COVID-19 updates: What’s happening in North Carolina? - North Carolina Health News
Since the new strain of coronavirus was first reported out of Wuhan, China NC Health News reporters have kept our ears open for news of COVID-19 (the official moniker for coronavirus disease 2019). The disease is a novel version of a coronavirus, other examples include SARS, MERS and the common cold. We’ll update this page with each of our stories on the coronavirus pandemic as we publish them. We’re also keeping an eye on the most recent case tally in the state. Visit the timeline at the bottom of the page for more information.
COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations
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Federal agency was mum for months on ‘major life change’ extension to ACA marketplace that could have helped thousands of North Carolinians.
Colleges created reopening plans that did not conform to a single standard, setting up for chaos once students returned to campuses.
NC dental board could put limits on emotional support animals inside dental facilities.
9/22/2020: Coronavirus Today – Sep 22 – Large stadiums and return of fans; Governor would take vaccine; SlowCOVIDNC app launched
Gov. Roy Cooper says if NC metrics remain stable, he might ease restrictions even further Oct. 2.
Families are skipping well-child visits to pediatricians, who say that could pose major health risks.
North Carolina is one of just three states to still use a paper-based system for its official death documents. Because of it, the state lags in its official COVID-19 deaths reporting.
9/17/2020: As $35M in nursing-home fines sits mostly idle, COVID-ridden NC ranks 3rd among states with unused funds
NC has built up a $35 million fund of fines levied against nursing homes, earmarked to improve quality of life for residents. Why aren’t these caches being used to fight COVID-19?
Students in special education programs are struggling to adjust to online learning during the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to setbacks and hospitalizations for some.
9/15/2020: Coronavirus Today – Sep. 15 – Political rallies, masks and respect; Tillis, Cunningham and vaccine; Get your flu shot
North Carolina has seen its COVID-19 positivity rates go down in recent days. Is it a lasting trend, or will events such as political rallies and holidays bump cases back up?
More than 300 people are participating in Phase 3 of the Moderna vaccine clinical trials in Fayetteville. A local doctor heading those trials says they are going well, but scientists doubt a vaccine will be approved before December, at the earliest.
9/13/2020: What we know about MIS-C, a rare but dangerous illness striking children weeks after they get COVID-19
Several hundred children across the U.S. have ended up in intensive care units after acquiring COVID-19 and developing multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
One transferred migrant dead, over 120 people have fallen ill amid continued transfers, arrests, and opaque testing practices. A look at Alamance County Detention Center’s emerging pandemic legacy.
COVID-19 has pushed independent living centers to adapt to serve their clients with disabilities, who face a wide range of health risks and service disruptions from the coronavirus.
09/04/2020: Should COVID-19 vaccine testing be done on prisoners? Some researchers say we should ask them.
Is it time to reconsider restrictions on using prisoners in medical experiments? Some experts say we should ask incarcerated people themselves.
09/03/2020: Coronavirus Today – Sep. 3 – ‘Get Behind the Mask’ and Labor Day; Vaccine by November?; Nursing homes and child care; ‘Dr. Mandy Cohen Day’
North Carolina launches a public health face mask campaign six months into the coronavirus pandemic.
In a short budget session, lawmakers are expected to direct more funding to economic needs generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
09/01/2020: Coronavirus Today – Sep. 1 – Return to gyms, museums, yoga and dance studios; Outdoor nursing home visits; Cautious optimism about NC trends, metrics
As NC trends and metrics show stability and improvement, Gov. Roy Cooper allows gyms, bowling alleys and fitness centers to open again.
09/01/2020: NC health brain trust keeps focus on ‘seriously ill’ patients, those likely to die within a year
Through most of 2019, high-level North Carolina health professionals were examining the needs of the ‘seriously ill’ population in the state. When COVID-19 arrived in 2020, it was clear much more remained to be done for patients who are within a year of dying.
8/30/2020: I’m a COVID-19 long-hauler and an epidemiologist – here’s how it feels when symptoms last for months
Margot Gage Wivliet was hospitalized with COVID-19 in March. More than four months later, she has yet to recover.
As the nation starved the public health system intended to protect communities against disease, staffing and funding fell faster and further in the Sunshine State, leaving it especially unprepared for the worst health crisis in a century.
The race is on to develop a coronavirus vaccine. But what if a lot of people opt out?
Inmates fear catching the virus amid outbreak but say staff is declining to test other inmates in the dorm.
8/25/2020: Coronavirus Today – Aug. 25 – ‘The three W lady’ and what public means; University clusters and college football; Help to fight eviction
As UNC system campuses report high COVID-19 positivity rates, DHHS secretary renews pitch for three Ws.
8/24/2020: The first COVID surge weakened NC’s cash-strapped rural hospitals. A second wave may devastate them.
Elective surgery cancelations in March and April were a blow that the state’s rural medical centers have yet to recover from. Regaining financial footing could take months, even if a second COVID wave never comes, hospital industry executives and advocates say.
COVID-19 is complicated, and the world’s understanding of the virus has evolved over the last few months. We’ve gathered input from experts on how leaders can communicate clearly and why it’s so important to do so.
Social distancing has made it harder for kids with special needs to make friends and engage in hands-on activities at camps this summer. Virtual and overnight camps for these children have allowed them to interact with peers, build self-esteem, and learn new skills.
8/19/2020: Coronavirus Today – Aug. 19 – Lessons from UNC-CH reversal; remote learning and broadband grants; Testing drop-off and free COVID-19 tests
North Carolina’s trends and metrics are showing stabilization as college campuses report COVID-19 clusters.
The “medical MacGyvering” that took place early in the pandemic wasn’t limited to emergency physicians jerry-rigging personal protective equipment or ICU docs using FaceTime to connect patients to families. Small primary care practices also pivoted hard, but it’s come at a cost.
