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Post 147, 12:45 p.m., August 7, 2020

This week saw a continued roller coaster in daily counts of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina residents, made more complicated by the discovery of omission in testing reports the Department of Health and Human Services received and then released in the first few days of August.

On Wednesday, DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen told a press conference that her team had identified a problem in the reporting of numbers. A note added to the DHHS website clarified this situation on Thursday:

“On August 5, while conducting data quality monitoring, we identified laboratory reporting omissions for Aug. 2-5. Corrected data for new cases and the percent of tests that are positive has been posted in today’s (Thursday’s) update.”

Apparently due to this problem, the number of new cases appeared to drop dramatically and stay well below the typical daily levels during those four days. When the missing cases were included on Thursday, it caused the appearance of a spike in daily totals. But both of those trends are artificial.

Ignoring the artificial trends created by the problem and its correction, the number of new cases on August 1 was 1,730, which was down from the last two days in July, but in keeping with the longer daily trends during the last two weeks in July. Friday’s count was 1,545. This is slightly below the daily average over the last two weeks, ignoring the chaos in the trends created by the omitted cases.

Cohen characterized the overall trend as “stabilizing,” while emphasizing that this is not the same as improvement.

The state’s total confirmed case count stands at 132,812.

North Carolina passed 2,000 deaths related to COVID-19 earlier in the week. As of Friday, DHHS reported a total of 2,134 deaths in state residents.

Another number that tends to fluctuate from day to day has been hospitalizations. As of Friday, 1,123 North Carolina residents were hospitalized for COVID-19-related illness. Over the past week, the number has hovered between 1,050 and 1,154, after briefly rising above 1,200 for a few days in late July.

Click HERE for the Broadcast Script.

Post 146, 12:35 p.m., August 3, 2020

The third straight decline in additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents came Monday, with just 1,313 more cases reported, bringing the total to 126,532.

However, the decline Monday also accompanied a steep drop in the number of additional tests completed, which feel from more than 33,000 on Thursday to just over 20,000 on Monday.

Hospitalizations also fell somewhat on Monday, to 1,057. This is the first day in two weeks the number has dropped below 1,100.

Deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19 in North Carolina have continued to creep upward toward 2,000, with the reported number as of Monday at 1,982.

Editor’s note: Due to changes in the way the state of North Carolina is handling updates of its data, Carolina Public Press will no longer update this post every day. It will be updated at least weekly going forward, with major developments resulting in additional posts as necessary.

Post 145, 1:55 p.m., August 2, 2020

Additional cases of the new coronavirus are continuing to materialize among North Carolina residents in general at a much slower pace than through much of the first half of July.

New cases that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported on Sunday dropped to 1,341, lower than all but two dates in July and the lowest number since an earlier drop occurred on July 20.

However, each of those previous drops was followed by a major rebound in new cases, with case totals peaking well above 2,000 per day on July 11, 18 and 30. Sunday’s lower case count also accompanies a lower number of tests completed since the last peak in cases on Thursday.

For the second-straight day, DHHS has been severely delayed in reporting some or all of the statistics the agency usually reports at midday. It’s unclear what has contributed to these delays.

According to DHHS statistics, the state’s total confirmed case count stands at 125,219. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 have fallen slightly in recent days after peaking at about 1,200 during the middle of last week, but remain at 1,142, much higher than seen a month ago.

The state is gradually approaching the 2,000-mark for deaths credited to illness related to COVID-19, currently at 1,969.

Post 144, 4:05 p.m., Aug. 1, 2020

Note: The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services updated its COVID-19 dashboard three hours later than usual and did not update certain numbers as of this publication, such as the daily count of hospitalizations. 

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,730 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the overall total to 123,878. The weekly average of cases, which had been rising since early June, leveled off in the last two weeks, along with the average weekly number of tests, which had also been on the rise. 

DHHS reported 40 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,964. This is the third time there have been 40 or more deaths in a single day, with the first two coming on July 14 and 29.

[The latest: North Carolina coronavirus daily updates]

DHHS did not update its hospitalization numbers for Aug. 1. As of Friday, July 31, there were 1,229 people hospitalized for COVID-19. The weekly average of hospitalizations steadily increased through June, leveled off briefly in mid-July, and is increasing again. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has been confirmed in all 100 counties. Fifteen counties have recorded over 2,000 cases, with Alamance and Randolph counties passing that grim mark in the last week. 

Counties with more than 2,000 cases are Mecklenburg with 20,679, Wake with 10,969, Durham with 5,830, Guilford with 5,167, Forsyth with 4,883, Johnston with 3,000, Gaston with 2,994, Union with 2,762, Cumberland with 2,694, Robeson with 2,606, Cabarrus with 2,375, New Hanover with 2,322, Wayne with 2,299, Alamance with 2,189, and Randolph with 2,049.

These account for 59% of cases statewide.

Post 143, 1:05 p.m., July 31, 2020

An additional 1,954 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents were reported Friday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

This a substantial drop from a surge in cases on Thursday, but still one of the highest days in the last two weeks. It also accompanies a sharp drop in completed tests from the pace on Wednesday and Thursday.

The new confirmed cases bring the statewide total to 122,148, since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States in March. This total includes those who have died or recovered.

Hospitalizations in North Carolina were also down slightly on Friday, at 1,229 but still remain higher than on any day prior to this week.

Deaths credited to illness known to be related to COVID-19 in North Carolina residents rose Friday to 1,924, an increase of 21 from Thursday. Previous analysis has shown that these are severely under-counted because many people are dying with COVID-19-like symptoms without being tested, and their deaths are not included in this total.

Post 142, 1:30 p.m., July 30, 2020

After seemingly leveling out over the last few days, the single-day increase in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina surged sharply upward to 2,344 on Thursday, the third-highest day on record and the first day this high since July 18.

The new case count also puts the state past another milestone, with 120,194 cases so far.

In better news, the state’s hospitalization numbers dropped slightly on Thursday to 1,239, but remained close to their all-time high.

[The latest: North Carolina coronavirus daily updates]

The total number of deaths of North Carolina residents credited to illness that was known to be related to COVID-19 stands at 1,903.

However, this does not include many people who died of symptoms that appeared to be COVID-19 without being tested and does not include residents of other states who died after contracting the virus in North Carolina, which has a large population of seasonal residents.

Carolina Public Press and other members of the N.C. Watchdog Reporting Network published a story Thursday looking at the challenges the state has in getting enough poll workers for elections this year. In the past, poll workers have typically been older residents of communities. With concerns about risk for COVID-19 among seniors, many of those individuals are reluctant to work at the polls this fall.

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Post 141, 2:10 p.m. July 29, 2020

North Carolina announced 1,763 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Wednesday, a small increase over Tuesday, but the totals this week are generally several hundred people less each day than the totals a week earlier, while on par with those from the week before that.

While the new numbers bring the state’s confirmed case count to 117,850 since the pandemic began in March, they continue to beg the question of whether the case numbers for the state hit a peak – or at least a short-term peak – in mid-July. After a period of repeated new record highs, the last record of 2,481 cases in one day was set more than a week ago on July 18, and was itself much higher than other days during the same period.

At the same time, the number of new cases depends somewhat on the amount of testing being done, which is inconsistent and has been lower on some recent days.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, noted during a Tuesday afternoon press conference that metrics for infections of the novel coronavirus have started to level off.

The state’s mask mandate went into effect at the end of June, and she said the effects of that are being seen today.

However, this is not a reason to grow complacent, Gov. Roy Cooper said.

“The numbers are still too high. To start a downward trend we have to double down on actions to slow the spread of the virus,” Cooper said. “It’s because we have mandated masks and eased restrictions carefully in modest phases. We do not want to go backward. Stable is good. Decreasing is better.”

A measure that has not fallen is hospitalizations, which set yet another new record for North Carolina at 1,291 on Wednesday, more than 50 above the previous record, set Tuesday. Medical providers are concerned that North Carolina could run out of adequate intensive care space and ventilators if the number of patients in hospitals spikes at one time.

Gov. Cooper announced a new executive order Tuesday to forbid alcohol sales in restaurants after 11 p.m. and before 7 a.m. Bars have been closed for four months already and will remain closed. Cooper said Alcohol Law Enforcement Division officers have the authority to enforce this new executive order. The order goes into effect on Friday.

“There have been some bars that have tried to open in violation of the previous executive order, and ALE has stepped in to say to them hey, if you are open and violate the rules, you can lose your license,” Cooper said.

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Post 140, 12:25 p.m., July 28, 2020

An additional 1,749 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents were reported Tuesday, a slight increase from the number reported Monday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS has reported a total of 116,087 confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began in March. Deaths in the state from illnesses known to be related to COVID-19 now tally 1,820, and increase of more than 30 since Monday.

Hospitalizations due to coronavirus in the state stand at 1,244, a new record high, after having dipped a bit over recent days.

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Post 139, 12:40 p.m., July 27, 2020

The pace of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina residents stayed level Monday at 1,625, a slightly uptick from Sunday’s number, but well above last week’s Monday totals. Generally, these numbers have fallen each week between Sunday and Monday, so the slight increase Monday could be a surprising.

