The image shows how the COVID-19 virus looks under intense magnification. Courtesy of the CDC

Journalism with impact

I want to receive independent, investigative local news every day.

This file includes Carolina Public Press coronavirus updates from March through May 2020. For more recent updates, click here.

Post 88, 12:15 p.m., May 31

The number of tests for the new coronavirus completed in North Carolina dipped substantially over the last two days, but Sunday’s new case counts dropped only slightly under 1,000.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 916 new confirmed cases in North Carolina residents Sunday, bringing the state’s total to 28, 589 cases. An additional nine deaths reported Sunday brought the state’s death toll from illness known to be related to COVID-19 to 886.

After some decline in hospitalizations for the illness in North Carolina in recent days, DHHS reported an increase to 649 people hospitalized. However, reporting from news organizations including Carolina Public Press has previously shown that this number should be interpreted only as an “at least” measure and fluctuations often have more to do with which hospitals reported on a given day than any real changes.

While the virus has been confirmed in all 100 counties, a smaller number of counties have most of the cases.

In 12 counties, at least 600 cases have been confirmed. This includes Mecklenburg with 4,028, Wake with 1,683, Durham with 1,552, Forsyth with 1,253, Guilford with 1,227, Wayne with 1,112, Duplin with 794, Robeson with 754, Cumberland with 682, Randolph with 659, Rowan with 640 and Chatham with 630.

The counties account for 52% of the cases statewide.

CPP reported Sunday that hundreds of people took to the streets in major cities across the North Carolina on Saturday, initially to protest racial injustice, including the death of George Floyd while being detained by police in Minnesota. Many wore protective gear to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, sometimes including masks imprinted with Floyd’s last words: “I can’t breathe.”

Later Saturday, several cities were hit by looting, arson and vandalism, despite calls for nonviolence by protest organizers earlier in the day.

Post 87, 12:30 p.m., May 30

Almost 1,200 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina on Saturday shattered the previous single-day record set just a week earlier, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Saturday’s report included 1,185 newly confirmed cases among state residents, despite a drop in the number of tests completed from the previous day. Overall, the state now reports 27,673 confirmed cases with more than 400,000 tests completed.

For the second consecutive week, Saturday’s results brought a new single-day record. Looking back over the month, Saturday results showed a peak in new cases relative to other recent days on May 2, 16, 22 and 31. The virus doesn’t do anything special on Saturdays, but the weekly ebb and flow of testing and case reporting likely drives these various peaks and valleys in part.

Knowing how much of the increase in new cases on a given day is driven by these testing and reporting cycles and how much comes from the overall spread of the illness throughout the state is challenging. The state has been tracking a seven-day rolling average of increases, that avoids the weekly cycles. This trend turned sharply upward after Saturday’s results were released, suggesting the curve is not as flat as health and government officials had hoped for this state.

In other numbers, newly reported deaths from illness known to be related to the new coronavirus declined to 18 on Saturday, for an overall total of 877.

Hospitalizations, after peaking above 700 on Wednesday and Thursday, dropped to 638 on Saturday, but this is still above levels seen prior to the past week. Declining hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in mid-May had been cited as one of the reasons for the first two phases of economic reopening in the state.

The virus is present in all North Carolina counties, but is not spread evenly. Recent days have seen clusters in some rural counties greatly expand the confirmed case counts there, beyond what can be explained by an increase in testing. In some cases this is due to lack of social distancing in workplaces, such as meatpacking plants, in others it’s due to congregate living settings such as nursing homes and prisons and in other cases these spikes remained unexplained.

One example is relatively isolated Macon County in the state’s southwestern mountains, which had just three confirmed cases for weeks. These have expanded to 62 case in the last few days, despite no similar explosion of positive tests in adjacent counties. The reasons for the increase in Macon aren’t necessarily clear.

The state’s case count, however, continues to be dominated by a 12 of counties with more than 600 cases each. These include Mecklenburg with 4,028, Wake with 1,683, Durham with 1,552, Forsyth with 1,253, Guilford with 1,227, Wayne with 1,112, Duplin with 794, Robeson with 754, Cumberland with 682, Randolph with 659, Rowan with 640 and Chatham with 630.

These 12 counties account for more than 54% of the state’s confirmed cases.