It’s good news that a North Carolina COVID-19 patient may be ready to be discharged from hospital. But caregivers are also realizing the change will come with a raft of questions about whether the home and caregiver can support a loved one recovering from the deadly virus.
8/18/2020: Released from a North Carolina prison during the pandemic, Canadian man was detained by ICE. Five months later, he died in their custody.
More than twice as many people have died in ICE custody this year than last year, partly due to the immigration agency’s response to COVID-19.
Parties, clusters and too much quick virus spread force UNC-Chapel Hill to reverse course.
NC Gov. Roy Cooper says he’ll have his people check out the contract that a Georgia health care company has held for 22 years with the state.
The rapid home tests are not as accurate as the common lab tests done now, but can usually detect when an individual has enough of the virus to be contagious.
The study found that homemade, two-layer cotton masks work well; bandanas, not so much.
8/13/2020: Coronavirus Today – Aug. 13 – Pandemic snarls seasons: Sports, flu, back-to-school; Unemployment aid push and pull
NC’s trends and metrics are going the right way, DHHS secretary says, but that ‘progress is fragile.’
And it will cost more before it’s all done, DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen tells lawmakers at the General Assembly this week.
8/12/2020: Coronavirus Today – Aug. 12 – Revised NC testing totals; LabCorp reporting glitch; More glimmers of hope
NC has to correct COVID-19 testing totals, but mistake does not change key metrics.
Cases have risen at nine local jails; at least one outbreak is connected to a transfer from the state prison system.
8/10/2020: Your incarcerated loved one is hospitalized for COVID-19. You might not be notified until it’s too late.
When an incarcerated person is hospitalized for a COVID-19 emergency, prison officials across the country don’t have to notify their emergency contacts. During the pandemic, it means family members might not get a chance to say goodbye until it’s too late.
8/7/2020: Coronavirus Today – Aug. 7 – Mandatory testing for nursing home workers; New tactics against COVID-19; Community Health Workers vendors selected
DHHS secretary orders testing of nursing home staff every two weeks.
8/7/2020: Free phones, masks in parks: Rural providers get creative with mental health outreach post-COVID
The pandemic has isolated rural residents with mental health needs. But these North Carolina providers are finding creative ways to connect.
Some kids have faced social isolation during the pandemic with schools closing and being unable to see their friends. Some youth camps opened their doors in the summer so kids could engage with peers and learn instead of having their eyes glued to a screen. Despite having to wear a mask at camp, campers were still able to swim and meet new friends this summer.
8/5/2020: Coronavirus Today – Aug. 5 Here come the students; taking a pause on NC reopening; Stability is good, decline even better
North Carolina governor pauses further reopening for at least five weeks.
8/4/2020: With Tropical Storm Isaias, health providers, emergency managers and providers face a ‘test-run’ of pandemic storm prep
This week’s storm will give North Carolina health providers and emergency managers the first taste of how COVID will affect hurricane preparedness.
8/3/2020: Coronavirus Today – Aug. 3 – Awaiting Isaias; Curfews and evacuations; Landfall in southeastern NC?
North Carolina awaits the dawn after its first major storm amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As coronavirus cases continue to tick up across the United States, individual states are pivoting to find labs that can provide test results in a more timely way.
This year’s summer on the Outer Banks is a little bit different than previous years. The beaches are drawing tourists from all areas with higher rates of COVID-19 infections, so local businesses are having to adjust.
7/31/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 31 – Hurricane Isaias heading north; Shelters as a last resort; UNC schools plan with county health departments
‘A hurricane during a pandemic is double trouble,’ NC governor says.
As COVID-19 outbreaks moved through North Carolina this year, nursing home residents quickly numbered high among those who became infected. Among that population, 36 North Carolina residents of military service died of the novel coronavirus in state-owned veterans nursing homes managed by a Georgia conglomerate, PruittHealth.
7/31/2020: Cooper, national leaders respond to ravaged veterans nursing homes, look ahead for solutions
Gaps in state federal oversight and accountability for privately run veterans homes are now facing scrutiny at all levels of government.
7/30/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 30 – The SCOOP on coping with pandemic stress; Tropical storm and NC pathway; Return of NC college students
The pandemic is taking a mental health toll with increased reports of anxiety, depression, binge drinking and substance-abuse overdoses.
7/30/2020: Thirty-six veterans die of COVID-19 in NC state veterans nursing homes that a private company has run for 22 years
Since April 21, 36 North Carolina military veterans have died of COVID in state veterans nursing homes managed by the Georgia-based PruittHealth corporation, whose five-year, $207 million contract is up for a second extension in December. In July, state inspectors report, the state veterans home in Salisbury allowed dozens of drive-up visits by relatives, less than three weeks after the center’s 15th resident death from COVID-19.
This Duke physician’s quest for global health care access is deep-rooted.
7/28/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 28 – Alcohol sales curfew; NC trends stabilizing; Fighting utility shut-offs and evictions
As NC universities and colleges prepare to bring students back to campus, governor limits late-night alcohol sales.
COVID-19 continues to rage with no end in sight, even as deadlines for insurers to ask for next year’s premium rates arrive. How do insurance companies know what their rates should be?
While hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians were losing their jobs, Amazon was on a hiring spree. But at what price?
Advocates worry it will increase North Carolina immigrants’ risk of contracting COVID-19.
7/23/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 23 – Follow the three Ws, say Mexican and Guatemalan consulate leaders; Plug for Medicaid expansion; ‘Not yet turned a corner’
North Carolina is on steadier ground than many Southern states in its fight against COVID-19, but cases continue to rise especially in Latino communities.
As the coronavirus continues to cause chaos in North Carolina, forecasters predict an above-normal hurricane season. State officials urge people in at-risk areas to make plans now.
The free Health Heroes app assess symptoms of stress and depression and helps connect those on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic connect to care.
7/21/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 21 – Calls for strong federal leadership; testing shortage work-arounds; hardy salute to National Guard
As the pandemic rages on, North Carolina governor and top public health official call out the Trump administration.