Single-day increase have now gone more than a week without setting a new record in North Carolina, but have fluctuated during that time, so it’s difficult to identify any longer trend.

Total confirmed cases in the state stood at 114,338 on Monday. Other metrics also changed very slightly with only one less person hospitalized with the illness since Sunday and only 5 additional deaths associated with COVID-19.

Click HERE for Broadcast Script.

Post 138, 12:45 p.m., July 26, 2020

Signs that the spread of the new coronavirus could be leveling off in North Carolina continued with new statistics from the state on Sunday, but it’s too early to know whether this can be sustained.

An additional 1,621 confirmed cases among North Carolina residents reported Sunday represents a fall from the more than 2,000 cases reported each of the last two days, but a decline in the numbers of new cases reported on Sundays has been a clear weekly trend in North Carolina, related to the cycle of testing, test result analysis and reporting those results to the state. Still, this is the lowest daily increase in confirmed cases on a Sunday in three weeks.

Did the virus spread in North Carolina peak in mid-July when weekly single-day peaks twice approached 2,500 confirmed cases? It will take more time to tell. But for now, the growth in cases has slowed a bit. Testing has also fallen off somewhat, but not enough to explain the short-term trend in fewer confirmed cases.

Hospitalizations also hit a peak level of 1,228 last week and have not fallen much below that level, with the number currently at 1,170. If the weekly cycle of rise and fall persists, a new higher peak could occur later this week.

Deaths from associated illness among those who had tested positive for COVID-19 increased by 7 reported on Sunday to a total of 1,785 among North Carolina residents since the pandemic began. People who die of similar symptoms but were never tested for COVID-19 are not counted in this total.

Post 137, 1:30 p.m., July 25, 2020

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,097 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the overall total to 111,092. The weekly average of cases leveled off since last week, along with the number of tests, having steadily increased since the beginning of June. 

DHHS reported 32 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,778. 

There are 1,168 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19. Hospitalizations have steadily increased since June, and have also leveled off in the last week. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has been confirmed in all 100 counties. Forty counties have recorded over 700 cases, with Cleveland, Columbus, Onslow, Stanly and Surry counties crossing the threshold in the past week.

Counties with more than 2,000 cases are Mecklenburg with 19,041, Wake with 9,819, Durham with 5,436, Guilford with 4,651, Forsyth with 4,515, Gaston with 2,635, Johnston with 2,595, Union with 2,470, Cumberland with 2,276, Wayne with 2,195, Robeson with 2,175, Cabarrus with 2,129 and New Hanover with 2,052.

These account for 56% of cases statewide.

Post 136, 12:45 p.m., July 24, 2020

Despite a steep drop in the amount of additional testing completed, the number of additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents turned sharply upward Friday, with 2,102 more cases, for a total of 108,995 confirmed cases since the pandemic began in March, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

One of the state’s other key metrics for tracking the pandemic’s course is hospitalizations, but the state’s public information on that number has been lagging, so new data was unavailable at midday Friday. The numbers for hospitalizations had been hovering near their all-time highs over the last few days.

Deaths associated with the new coronavirus in the state now number 1,746, according to the state’s official tally.

Carolina Public Press reported Friday on the struggles of some school districts trying to decide on the best format for schools this fall. Polling shows that teachers overwhelmingly oppose being forced to have in-person classes, partially due to concerns about their own health. But online-only programs have their own complications.

During a special called virtual session of the Asheville City Schools board on Thursday, for the purpose of deciding whether to go virtual with instruction, severe technical problems pointed to the district’s limited ability to do conduct even a meeting remotely.

However, many districts are looking at contracts with for-profit company Edmentum to provide instruction either or through an overall online-only program or to parents who opt to seek online instruction while the district moves ahead with in-person classes.

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Post 135, 12:25 p.m., July 23, 2020

Thursday, on the fluctuating roller coaster of additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina residents, the single-day new case count dropped to 1,892, after rising somewhat on Wednesday. The number had fallen to its lowest point in three weeks on Monday, but set its all-time high on Saturday. As a result, the current trend is difficult to define.

The shift from more steady trends in previous weeks could be a signal that something has changed about virus transmission, possibly due to wider business compliance with the governor’s mandatory mask order exactly a month ago.

Overall the state’s total confirmed case count stands at 106,893, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

[The latest: North Carolina coronavirus daily updates]

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 increased to 1,188 on Thursday, an all-time high. The state is dependent on hospitals to report these numbers, which has sometimes been inconsistent, Carolina Public Press and its news partners have previously reported.

Deaths credited to illness known to be related to COVID-19 in North Carolina residents, increased Thursday to 1,726 since the pandemic began.

Social media abounds with conspiracy theories, often driven by the preferred political views of individuals rather than facts, about deaths being over- or underreported, and there are definitely isolated cases of both.

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However, a project that Carolina Public Press and other member of the North Carolina Watchdog Reporting Network did in the spring, analyzing death certificates statewide, found strong evidence of pervasive underreporting, since people with precisely the same symptoms associated with COVID-19 were dying in substantial numbers, but were not counted as COVID-19 deaths if they had not tested positive.

Editor’s note: The information on hospitalizations in the July 23 update has been revised, after an error in information from the state became apparent.

Click HERE for the broadcast script.

Post 134, 12:35 p.m., July 22, 2020

A sharp dip in the number of additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents reported earlier this week has proven very brief, as the single-day increase Wednesday climbed once again toward the highest days so far, with 2,140 new cases reported.

This brings the state’s overall case total to 105,001. Deaths among North Carolina residents from illness known to be related to COVID-19 now stand at 1,698, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Hospitalizations fell slightly Wednesday to 1,137, but are still near their record level.

Carolina Public Press reported Wednesday on rural hospitals in the state’s northwestern mountain counties that are facing the same pressures that many rural hospitals across the country are during the pandemic.

However, the facilities in Ashe and Allegany counties, which both have high concentrations of seniors in the high-risk age bracket for COVID-19, have found that partnerships with outside health providers is working to avoid some of the inherent pitfalls for small and totally independent hospitals.

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Post 133, 12:15 p.m., July 21, 2020

After posting the lowest single-day increase in confirmed cases of coronavirus among North Carolina residents on Monday, Tuesday’s numbers have rebounded somewhat with 1,815 new cases.

While’s that’s still well below the 2,000-plus cases seen on many recent days, including Saturday’s record of 2,481, it still doesn’t represent the flattened – or declining – curve that public health experts have been hoping for.

Instead, North Carolina’s statistics for COVID-19 look like a roller coaster that’s been trending ever upward, but rises and falls a bit each week. Tuesday’s totals bring the state’s overall case count to 102,861, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

One reason public health experts are not breathing easier is that hospitalizations for COVID-19 rose substantially Tuesday after several days of decline, setting a new record of 1,179.

Many surrounding states are struggling to find adequate intensive care unit space for patients and medical experts fear the same could happen in North Carolina if too many patients experience severe illness at the same time.

The state reported 1,642 total deaths from illness related to COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday morning on concerns from teachers about school districts that are opting to have classes in person this fall or are forcing teachers to be in school buildings regardless of their underlying health conditions even if students are allowed to stay home.

Several districts, apparently due in part to feedback from teachers, have decided to opt for online-only instruction to begin the school year, with a possible switch to in-person classes if conditions improve later in the year.

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Post 132, 12:25 p.m., July 20, 2020

In a good-news, bad news situation, North Carolina blew past the 100,000 mark for total confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with the state’s total now officially at 101,046.

But the number of new confirmed cases in state residents announced by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday declined to 1,268, the lowest single-day number in about three weeks.

Whether this marks the beginning of a sustained leveling or even decline in new cases, especially coming just two days after the state’s all-time single-day high of 2,481 on Saturday, remains to be seen.

The number deaths of state residents from illness known to be related to COVID-19 officially stands at 1,642.

Another much-watched metric, hospitalizations, also declined again on Monday to 1,086. While this number is subject to fluctuation, Monday marks the first day since the state first passed the 1,100 hospitalizations mark last Tuesday that it has fallen below that mark.

Other states, including Florida and South Carolina, have reported a lack of space in their intensive care units due to an ongoing surge in cases in those states.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday on an unprecedented surge in requests for by-mail absentee ballots. These are not due to any change in the rules, but simply to increased demand by North Carolina voters concerned about COVID-19 – four times the demand at this point in 2016.

Elections officials across the state point to challenges and costs in processing these ballots and likely delays in announcing final election results for close races in November.  

Click HERE for broadcast scripts.

Post 131, 12:50 p.m., July 19, 2020

After setting a new record for single-day increases in confirmed COVID-19 cases among North Carolina residents of 2,481 on Saturday, Sunday’s increase fell to just 1,820 cases, bringing the state’s total to 99,778 confirmed cases overall, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Anyone wanting to celebrate Sunday’s decline should take a closer look a recent weekly cycles in confirmed cases. Due to the testing process and lags in reporting, new cases hit new highs between Thursdays and Saturdays, while often falling back from Sunday through Wednesday.

