Live Updates: Coronavirus In North Carolina

Live Updates: Coronavirus In North Carolina

10:00am Apr 05, 2020

WFDD reporters will update this page with the latest news of the coronavirus in North Carolina. Scroll down for older updates. 

 

Here's what we know so far: 

- 2,585 North Carolina residents have tested positive for COVID-19, 31 North Carolinians have died, and 40,045 tests have been completed, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 261 people are currently hospitalized. Last updated 11:00 a.m., April 5, 2020.

- North Carolina is under a state of emergency. On Friday, March 27, the governor issued a statewide Stay-at-Home order, until April 29. Executive Order No. 121 took effect at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 30. The order reduces the size of gatherings to 10 people and provides for essential businesses to continue to operate while practicing social distancing. Cooper has also issued an executive order closing restaurants to dine-in customers. Take-out and delivery will continue. 

Para versión en Español, haga click aquí. 

                                                                                                                                                                               

April 5, 2020

2:15 p.m.

Yard waste fees for Winston-Salem residents are temporarily waived at the Overdale and Forum 52 Yard Waste Facilities. This is in response to the City of Winston-Salem's suspension of brush, limb and yard waste cart collection. Residents dropping off yard waste must practice social distancing to protect the health, safety and welfare of all citizens.

Fees will be waived for residents in cars, vans, SUVs, pickup trucks (up to half-ton with an unaltered bed) and single-axle trailers. People must unload their own leaves, grass clippings, tree limbs, brush, untreated wood or other yard waste. 

 

10:05 a.m.

The North Carolina Division of Prisons have begun staff coronavirus medical screenings that include temperature checks at every prison, in an additional effort to reduce the chances the coronavirus gets into a prison.

The screening of staff, as well as anyone else authorized to enter a prison, began on March 20 at Central Prison and North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women. Efforts expanded to every prison on March 31 once a shipment of no-touch thermometers arrived and were distributed to facilities across the state.

Entry to any prison will be denied to anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or more, individuals experiencing respiratory symptoms of cough or shortness of breath, those showing fatigue and muscle aches indicative of a viral infection, or people who has been exposed in the past 14 days to anyone who is suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19.

 

April 4, 2020

2:32 p.m.

Guilford County has the most deaths in the state compared to any other county, although it does not have the most number of reported cases, according to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The News & Record reports the number of confirmed cases in Guilford County has doubled since Monday — 94 cases as of Saturday morning. That compares to 635 in Mecklenberg County, 283 in Wake County, and 88 in Forsyth County. 

 

11:50 a.m.

There are eight new cases of COVID-19 reported in Forsyth County. The county's total count is 88 cases. 37 people have recovered. 

Public Health Director Joshua Swift commented, “The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Since recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms, you can do your part to reduce the risk to being exposed. The best thing you can do is to stay home. If you leave your home for an essential reason, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that you cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover. Continue to keep 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing. Please do not use a face mask meant for a healthcare worker.”

Currently, Guilford County County has 94 cases of COVID-19 and 3 deaths reported. 

8:53 a.m.

A furniture industry executive and community volunteer has died due to complications from the coronavirus. Fred Starr, 87, died Wednesday night at Moses Cone Hospital, according to his family. The News & Record reports Starr became ill on March 15 after a business trip to Atlanta. Starr is the first person identified by family members to have died from the coronavirus in Guilford County. 

Starr spent 16 years as the president and CEO of Thomasville Furniture industries. He also served as a board member and volunteer for organizations, including Eastern Music Festival, Reynolda House Museum and UNCG.

 

April 3, 2020

3:45 p.m.

Health officials observing COVID-19 in North Carolina's largest city say demographic data showed African Americans are being disproportionately affected.

The Charlotte Observer reports that data from Mecklenburg County shows black residents accounted for 43.9 percent of 303 confirmed COVID-19 cases locally through Saturday. By comparison, the U.S. Census estimates from last July show African American residents make up only 32.9 percent of Mecklenburg County's population.

1:50 p.m.

Members of the state Coronavirus Task Force will hold a briefing on COVID-19 and provide updates at 2 p.m. today. Watch live or listen to 88.5 WFDD F.M. or stream us at www.wfdd.org.

 

1:00 p.m.

Forsyth County is reporting 80 cases of COVID-19 as of Friday morning. The figure is up by 17 since yesterday. Of that figure, 31 patients have recovered. Forsyth County Public Health Director Joshua Swift is urging the public to continue abiding by the stay-at-home order and practicing social distancing.

“In these next few weeks it is critical that we protect not only our own health but the health of those who are high risk in our community. We are expecting a significant increase in cases, hospitalizations, and death to occur throughout the state and Forsyth County in the next two-three weeks. By practicing sound social distancing and staying at home we can decrease the negative impact on our community.”

 

10:00 a.m.