North Carolina is one of the states identified by White House advisors for increased scrutiny because of the high rate of coronavirus cases in the state.
7/20/2020: Undocumented, uninsured and worried about ID requirements? You can still get free COVID-19 tests.
Free testing sites seek to calm fears in Latinx community that lack of an ID could expose their immigration status.
North Carolina finally has a fall school plan, just as we see COVID-19 clusters among children.
7/16/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 16: Hospitalization and incidental COVID-19 cases; Latinos complain of being turned away; Federal change-up and NC impact
North Carolina’s COVID-19 trends continue to be of concern, with hospitalizations creeping up, many new positive tests and the rate of positives staying “too high.”
Correctional facilities throughout the state have shut down in-person visitations to help quell the spread of COVID-19, creating one more roadblock for kids trying to navigate the criminal justice system to stay connected with a parent.
Medicaid advocates say expansion now would help rural and urban economies alike and provide health care to aid public health.
7/14/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 14: “Plan B” for K-12 schools; district choices; simmering COVID-19 trends and metrics
NC governor recommends in-person combined with remote teaching for the coming K-12 school year. Each district would have discretion over the exact mix.
Studies say people with high levels of PFAS in their systems could be more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
Prisons not providing court with information and not complying with several parts of order to prevent further COVID-19 spread, judge says.
Many patrons, employees and owners question how much of an impact the Governor’s order has had on increasing customer mask use.
7/9/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 9 – Schools decision next week; troubling Charlotte hospital trends; Community Health Workers and college internships
With record-high hospitalizations and continued rise in lab-confirmed cases, the governor says ‘treat this virus like the lethal threat it is.’
Early in the morning, these guys ride around on a truck in your neighborhood collecting every bit of trash you throw out not knowing what they’re touching. A combination of smells wafts through their noses– stinky diapers, spoiled pizza, hazardous chemicals. Sanitation workers across the state voice their concerns and share how their jobs have changed during the pandemic as an essential worker.
7/8/2020: Telehealth offers transgender people a new way to receive hormone therapy, during the pandemic and beyond
The COVID pandemic has paved way for virtual visits to continue for transgender patients, offering easy – and private – access to hormone replacement therapy and other care.
7/7/2020: Coronavirus Today – July 7 – Streamlining COVID testing access; Tough being a contact tracer; NC gets F for inmate care
The COVID pandemic has paved way for virtual visits to continue for transgender patients, offering easy – and private – access to hormone replacement therapy and other care.
7/7/2020: In this coastal county, a large party brings COVID spread and recalcitrance toward tracers
Dare County health director has been cussed at, told she was lying and hung up on.
With more numbers than ever, it can be hard to understand the magnitude of the pandemic in North Carolina. We’ve created three charts to help you make sense of coronavirus in the state.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on both routine kidney care and the number of transplants. At the same time, the estimated 37 million American adults with chronic kidney disease are at greater risk of contracting the virus.
New physicians suit up and start on July 1. They’re entering a world with far more challenges than they could have imagined.
COVID-19 has hit North Carolina’s prisons hard. But the system was already struggling under the weight of staffing issues, budget cuts, management changes and a surge of mental health patients for more than a decade.
As North Carolina sees troubling increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, decision on K-12 schools postponed.
With fewer resources to begin with, North Carolina’s rural providers struggled financially at the first phases of the pandemic. Federal aid has kept the doors open, but with COVID cases rising in the state, advocates say more support may be needed.
6/26/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 26 – Helping Hispanic communities battle COVID-19; statewide face mask requirement takes effect
State health officials approve $100,000 grants for five organizations to help staunch the spread of COVID-19 among Latino communities.
Even as lawmakers pass bills to require hospitals to allow visitors, they got an earful on how senior living centers would prefer to keep those facilities closed to visitors.
6/25/2020: With a backlog of routine cleaning appointments, should NC dentists be able to oversee more hygienists?
With COVID-19 so prevalent, the N.C. dental board weighs a timeworn question: Will NC allow dentists to oversee more than two hygienists?
6/24/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 24 – Face mask requirements; gyms, playgrounds, museums, bars still closed; struggling child care centers
Face masks will be required as North Carolina remains in the Safer-At-Home Phase 2 for several more weeks.
Cleaning teeth with COVID-19 so prevalent brings questions about investigating safety complaints.
The NC prison system had been reluctant to test prison inmates for COVID-19 before a judge got involved. Meanwhile, prison officials have refused to release the number of inmates who have been hospitalized with the virus.
6/22/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 22 – NCCARE360 expands; COVID clusters in childcare facilities, schools; proposed transit cuts
A 100-county program designed before COVID-19 appeared could be useful to connect North Carolinians in need.
There is no playbook for what happens when children are separated from friends and peers for months on end, as they have been during the coronavirus pandemic. How are they really doing?
6/20/2020: Emails reveal chaos as meatpacking companies fought health agencies over COVID-19 outbreaks in their plants
Thousands of pages of documents obtained by ProPublica show how quickly public health agencies were overwhelmed by meatpacking cases. One CEO described social distancing as “a nicety that makes sense only for people with laptops.”
The state’s foster care system has staggered under the weight of thousands of children needing care as a result of the opioid epidemic. Now COVID has complicated the lives of everyone in the system.
Until recently, exactly what data they collected was somewhat ad hoc — a contact tracer might ask for someone’s name and birthday but neglect to ask about gender or race.
6/18/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 18 – Campaigning for the face mask; $3.3 million prison testing plan; Tar River floods
Gov. Roy Cooper hints at a statewide mask mandate, but North Carolinians won’t know for sure until next week.
In an update to the General Assembly, Secretary Mandy Cohen emphasized simple measures to prevent a possible surge of hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Hospitals in Greenville, the Triangle and Charlotte may run out of beds by late summer or early fall, a new analysis shows.
The state wants to release pregnant prisoners to protect them from COVID outbreaks. So what’s the hold up?
