due to COVID-19.

8 a.m.
LabCorp has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a COVID-19 At-Home Test Kit.

The kit allows for patients to take a nasal swab sample for testing.

Patients can get the kit if it's recommended by a healthcare provider after completing a COVID-19 questionnaire. LabCorp received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA to issue the kits. The EUA permits nasal swab specimens to be collected at home using LabCorp's "Pixel" kit.

Initially, the test will be available for medical employees with symptoms. It will become available to others in the coming weeks.

TUESDAY HEADLINES
Raleigh City Council is looking into ways to help small businesses that are struggling during the pandemic. Today, city leaders will meet to talk about the small business assistance program. Raleigh will contribute $1 million to the Carolina Small Business fund and Wake Technical Community College, who each have loan programs. The hope is for the program to become a community benefit fund that encourages the public to donate.

The "Reopen NC" group is pushing Gov. Roy Cooper to get the state's economy moving again and a crowd is expected to gather in front of the Governor's mansion for a protest Tuesday. The group believes the economic fallout from the order outweighs the health hazards that experts say it is successfully helping stem. .

Gov. Cooper briefed Vice President Mike Pence on the state's response to the virus. Cooper said "North Carolina has 14 labs able to test for COVID-19, but to continue increasing our testing numbers, we need help from the federal government getting more testing supplies and personal protective equipment." Cooper will provide an update at 2 p.m. on ABC11 and ABC11.com.

Duke University Hospital confirmed an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The hospital is reaching out to potentially affected patients and staff.

Wake County is reporting 605 cases and eight deaths from COVID-19. Durham County reported its fourth death and 435 cases.

Harris Teeter is now requiring masks or other face coverings for its employees working at its stores, distribution centers and facilities. Shoppers are encouraged to cover their faces.

The coronavirus has killed more than 168,000 people worldwide, according to ABC News. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that more than 2.4 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The United States now has more than 787,000 diagnosed cases and at least 42,094 deaths.

MONDAY
11 p.m.
President Donald Trump said he will sign an executive order to "temporarily suspend immigration" into the U.S. amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

9:45 p.m.
A Duke University Hospital employee tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson.

"If one of our health care workers tests positive for COVID-19, our employee health and infection prevention experts evaluate the circumstances of the work and clinical environment," said Sarah Avery. "Based on CDC and other expert guidance, any potentially affected patients and staff would be notified of a workplace exposure and managed appropriately, which occurred in this situation. At this time, there is no evidence that any patients at Duke have acquired COVID-19 from health care worker exposure."

7:30 p.m.
Durham County officials said one more person has died from COVID-19, bringing the county total to four deaths. The total amount of cases among Durham County residents is 435.

There are currently three outbreaks at Durham long-term care facilities.

  • 87 cases at Durham Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

  • 19 cases at Treyburn Rehabilitation Center

  • 4 cases at Durham VA Healthcare System Community Nursing Home


7 p.m.
Louisburg Nursing Center in Franklin County reported an additional three deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 11. The center said nine residents are being hospitalized due to the outbreak.

6 p.m.
Department of Public Health officials reported 11 new cases in Cumberland County, bringing the total positive cases of COVID-19 to 124.

"We are working on partnering with providers to expand testing capacity to our residents with cost not being a barrier. Currently, our barriers include access to test kits, staff to perform tests, and availability of personal protective equipment," said Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green. "In the coming days, we will be working on strategies to increase our testing capabilities."

Cumberland County has reported six COVID-19 related deaths.

5:30 p.m.
Wake County reported eight COVID-19 deaths and 605 confirmed cases of the virus.

4:00 p.m.

Lee County officials reported eight new cases of COVID-19. County officials said 45 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, 38 of whom are still being monitored by the health department. There are no confirmed deaths in the county.

2:30 p.m.
Governor Roy Cooper on Monday joined a call with Vice President Mike Pence and governors from around the country. On that call, Gov. Cooper gave an update on what North Carolina is doing through its Testing Surge Workgroup to increase testing in North Carolina. In particular, the governor highlighted efforts to diversify the supply chain for testing so that labs aren't all relying on the same supplies from the same vendors.

ABC News reported that Pence and other administration officials said that states are not utilizing the full testing capacity of private laboratories. Pence said he provided governors with a list of labs they could contact.

However, Cooper said he made clear that North Carolina still needs more supplies and personal protective equipment from the federal government.

"When you have law enforcement and first responders that you're having to ration PPE, plus needing PPE for testing, that is a significant concern for us," Cooper said on the call.