The City of Greensboro is waiving the accrual of civil penalties and assessment of reinspection fees associated with active residential and non-residential code cases. Also, no new civil penalties and reinspection fees will be assessed.

A press release states: "City Code Compliance Inspectors will continue to conduct required inspections to make sure conditions of structures are safe. However, when working in areas where it may be difficult to maintain six feet of social distancing, Code Compliance Inspectors may request the area be cleared of occupants."

April 2, 2020

5:12 p.m.

Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro are taking stay-at-home orders one step further by announcing that only one person per family will be allowed to enter stores. Kids must be left behind. 

Wilkes County announced its first COVID-19 case on Monday, a 60-year-old woman with underlying health conditions, who later died.  

The News & Observer reports that the towns’ decision to heighten restrictions arrived on the heels of her death on Wednesday.

4:04 p.m.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has announced that four inmates and four prison employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

All of the infected inmates are located at facilities in the eastern part of the state — two at Neuse Correctional, one at Caledonia Correctional Complex, and one at Johnston Correctional Institution. Prison staff with the coronavirus worked at Johnston, Eastern Correctional Institution, and Maury Correctional Institution, and the Central Prison in Raleigh.

Officials say they're following infectious disease protocols. Every employee who enters a prison will have their temperatures taken daily. Anyone 100 degrees or higher will not be let in. 

In addition to medical screenings, new inmates will be isolated for 14 days. This also applies to county jails. 

3:33 p.m. 

The Greensboro Parks and Recreation department is closing bathrooms, skate parks, and basketball courts to accommodate stay-at-home orders and encourage social distancing. In a press release, the department says it has been difficult to monitor and ensure the safety of patrons to follow the orders, including staying six feet from others, gathering in groups no larger than 10 people, and staying off play equipment.

The following changes take place Friday, April 3rd. 

  • Public restrooms will be closed at Gateway Gardens, Greensboro Arboretum, Bicentennial Garden, Barber Park, Country Park, Hester Park, Keeley Park, Market Street, Lake Daniel Park, Lake Brandt, Lake Higgins, and Lake Townsend.
  • Skate parks will be closed. 
  • Basketball courts will be closed.

Trails, greenways, neighborhood parks, and golf courses remain open for normal operating hours. Regional parks, gardens, and lakes are open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

For the latest City news and updates about COVID-19, visit www.greensboro-nc.gov/COVID-19.

 

2:00 p.m.

Watch a live press conference with NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, NC Commerce Assistant Secretary Lockhart Taylor, NCEM Director Mike Sprayberry, and NCDPS Commissioner Todd Ishee.

1:00 p.m.

As more people work from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, internet speeds across North Carolina slowed down last month. Winston-Salem experienced one of the largest drops in the nation.

According to research by BroadbandNow, median internet speed in Winston-Salem fell 41 percent in mid-March. It has since bounced back with a nearly 40 percent jump.

11:34 a.m.

It’s not just food banks that are feeling the squeeze as more and more people look for services in a diminished economy.

The Shalom Project in Winston-Salem is partly a food bank, but it also offers a health clinic, distributes diapers to families in need and offers a clothing closet. And if there’s one thing all those services are seeing, it’s new faces.

Read more about how local service providers are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic.

10:40 a.m.

Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA) is making changes due to the coronavirus pandemic. Beginning today (Thursday, April 2), GTA will operate on an hourly schedule, and move from 16 to a combined 7 routes usually offered on Sundays plus Routes 15, 17, and 12A. The new service hours are Monday - Friday 5:15 am to 8:30 pm, Saturday 6 am to 8 pm and Sunday 6 am to 6 pm. This service level will remain in effect until further notice.

April 1, 2020

7:45 p.m.

The City of Winston-Salem will suspend some non-essential city services starting Monday, April 6. This is what the city calls its Level 3 response plan. These functions will be suspended until further notice: 

  • Bulky item collection 
  • Yard cart collection
  • Brush and limb collection
  • Mowing and landscaping
  • Litter collection
  • Proactive housing and environmental code enforcement
  • Routine street & drainage maintenance (emergency work will continue to be performed)
  • A variety of administrative and support functions
  • On- and off-street parking enforcement

4:25 p.m.

A North Carolina deputy died while hospitalized in intensive care for treatment of the coronavirus.

Montgomery County Sheriff Chris Watkins said in a news release that Deputy Sypraseuth "Bud" Phouangphrachanh died Tuesday night at a hospital in Pinehurst. The 43-year-old deputy, who was married with five children, had experienced what he thought were allergy symptoms but later tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted Monday to the hospital.

It wasn't clear whether the deputy contracted the virus while on duty. The sheriff said in an email that he didn't have any information indicating when and how the deputy was exposed to COVID-19.

1:20 p.m.

Members of the state Coronavirus Task Force will hold a briefing on COVID-19 and provide updates at 2 p.m. today. Watch live or listen to 88.5 WFDD F.M. or stream us at www.wfdd.org.