6/15/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 15 – Mandatory face masks?; a lesson in virus spread; hurricane relief amid pandemic
Gov. Roy Cooper says he will let the state know early next week whether metrics and trends shift enough for further reopening.
6/15/2020: Former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick went to prison after embezzling nearly a million dollars. Then she contracted COVID.
Riddick describes what it’s like for her, and the women around her, to fall ill from the deadly virus while in prison.
The COVID-19 pandemic has done what no president or social movement or venture capitalist could have dreamed of: It forced sudden major changes to the nation’s health care system.
6/12/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 12 – Troubling trends, pleas to public to help reverse them; Ace Speedway tells fans no races; UNC physicians on reopening, testing
Governor, secretary of health urge North Carolinians to help reverse troubling trends.
Residents of a Hendersonville assisted living home started testing positive for COVID-19 in early April. A carefully assembled “strike team” gathered diverse forces to keep the disease under some level of control.
Duke professors, physicians and state leaders eye ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Hispanic communities, where it’s hit hard.
Mandy Cohen rings a warning bell on testing, case and hospitalization increases.
When COVID-19 hit Henderson County, a newly coordinated “strike team” of medical professionals and others, from CNAs to hospice staff, formed to face the threat to endangered long-term care residents.
6/9/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 9 – Action against Alamance speedway; contact tracing after the races; Governor to get tested
State takes action against Ace Speedway, saying the races and crowds put the public at ‘imminent risk.’
Cary, Raleigh and other areas of the Triangle are working with N.C. State on a research project that aims to detect the virus in human feces, potentially alerting health officials to new outbreaks.
6/8/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 8 – Dr. Birx calls NC; follow the three Ws for the school kids; protesters should get tested
As pressure mounts for Gov. Roy Cooper to open bars and gyms amid spiking COVID numbers, the focus shifts to slowing the spread so schools can reopen in August.
Two weeks ago, Macon County had a handful of coronavirus cases. On Tuesday, the number of lab-confirmed cases rocketed to 84. Contact tracers are working to figure out exactly where the outbreaks started.
6/5/2020: With more farmers and food handlers testing positive for the coronavirus, consumers wonder if food is safe to eat.
Headlines are filled with farmers and food handlers testing positive for the novel coronavirus, making consumers wonder whether or not it is safe for us to eat that food. We’ll break it down for you.
6/4/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 4 – Racial equity task force; nursing home, prison numbers; Phase 2.5 for gyms, bars?
As George Floyd’s death renews outrage over institutional racism and long-standing inequities, Gov. Roy Cooper creates a new task force.
Duke University is leading a nationwide study of frontline health care workers to test whether HCQ can prevent COVID-19.
The mental health crisis brought on by the pandemic has helped speed up the adoption of teletherapy.
6/2/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 2 – GOP convention and NC demands; Cooper shares Bible story for Trump; COVID graph day
Gov. Roy Cooper and President Donald Trump have different ideas for staging a GOP National Convention in Charlotte.
6/2/2020: COVID-19 affected NC’s rural economies long before the first confirmed cases arrived there
North Carolina’s coronavirus control measures have strained the state’s already weaker rural economies, data from the first wave of unemployment claims shows.
6/1/2020: Coronavirus Today – June 1 – Remembering George Floyd; focus on communities of color; protests and face coverings
As North Carolinians fight for justice for George Floyd, health officials work to reverse long-standing systemic health inequities.
As UNC Health, Vidant Health and other NC health care sites engage in convalescent plasma studies, getting and donating the antibody-rich blood component can be a challenge.
The 27344 ZIP code, which includes Siler City and Mountaire Farms, has become a hotspot for the coronavirus in North Carolina. Latinos who live in the ZIP code are suffering greatly, but nonprofit organizations can only do so much.
5/28/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 28 – Bars, senators and Cooper; COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase; NC poet laureate joins information campaign
As NC bar owners cry foul, lawmakers look to weaken the governor’s executive order.
5/28/2020: As COVID races through Mountaire Farms poultry plant, workers deemed vital feel dispensable
Mountaire criticized for moving too slowly to protect workers who weren’t aware of coronavirus cases in workplace.
Fear of being exposed to the coronavirus is contributing to parents skipping child well visits and their vaccinations.
5/26/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 26 – Cooper, Trump, GOP convention; Alamance speedway defiance; Hang on Mandy, Mandy hang on
Gov. Roy Cooper announces the creation of the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office.
One conservative pastor sues the governor, but other church organizations, leaders say they’ll continue to meet online.
5/22/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 22 – Restaurant effort to boost confidence; craft brewery confusion; NASCAR and Atrium team up
Restaurants are back with a new campaign to boost customer confidence as dining moves back inside.
5/21/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 21 Rare COVID-related child illness; Tyson plant and Forsyth case jump; pause on NC jury trials
North Carolina is moving cautiously into a new reopening phase as COVID-19 cases increase. Forsyth County has seen a rapid increase in cases.
With the coronavirus pandemic highlighting the depth of rural broadband needs, churches have set their sights on increasing access in their communities.
5/20/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 20 – Indoor restaurant dining; barbershops salons to open, but no gyms yet; Cooper unlikely to pick pizza
As the number of COVID-19 lab confirmed cases continue to rise, Gov. Roy Cooper modifies his phased reopening plan.
While some addiction service providers have been forced to cut programs, others have adjusted to the pandemic changes to assist people using drugs and those in early addiction recovery.
5/19/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 19 Heated Lincoln County debate; nod to older North Carolinians; Avery County gets first COVID case
While some addiction service providers have been forced to cut programs, others have adjusted to the pandemic changes to assist people using drugs and those in early addiction recovery.
5/19/2020: NC DHHS recommends testing all in long-term facilities for COVID-19, but questions remain
NC health officials say all residents of long-term care centers, in dozens of which COVID-19 has run rampant, should be tested for the virus, but left several details vague.