The problem is that the news highs and the new lows are much higher than they were a few weeks ago. The state also tracks a rolling seven-day average in case increase that has been trending upward consistently.

As a result, despite a one-day decline on Sunday, it appears the virus spread through North Carolina has continued to accelerate.

Deaths in the state from illness known to be related to COVID-19 increased Sunday to 1,634.

Hospitalizations have fallen back to 1,115 from their peak level of 1,180 on Friday, but have remained above 1,100 since Tuesday. Similar to increases in confirmed cases, the hospitalization number fluctuates throughout the week, though less predictably. However, the overall trend as seen in the seven-day rolling average for hospitalizations remains upward.

The state has also been looking closely at who is becoming infected by race, ethnicity, age and gender, although information on some of those is missing for about a third of those infected.

About 56% of those infected are white, and 24% Black, with 17% identifying as “other” on questions about race. Generally, this means whites are underrepresented as a percentage of their population in North Carolina (about 77%) among those infected and Blacks are overrepresented. Blacks are even more overrepresented among those who have died, making up just over a fifth of the state’s population but a third of those for whom it has been fatal.

Also overrepresented among those infected are ethnically Hispanic residents of the state, who make up 43% of all confirmed cases, but only about 10% of the state’s population. However, so far they are not highly represented among those who have died, making up about 10% of the total.

With regard to age, the virus is clearly most lethal among those over 75 years of age who make up 58% of those of who have died, with those over 65 making up another 21% and those over 50 another 16%. Just 5% of deaths have occurred in groups under 50.

However the data is very different on those in North Carolina who have become infected and tested positive by age, showing that much of the disease spread is being done by those with less risk of severe illness or death themselves.

About 70% of all confirmed cases in North Carolina are among those under 50. Despite accounting for the majority of deaths, those over 75 account for only 6% of all cases, with those over 65 but under 75 representing another 6%.

The differences in infection and death by gender are less pronounced than they were early in the pandemic, but limited trends have persisted. Women in North Carolina appear slightly more like to become infected – or possibly to get tested if infected, representing 52% of confirmed cases.

However, of those who have died, men represent 53%, despite a lower infection rate, suggesting that the virus may be substantially more lethal in men – or possibly that men tend to what until they are sicker to be tested.

Post 130, 12:50 p.m., July 18, 2020

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,481 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the overall total to 97,958. This is the highest reported number of cases in a single day. The weekly average of cases continues to set record highs, having steadily increased since the beginning of June. 

North Carolina has increased its testing capacity and has recently increased testing rates among vulnerable populations, such as among people held in prison or in other congregate care facilities.

DHHS reported 23 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,629. 

There are 1,154 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, the second highest number since the outbreak began. The most hospitalizations were on Friday, at 1,180 people, with the day’s decrease mostly associated with deaths. This week’s rolling average of COVID-19 hospitalizations is the highest it has been in North Carolina. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has been confirmed in all 100 counties. Thirty-five counties have recorded over 700 cases, with Caldwell, Moore and Nash counties crossing the threshold in the past week.

Counties with more than 700 cases are Mecklenburg with 17,047, Wake with 8,593, Durham with 4,987, Forsyth with 4,122, Guilford with 4,061, Johnston with 2,349, Gaston with 2,189, Union with 2,145, Wayne with 2,082, Robeson with 1,928, Cabarrus with 1,902, Cumberland with 1,888, New Hanover with 1,752, Duplin with 1,742, Randolph with 1,707, Rowan with 1,672, Alamance with 1,648, Davidson with 1,392, Catawba with 1,345, Iredell with 1,308, Burke with 1,302, Sampson with 1,291, Pitt with 1,130, Buncombe with 1,108, Chatham with 1,100, Wilson with 1,099, Orange with 1,083, Henderson with 1,056, Granville with 1,012, Lee with 984, Brunswick with 921, Harnett with 871, Caldwell with 754, Nash with 735 and Moore with 701.

These account for 83% of cases statewide.

Post 129, 12:50 p.m., July 17, 2020

North Carolina reported 2,051 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in state residents on Friday, bringing the total to 95,477.

Hospitalizations in the state reached a new all-time high of 1,180 on Friday.

According to the state’s official tally, 1,606 state residents have died from illness related to COVID-19. This does not include people who had COVID-19 and died from related illness without ever being tested for the infection.

Click HERE for the Broadcast Script.

Post 128, 12:35 p.m., July 16, 2020

Additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus among North Carolina residents increased to 2,160 on Thursday, just the third time the daily total has been above 2,000, bringing the state’s total confirmed cases to 93,426, according to statistics the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released Thursday.

Deaths from COVID-19 and related illness climbed to 1,588 in the state. Hospitalizations dropped slightly to 1,134, just below their record mark on Wednesday.

While the virus has been confirmed in all North Carolina counties for weeks, its presence in some is much greater. Nine counties have more than 2,000 cases each.

These include Mecklenburg with 16,360, Wake with 8,157, Durham with 4,827, Forsyth with 3,946, Guilford with 3,877, Johnston with 2,255, Gaston with 2,076, Wayne with 2,055 and Union with 2,036.  They account for nearly 49% of the cases statewide.

Carolina Public Press reported Thursday on how a relief bill the legislature passed unanimously in May offered liability immunity to nursing homes, where a large percentage of the state’s deaths from COVID-19 have occurred. As long as missteps and negligence contributing the spread of COVID-19 or patient suffering and death can be blamed on staffing problems, health care providers including nursing homes can avoid civil liability under the law.

Post 127, 1 p.m., July 15, 2020

An additional 1,782 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents were reported Wednesday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, bringing the statewide total to 91,266.

The single-day additional case count is down slightly from other recent days, but still above the numbers seen daily in previous weeks.

Setting a new record Wednesday were hospitalizations of North Carolina residents with confirmed COVID-19, which reached 1,142. So far, public health officials have said they are keeping an eye on this number, but have not sounded alarms. Several other states, including South Carolina, have reported intensive care units at capacity due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Deaths from the illness increased by 16 Wednesday to 1,568 in North Carolina. This does not include people who may have died with strong COVID-19 symptom indicators, but had not actually been tested for the infection.

Carolina Public Press reported that Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday afternoon that schools will be able reopen if they effectively social distance students, limit the number of people in a building at any given time and make everyone wear a mask. Schools districts may also opt for online programs and parents may opt not to send their children to schools.

CPP also reported Wednesday that the state could see an effort to implement voter ID requirements this fall, if the courts allow. If so, it could create substantial challenges for elections officials already dealing with an explosion of absentee ballot requests due to the pandemic. A complicated process exists for applying a voter ID requirement to absentee ballots if the requirement goes into effect.

Click HERE for Broadcast Script.

Post 126, 12:40 p.m., July 14, 2020

After a two-day slide in the number of additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina, additional cases began tracking higher again on Tuesday, with 1,956 new cases, one of the highest single-day totals so far.

Statistics released Tuesday by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services count 89,484 confirmed cases in total.

[The latest: North Carolina coronavirus daily updates]

Perhaps more worrisome were big increases in statistics related to outcomes of a disease that can range from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. An additional 41 North Carolina residents were counted as having died from COVID-19 related illness since Monday, bringing the state’s death total to 1,552.

Hospitalizations increased by more than 60 people, with COVID-19 patients in NC hospitals now totalling 1,109, a new all-time high.

Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to make an announcement Tuesday afternoon about the future of North Carolina schools during the pandemic.

Carolina Public Press and its partners in the NC Watchdog Reporting Network reported Monday afternoon on a finding that the state still lacks a plan for mass testing in nursing homes, which have been a primary source of the illness’ spread and a source of almost half of the fatal cases.

A plan that is in place for the state to contract with CVS to provide one-time testing falls well short of health experts’ recommendations for repeated testing in nursing homes and does not even address testing in other long-term care facilities, which have 56,000 beds across the state.

Post 125, 12:40 p.m., July 13, 2020

North Carolina announced 1,827 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in state residents on Monday, typically a time of the week when the new case count drops, but still one of the highest Mondays on record.

Thanks in part to a record-setting number of additional cases on Saturday, the state’s total confirmed cases stand at 87,528, according to Monday’s statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Deaths in NC increased slightly Monday to 1,510.

Current hospitalizations declined to 1,040, after hitting an all-time high over the weekend.

Click HERE for broadcast script.

Post 124, 12:35 p.m., July 12, 2020

A day after the largest single-day increase in North Carolina confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, an additional 1,908 cases were announced Sunday, the fifth-most so far, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The additional cases bring the total to 85,701 confirmed cases among North Carolina residents. Deaths from the illness across the state are now counted officially at 1,503.

Until recently, those death totals had been dominated by nursing homes, which are still significant, but in early July the percentage of COVID-19 deaths in North Carolina nursing homes has fallen below half of the state total as other forms of community spread have picked up.

Statewide hospitalizations fell slightly to 1,070 on Sunday, down from the 1,093 all-time reported on Saturday.

More than 1.2 million tests for the virus have been completed in North Carolina, but some of those are on people who have been tested multiple times. Most of the state’s more than 10 million estimated residents have not been tested once and some who have were only tested before community spread became more prevalent.