Carolina Public Press reported in collaboration with a group of seven newsrooms across the state Friday on an announcement by the N.C. Bureau of Prisons of mass testing of prisoners at the Caswell Correctional Center in Blanch, near the Virginia line. The same group of news organizations drew attention to the death of a Caswell prison nurse in an investigative report about a week earlier.

Post 86, 12:15 p.m., May 29

For only the second time, the number of one-day increases in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina residents exceeded 1,000 on Friday.

According to statistics released by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, there were 1,076 new cases since Thursday, the second-biggest increase on record following a 1,107 increase on Saturday.

Daily increases have risen and fallen in part due to changes in the numbers of tests being completed. Friday also saw more than 15,000 new tests included, the most of any day so far.

Overall, the state’s confirmed case count officially stands at 26,488, with DHHS typically updating its numbers each morning at 11.

One number that did fall slightly after posting record levels Wednesday and Thursday was hospitalizations, which dropped by more than 20 to 680. Still, this is the third-highest number of hospitalizations to date.

Unfortunately, the state’s count of deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19 has not slackened, with more than 30 for the second consecutive day, bringing the total to 859.

The virus has been confirmed in every North Carolina county.

However, 12 counties have reported more than 600 confirmed cases each. These include Mecklenburg with 3,837, Wake with 1,613, Durham with 1,441, Guilford with 1,195, Forsyth with 1,179, Wayne with 1,088, Duplin with 750, Robeson with 728, Cumberland with 658, Randolph with 651, Rowan with 629 and Chatham with 610.

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

Carolina Public Press reported along with a collaboration of seven news organizations Thursday afternoon on issues with outbreaks at meatpacking plants. While evidence from company statements and county health departments has helped identify some locations of major outbreaks, state officials have been unwilling to provide that information, despite statements from public health experts and ethicists, who say that providing even incomplete information on such outbreaks is essential during a pandemic.

CPP also announced Thursday its role in a coalition of news media organizations that is suing state officials for the release of public records related to the pandemic. While the law states that most records are public, several state agencies have either ignored requests for these records or have claimed they were exercising discretion – without reference to the law – to keep the public insulated from some information. The lawsuit includes a range of requests, including several relating to information on the state’s handling and tracking of outbreaks at prisons, as well as internal correspondence that would show whom the state has consulted in developing some of its policies.

CPP reported Friday on the N.C. House’s passage of a bipartisan bill to fund elections cost increases expected due to the pandemic. The measure would also make a number of changes in election law. However, elections officials did not get everything they asked for in the bill, which led a small number of Democratic legislators to oppose it. The bill will now go to the N.C. Senate.

CPP published the latest installment of its Podcast show, The Kicker, on Friday, featuring a conversation with the executive director of the state brewers guild about how that industry is handling the pandemic and the recent reopening under Phase 2.


Post 85, 11:50 a.m., May 28

Newly confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents rebounded Thursday for one of the higher one-day increases on record, 784, for a total of 25,412 cases statewide, according to statistics from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Other stats Thursday also told a grim story. As the nation passed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, North Carolina added another 33 since Wednesday, one of the largest daily increases in that number, bringing the state’s total to 827 deaths known to be from illness related to COVID-19.

Another key measure that the state has emphasized dropping, hospitalizations, instead reached another high point Thursday at 708.

The spread of the illness has affected every part of the state, with all 100 counties having confirmed cases. But the severity of that spread has been worse in some places than others.

While the contagious illness does tend to hit densely populated large cities worse, several rural counties have major outbreaks due in part of prisons, nursing homes and meatpacking plants that tend to make the spread of the illness easier.

Across the state, 11 counties have more than 600 confirmed cases each. These include Mecklenburg with 3,605, Wake with 1,564, Durham with 1,411, Guilford with 1,137, Forsyth with 1,081, Wayne with 1,054, Duplin with 719, Robeson with 713, Randolph with 639, Cumberland with 622 and Rowan with 619.

These counties account for more than 51% of the state’s confirmed cases.


Post 84, 12 p.m., May 27

While the pace of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina residents picked up only modestly Wednesday at 488, bringing the state total to 24,628, a surge in the number of hospitalizations of those with COVID-19 points to an area of concern for state health officials.

According to statistics released Wednesday morning by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations stood at 702, easily the highest level the state has seen and coming only a few days after a declining trend in hospitalizations was cited as a justification for further reopening the state’s economy.