 

12:15 p.m.

Forsyth County is reporting an additional 15 cases of COVID-19. That brings the county's total to 57. 22 residents have already recovered from the virus. 

10:00 a.m.

Many people have been laid off from work or seen drastic reductions in hours due to the coronavirus pandemic. That means a big uptick in unemployment claims.

With record numbers of citizens applying for these benefits, many for the first time, there can be confusion. In North Carolina, an executive order by Governor Roy Cooper aimed to ease the process, but concerns remain.

Now that the federal coronavirus relief package has passed, new and expanded unemployment benefits guidelines are on their way to states. 

Members of the “gig” economy like contractors and freelancers should now be eligible for benefits. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is part of the coronavirus relief package designed to fill in the gap in coverage for those who don’t meet the traditional definition of employee.

Ben Winikoff is an attorney with Elliot Morgan Parsonage in Winston-Salem. He says the state is still waiting for guidance on implementing the program.

“So there’s going to be a little bit of a delay in getting the payments started,” he says. “However, they have been clear that the payments can be retroactive and can go backwards. You might not be able to apply for another week or two. So that first check can be a little bit bigger to get you caught up.“

The program also adds eligibility for an extra $600 per week through the end of July, and another 13 weeks of coverage beyond the state’s usual guidelines.

Winikoff says that the applications for these new benefits are going to be via a separate system. It will still be administered by the N.C. Division of Employment Security, but handled a little differently.

“Instead of it being unemployment benefits, it will be this disaster unemployment assistance,” says Winikoff. “So its kind of two different places to apply, and if the first one doesn’t apply to you, then you’re going to have the second one.”

Traditionally when new benefits are rolled out, agencies are given more lead time — months usually — to make preparations. Winikoff says they’re learning as they go. 

March 31, 2020

6:05 p.m.

Guilford County Schools is asking for more funding from state lawmakers to help pay for rising costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The school board held a virtual meeting with members of the local delegation Tuesday to discuss their concerns.

Superintendent Sharon Contreras wants personal protective equipment (PPE) for essential workers who are providing meals and other services during school closures. The district estimates it needs around 1,000 masks each day. School officials also are requesting additional money for programs to help students who might fall behind.

Contreras says inequities and a digital divide have quickly become apparent. Of roughly 73,000 students, more than 40,000 have not signed on to the system yet. She says Internet connectivity needs to be addressed on a larger scale.

“We have to have a federal initiative that is similar to what we did when we worked on electricity in the darkest parts of the country. That’s what it’s going to take to ensure equity, so I believe the governors have to be working together.“

School officials are also asking state lawmakers to negotiate with Telecom companies for a low-cost Internet access fee as online learning continues.

5:20 p.m.

Guilford County is reporting its first COVID-19 related death. In a statement, county officials said the individual was in their late 70s and suffered from several underlying medical conditions. 

5:00 p.m.

There’s a new yet familiar guiding light in the Winston-Salem sky. Wake Forest Baptist Health has brought out its Moravian Star again in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The star is 31 feet tall and weighs over 3,000 pounds. It normally appears atop Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in the season of Advent.

The decision to bring it out again comes as health care systems across the United States cope with the spread of COVID-19. Keith Stirewalt, the program director of FaithHealth Clinical Ministries says it’s an extraordinary sign in an extraordinary time.

“That star is a symbol of hope and love, but it’s also a symbol of a promise of reconciliation and peace,” he says.  

Wake Forest Baptist’s star went up last Friday and will remain lit while Winston-Salem’s stay-at-home order is in effect. 

4:20 p.m. 

Governor Roy Cooper has signed an executive order preventing gas, electric, and water utility companies from shutting off service for non-payment. He's encouraging telecommunications utilities to follow the same guidance. 

The order also urges banks to refrain from charging late or overdraft fees. It's in effect for the next 60 days. 

3:35 p.m.

Governor Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force will hold a briefing on COVID-19 and provide updates at 4 p.m. today. Watch live or listen to 88.5 WFDD F.M. or stream us at www.wfdd.org.

 

 

12:19 p.m.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is temporarily increasing benefits for March and April 2020 in order to help families access food. 

“People need to be able to feed their families while also practicing good social distancing and following the governor’s stay at home order. This will help families make fewer trips to the grocery store and help protect themselves and those in their communities from getting sick,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

 

9:59 a.m. 

Forsyth County is reporting its first death from complications related to COVID-19. The individual, who was in their early 90s with underlying health conditions, died March 30. Two additional cases of the virus were also reported, bringing the county's total to 42. 

Public Health Director Joshua Swift commented, “On behalf of Forsyth County Government, we extend our deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones. This unfortunate situation is a reminder that we must follow the stay at home order and utilize social distancing to protect ourselves and to protect those around us who are the most vulnerable. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information about the patient will be released.”