The virus is highly contagious and often shows no symptoms, especially early, but can prove deadly and leave behind hidden damage in people of all ages including brain damage, national medical experts have said recently.

The virus has been confirmed in all 100 counties for several months now, but its spread is uneven. Currently, 13 counties have 1,600 or more confirmed cases each. These include Mecklenburg with 15,024, Wake with 7,447, Durham with 4,499, Forsyth with 3,675, Guilford with 3,604, Johnston with 2,044, Wayne with 1,990, Union with 1,821, Gaston with 1,811, Duplin with 1,667, Cabarrus with 1,640, Robeson with 1,632 and Cumberland with 1,613.

These counties account for more than 56% of all confirmed cases statewide.

Post 123, 12:55 p.m., July 11, 2020

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,462 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the overall total to 83,793. This is the highest reported number of cases in a single day — topping the single-day record from last week by over 360 cases — with the weekly average continuing to set record highs over the last month. 

North Carolina has increased its testing capacity and has recently increased testing rates among vulnerable populations, such as among people held in prison or in other congregate care facilities.

DHHS reported 20 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,499. 

There are 1,093 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, also a new peak for the state. This week’s rolling average of COVID-19 hospitalizations is the highest it has been in North Carolina. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has been confirmed in all 100 counties. Thirty-two counties have recorded over 700 cases.

Counties with more than 700 cases are Mecklenburg with 14,607, Wake with 7,204, Durham with 4,425, Forsyth with 3,622, Guilford with 3,495, Johnston with 1,980, Wayne with 1,980, Union with 1,778, Gaston with 1,742, Duplin with 1,672, Robeson with 1,620, Cabarrus with 1,580, Cumberland with 1,558, Rowan with 1,494, Randolph with 1,443, New Hanover with 1,438, Alamance with 1,401, Davidson with 1,228, Burke with 1,186, Sampson with 1,185, Catawba with 1,142, Iredell with 1,093, Chatham with 1,041, Orange with 933, Granville with 931, Lee with 918, Pitt with 913, Wilson with 907, Henderson with 871, Buncombe with 845, Harnett with 771 and Brunswick with 753.

These account for 81% of cases statewide.

Post 122, 12:35 p.m., July 10, 2020

Despite a substantial drop in the number of additional tests completed for the new coronavirus in North Carolina on Friday, the state posted its third-highest single-day increase in confirmed cases to date, 1,982, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The new confirmed cases bring the state’s total case count to 81,331. However, despite a general uptick in testing in recent weeks, less than 10% of the state’s population has ever been tested for a virus that spreads easily and often shows no symptoms.

Deaths from known COVID-19-related illness rose by 18 Friday to 1,479. Well over half of these deaths have occurred in nursing homes. Seniors in general also represent most of those dying. However, hundreds of people who do not fit into those groups have also died of the disease and others have become severely ill.

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 in North Carolina are at their all-time high, 1,046.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday that he will release a new plan for schools in the fall next week. He faces pressure from different groups to return students to schools with some protections or to plan for long-term distance learning.

CLICK HERE FOR A BROADCAST SCRIPT.

Post 121, 12:35 p.m., July 9, 2020

The latest COVID-19 metrics for North Carolina are not good, according to statistics the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released on Thursday.

Hospitalizations in the state due to the new coronavirus topped 1,000 for the first time on Thursday, at 1,034.

The state also saw a its second-highest single-day increase in confirmed cases to date, with 2,039. This is only the second time the state has had more than 2,000 additional cases confirmed on one day.

While the exact number of new cases per day is artificially affected by lags in reporting and communication between local and state officials, as well as weekly cycles of testing and processing results, it’s undeniable that the trend has been steadily upward in case counts in recent weeks.

Even though some of this is due to additional testing, the numbers of tests completed for Thursday’s count wasn’t as high as many other recent days that had lower numbers of positive results.

Deaths in North Carolina from illness known to be related to the new coronavirus increased by 20 to 1,461.

Carolina Public Press reported Thursday on the legislature’s failure to override vetoes of bills that would have severely limited the authority of Gov. Roy Cooper during emergencies, including the pandemic. Although a few Democrats supported some of COVID-19-related legislation that Cooper vetoed, they united to support the governor after the vetoes.  

CLICK HERE FOR BROADCAST SCRIPT.

Post 120, 1:15 p.m., July 8, 2020

After setting an undesirable single-day record for additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents of 2,099 on Friday, the number of additional cases has fallen back in recent days with just 1,346 on Tuesday, but picking up to 1,435 on Wednesday, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

These numbers are still well above those seen earlier in the pandemic and the fall off during the course of a week has been typical, with low counts at midweek and high ones Fridays and Saturdays.

A week into July, the state’s total confirmed case count stands at 77,310, with 1,441 deaths of those who tested positive for the infection.

More than a million tests have been completed in the state, but many may be on the same person multiple times, while many people have never been tested for a virus that spreads rapidly and sometimes has few to no symptoms, while at other times can make people horribly sick and lead to death.

Currently, the state reports 994 N.C. residents hospitalized with the illness, the highest level so far.

While the virus is widespread throughout the state, some counties have a much higher number of confirmed cases. There are currently 17 counties with more than 1,200 confirmed cases each, including Mecklenburg with 13,489, Wake with 6,471, Durham with 4,182, Forsyth with 3,450, Guilford with 3,275, Wayne with 1,935, Johnston with 1,825, Duplin with 1,620, Union with 1,579, Gaston with 1,479, Cumberland with 1,440, Robeson with 1,434, Cabarrus with 1,424, Rowan with 1,382, Randolph with 1,353, Alamance with 1,319, and New Hanover with 1,242. These counties account for more than 63% of all confirmed cases in North Carolina.

Carolina Public Press reported Wednesday on new efforts to make testing more accessible. DHHS has issued an order that will provide for testing even when someone doesn’t have a doctor’s orders, which had previously been required at many testing locations.

Click here for Broadcast Script.

Post 119, 1:20 p.m., July 1, 2020

[The latest: North Carolina coronavirus daily updates]

Editor’s note: Due to some technical work being done on our website, Carolina Public Press will not post daily updates for a few days following this one.

The first day of July greets North Carolina with the largest single-day increase in confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus among state residents to date, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The additional 1,843 confirmed cases on Wednesday took the state’s total case count to 64,670. Since June 1, when the state had 29,263 confirmed cases, it has added 35,250 – more than double what it added during the initial three months of the pandemic.

Officials in North Carolina and several other states have recently expressed concern that the curve has not flattening and leveling in cases they saw in May was not sustainable. As a result, masks are now mandatory in North Carolina and plans to advance to Phase 3 of reopening have been put on hold. Some states have even rolled back reopening, but this has not happened so far in North Carolina.

The state’s deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19 also increased Wednesday by 30, with a total count at 1,373. More than half of these are in nursing homes, but plenty are in other settings as well.

Hospitalizations fell slightly on Wednesday to 901, but stayed near their peak level above 900.

Post 118, 12:45 p.m., June 30, 2020

Additional cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents have dropped most weeks on Mondays, then further on Tuesdays, only to rebound later in the week, usually peaking on Fridays or Saturdays.

This week, the Monday and Tuesday drop kept the pace of new cases above 1,000 for the first time. Adding 1,186 on Tuesday, the statewide confirmed case count stands at 64,670, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of deaths credit to illness known to be related to COVID-19 in North Carolina residents rose to 1,343 on Tuesday.

Perhaps the most ominous number was a major rebound in hospitalizations which had been trending downward in recent days, but returned to near their record level at 908 on Tuesday.


Post 117, 12:30 p.m., June 29, 2020

Additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents dropped to 1,342 on Monday. While this number is less than in other recent days, Mondays are consistently among the lower days of the week for new case counts, due to the cycle of data releases each week. This is the first time a Monday case count in North Carolina has exceeded 1,000.

The new cases bring the statewide total to 63,484, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. However, these are confirmed cases and the total number of cases across the state is likely to be much higher. According to recent reports form the Centers for Disease control, for every confirmed case in the United States, there are probably 10 more cases that aren’t diagnosed, in part because the virus so often has few symptoms and in part because many places are doing minimal testing.

The number of deaths in North Carolina from illness known to be related to COVID-19 rose to 1,325.

Hospitalizations dropped somewhat Monday to 843, after hovering close to their 900 peak level for several days.

Carolina Public Press is continuing a series looking at health care systems in 20 mostly rural counties that have very high concentrations of older residents, who are at increased risk for severe illness or death if they contract the virus. An article published Monday examines how Brunswick County, which has become a haven for retirees in recent years, is handling the crisis.

Post 116, 12:40 p.m., June 28, 2020

Despite a substantial drop in the number of tests completed for the new coronavirus on Sunday in North Carolina, additional cases of the new coronavirus dropped only slightly from Saturday to 1,605, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

This is the fifth-highest single-day increase so far. All of the other top increases have come this month. It brings the total number of confirmed cases in North Carolina residents to 62,142. The number of confirmed cases in the state has more than doubled since June 3, slightly more than three weeks ago.