5/18/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 18 – Big no to COVID parties; Waiting for phase two; Day-over-day count concerning
While waiting to see if Gov. Cooper will ease restrictions this weekend, some may be taking risks with their health.
Rural Sandhills facility repurposed for non-coronavirus patients in the event of a surge.
The Eastern Band of the Cherokee tribe has been urging that one person from every household on its land get tested.
5/15/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 15 COVID testing guidance; too few Dare County test sites; camp guidance; rough surf warning
Testing, testing, testing. Getting access to the necessary COVID-19 tests has been a problem for Dare County and elsewhere in northeastern NC.
Domestic violence shelters operate by different rules during the coronavirus pandemic.
5/14/2020:Coronavirus Today – May 14 – Churches sue state; prison staff testing plan; need a test, find a site
Nearly a week into this phase of the modified stay-at-home order, no spikes or deep drop-off in COVID-19 have appeared.
5/14/2020: COVID breathes life into North Carolina’s rural telehealth, but broadband remains an obstacle
The coronavirus pandemic forced providers to see many of their patients virtually. In rural North Carolina, where the broadband infrastructure is lacking, that transition can be challenging.
5/13/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 13 – Contact tracers in world of spam; antibody tests; virtual tour of Hawaii
As North Carolina increases testing and tracing, contact tracers must overcome hurdles amid spam-call blocking.
COVID-19 has brought changes in routine for people with dementia and other speech and memory problems. The community of speech therapy is offering new methods of care as the need continues to emerge.
5/12/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 12 – Pandemic politics; NC manufacturers help; mental health awareness
Political divides are emerging again during the pandemic slightly more than a week after Republicans and Democrats reached consensus on a relief package.
About a million North Carolinians have lost work in the past two months, and for many, lost health insurance too. What can they do?
5/11/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 11 – Recovered from COVID; churches and outside worship; more SNAP
Questions arise about who is recovered from COVID-19, who should get tested and the nuances of governor’s modified order for worship houses.
After providing only emergency care for the past month, NC dentists plan to bring hygienists back to work for more routine oral health care.
A physician from the practice keeps an IKEA ‘go bag’ with N95 masks always at the ready, and she’s ready to hit the road at a moment’s notice.
COVID circumstances delay their walk and make their futures uncertain, but this year’s grads are still moving forward with their dreams.
At NC Health News, our workload suddenly exploded. Like others, we’ve had to find ways to cope, even as we’re busier than ever.
Healthy coping skills, mental health resources can ease the pain of physical distance during the pandemic.
Social distancing restrictions being eased as COVID-19 lab confirmed cases rise, but the hike doesn’t warrant reversing course, officials say.
Staffing, salary and working conditions, especially in long-term care, also shine a light on challenges for the nursing profession.
The state’s first coronavirus outbreaks began in cities, but the virus spread to rural areas. Recent data shows a disproportionate burden of cases per capita there.
5/6/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 6 – Some businesses can reopen, while others wait; masks and summer camps
State health officials are preparing North Carolinians for a partial re-opening this weekend. But they urge Tar Heels to go slow and remember the 3 Ws.
N.C. advocates say hospitals are shutting out caregivers of disabled, potentially violating of federal law.
5/5/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 5 – Cooper eases restrictions as of Friday, reporting on nursing home, meat processor outbreaks
Gov. Roy Cooper signs an order to slightly ease social distancing restrictions beginning Friday, as he asks people to “wear, wait and wash.”
Remote and sparsely populated, counties in western NC have taken some tough measures to keep their coronavirus numbers low.
Autumn Care of Cornelius found that 53 of its residents had COVID-19 infections; eventually 10 of them died. Official word from the state of North Carolina means that families, friends and journalists can learn much more about the long-term care homes’ experience in the pandemic.
A century ago, North Carolina was ravaged by a different epidemic than the one we are experiencing today. Again, it was a disease that was without treatment, spread easily and killed about 14,000 people in the state.
5/1/2020: Coronavirus Today – May 1 – Search for COVID by zip code, hurricane season coming, cheesy science fun
As if preparing for the virus isn’t enough, emergency management officials reminded North Carolinians today that it’s time to prepare for possible hurricane activity this summer.
No one will say how many workers at Smithfield’s Tar Heel plant have the coronavirus, but the plant has reduced employees’ hours in what they say is an effort to better protect them.
The economic pressure of coronavirus has strained one hospital system in eastern North Carolina, while another hospital in that part of the state recently emerged from bankruptcy.
4/30/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 30 – Mixed picture on NC metrics, Gaston confusion, legislative relief
Even as the state considers reopening, today saw an uptick in cases and more people with COVID symptoms are showing up in emergency departments.
One woman was released early, but could not get tested in prison. Now she’s so sick with the virus that she’s been hospitalized.
NCDHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen said she would like the NCGA proposals for coronavirus spending to include more funding for food, shelter and other safety items recommended in the governor’s spending proposal.
4/29/2020: Lawmakers return to Raleigh to address health care, other needs generated by COVID-19 pandemic
Legislature returns to tackle funding and policy issues brought about by the pandemic.
4/28/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 28 – Lawmakers are back in town, midwives get some latitude, aid to community colleges
Lawmakers convened, while observing social distancing practices, for the new legislative session Tuesday at the General Assembly.
Child abuse and neglect are expected to rise in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with children unable to escape to the safety of schools and struggling families experience unprecedented levels of stress.
4/27/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 27 -Contact tracers needed, Atrium Health clinical trial, names of nursing homes with outbreaks released
NCDHHS announced a contact tracing task collaborative to support local health departments through the pandemic. Meanwhile, the state released the names of nursing homes with coronavirus outbreak.
If some nursing home residents or staff have COVID-19, but don’t show it, they can still transmit the virus to others in their facility. That’s one reason North Carolina health officials are encouraging facilities to have all residents and staff tested when COVID-19 appears.