 

8:46 a.m. 

Guilford County has amended its stay-at-home order to address funerals, church gatherings, and real estate and auto sales. The county issued a news release on Monday modifying restrictions to help limit the spread of the new coronavirus.

Jeff Phillips, chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, clarified the modifications in a YouTube video.

The amendments state that up to 10 people will be allowed to attend funerals. Mass gatherings are not permitted in churches, but an “essential crew” can broadcast or stream services.  Churches may also continue to provide services supporting shelters, food banks, and blood drives.

In-person auto sales are not allowed, and real estate open houses will not be permitted.
 

8:06 a.m.

Wake Forest University has suspended all in-person classes for the remainder of the spring semester. Courses and final exams will be completed remotely. Commencement will be a virtual gathering on May 18th with in-person graduation planned for when it is safe to do so. More information can be found here.

 

March 30, 2020

4:42 p.m.

Cone Health is asking for donations of personal protective equipment for its medical workers.

Since late last week, the health care system has received thousands of N95 masks from individuals, businesses, and local colleges including UNC Greensboro.

But Michelle Schneider, Cone Health’s vice president and chief philanthropy officer, told WFDD more donations are needed as they are still in the early stages of response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schneider says they are accepting medical-grade masks, gowns, and other medical equipment including ventilators. They are not accepting homemade masks. 

3:15 p.m.

Forsyth County is reporting seven more cases of COVID-19 since yesterday, bringing the total to 40. County officials say they can no longer distinguish between those cases that are travel-related and those caused by community spread. Ten of the 40 individuals in the county have recovered.  

2:15 p.m.

Watch a media briefing with North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. and Director of NC Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry.

1:45 p.m.

The City of Greensboro announced that NCWorks Career Centers in Greensboro and High Point will offer text (SMS) messaging support beginning Tuesday, March 31. The Centers will continue to provide customer support over the phone as well. 

1:05 p.m.

Some Guilford County Schools employees who are providing critical services during the coronavirus pandemic will soon see a pay increase

The pay hike will apply to hourly workers who provide on-site child care or who prepare and deliver meals. Those employees will be paid time and a half beginning April 1.

12:40 p.m.

The City of Winston-Salem has announced it will suspend bulky item collections due to COVID-19. "Suspending collections will ensure sufficient staffing for garbage collections and prevent crews from being exposed to contaminated household items."

12:00 p.m.

North Carolinians can expect their first unemployment checks of the COVID-19 shutdowns this week following a deluge of filings.

"Thousands of workers have lost jobs, but their bills don’t stop,” Gov. Roy Cooper says. “My administration is working overtime to get unemployment checks out now. We’ll keep pushing every day for more state and federal help to save our workers and their families.”

The state has received more than a quarter of a million claims in the last two weeks, most of them related to the outbreak as businesses closed or downgraded their operations.

March 29, 2020

3:00 p.m.

Governor Roy Cooper's office has set up a texting program for parents who are in need of food assistance for their children. Parents of students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals can text FOODNC to 877-877. The texting service is also available in Spanish by texting COMIDA to 877-877. They can also call 2-1-1 to get more information on the nearest meal pick-up site. 

12:00 p.m.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and other hospitals in its system are setting up assessment tents outside of emergency departments. The tents will allow individuals to be assessed for symptoms without entering the emergency room and to discover whether a secondary evaluation/treatment is necessary.  

March 28, 2020

7:30 p.m.

Forsyth County is reporting an additional nine cases of COVID-19, bringing its total to 33. County officials say six individuals have recovered.

 

5:30 p.m.

A Yadkin County resident has tested positive for COVID-19. It's the county's first confirmed case. Officials say the individual is in isolation at home. 

3:10 p.m.

Guilford County is among several school systems across North Carolina launching WiFi hotspots for students as remote learning continues during COVID-19 restrictions. 

The school system is also partnering with community groups to provide meals and other services. This includes buying refurbished laptops for students who need them.

The Guilford Education Alliance, which is a nonprofit organization, has been able to buy thousands of the devices at the price of $70 each.

“Those students are being gifted those laptops. They won’t have to return them to make sure that they are able to participate in learning while schools are closed,” says GCS Superintendent Sharon Contreras.

Contreras says Internet connectivity is also an issue for many families. Therefore, the district is providing several free outdoor WiFi hotspots.

You can find a list of GCS WiFi hotspot sites here.

10:35 a.m.

A local lawyer says she’s fielding non-stop calls from parents wondering how stay-at-home orders may affect court-ordered child custody arrangements.

Greensboro attorney Hilary Hux, who specializes in family law, says about a third of her clients have reached out to her this week to ask whether stay-at-home orders nullify custody agreements. 

She says they in general, they don't. Typically these directives allow for travel required by court order. 