Reports of deaths credited to illness known to be related to COVID-19 increased by only four on Sunday, bringing the death total statewide to 1,322.

Hospitalizations in the state continue to hover around the 900 mark at 890, close to the highest level they’ve been in the state since the pandemic began.

The number of counties with more than 1,000 cases each has gone up in the last few days. While central Piedmont counties housing the state’s largest cities have generally led the way with the virus spread, more rural and suburban counties, including several counties in the West and East, have also seen a major impact lately.

Counties with more than 1,000 cases include Mecklenburg with 10,592, Wake with 4,816, Durham with 3,571, Forsyth with 2,935, Guilford with 2,743, Wayne with 1,767, Duplin with 1,438, Johnston with 1,393, Robeson with 1,175, Rowan with 1,163, Union with 1,151, Randolph with 1,149, Cumberland with 1,142, Alamance with 1,088, Cabarrus with 1,064, Sampson with 1,018, Burke with 1,016 and Gaston with 1,004.

These 18 counties account for more than 64% of the cases statewide. However, that still leaves thousands of cases scattered across the other 82 counties, some of which have hundreds of cases confirmed.

Testing in North Carolina is approaching a million, but with some people being tested multiple times and an estimated population above 10 million in the state, the vast majority of the state has not been tested for a virus that is highly contagious and sometimes shows no symptoms.

Post 115, 12:35 p.m., June 27, 2020

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,719 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the overall total to 60,537. This is the third-highest daily reported number of cases, with all the peaks coming in June. North Carolina has also increased its testing capacity.

DHHS data shows new reported cases peak on Fridays and Saturdays. This week’s average number of cases reported is the highest it has ever been in North Carolina, topping last week’s record-setting average.

DHHS reported 15 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,318. 

There are 888 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19. This week’s rolling average of COVID-19 hospitalizations is the highest it has been in North Carolina, with Tuesday’s 915 hospitalizations being the all-time high.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has been confirmed in all 100 counties. Twenty-four counties have recorded over 700 cases, with Iredell, Lee and New Hanover counties crossing the threshold this week. 

Counties with more than 700 cases are Mecklenburg with 10287, Wake with 4675, Durham with 3521, Forsyth with 2871, Guilford with 2690, Wayne with 1740, Duplin with 1422, Johnston with 1346, Robeson with 1161, Randolph with 1137, Rowan with 1137, Union with 1123, Cumberland with 1101, Alamance with 1066, Cabarrus with 1021, Burke with 1000, Sampson with 986, Gaston with 972, Chatham with 924, Davidson with 908, Granville with 779, Lee with 770, New Hanover with 750 and Iredell with 707.

These account for 73% of cases statewide.

Post 114, 1:05 p.m., June 26, 2020

Additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents rose sharply Friday, even as the governor’s new mandatory mask order goes into effect.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced 1,635 new positive tests for COVID-19 Friday at noon, bringing the statewide total to 58,818. Deaths from illness known to be related to the virus rose to 1,303 statewide.

Hospitalizations rose slightly Friday to 892 in North Carolina. This is close to the highest levels of COVID-19 patients in hospitals so far.

In a statewide report Carolina Public Press released on Thursday in collaboration with five other news organizations, hospitals describe a level of preparation for COVID-19 that is far ahead of where they stood several months ago, with good amounts of personal protective equipment and more on the way. They credit networking through the statewide hospital association for a successful buildup of supplies.

However, the hospitals also remained gravely concerned about a potential surge ahead as cases have been trending upward in recent weeks.

CPP reported Friday with a closer look at the state’s far southwestern counties, one of several rural regions with a concentration of adults over 65, the group most at risk for severe illness. While health officials in Cherokee, Graham and Clay counties credit testing and contact tracing, plus early limits on outside visitors, with slowing the spread of COVID-19 in their area, they are also concerned about the instability of the limited hospital resources there.

Two of the counties have no hospital and Erlanger Hospital in Murphy has been subject to leadership changes and financial woes, along with its parent company in Chattanooga. A nearby hospital in Georgia that some North Carolina residents have relied on is bankrupt and some doctors said they were wary of sending patients there.

While the governor’s order requiring masks took effect Friday, multiple news media reports say sheriffs in at least 12 counties have said they won’t be enforcing the governor’s order.

Under state statute, governors’ executive orders have the weight of law and violation is a class 2 misdemeanor. Gov. Roy Cooper has not called for individuals to be cited for noncompliance, but said businesses should be cited if they don’t require masks for people in their buildings.


Post 113, 12:40 p.m., June 25, 2020

Several measures of the spread of the new coronavirus in North Carolina fell back slightly on Thursday, but whether they will form a trend over coming days remains to be seen.

The state’s count of additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropped to 1,009 after peaking over 1,700 on Wednesday. While this level is still much higher than the typical daily increase in cases seen before late May, it’s not as high as on several other recent days. The total confirmed case count among North Carolina residents stands at 57,174, according to statistics the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released on Thursday.

The number of additional deaths from illness known to be related to the virus increased by 19, which is also less than on some other recent days. The total number of deaths from the virus in North Carolina officially stands at 1,290.

Hospitalizations dropped to 891 after two deaths above 900. Public health officials are watching hospitalizations closely because of concerns that too many patients with the illness at one time could inundate North Carolina hospitals.

Carolina Public Press reported late Wednesday that Gov. Roy Cooper has announced a mandatory masks policy that will go into effect on Friday. While individuals will be on an honor system to wear masks in buildings and public spaces where they might contact other people, such as sidewalks, businesses could be cited for failing to require employees or customers to wear masks.

Cooper also extended Phase 2 restrictions of economic reopening rather than moving on to Phase 3 as some businesses that remain closed, such as gyms, bars and cinemas, had hoped. Phase 2 will last until at least mid-July when Cooper will evaluate the situation further.


Post 112, 12:35 p.m., June 24, 2020

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported an additional 1,721 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents on Wednesday, the second-highest single-day increase to date, bringing the state’s total case count to 56,174.

An additional 20 deaths credited to illness known to be related to COVID-19 increased the state’s death toll Wednesday to 1,271.

The number of people hospitalized in North Carolina fell slightly from Tuesday to 906, but remained above 900 for just the second time, in a number that fluctuates frequently, but has generally trended up over the last few weeks.

Many provisions of the state’s restrictions for the pandemic are due to expire or require reevaluation soon and some businesses that remain closed under those orders, such as some gyms, have announced plans to reopen. But Gov. Roy Cooper said last week that he had not decided whether that would happen. Cooper has scheduled a Wednesday afternoon press conference and may address his decision about the direction the state’s response to the pandemic will take.

Cooper indicated last week that he was considering a mandatory mask policy. Several local jurisdictions have adopted mandatory mask policies, generally affecting people in enclosed public spaces or on sidewalks where they are in relatively close contact with others.

While the virus has been confirmed in every county, 11 counties have more than 1,000 cases each. These include Mecklenburg with 9,333, Wake with 4,253, Durham with 3,319, Forsyth with 2,679, Guilford with 2,527, Wayne with 1,703, Duplin with 1,369, Johnston with 1,208, Randolph with 1,077, Rowan with 1,076 and Cumberland with 1,053.

These 11 counties account for more than 52% of the cases statewide.

Carolina Public Press reported on Wednesday about the results of runoff elections in two parts of the state, the first elections conducted with precautions against the spread of the virus in place.

While concerns about long lines and absentee ballot issues did not arise in the Republicans-only elections in Columbus counties and 17 Western North Carolina counties, an anticipated much higher participation in fall elections could challenge elections officials, several of whom described serious problems finding enough people willing to work at the polls.


Post 111, 12:40 p.m., June 23, 2020

North Carolina added another 848 confirmed case of the new coronavirus in state residents on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 54,453, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

At the same time Tuesday, hospitalizations related to COVID-19 reached an all-time peak in North Carolina of 915. This is the first time that the official hospital patient count related to the illness has passed 900 in North Carolina.

More than 20 additional death attributed to illness related to COVID-19 pushed the death toll among North Carolina residents to 1,251 on Tuesday. A strong majority of deaths have been in nursing homes.

As of Tuesday, 16 counties have more than 900 counties each. These include Mecklenburg with 9,086, Wake with 4,106, Durham with 3,244, Forsyth with 2,615, Durham with 2,462, Wayne with 1,673, Duplin with 1,365, Johnston with 1,178, Robeson with 1,096, Randolph with 1,088, Rowan with 1,037, Cumberland with 1,031,  Alamance with 969, Union with 965, Burke with 918 and Sampson with 907.

These counties account for more than 61% of the cases statewide.


Post 110, 12:20 p.m., June 22, 2020

Additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents grew but a slower pace Monday, at 804, than in other recent days, likely due to a substantial drop in the number of tests completed.

According to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics, the state’s total confirmed cases stand at 53,605. More than 1,200 across the state have died of illness known to be related to COVID-19, the majority of them nursing home residents.

Hospitalizations in North Carolina due to COVID-19 had fallen slightly over the weekend, but Monday again to 870, just below their highest level so far.