From layoffs to working in jobs where they can’t self-isolate, the coronavirus pandemic poses unique challenges for many workers in the service industry.
Companies say the sales are a way to be good corporate citizens during the pandemic, but there are also other forces at play.
4/24/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 24 – schools remain closed, sleep apnea machines, Cooper lays out COVID-19 spending plan
Schools will remain closed through the rest of the academic year, Gov. Cooper said on Friday, but remote learning will continue.
The one bill addresses policy issues needed to facilitate health care moving forward during the state of emergency, the other appropriates close to a half billion dollars in assistance.
The state says 190 workers at seven meat and poultry processing plants have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s up from 118 on Tuesday.
Gov. Roy Cooper outlines plan for easing social-distancing, but says North Carolina isn’t ready yet.
4/23/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 23 – Stay-at-home order extended, easing malpractice risk, Novant resumes elective surgeries
Gov. Roy Cooper extended the stay-at-home order through May 8.
4/23/2020: Emergency Medicaid proposal could provide coverage for many newly unemployed. But many will still be left behind.
Medicaid, which supports millions of low income North Carolinians has seen a lot of changes in recent months, and there are liable to be more coming.
4/22/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 22 – Prisoner death, textile collaboration churns out masks, behavioral health support
As the North Carolina prison system reports its first COVID-19 death, officials said they will test all correctional officers in the state for the virus.
Five processing plants, including the mammoth Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Tar Heel, are experiencing outbreaks of the coronavirus, state health officials say.
Duke researchers and professors weigh in on social distancing to reduce the rate of COVID-19 infections, testing and how to “reopen” society in coming weeks.
4/21/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 21 – New pandemic plans soon, salute a lab worker, nursing home, prison outbreaks
With a little more than a week left for stay-at-home order, plans are being finalized for what’s next.
After more than a month without customers or income because of social distancing restrictions, personal services businesses are looking for ways to get back to work. But it may not be that simple.
4/20/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 20 – COVID deaths surpass flu, Neuse prison outbreak, Smithfield and food supply
N.C. coronavirus deaths in one month now exceed the entire season of flu fatalities, said DHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen.
Federal records for the 19 NC nursing homes identified as having COVID-19 outbreaks show three-quarters have below average marks for staffing. If there’s a relationship there, it could lead to change.
Western North Carolina farmers are bracing for a potentially difficult season amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
4/17/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 17 – Outbreak in Goldsboro prison, upping testing capacity, Fort Bragg deaths
Gov. Roy Cooper announced today that three universities have partnered with the state on an effort to step up coronavirus testing capacity. Meanwhile, the state prison in Goldsboro reports a large outbreak, with cases surpassing 250 as of Friday.
4/16/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 16 – Virtual health visits, a ‘reverse parade’, meat and toilet paper fly off the shelves
NCDHHS aired a three-minute video to help people understand how they can access care while staying home. Meanwhile, NCDHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen advocated for using emergency funding to help Medicaid providers.
4/16/2020: General Assembly leaders supported a study on COVID with $100,000. What will it tell us going forward?
A Wake Forest Baptist study aims to track who’s infected or not, but is only part of the broader picture as North Carolina takes next steps.
Senate leader Phil Berger announced a research initiative to take look back at who may have had COVID-19, while Gov. Roy Cooper and Sec. Mandy Cohen worry the state lacks enough to do adequate disease tracking.
There are several free resources during the COVID-19 pandemic for people who are used to attending regular meetings to support their mental health or substance use recovery.
4/14/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 14 – Medicaid expansion, Raleigh protest, rural hospitals ask for help
In a sign that political discourse around health care access is once again heating up, NCDHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen called for Medicaid expansion at a press conference on COVID-19.
Fewer inmates will be sleeping in prison beds as the Department of Public Safety begins early release for certain eligible inmates to reduce the prison population and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought on an onslaught of data, but what do these numbers actually mean?
4/13/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 13 – Pressure mounts to ease restrictions, pandemic-related prison releases, volunteer health corps growing
Officials said Monday that the strict social distancing measures in North Carolina are slowing the spread of the virus, even as they face pressure to reopen the state economy.
The number of COVID-19 cases in WNC is relatively low compared to the more populous areas in the state. But people on the front lines see a worrying trend that indicates it’s only a matter of time.
The novel coronavirus has brought death and devastation, but professionals from different walks of life say it could also bring positive changes once it finally subsides.
UNC Health’s drive-through testing site doesn’t just stop with the tests.
4/10/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 10 – ‘Moving protests’, mental health care for frontline workers, virtual egg hunts
As North Carolina heads into Easter weekend in isolation, some organizations have put up virtual egg hunts. Meanwhile, The State Employees Credit Union has contributed $10 million for coronavirus relief.
Duke is leading a nationwide study to find out.
Four long-term care facilities with sizable outbreaks have had issues in the past, according to recent state inspections.
Advocates for child care and aging issues, along with EMS workers, delivered dense presentations for lawmakers to sort through as they rush to create legislation for COVID pandemic relief.
4/9/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 9 – Grocery store executive order, lawmakers start to write relief bills, speeding up unemployment relief
Gov. Cooper’s latest executive order attempts to help bring relief to the hundreds of thousands of claims for unemployment benefits that have come in during March and April.
Hospice organizations typically work quietly toward providing some level of peace for people near death and their caregivers. But with North Carolina’s health-care system ensnared by COVID-19, hospice care is encountering myriad obstacles to its compassionate mission.
4/8/2020:Coronavirus Today – April 8 – Nursing home outbreak, food banks need help and prisoner lawsuit
An outbreak in PruittHealth – Carolina Point rehabilitation center in Chapel Hill has spread rapidly from last Thursday, when Orange County Public Health officials first publicly reported that two people, a resident and an employee, had come down with the virus. Now 60 are positive.
State and local data show that African Americans across the state are bearing a disproportionate impact of the coronavirus.