[The latest: North Carolina coronavirus daily updates]

Deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19 also increased substantially across North Carolina in Wednesday’s count, which increased by 28 to 794.

Cases in congregate settings continue to drive the spread of the illness and prove more deadly than the spread in the general public.

While the information on the involvement of a congregate setting is not known in about a quarter of all North Carolina cases, for cases where it is known, just over a third of confirmed cases involved someone living or working at a congregate setting, including a nursing home, other long-term care home, jail, prison or residential work farm.

However, more than two-thirds of deaths related to COVID-19 for which data on congregate settings is known, involved people residing in or work at congregate settings.

The virus has been confirmed in all 100 North Carolina counties, but 11 have reported more than 600 cases each.

These include Mecklenburg with 3,478, Wake with 1,519, Durham with 1,359, Guilford with 1,101, Wayne with 1,045, Forsyth with 1,022, Duplin with 707, Robeson with 680, Randolph with 624, Rowan with 613 and Cumberland with 600. These counties account for more than 51% of the state’s cases.

Carolina Public Press reported Wednesday on a federal lawsuit that civil rights organizations have filed, asking a judge to find that the treatment of prisoners at the federal Butner complex in Granville County during the pandemic constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The plaintiffs cited conditions that may promote the spread of the disease, the presence of many prisoners with medical conditions making them high risk for severe illness if infected, and the lack of consistent testing among prisoners and prison staff.


Post 83, 12:10 p.m., May 26

With a substantial drop in COVID-19 testing completed over the Memorial Day holiday in North Carolina, confirmed cases rose at much lower pace Tuesday than in recent days, adding another 176 for a statewide total of 24,140 cases, according to statistics reported by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Deaths from COVID-19-related illness rose modestly to 766 on Tuesday. Hospitalizations dropped slightly from Monday’s all-time peak, but 621 state residents remain hospitalized with illness related to COVID-19.

The virus has been confirmed in residents of all 100 North Carolina counties, but 10 counties have more than 600 cases each.

These include Mecklenburg with 3,403, Wake with 1,478, Durham with 1,333, Guilford with 1,092, Wayne with 1,029, Forsyth with 977, Robeson with 674, Duplin with 670, Randolph with 613 and Rowan with 612. These counties account for more than 49% of cases statewide.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday morning on how restaurants and breweries have responded to the easing of restrictions under the state’s Phase 2 of economic reopening. Some have reopened with precautions, some are waiting until they believe it is safe enough and others reopened before the restrictions eased.


Post 82, 11:25 a.m., May 25

A resurgence in newly confirmed case of the new coronavirus on Monday shows a curve that refuses to flatten.

Despite a relatively low number of new tests completed since Sunday, 742 new cases, among the highest single-day increases during the pandemic, brought North Carolina’s total case count to 23,964, according to figures release by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Perhaps more worrisome for public health officials attempting to justify the reopening of the state’s economy, hospitalizations also rose to 627 Monday. It’s a number that has ebbed and flowed, but has not previously been above 600.

While the virus has been confirmed in all 100 North Carolina counties, its spread is typically concentrated in densely populated areas, which explains the largest illness clusters around metro-Charlotte, the Triangle and the Piedmont Triad.

But other concentrated pockets of cases are due to locally dense population settings, including nursing homes and prisons.

Work conditions without social distancing also appear to be responsible for several major outbreaks among workers in the meat-packing industry. Each of these factors has affected case counts in both rural and urban counties.

Ten counties have more than 600 confirmed cases. These are Mecklenburg with 3,380, Wake with 1,471, Durham with 1,312, Guilford with 1,073, Wayne with 1,031, Forsyth with 969, Robeson with 670, Duplin with 659, Rowan with 609, Randolph with 601.

These counties account for more than 49% of all cases in the state.

Post 81, 11:35 a.m., May 24, 2020

After a big surge in confirmed cases in recent days, a smaller number of completed tests on Sunday resulted in only a modest increase of 497 cases of new coronavirus among North Carolina residents, bringing the total to 23,222 cases.

One additional death reported since Saturday brought the death total among state residents from known coronavirus-related illness to 744.

Confirmed cases have been found in all 100 North Carolina counties.

Nine counties have more than 600 confirmed cases. These include Mecklenburg with 3,231, Wake with 1,441, Durham with 1,262, Guilford with 1,049, Wayne with 1,000, Forsyth with 920, Robeson with 663, Duplin with 628 and Rowan with 605. These counties account for more than 46% of the cases statewide.