Case spikes in some counties have altered the list of those with the largest numbers of cases over the last two weeks, though big urban centers like Wake, Mecklenburg, Durham, Forsyth and Guilford continue to lead the list. Many of the newer spikes are in suburban or rural counties where the presence of prisons, meat-packing plans or nursing homes may be driving the increase.

As of Monday, 15 counties reported more than 900 cases each. These were Mecklenburg with 8,956, Wake with 3,984, Durham  with 3,209, Forsyth with 2,575, Guilford with 2,434, Wayne with 1,658, Duplin with 1,345, Johnston with 1,135, Robeson with 1,086, Randolph with 1,058, Rowan with 1,025, Cumberland with 1,014, Union with 949, Alamance with 946 and Burke with 912.

These 15 counties accounted for more than 60% of the confirmed cases statewide.


Post 109, 12:45 p.m., June 21, 2020

Yet another day with more than 1,000 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents, this time 1,412, pushed the state’s total case load to 52,801 on Sunday, the day after it topped 50,000, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

Sunday’s number of new cases are the fourth-highest to date, despite a smaller number of new test completions reported. However, it has been more than a week since a new daily record was set, which had been an almost daily occurrence for a while.

Eight additional deaths since Saturday pushed the statewide death toll credited to illness related to the COVID-19 to 1,220 on Sunday.

Hospitalizations, which had been nearing 900, did fall back slightly to 845 on Sunday, but it was not clear if all hospitals were reporting, which has sometimes caused this measure to fluctuate artificially.

While the virus has been present in all 100 North Carolina counties for some time, the case count is much higher in some. As the total has grown, some counties that featured in early high case counts have not seen continued fast-paced growth in infections, at least not according to the testing that has been done.

But other counties have seen nearly constant growth in cases and a few have seen sudden spikes, especially as outbreaks in nursing homes, other long-term care facilities, prisons and meat-packing plants drive the broader spread within communities.

Fifteen counties now have more than 900 cases each. These are Mecklenburg with 8,752, Wake with 3,884, Durham with 3,196, Forsyth with 2,524, Guilford with 2,402, Wayne with 1,643, Duplin with 1,332, Johnston with 1,111, Robeson with 1,085, Randolph with 1,054, Rowan with 1,019, Cumberland with 1,008, Alamance with 939, Union with 920 and Burke with 911.

These counties account for more than 60% of the confirmed cases in North Carolina.

Post 108, 12:50 p.m., June 20, 2020

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,549 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the overall total to 51,389. This is the third highest spike in cases, behind yesterday and last Friday. DHHS data shows new reported cases peak on Fridays and Saturdays. This week’s average number of cases reported is also the highest it has ever been in North Carolina. 

DHHS reported 15 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,212. 

There are 883 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, a new high. Spikes in daily death rates lag 1-2 weeks behind spikes in hospitalization rates. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has been confirmed in all 100 counties. Sixteen counties have recorded over 700 cases, with Cabarrus, Davidson, Gaston, and Granville counties crossing the threshold this week. 

Counties with more than 700 cases are Mecklenburg with 8511, Wake with 3721, Durham with 3094, Forsyth with 2497, Guilford with 2352, Wayne with 1622, Duplin with 1317, Johnston with 1058, Robeson with 1056, Randolph with 1032, Rowan with 995, Cumberland with 988, Alamance with 919, Burke with 895, Union with 876, Sampson with 865, Chatham with 860, Cabarrus with 835, Davidson with 729, Granville with 723 and Gaston with 705.

These account for 69% of cases statewide.

Post 107, 12:25 p.m., June 19, 2020

Additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents rose by 1,693 on Friday, the second-highest single-day increase to date, bringing the state’s total case count to 49,840, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in North Carolina rose to 871, their highest point so far. Deaths attributed to illness related to COVID-19 increased by 22 to 1,197 statewide.

Gov. Roy Cooper said at a press conference Thursday that he will likely make masks in public businesses and other spaces mandatory but not before next week. Asked why he didn’t issue an immediate decree, Cooper said a law like that has to crafted carefully to consider the effects on many different groups of people, including some for whom a disability may prevent them from wearing masks.

Asked about announcements from some gyms and other business that they will reopen when the governor’s Phase 2 of economic reopening is set to expire next week, Cooper said they are acting without knowing what he will decide to do. While the governor could move on to Phase 3 of reopening, which could include gyms, he could also maintain the status quo under Phase 2 or roll back some earlier loosening of restrictions.

Post 106, 1 p.m., June, 18, 2020

With 1,133 additional confirmed cases on Thursday, the growth in COVID-19 among North Carolina residents accelerated again after a brief lull over recent days.

The total confirmed case count in the state, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics, stands at 48,188. Thursday’s increase was the fifth-highest since the pandemic began. The other top days have all come in the last two weeks.

The state had gone through two phases of economic reopening due to lower numbers for a time, but the number of cases have more than doubled since then. It’s unclear so far whether the state will rethink its restrictions, but Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday that he could consider making masks mandatory. He did not say how he would deal with local officials who have been unwilling to enforce the governor’s existing executive orders.

Hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 increased to 857 on Thursday, the highest level to date. An additional 21 deaths were attributed to illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll from the virus to 1,175.

A strong majority of these deaths have occurred in nursing homes, where congregate settings promote infection and risk factors of age and health increase the chances that any infection will be serious and potentially deadly.


Post 105, 12:30 p.m., June 17, 2020

After a two-day reprieve, additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents creeped past 1,000 again on Wednesday, at 1,002, bringing the state’s total to 46,855, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

The single-day increase in cases topped 1,000 for the first time in late May and did so three times before that month’s end. So far in June, it has been above 1,000 on nine of 17 days.

Hospitalizations reached a new peak on Wednesday at 846. Deaths of North Carolina residents from illness known to be related to COVID-19 reached 1,168 total, and increase of 14 from Tuesday.

A high percentage of deaths have been in congregate settings, especially nursing homes. However, prisons have also been a leading location of spread.

On Tuesday, a Wake County Superior Court judge issued a more detailed version of the ruling he announced earlier on prisons. He ordered the state to take steps to decrease the prison population, test every person in prison on North Carolina for COVID-19, and to ensure that every prison provides adequate protection against the spread of the new coronavirus.

Carolina Public Press published a guide to frequently asked questions on dining out and other interaction during the state’s Phase 2 level of restrictions, which are currently in place.


Post 104, 1 p.m., June 16, 2020

As it consistently has done on several recent Tuesdays, the number of additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents dipped substantially on Tuesday, likely due to the weekly ebb and flow of test completions.

Even so, the state added 751 confirmed cases, raising the overall total to 45,853, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

Deaths, however, increased at one of their higher daily rates, by 36, with 1,154 North Carolina residents having died from illness known to be related to COVID-19. A large majority of deaths have taken place in nursing homes, where the illness spreads easily in congregate environments and the aging often unwell population are susceptible to the worst effects of the virus.

Hospitalizations also increased on Tuesday, establishing a new high count of 829, according to DHHS.

The virus is present in all 100 N.C. counties but 10 counties with more than 900 cases each make up more than 53% of statewide confirmed cases.

These include Mecklenburg with 7,468, Wake with 3,163, Durham with 2,773, Forsyth with 2,283, Guilford with 2,103, Wayne with 1,535, Duplin with 1,228, Robeson with 978, Randolph with 947, Rowan with 921 and Cumberland with 904.

Post 103, 12:15 p.m., June 15, 2020

With a big drop in new tests completed in North Carolina on Monday, the state’s count of additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on a single day fell below 1,000 for the first time in five days, though only slightly below that mark, at 983, for an overall total of 45,102 cases, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

Deaths known to be related to COVID-19 rose to 1,118 statewide. Hospitalizations remained near their peak level at 797.


Post 102, 12:30 p.m., June 14, 2020

Confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents are now consistently adding more than 1,000 additional cases each day, as they have done each of the last five days, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

After slight drop in new cases Saturday, they increased to 1,443 additional cases Sunday, despite a significant drop in completed tests from the level seen Friday, when the state hit the latest high mark for one-day increases at nearly 1,800. The total case count is now at 44,119 statewide.

Hospitalizations fell slightly Sunday from the all-time high of more than 800, but remained close to their peak at 798.

The virus has been confirmed in all 100 North Carolina counties but some counties have a much greater number of cases.

Thirteen counties have more than 800 confirmed cases each. These are Mecklenburg with 7,131, Wake with 3,011, Durham with 2,662, Forsyth with 2,204, Guilford with 2,032, Wayne 1,512, Duplin with 1,182, Robeson with 966, Randolph with 921, Cumberland with 888, Rowan with 888, Johnston with 849, Chatham with 808. These counties account for more than 52% of all confirmed cases.

Post 101, 1:35 p.m., June 13, 2020

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,427 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the overall total to 42,676. This is the second-most new cases reported in a day, behind yesterday, and sets a new three-day record for new cases.

DHHS data shows new reported cases peak on Fridays and Saturdays. This week’s average number of cases reported is also the highest it has ever been in North Carolina. 