Pence and other officials said the type of personal protective equipment needed to collect specimens has changed--patients can now swab themselves rather than needing an invasive swab by a health care worker.

"I appreciate the open lines of communication that North Carolina has with the White House," Gov. Cooper said in a written statement. "Right now, North Carolina has 14 labs able to test for COVID-19, but to continue increasing our testing numbers we need help from the federal government getting more testing supplies and personal protective equipment. More testing is necessary to be able to start lifting restrictions in a safe way."

2:15 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday that North Carolina has been approved for the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, to help families purchase food for children impacted by school closings due to COVID-19.

2 p.m.
In a news conference, Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Mandy Cohen said COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States. Cohen continued to stress the importance of testing for COVID-19. In order to reopen the state, Cohen said, testing capacity will need to increase, especially in communities of color.

Cohen said equipment shortages -- both in terms of testing supplies and personal protective equipment for medical workers--is hindering the state's ability to expanding testing. However, state officials are working on diversifying the types of tests private laboratories are able to do and finding new ways to collect patient samples that doesn't require as much personal protective equipment.

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NC officials provide an update regarding COVID-19. Full media briefing from Monday afternoon with Dr. Mandy Cohen and Mike Sprayberry.



While Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said the availability of some equipment is improving, many medical workers and first responders still don't have the equipment they need. However, officials are working hard to find the equipment to replenish state stockpiles.

In addition, Sprayberry said more than 1,300 medical professionals were cleared to work as volunteers to support hospital staff and health care providers in long term care homes.

Both Cohen and Sprayberry urged North Carolinians to continue to follow both state and local stay-at-home orders to prevent accelerating cases and hospitalizations.

1:57 p.m.
Wake County is now reporting 601 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That's up from 594 on Sunday. The county also reported three additional deaths, bringing the total to 7.

12:20 p.m.
The North Carolina Division of Prisons has suspended operations at Johnston Correctional Institution in Smithfield and moved JCI employees to support Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro, where a serious COVID-19 outbreak is causing staffing shortages.

Wayne County said at least 458 cases have been linked to Neuse Correctional Institute. Friday, officials said 98 percent of reported cases are asymptomatic.

"The staff at Neuse have been working in the toughest conditions, for weeks on end, and desperately needed support," said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. "They are owed everyone's thanks for their commitment to serving the public, standing tall in their daily responsibilities and helping ensure safety of their co-workers and those in custody."

Roughly 600 offenders at Johnston Correctional have been transferred to other prisons. The transfers were mostly done on Saturday.

12 p.m.
Halifax County said it has one new case of COVID-19, The Health Department said of 192 COVID-19 tests performed to date, there are 36 positive cases and one COVID-19 related death. Twenty people who were ill have recovered.

There are still five results pending and 151 county residents have tested negative.

10:50 a.m.
Seven new coronavirus-related deaths were reported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Monday.

There have now been 179 deaths and 6,764 cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina. The number of cases increased by 271 from Sunday to Monday. On Saturday, officials learned about two Moore County residents who died from a COVID-19 infection.

The first death in the state was reported on March 25. There are currently 373 people in the state hospitalized from COVID-19.

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

MONDAY HEADLINES

Starting Monday, masks will be mandatory in Durham County and the city of Durham. The restriction calls for a clean face-covering mask in public or private spaces where it is not possible to maintain social distance such as grocery stores, pharmacies, businesses and public transit.

More than 2.3 million people have been diagnosed with coronavirus worldwide with the death toll at more than 165,000. The U.S. has more cases than any other country, with least 755,000, according to ABC News. A report expected to released Monday states that 20 million tests per day will need to be administered to "fully remobilize the economy."

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper's stay-at-home order is in effect until April 29. The protest group "Reopen NC" has scheduled a demonstration near the governor's mansion Tuesday. They're calling on Gov. Cooper to end the order and reopen non-essential businesses. Protesters argue the economic constraints are a violation of freedom.

Several lawmakers are asking Gov. Cooper to partially open Charlotte Motor Speedway for its traditional Memorial Day Weekend race. The group is citing Florida's decision to reopen its tracks for races without fans. Cooper would have to amend his previous executive orders in order to reopen the race.
Walmart is requiring all its associates to wear facemasks starting Monday. Workers will have to pass health screenings. Customers aren't required to wear masks. Walmart is expected to hire 50,000 new employees to meet demand.

Also on Monday in South Carolina, retail stores and public beaches are set to reopen.
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