4/7/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 7 – Grocery store crowd control, childcare funds for health workers, old hospital to be repurposed
As North Carolina’s coronavirus case count increases, Gov. Cooper said he will place additional crowd-control restrictions on grocery stores and other retailers.
NC scientists develop a COVID-19 model showing how social distancing could keep the health system from being overwhelmed by Memorial Day.
4/6/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 6 – Modeling the spread, a holiday without large gatherings, National Guard to deploy
As coronavirus cases near 3,000, Sec. Mandy Cohen urged people to avoid large holiday gatherings. Meanwhile, experts study how caseloads will change with and without social distancing.
Health care workers on the “front lines” of caring for COVID-19 patients have had their lives upended in an extraordinary way.
Medical facilities are struggling to balance patient care while limiting the risk of exposure, especially for their most vulnerable patients.
Reopening closed rural hospitals could be faster and more efficient than building temporary hospitals, says a rural healthcare advocate. But the cancellation of normal hospital services is straining the financial resources of rural facilities even more.
Booze has been disappearing from shelves at ABC stores across the state. One type — Everclear — can do more than just relieve social isolation. Its alcohol content is high enough to make homemade hand sanitizer.
4/3/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 3 – Cooper urges people to stay home, Atrium and Novant ask for a field hospital
NC officials have said they are fighting the coronavirus pandemic on many fronts and have implored the public to do their part and stay home.
Many shelters report little increase in domestic violence calls but say that is about to change as isolation caused by the coronavirus leads to abuse.
While lawmakers are still gathering information, they have been focused on helping regions and health systems address the coronavirus crisis.
4/2/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 2 – Cases in NC prisons, unemployment system strain, state requests FEMA help
The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in more than 350,000 unemployment claims to date, officials said on Thursday. Meanwhile, the state’s prison system reported COVID-19 cases.
4/2/2020: Medical providers in Charlotte asked for personal protective equipment. The community is giving it to them.
It started with bins of old personal protective equipment on the front lawns of several doctors and mushroomed from there.
4/2/2020: More than 5,000 surgery centers can now serve as makeshift hospitals during COVID-19 crisis
A Trump administration waiver now allows outpatient surgery centers to serve as temporary hospitals during the coronavirus crisis.
4/1/2020: Coronavirus Today – April 1 – Managing limited PPE supplies, tracking the spread, face masks for healthy people
State officials said that they are working on shoring up North Carolina’s supply of protective equipment. Meanwhile, the health department is working to create more accurate predictions of how the virus will affect the state.
In the midst of a fast-moving outbreak, officials use technology to get health information to the deaf and those with hearing loss, but communication gaps remain.
As the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients begins to rise, Gov. Roy Cooper asks for more help finding places to create alternate hospitals to handle the surge.
There’s a national shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. And with that, a lot of questions about how PPE works and how people can help. Today, we’ll delve into the N95 mask.
Food banks in NC have responded to the outbreak by overhauling their food distribution to minimize social contact and focusing efforts on at-risk clients.
3/30/2020:Coronavirus Today – March 30 – Northampton County nursing home cases, 3-D mask printouts, the ocean on livestream
With more than 1,300 coronavirus cases in North Carolina and 6 deaths, officials said residents should expect more infections and urged people to stay home and stop the spread.
Policies that promote social distancing have already created hurdles for the state’s homeless population, many of whom are at high risk for coronavirus because of underlying medical conditions.
NC Oral Health Collaborative updates a map daily for dentists providing urgent care.
In a conference call with Gov. Roy Cooper, NC sheriffs asked about medical assistance for possible jail inmates with COVID-19. Cooper couldn’t provide them with much.
Gov. Cooper announced a statewide stay-at-home order to stop the spread of coronavirus in the state. The 30-day order goes into effect March 30.
A bipartisan committee that’s been newly formed to address coronavirus needs heard from providers about their cash flow and equipment needs.
Several groups call on Gov. Roy Cooper to shut down child care centers, find emergency money to provide care for health care workers.
3/26/2020: Coronavirus Today – March 26 – technical problems, federal disaster relief, county stay-at-home orders
As more communities issue stay-at-home orders, the state of North Carolina has been granted a federal disaster declaration that means additional assistance.
During this unusually stressful time, mental health providers need to support their patients in nontraditional ways and get paid for it. State health officials are responding with emergency policies and funds.
3/26/2020: Will North Carolina have enough hospital beds to handle the surge of coronavirus patients? The answer remains unclear.
Health care officials, hospital leaders, academics and others are all trying to determine how much “surge capacity” the state needs and where it should go. But there are almost endless variables to consider.
As North Carolina reports its first coronavirus deaths, communities have set their own shelter in place orders. Meanwhile, state officials hinted that stricter social isolation measures may be on the horizon.
3/25/2020: N.C. Board of Pharmacy enacts emergency rules to stop hoarding of unproven COVID-19 drugs
The board took the action after reporting that health care providers were writing hydroxychloroquine prescriptions for themselves and family members. The drug is a potential life-saver for people suffering from lupus, but it has been snapped up after being mentioned by President Trump.
Chances that schools will reopen before the end of the school year are fading. What does that mean for learning, nutrition and child care?
3/24/2020: Coronavirus Today – March 24 – Mecklenburg shelter in place order, personal protective equipment and “a sign from God”
Dissatisfied that voluntary measures were enough, Mecklenburg County orders residents to stay home, and asks the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to enforce as necessary.
3/24/2020: Public health workers are on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus. But they’ve bled resources for years.
Lawmakers often express respect for public health agencies, but the funding hasn’t matched the rhetoric.
3/23/2020:Coronavirus today – March 23 – Cooper extends school closings, orders gyms, salons, barber shops, theaters to close
As COVID-19 cases mount throughout the state, Gov. Cooper orders bars, salons, gyms and barber shops to close.