“Including to transport children pursuant to a custody agreement," she says. "So people really shouldn't be too concerned about getting out on the roads if it's for the purpose of transferring their children to the other parents.”

Hux says parents who do not follow court-approved custody orders or agree on alternative arrangements could be held in contempt of court. 

 

March 27, 2020

4:30 p.m.

From Governor Cooper's Press Office: 

Governor Roy Cooper ordered people in the state of North Carolina to stay at home for thirty days, until April 29, 2020, in another step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Governor Cooper’s Executive Order No. 121 takes effect on Monday, March 30 at 5:00 PM and reduces the size of gatherings to 10 people. The Order provides for essential businesses to continue to operate while prioritizing social distancing measures. The Order has the force of law and will be enforced in all 100 counties statewide.

“To continue our aggressive battle against COVID-19, I have signed a Stay at Home Order for the entire state of North Carolina. Though it is difficult we must do this to slow the disease spread,” said Governor Cooper. “We need our medical system to be able to care for the friends and family we know will become seriously ill from the virus.”

The Governor noted today that three North Carolinians have died due to COVID-19 and the state has 763 confirmed cases of the virus in 60 counties. He called on all North Carolinians to protect themselves by staying home and following social distancing guidelines. North Carolina is now considered to have widespread transmission of the virus, which means people who have tested positive cannot trace where they were exposed to the virus.

The Order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. Specifically, the order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others.

“I know this order may lead to even more hardship and heartache. Although we are physically apart, we must take this step together in spirit,” Governor Cooper said. 

The Governor’s full order is available HERE

 

4:05 p.m.

Governor Cooper has issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state beginning Monday at 5 p.m.

3:52 p.m. 

Gov. Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force to hold a briefing on COVID-19 updates. Watch or listen live on 88.5 FM. You can also stream us at www.wfdd.org

 

12:20 p.m.

Wake Forest Baptist Health has opened up 10 respiratory symptom clinics across the region. Locations include:

·         Asheboro: Family Medicine - Sunset Avenue (375 Sunset Ave.)

·         Hickory: Family Medicine - Springs Road (2359 Springs Rd. NE)

·         High Point: Urgent Care -  Palladium (5826 Samet Dr., Suite 101)

·         High Point: Pulmonology - Westchester (1814 Westchester Dr., Suite 202)

·         Kernersville: Internal Medicine - Kernersville (861 Old Winston Rd.)

·         Lexington: Internal Medicine - Lexington (105 Hospital Dr.)

·         Mocksville: Urgent Care - Mocksville (1188 Yadkinville Rd.)

·         North Wilkesboro: Urgent Care - Wilkes (1900 West Park Dr.)

·         (Opening next week) Summerfield: Family Medicine - Summerfield (4431 U.S. Highway 220 N.)

·         Winston-Salem: Family and Internal Medicine Peace Haven (1930 N. Peace Haven Rd.)

11:50 a.m.

Forsyth County is reporting seven new COVID-19 cases. This brings the county's count to 24. Of the cases, 15 are travel-related, and eight are considered community spread. One case is being investigated.

10:05 a.m.

The City of Greensboro is suspending all residential curbside yard waste collection and requiring residents to make an appointment to dispose of any bulk items, due to issues around COVID-19. These changes go into effect at the close of business on Friday, March 27. Residents can call 336-373-CITY (2489) to make an appointment for bulk waste pickup.

7:45 a.m.

Multiple municipalities across the state, including the city of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, and Guilford County are issuing their own stay-at-home orders to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Why are local governments putting these stay-at-home measures in place?

They’re designed to keep people away from others as much as possible over the next 2 to 3 weeks, which they say will help people maintain the six-foot social distancing guidelines from federal and state health officials and avoid large crowds.

What are people allowed to do?

You can still go to the grocery store, pharmacy, get gas, and go to doctor’s appointments if needed. People are urged to call their doctor first to confirm. If you have to go to work, that’s allowed. Exercising outside is also still permitted, but social distancing requirements must be followed.

City officials say they don’t recommend unnecessary travel right now.

What businesses are considered essential?

It can vary depending on where you are located and we’ll more than likely see additional closings for businesses as these orders go into effect. Those considered essential would be places like grocery stores, gas stations, some daycare centers, medical facilities, and financial institutions.

Municipalities are handling this on a case-by-case basis.

 How are these municipalities enforcing the orders?

Community leaders want people to take this seriously. Local police will start with dialogue and educating folks explaining the order. Winston-Salem officials say only the worst cases would get cited. If you are cited for not complying, the city says you could face up to a class 2 misdemeanor.

Many of these stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, including Winston-Salem, will run through April 16, or until officials modify them.

March 26, 2020

4:39 p.m.

The North Carolina Republican Party has rescheduled its annual State Convention to June 4-7 in Greenville, North Carolina.

4:27 p.m.