DHHS reported 12 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,104. North Carolina passed the grim mark of 1,000 deaths this week. 

There are 823 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, a new high. Spikes in daily death rates lag 1-2 weeks behind spikes in hospitalization rates. 

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has been confirmed in all 100 counties. Sixteen counties have recorded over 700 cases, with Alamance, Burke, Johnston and Sampson crossing the threshold in the last week. Counties with more than 700 cases are Mecklenburg with 6862, Wake with 2892, Durham with 2569, Forsyth with 2128, Guilford with 1983, Wayne with 1467, Duplin with 1150, Robeson with 956, Randolph with 908, Cumberland with 874, Rowan with 862, Johnston with 802, Chatham with 784, Sampson with 728, Burke with 706 and Alamance with 700.

These account for 61.8% of cases statewide.

Post 100, 12:50 p.m., June 12, 2020

If there was any doubt that the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents has been going up, not leveling, Friday’s record-eclipsing number of additional cases in one day, 1,768 may have cleared up the question.

With the spike, the state’s total case count climbed to 41,249, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Completed tests were also up Friday, with just under 600,000 tests completed across the state.

DHHS reported 28 additional deaths from illness related to COVID-19 on Friday, with the state’s total deaths at 1,092. More than half of these deaths are in nursing homes and many others are in other congregate living settings including long-term care facilities and prisons.

Hospitalizations fell to 760 on Friday after topping 800 for the first time on Thursday. However, Carolina Public Press and a collaborative of investigative new organizations have previously reported that this number should be viewed as an “at least” count with the fluctuations ignored because changes are largely driven by which hospitals report on a given day.

While the virus has been confirmed in all 100 North Carolina counties, seven counties have more than 1,000 cases each. These include Mecklenburg with 6,538, Wake with 2,737, Durham with 2,467, Forsyth with 2,051, Guilford with 1,899, Wayne with 1,448 and Duplin with 1,130. The counties account for more than 44% of all cases in the state.

CPP reported Friday on the economic and health care challenges for residents of Anson County, where Walmart announced it was closing the same week the pandemic hit the state. The store was one of the area’s largest employers, sold discounted medicine, provided a convenient location that many residents relied on to purchase food and supplies, resulted in substantial sales tax revenues and donated large amounts of food and supplies to local aid organizations.

Local governments, nonprofit groups and stores are facing challenges in dealing with the impact and supplying increased needs with less resources even as they deal with the pandemic.

Post 99, 12:35 p.m., June 11, 2020

Confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents surged upward Thursday by 1,310, the second-highest single-day increase to date, bringing the statewide total to 39,481, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

The number of new tests completed, just under 20,000, was also the second highest on record.

Deaths from COVID-19 related illness rose to 1,064 on Thursday.

Hospitalizations topped 800 for the first time at 812, showing that another key metric the state has been watching is going the wrong direction.

While the virus is present in all 100 N.C. counties, 11 counties are reporting more than 800 confirmed cases each. These include Mecklenburg with 6,155, Wake with 2,553, Durham with 2,370, Forsyth with 1,967, Guilford with 1,853, Wayne with 1,403, Duplin with 1,096, Robeson with 913, Randolph with 866, Cumberland with 828, Rowan with 808. These counties account for more than 52% of all cases statewide.

Post 98, 12:45 p.m., June 10, 2020

After dipping on Tuesday, the number of additional new coronavirus confirmed cases in North Carolina residents surged again Wednesday to 1,011, bringing the statewide total to 38,171, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services statistics.

DHHS also announced that the statewide death toll from illness known to be related to COVID-19 has risen to 1,053, an increase of 24 from Tuesday.

Hospitalizations continue to creep upward and now stand at 780, the highest point so far.

More than half of all deaths from coronavirus in North Carolina have been in nursing homes, with 554 deaths total. Residential care facilities, which are similar but lack nursing care, account for 83 deaths. Correctional facilities, including jails and federal and state prisons, account for another 23 deaths.

There has been little change in trends that show a bias in illness that disproportionately affects black and Hispanic residents of North Carolina, but there has been an increase in deaths among African Americans relative to other groups.

An earlier strong trend for men to die of COVID-19 more frequently than women is much slighter now, though men do die more often by a narrow majority in North Carolina.

Age-related trends have also continued, if only grown more distinct. About 63% of all North Carolina cases involve people under 50, but only 4% of deaths are for people in this age range. However, only 7% of confirmed cases are in those 75-years-old or older, yet 62% of death in North Carolina are for people in this age range.

The virus has been confirmed in all 100 counties. But 10 counties have reported more than 800 cases each. These include Mecklenburg with 5,861, Wake with 2,448, Durham with 2,284, Forsyth with 1,910, Guilford with 1,806, Wayne with 1,367, Duplin with 1,072, Robeson with 900, Randolph with 842 and Cumberland with 811.

These 10 counties account for more than 50% of all cases in the state.

Carolina Public Press and other news organizations who make up the North Carolina Watchdog Reporting Network reported Tuesday afternoon on concerns about the state prison system restarting inmate transfers, which could be a key way in which the illness is spread between institutions, affecting inmates, but also prison staff, their families and their communities.

Wayne County, for instance, makes the list of counties with large outbreaks, not because of its overall population density encouraging disease spread, but because of a runaway outbreak at the Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro.

Post 97, 12:40 p.m., June 9, 2020

As it has several times recently on a Tuesday, the number of additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents dipped Tuesday to 676, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, bringing the statewide total to 37,160.

The smaller increase also comes on a day when the number of completed tests was nearly 16,000, one of the highest so far.

The state’s death toll from illness known to be related to COVID-19 increased by 23 to 1,029 on Tuesday.

Another key measure, hospitalizations, surged upward to a new record on Tuesday, of 774.

The illness has been confirmed in residents of all 100 North Carolina counties. Counties with at least 700 cases each include Mecklenburg with 5,744, Wake with 2,371, Durham with 2,227, Forsyth with 1,874, Guilford with 1,743, Wayne with 1,337, Duplin with 1,062, Robeson with 876, Randolph with 809, Cumberland with 798, Rowan with 773 and Chatham with 745.

These 12 counties account for more than 54% of call confirmed cases statewide.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday on a ruling by a superior court judge that North Carolina prisons are likely operating unconstitutionally during the pandemic by not adequately testing prisoners for the virus and not taking enough precautions to promote social distancing and avoid the spread of the disease in the prisons, which have been hit by major outbreaks.

CPP also reported Tuesday on Gov. Roy Cooper’s plans for returning students to school in the fall. He laid out three scenarios Monday that will depend on how the state is faring with the pandemic, but warned that current measures don’t look promising.


Post 96, 12:30 p.m., June 8, 2020

Despite a major drop in the number of new tests of COVID-19 completed since Sunday, confirmed cases of the new coronavirus continued their high rate of increase Monday with 938 additional cases, bringing the statewide total to 36,484, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Reports of 10 additional deaths brought the death toll in North Carolina to 1,006 from COVID-19-related illness.

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients, which had been down slightly in recent days, rebound to 739, the highest level so far, according to DHHS statistics.

Although the virus has been confirmed in all 100 counties, 12 counties have reported more than 700 cases each.

These include Mecklenburg with 5,682, Wake with 2,300, Durham with 2,180, Forsyth with 1,816, Guilford with 1,665, Wayne with 1,335, Duplin with 1,047, Robeson with 868, Randolph with 801, Cumberland with 781, Rowan with 771 and Chatham with 733. These account for more than 54% of the cases statewide.

Carolina Public Press also reported Monday on discrepancies between information the prisons have presented in court and information in documents and inmate testimony about how the state’s prisons are handling COVID-19. A judge may rule as early as Monday afternoon on a lawsuit seeking the release of many prisoners due to conditions.


Post 95, 12:25 p.m., June 7

The rapid increase in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus slowed slightly Sunday as the number of new tests completed also dropped from other recent days.

Even so, the 921 additional cases reported Sunday represented the seventh-highest one-day increase since the state began tracking the pandemic’s spread throughout North Carolina in early March, according to records from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The total number of cases statewide rose to 35,546.  For comparison, on May 15, about three weeks ago, the state was completing its first week of partial reopening under Phase 1, and the total number of confirmed cases was 17,000 – less than half of the current number.

The state’s deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19 rose by four since Saturday and stands at 996 according to DHHS’ official count, though some media organizations have reported their own counts based on county numbers are already above 1,000.

In recent days, Gov. Roy Cooper has drawn attention to the disproportionate impact of the illness on minority ethnic groups. Although the virus can infect people of any background, African Americans and Hispanic residents have been affected severely.

While only about 9% of the state’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, 41% of those who have been infected in North Carolina fall in this category. The state’s population is about 22% black, but about 28% of those infected have been black.

With many of the confirmed cases among Hispanics a recent tread, there have been relatively few deaths in this group. But 34% of all COVID-19 related deaths have been among black, out of synch with both their percentage in the population and their rate of infection.

Cooper, in a Friday press conference, blamed longstanding economic inequity and lack of access to health care for contributing to this disparity. The despair brought about this situation in minority communities has been heightened by the death of North Carolina native George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota, and the widespread protests sparked by his death, both peaceful and violent.