3/23/2020: Drive-thru testing sites pop up across NC, but supply shortages cause some of them to close
Several health systems across the state have either set up or are in the process of setting up drive-thru testing clinics for the novel coronavirus, but some of them closed for lack of supplies.
Hospital systems in the Triangle and beyond are asking for donations of gloves, masks and disinfectant to prepare for the coming surge of coronavirus cases.
N.C. DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said the state was talking daily with hospitals about how to increase capacity of ICU beds for the seriously ill coronavirus patients they expect to arrive.
3/22/2020: Harnett County coronavirus patient now hospitalized, unproven drugs may be part of treatment
Jeff Hensley, 57, started feeling ill on March 4, now his wife says he’s being treated with hydroxychloroquine, an old drug that researchers hope will be a “hail Mary” treatment for coronavirus infection.
North Carolina’s centers of faith face unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 virus. Churches, mosques and synagogues built on strong senses of community must find new ways to worship now that circumstances have forbidden congregating.
3/20/2020: Coronavirus Today – Friday, March 20 – Call for medical professionals, testing ramps up, closures and postponements
North Carolina completes the first full week of working from home and kids being home from school, all while the number of coronavirus cases starts to climb.
As NC gets its first COVID-19 case believed to be spread through community contact, oral health care workers seek a statewide edict.
The COVID-19 outbreak has prompted some of NC’s outreach workers and clinicians at mobile clinics to cancel or adjust the services they offer.
A Wake County official says a shelter order would be “one of the last options” used to contain a community spread of coronavirus.
3/19/ 2020: Coronavirus today – March 19 – first community spread, virus strains unemployment infrastructure, COVID-19 freeway signs
As North Carolina reports its first case of community spread, North Carolina prepares for caseload surge.
School systems across the state began offering free, curbside lunch service for all children up to age 18 to help keep them healthy during the pandemic.
With private health insurers, along with Medicare, Medicaid removing barriers to pay, more practitioners will treat remotely.
As North Carolinians get used to social distancing, state officials warn of COVID-19 scams and ask the public to curtail panic buying of groceries and other essentials.
Toni Hensley said she is frustrated that it took almost a week before her husband could get tested for the virus, but she praised health officials and urged people to heed their warnings.
As the number of COVID-19 cases in the state climbs to 40, Cooper bans eating at restaurants and bars. Meanwhile, several hospitals across the state have been canceling non-essential surgeries and programs to feed children while they’re out of school begin.
With reports of the first cases of the novel coronavirus in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area, life in and around the Queen City looks very different from just a week ago.
This last weekend saw changes in North Carolina’s public life, but for many, changes in the state became real when their kids remained home from school.
With new restrictions on large gatherings and people sequestering themselves at home to avoid coronavirus infection, public life in North Carolina is starting to look very different. But farmers markers are adjusting in order to stay alive.
Through May, all U.S. soldiers can only take leave locally to prevent them from spreading the coronavirus.
In an attempt to balance the need to protect the public from potential exposure to COVID-19 and due process and constitutional rights, Beasley has directed the courts across the state to postpone most of the thousands of cases in the pipeline for 30 days.
Gov. Cooper shut down schools for two weeks and has banned mass gatherings of 100 people or more in an attempt to stop COVID-19 transmission in North Carolina.
3/14/2020: As guidance on COVID-19 shifts, NC nursing homes and assisted living centers fight for residents’ safety
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state are taking precautions to protect their residents.
President Trump announced a national state of emergency, and schools in North Carolina began closing, even as NCDHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen advised against preemptive closings.
Shortage of COVID-19 testing supplies troubling NC leaders, so Gov. Roy Cooper is calling for cancellations of any gatherings of more than 100 people.
Agencies that care for migrant farmworkers have gotten together this week to discuss outreach efforts to farms as growing season picks up.
Read the latest updates on coronavirus in North Carolina.
From mild flu-like symptoms to more respiratory distress, coronavirus infections vary in how they present depending on age and other factors, experts say.
Gov. Roy Cooper declares a state of emergency to provide more flexibility for responding to the novel coronavirus. Health officials encourage anyone 65 and older to avoid large crowds, but have stopped short of mass cancelling of events.
North Carolina’s health centers care for many vulnerable patients, including the uninsured. Liora Engel-Smith talked to several providers who said they are using everything from television ads to social media to educate their patients on coronavirus.
Decisions for school closures are made at the local level and certain districts have already sent out notices to families in case of wider outbreaks. Sarah Ovaska also writes that lack of paid sick leave, especially for “gig” workers, could add to struggles for families.
In an update to the breaking news story about NC’s first coronavirus case, Anne Blythe and Sarah Ovaska review the circumstances around the first patient and best practices during these uncertain days.
If coronavirus does spread, hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the state may need support. The state is prepared with warehouses full of supplies and resources to deploy mobile hospital wards in just about any parking lot or building across North Carolina. Liora Engel-Smith and Rose Hoban took a trip out to see one of those warehouses, operated by WakeMed’s CapRAC. This story also includes a video tour of the facility.
Governor Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Wake County. Anne Blythe and Rose Hoban fleshed out the details and recapped the past months of preparation in this breaking news story.
3/2/2020: Hospitals in NC have been under pressure. Would they be able to manage a surge of coronavirus patients?
Rose Hoban and Liora Engel-Smith looked at capacity, resources and staffing issues in rural and urban hospitals in North Carolina. While the hospitals they spoke with seem optimistic and prepared, national rural health experts expressed concern.
Rose Hoban dug into her deep contacts with state officials past and present to discuss lessons learned from past experiences with SARS and anthrax, and how this has informed their efforts to prepare North Carolina for outbreaks.
When coronavirus was just starting to come to the United States, Sarah Ovaska still kept her eye on the flu, which the CDC estimates has killed at least 18,000 Americans thus far this season. This year’s flu especially threatens children, and it’s still not too late for a flu shot.
Anne Blythe started our coverage with an overview of state and national preparations for coronavirus on Valentine’s Day.