Cone Health is seeking donations of medical supplies from corporations, community organizations, and individuals. In a statement, the health system says, "Specific items needed to strengthen our preparedness include protective equipment, such as masks, eye protection and gloves." For more information, click here

3:30 p.m.

High Point University says a student who is at home in isolation and out-of-state has tested positive for COVID-19. A statement from the university says public health officials are contacting those who were in close contact with the student, who was last on campus on March 23. 

1:51 p.m. 

State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson and North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry will hold a briefing on COVID-19 and provide updates at 2 p.m. today. Watch live or listen to 88.5 WFDD F.M. or stream us at www.wfdd.org.

 

1:21 p.m.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections is recommending legislative changes to help make voting in the state safe and accessible during the pandemic:  

  • Modifying the absentee by-mail voting process to ensure it is simple and accessible to North Carolina voters, and making changes designed to help county boards of elections process a significant increase in by-mail ballots;
  • Ensuring that an adequate number of poll workers are available to work at early voting sites and Election Day polling places; and
  • Providing funding to help cover costs associated with necessary changes in elections processes, the anticipated increase in by-mail voting, the sterilization and ongoing cleaning of polling places and voting equipment, and proper protections for poll workers and voters.

According to a press releaseKaren Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections says the plan is to ensure all voters have options, including absentee by-mail, in-person early voting, and voting on Election Day. 

“We believe the legislative recommendations released today would go a long way toward ensuring safe, accessible elections in 2020,” Brinson Bell said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly to respond to the unprecedented threat facing our elections system at this time.”

 

12:56 p.m.

Winston-Salem officials are offering more details about the stay-at-home order the city issued Wednesday. 

Assistant City Manager Damon Dequenne says the order is intended to force additional non-essential businesses to close, even if they haven’t been directed to by state guidance. 

At a press conference earlier today, Dequenne listed several examples.

“Under the order, if you have a stationery store where you sell greeting cards and things like that, that's not essential. And they're gonna be expected to close by 5:00 tomorrow afternoon. We're sort of handling some of those on a case-by-case basis,” says Dequenne. 

Business owners who are unsure about whether they should remain open are asked to call CityLink at 311.  

Dequenne says the order is intended to encourage residents to avoid all non-essential activities but is not a citywide lockdown. 

“If you're asking, are police officers going to be stopping random vehicles on the road and asking them for papers to verify why they're out, that's not going to happen,” says Dequenne. “If there are large groups of people who have gathered, the police are...going to educate. They're going to look for voluntary compliance with the order. And only in the most egregious involuntary cases will they actually cite somebody.” 

The order’s details can be found here

12:36 p.m. 

No new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Forsyth County since yesterday's briefing. The total remains at 17. As of Thursday, March 26 at 12:05 P.M. Guilford County Public Health has been notified of 26 cases of COVID-19. 

11:30 a.m.

The increasing number of people out of work and kids at home from school has put more pressure on programs that supply food to needy families. 

“The need is expanding at a rate of 25 to 30 percent just in the past week, and we think that's going to continue to grow,” says Eric Aft, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

Second Harvest is ramping up their efforts, recently ordering several truckloads of emergency boxes and backpack products to meet the need for families and children.

Pantries are shifting from letting people select items to giving them a sack filled with food to limit interaction and lessen the chance of passing along the virus. Officials say it makes them less efficient, but they don't have better options.

Aft says Second Harvest is feeling that volunteer pinch. He says the organization has taken steps to ensure their safety during the outbreak, including limiting the number of volunteers in any one place.

10:30 a.m.

President Trump has approved North Carolina's major disaster declaration. The move makes the state eligible for federal emergency funding to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. 

March 25, 2020

6:30 p.m.

The City of Greensboro is working with partner agencies on a shelter-in-place solution for those experiencing homelessness. Beginning Friday, March 27, the Greensboro Sportsplex at 2400 16th St. will be set up to house this population. Based on HUD and CDC spacing recommendations, single-use beds will be spaced at least six feet apart to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Each person entering the facility, including staff, will undergo a screening process to check for symptoms of COVID-19. A dedicated off-site space will be provided for individuals who need to be quarantined.

Additional shelter-in-place facilities are being offered at the Salvation Army of Greensboro, YWCA of Greensboro, Greensboro Urban Ministry, and Youth Focus.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post included Family Service of the Piedmont as a shelter-in-place facility. It is for domestic violence victims only.

6:00 p.m.

Greensboro Parks and Recreation has made additional operational changes due to COVID-19 concerns.

4:30 p.m.

In conjunction with Guilford County and the City of High Point, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan issued a stay-at-home order for Greensboro residents, effective Friday, March 27 at 5:00 p.m. The order is in effect through Thursday, April 16.

3:00 p.m.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines is ordering all city residents to stay home in light of “a significant and increasing number of suspected cases of community transmission and likely further significant increases in transmission” of the COVID-19 virus. This goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m.