The virus has been confirmed in residents of every North Carolina county, but some counties are more heavily affected.

As of Sunday, 12 counties reported more than 700 confirmed cases each, including Mecklenburg with 5,509, Wake with 2,235, Durham with 2,114, Forsyth with 1,774, Guilford with 1,614, Wayne with 1,306, Duplin with 1,006, Robeson with 862, Randolph with 792, Cumberland with 775, Rowan with 761 and Chatham with 723.

These 12 counties accounted for more than 54% of all cases statewide.

Post 94, 1 p.m., June 6

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,370 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of the new coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the overall total to 34,625. This is the third-straight record-setting day for new confirmed cases. The state also completed more tests this week than in any previous week.

DHHS reported 26 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 992.

There are 708 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, down from Friday’s peak of 717.

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation on Friday that would have provided for broader reopening of restaurants and bars. Cooper said the measure could heighten the risk of a surge in COVID-19 cases and threaten public health. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is running for governor against Cooper this fall, issued a statement challenging Cooper’s decision and saying that there’s no scientific evidence that additional reopening would lead to a surge in cases.

Since the previous two rounds of economic reopening in North Carolina, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has increased dramatically and hospitalizations have reached much higher numbers than previously across the state.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has been confirmed in all 100 counties. Twelve counties have recorded over 700 cases. Those counties are Mecklenburg with 5,358, Wake with 2,155, Durham with 2,025, Forsyth with 1,721, Guilford with 1,573, Wayne with 1,268, Duplin with 976, Robeson with 859, Randolph with 779, Cumberland with 768, Rowan with 735 and Chatham with 720.

These account for nearly 55% of cases statewide.

Although COVID-19 most often leads to serious illness and death in older North Carolina residents, it can be fatal at any age. The state reported the first death of a child from the illness on Friday. The child was a resident of central North Carolina, DHHS said, but did not release additional details in the interest of the privacy of the child’s family.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore issued a statement reminding state residents that everyone should protect themselves against the disease, both to avoid spreading it to others and to prevent infection in themselves.

Post 93, 1 p.m., June 5

The record single-day increase in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents established on Thursday didn’t last long, as the increase the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported on Friday surpassed Thursday’s record increase by 100.

The addition of 1,289 new confirmed cases on Friday raised the state’s overall count to 33,255.

The record increase is somewhat surprising considering a substantial decline in newly completed tests from the record number DHHS reported on Thursday. Nearly 14,000 tests were completed ahead of Friday’s count, DHHS reported, with a total of almost 500,000 tests on North Carolina residents.

With a state population estimated at more than 10 million, the vast majority of residents have not been tested for the highly contagious virus that often shows few symptoms.

The statewide death toll from illness known to be related to COVID-19 now stands at 966, up six from Thursday.

Also reaching an all-time high on Friday were hospitalizations at 717, representing a rebound to near previous highs after dropping a bit over the last few days.

The virus has been confirmed in all 100 North Carolina counties, but several counties have a disproportionate share of cases.

Nine counties have more than 700 cases each. These are Mecklenburg with 5,057, Wake with 2,067, Durham with 1,877, Forsyth with 1,660, Guilford with 1,508, Wayne with 1,240, Duplin with 943, Randolph with 751, Cumberland with 744.  The counties account for more than 47% of the cases statewide.

Carolina Public Press reported Friday on actions by Gov. Roy Cooper to address the disproportionate impact of the illness of North Carolina’s African American and Hispanic residents.

Due to economic disadvantages, these groups have been infected at a much higher rate than whites. The governor is looking a range of polices to address these concerns.

Post 92, 1:30 p.m., June 4

Thursday the number of people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus climbed by 1,189 people compared to Wednesday’s numbers — the largest reported single-day increase.

According to state information, 960 people have officially died after contracting the virus.

In all so far, 31,966 people have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. With 85 percent of hospitals reporting, 659 people who have tested positive are hospitalized.

State officials have said they have confidence that hospitals will be able to handle COVID patients for the foreseeable future.

Among the dead is former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Lee Medford, 74, who died at the federal prison complex in Butner Wednesday, according to a report from WLOS. He died of complications from COVID-19, according to a news release.

Medford was evaluated May 20 for low oxygen levels in the blood. He was then taken to a local hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19. The following day he was placed on a ventilator. Medford had long-term pre-existing medical conditions.

Medford had served more than 11 years of a 15-year prison sentence for racketeering, violence, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction of state and local law enforcement and conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business.

Counties with more than 1,500 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 are: Mecklenburg with 4,842, Wake with 1,977, Durham with 1,830 and Forsyth with 1,560.

Post 91, 3:35 p.m., June 3

Wednesday the number of people who tested positive for the novel coronavirus surged past 30,000 people. Later this week we may also see another broken milestone as the number of deaths may pass 1,000 North Carolinians.

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said in its Tuesday update that 30,777 people have tested positive for the virus, and so far 939 of those have died. 

As the number of cases in Macon County leapt from a handful to several dozen, Macon County Health Department now has at least nine people working as contact tracers, who tracked many of the cases down to a local church and a resort. Health department spokeswoman Emily Ritter said they are bracing for additional clusters.

“There is still opportunity for us to slow the spread,” Ritter told Carolina Public Press on Tuesday.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped to 684 people. However, only 88 percent of hospitals reported their numbers to the state. The last time hospitalizations were below 500 people was in mid-May.

DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said Tuesday she was confident in the state’s hospital capacity despite the rise in people seeking care.

Nearly two thirds of the state’s COVID-19 deaths, or 565, have occurred in nursing homes and residential care facilities. For a list of facilities with current outbreaks, updated twice per week with state data, view Carolina Public Press’ page on facility outbreaks.

Post 90, 1:20 p.m., June 2

North Carolina has substantially accelerated its testing for COVID-19 in recent weeks, so much, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, that posting new statistics by 11 a.m. each day is no longer possible.

In fact, the agency has only occasionally posted each day’s stats by its own stated deadline. Starting today, DHHS’s daily goal for new COVID-19 numbers is to release them by noon. And on the first day of the noon deadline, the new numbers appeared online at 12:25 p.m.

Tuesday’s numbers witnessed a further decline in the number of new confirmed cases to 626, with more than 13,000 tests completed since Monday. However, similar drops in new case numbers previously across several weeks have been followed later by much higher new case counts, especially on Saturdays. This apparently has to do with how test results are reported to the state, rather than the actual number of people with the virus.

Overall the state’s case count Tuesday officially stands at 29,889.

Despite some improvement in case increases Tuesday, hospitalizations spiked again to their highest daily number on record, 716.

Since Monday, 23 additional deaths of North Carolina residents from illness related to COVID-19 have been reported, bringing the death toll statewide to 921.

The total case numbers are being dominated by a small number of counties, despite the virus’ confirmed presence in all 100 counties.

Twelve counties reported at least 600 cases each. These were Mecklenburg with 4,519, Wake with 1,841, Durham with 1,706, Forsyth with 1,434, Guilford with 1,318, Wayne with 1,179, Duplin with 870, Robeson with 786, Cumberland with 708, Randolph with 678, Rowan with 675 and Chatham with 638.

These counties account for more than 54% of confirmed cases in North Carolina.


Post 89, 11:40 a.m., June 1

The number of additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents dropped dramatically Monday morning, but with an important caveat – the number of new tests completed dropped by more than half from Sunday and is about a third of those reported completed on Friday.

As a result, state officials reported 674 new confirmed cases on Monday. Two weeks ago, that would have been a fairly high number, but not since several days each with more than 1,000 new North Carolina cases in the last week. The state’s total confirmed case count stands at 29,263, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

An additional 12 North Carolina residents died from illness known to be related to COVID-19 since Sunday, bringing the state’s death toll to 898.

Another measure that state officials watch, hospitalizations, peaked about 700 for several days last week and then fell to 638 on Saturday, but has been creeping back up since then. Currently DHHS said it stood at 650 Monday morning.

However, previous reporting by CPP and a collaborative of other news organizations has shown that hospital reporting on COVID-19 patients has been so erratic that the state’s number is meaningless except as an “at least” number and fluctuations often relate to which hospitals reported on a given day.

While the virus has been confirmed in every North Carolina county, 12 counties with more than 600 cases each have the bulk of case. These include Mecklenburg with 4,412, Wake with 1,773, Durham with 1,660, Forsyth with 1,383, Guilford with 1,288, Wayne with 1,161, Duplin with 846, Robeson with 755, Cumberland with 696, Rowan with 673, Randolph with 671, Chatham with 637. These counties account for more than 54% of cases across North Carolina.

CPP reported Monday morning on questions about claims by state officials that eased restrictions were justified by “sustained leveling” seen in the state’s statistics.

A professor at the School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, who has studied coronaviruses for some time, told CPP that “sustained leveling” isn’t present in the data.


Editor’s note: This file includes the most recent coronavirus updates. For updates posted prior to June 2020, please click here.

Staff Reports

This release, story or event was developed through multiple sources and/or is from the staff of Carolina Public Press.

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