Residents will be allowed to leave their homes for their health and safety, to purchase necessary supplies and services, to take care of others, to perform work providing essential products and services as defined in the order, and for outdoor activity.

The list of essential businesses includes grocery stores and pharmacies; gas stations; financial institutions; restaurants with take-out service; distribution, supply-chain, and delivery businesses; transportation services; professional services; and child-care providers that serve first responders and health-care workers.

2:17 p.m. 

Guilford County, Greensboro, and High Point will issue a joint Stay-at-Home order due to COVID-19 later this afternoon.

2:00 p.m.

Watch the press briefing by Governor Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force:

1:52 p.m.

Clemmons Mayor John Wait issued restrictions requiring residents to shelter in place. The order takes effect on Friday, March 27, at 5:00 p.m. and goes through Thursday, April 16, 2020, or until modified or rescinded. The emergency proclamation states that:

  • All Clemmons residents must not travel or carry on any business except as allowed in the proclamation;
  • All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited (residents of households excepted);
  • Residents may engage in essential activities, like shopping for groceries or household items, picking up take-out food from restaurants, engaging in outdoor activities, taking care of others, or working as permitted in the proclamation;
  • If residents do any of these essential activities, among others outlined in the order, they must maintain a distance of at least six feet from other individuals as much as possible;
  • Essential businesses should continue to operate, and they must comply as much as possible with social distancing requirements (six feet of separation);
  • Non-essential businesses may also continue to operate, but they must do so by complying with social distancing requirements and keep gatherings to ten people or less;
  • Non-essential entry into the Village is discouraged, but not prohibited; and
  • Restrictive precautions and screenings for employees at nursing home and elder care facilities is encouraged but not required.

More information can be found here.

12:37 p.m.

The Greensboro Police Department will close the public lobby at its headquarters starting March 26. 

Residents in need of emergency service should continue to call 911 and 336-373-2222 in non-emergency situations.

11:30 a.m.

North Carolina is reporting its first deaths associated with COVID-19. An individual from Cabarrus County died on March 24. The patient was in their seventies and had several underlying medical conditions. A press release from the Governor's office also states that a patient in their sixties, from Virginia who was traveling through North Carolina also died from COVID-19 complications. 

10:15 a.m.

North Carolina's largest county issued a "stay-at-home" order for the Charlotte area, where cases of the new coronavirus have taken off compared to the rest of the state.

Starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, the 1.1 million residents of Mecklenburg County largely must stay in their homes except for going to grocery and drug stores, making medical appointments and exercising. People can still get restaurant to-go food and deliveries, in keeping with statewide restrictions already in place.

Those whose work is deemed essential in the order can continue to travel to and from their jobs. Violating the order can be a misdemeanor.

10:00 a.m.

The COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County has raised more than $3 million. The fund was established on March 18 to support local community members impacted by COVID-19, and resources will be distributed to nonprofits through a grant application. A Wednesday press release states that initial funding will go towards:

  • Residents without health insurance and/or access to paid sick leave
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness
  • Healthcare workers
  • Hospitality and service industry workers
  • Unauthorized immigrant populations 
  • Communities of color, and in particular, residents with limited English language proficiency

The application for nonprofits to apply can be found here.

March 24, 2020

6:50 p.m.

Public Health officials have confirmed that a Wake Forest University student who is currently in isolation in an on-campus residence hall has tested positive for COVID-19.

Wake Forest previously reported its first off-campus case on March 21 and is now aware of other students who are not on campus who have tested positive for the virus. The University is also monitoring another student on campus who is in isolation after exhibiting symptoms.

5:00 p.m.

Wake Forest Baptist Health has now identified the first patient admitted to one of its hospitals to test positive for COVID-19. According to a press release, the patient is in isolation at Wake Forest Baptist Health High Point Medical Center, and reportedly doing well.

WFBH says in the coming weeks it expects to see more patients admitted to hospitals in the region who test positive for COVID-19.

4:15 p.m.

The City of Greensboro will no longer allow public access to the Melvin Municipal Office Building, starting on Thursday. Residents making a water bill payment or signing up for water service are still allowed access at this time. City officials are encouraging people to use alternate methods of handling business, such as by phone, online, email, and postal mail.

3:45 p.m.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the North Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Network, has launched a childcare hotline for critical workers. The number is 1-888-600-1685 for information about local options for children from infants through age 12. The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Child care is a critical service. People working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response need access to safe, quality child care so they can know their own children are being well cared for as they care for others,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.

3:15 p.m.

Winston-Salem is closing City Hall and the Stuart Municipal Building to most outside visitors and ordering all non-essential employees in those buildings to work from home. Essential city services will continue to operate as normally as possible.

In a press release, Mayor Allen Joines said, “Keeping as many people as we can out of the workplace will assist our effort to maintain essential services.”

2:55 p.m

An order to “stay at home” goes into effect Thursday morning in Mecklenburg County, according to reporting from The Charlotte Observer.

County Manager Dena Diorio says some travel and essential movements will be allowed under the proclamation. Stores that sell groceries and medicine, and certain other businesses and nonprofit organizations, will be permitted to stay open.

2:19 p.m.

Yadkin County Commissioners are asking Governor Roy Cooper to refrain from issuing a statewide "Shelter in Place" order. The commission has passed a resolution urging the governor to leave that decision to local governments. 

1:55 p.m.

State Public Health and Emergency Management Officials are holding a briefing today at 2 p.m. Watch live or listen to 88.5 FM or at www.wfdd.org. 

 

 

12:00 p.m.

Two additional Forsyth County residents have tested positive for COVID-19. That brings the county's total to 14 cases, with two attributed to community spread. 

10:42 a.m.

Governor Roy Cooper's reelection campaign has suspended all in-person campaign events until May 15.

10:00 a.m.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has granted to $1.5M to local and state organizations in response to the coronavirus crisis. 

$500,000 was granted to the COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County. The organization says the funds are intended to benefit: 

  • Residents without health insurance and/or access to paid sick leave
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness
  • Healthcare workers
  • Hospitality and service industry workers
  • Unauthorized immigrant populations
  • Communities of color, and in particular, residents with limited English language proficiency

The Trust awarded the remaining $1M to the North Carolina Healthcare Association Foundation. The funds may be used "for a variety of needs, including, but not limited to medical supplies, personal protective equipment, testing kits, and telehealth solutions."

8:30 a.m.

There won't be a public gathering in Old Salem for the annual Easter Sunrise Service this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. The annual service has been held in Salem since 1772.

The Salem Congregation's Board of Elders made the decision in the wake of Governor Roy Cooper's urging that people avoid crowds larger than 50 people. Salem's gathering often draws thousands. 

This year's service will only be available via livestream and broadcast via WSJS. 

 

March 23, 2020

8:15 p.m.

Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras says students are being equipped with the tools they need to learn remotely. "So far, GCS and GEA [Guilford Education Alliance] have distributed more than 4,000 laptops and devices in just this past week," she says. Those who want to donate to the cause can get in touch with Guilford Education Alliance.

Contreras says internet connectivity remains a problem, but GCS students can access eight sites with outdoor hotspots in parking lots. Those include Herbin-Metz Education Center, Hunter Elementary School, the Jamestown Middle School campus, the Christine Joyner Greene Education Center, McNair Elementary School, Simkins Elementary School, Western Guilford Middle School, and Eastern Guilford High School.

GCS starting providing childcare on Monday for the school-age children (5-12) of healthcare workers. Contreras says buildings will be disinfected multiple times a day.  

4:25 p.m.

Lowes Foods announced it is designating 7 - 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as a shopping hour for seniors and others who are vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. 

3:45 p.m.

Two Wake Forest Baptist Health primary care clinics have been converted into temporary respiratory symptom clinics. The sites opened today and are to help prepare for a possible increase in patients due to COVID-19. 

Wake Forest Baptist asks that those with symptoms first call their primary care provider or their hotline at 336-70-COVID. Health officials will then determine whether the patient's symptoms can be safely managed at home or whether they need to come in to one of the facilities. 

3:11 p.m.

The Blue Ridge Parkway announced that as of March 23, the following areas are closed until further notice:

  • All public restroom facilities on the Blue Ridge Parkway; and the
  • Paul Wolfe A.T. Shelter located near Afton, Virginia. Effective immediately, backcountry campers and A.T. thru-hikers with reservations for this location are authorized to use a tent outside the shelter to provide for social distancing.

"Park trails and the Blue Ridge Parkway motor road remain accessible to the public in accordance with the latest federal, state, and local health guidance, where not otherwise closed."

1:10 p.m.

Governor Cooper says this order closes gyms, movie theatres, sweepstakes parlors, health clubs, and other similar facilities.

 

1:06 p.m.

Governor Cooper says he will sign an executive order to close K-12 schools across North Carolina for in-person instruction until May 15. 

 

12:50 p.m.

Gov. Cooper, along with health and education leaders, will hold a briefing on COVID-19 updates at 1 p.m. Watch here or listen live on 88.5 WFDD or www.wfdd.org. 

 

12:24 p.m.

Visit Winston-Salem has released a list of Forsyth County restaurants operating on a carry-out and/or delivery basis, current as of March 23, 2020. 

10:27 a.m.

The North Carolina Board of Education held an emergency meeting to ask for a waiver of federal year-end testing requirements. WFAE reports Board Chair Eric Davis said he expects approval on that request quickly. Davis said he expects an announcement from a 1 p.m. news briefing with Gov. Roy Cooper about extending school closings. The minimum two-week closing ends this week.

 

Click here for previous updates. 

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