Post 80, 12:32 p.m., May 23, 2020

North Carolina posted the largest single-day increase of positive tests for the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began. Another 1,107 North Carolinians tested positive for the virus.

On Friday, May 22, North Carolina moved into “Phase 2” of the reopening plan after nearly two months of an emergency stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the virus. After three more weeks, Gov. Roy Cooper will consider advancing to the next phase.

In a statement sent to reporters May 23, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said it was a “notable and concerning increase.”

“As we head into a holiday weekend, please practice the three Ws – wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands frequently. When it comes to our health, we need to work together to protect our families, friends and neighbors,” Cohen said.

The state also reported the results of another 26,358 tests. Laboratories are required to report all positive tests for the novel coronavirus, and reporting negatives is optional.

Of labs that report both results, the DHHS news release said 10 percent of the total tests were positive for COVID-19.

“NCDHHS epidemiologists are analyzing the data to determine if there were any significant contributing factors,” the news release states.

The virus can cause severe illness or death in people with a range of underlying health conditions or for those age 65 and older. A total of 22,725 residents have now tested positive for COVID-19. However, until very recently only those with symptoms or someone who has been in contact with a COVID-19 person has been tested.

Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, fever, chills, a new loss of the sense of taste and smell, sore throat and muscle pain according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state also tracks how many hospital beds are available, though some hospitals do not report the numbers regularly to the state. As of Saturday morning, the state reported 22 percent of intensive care unit beds were available, or 695 available beds across the state.

Post 79, 12:20 p.m., May 22, 2020

The addition of 758 more confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents on Friday, pushed the statewide total to 21,618, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services. This follows a slight downward correction of 50 cases in the numbers the agency reported Thursday morning. The correction took place after Carolina Public Press’ previous status update.

The second consecutive day of large increases comes as the state prepares to launch its second phase of reopening, which will allow restaurant dining and salon visits under social distancing limits after 5:30 p.m. Friday.

Friday’s increase was the second largest single-day increase after an increase of more than 800 confirmed cases that occurred a week earlier on May 15. State officials have acknowledged the large increases. DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen pointed to them during her Thursday press conference and emphasized the importance of continued caution by individuals despite the relaxing of some rules.

The increased case count is not totally unexpected because the state has dramatically increased the amount of testing going on in recent days. As of Friday, more than 300,000 North Carolina residents had been tested. Still, in a state with an estimated population of more than 10 million, only a small portion of people have been tested for a virus that is highly contagious and often shows no symptoms.

While COVID-19 can show no symptoms, it can also cause a range of severe symptoms and lead to death, especially in those with underlying risk factors. Those include advanced age, smoking, COPD, heart disease and obesity. As a result, most of the population of North Carolina falls into at least one high-risk category.

As of Friday, 728 North Carolina residents are known to have died from illness related to COVID-19, an increase of 12 from Thursday. Hospitalizations remain high at 568 statewide.

Dr. Cohen announced Thursday that the state has seen its first case of an alarming syndrome in children that can be related to COVID-19. Although children generally have a low incidence of COVID-19 infection and severe illness, the rare multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, also called MIS-C, is an exception.

DHHS is not disclosing information about the patient who has this condition in North Carolina, other than to advise the public that a case has occurred. According to DHHS, MIS-C itself is not contagious, but children with the condition could be contagious for COVID-19 or some other underlying infection.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, pink eye, loss of appetite, cracked lips, red bumpy tongue and swelling in hands and feet. Anyone who suspects that a child has this condition should seek medical attention, and go to the nearest emergency room if the condition appears severe, DHHS has advised.

The coronavirus has been confirmed by testing in all 100 North Carolina counties, but 12 have more than 500 cases. These include Mecklenburg with 2,954, Wake with 1,389, Durham with 1,162, Guilford with 964, Wayne with 949, Forsyth with 849, Robeson with 646, Rowan with 585, Chatham with 564, Duplin with 545 and Cumberland with 541. These counties account for more than 51% of all cases in the state.

CPP reported Thursday, along with a network of investigative journalists from six news organizations across the state, on the state prison system’s handling of staff testing and response to the death of Caswell Correctional Center nurse Barbara Stewart, who had tested positive for COVID-19.

The story brought a response Friday morning from N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, who protested the prison system’s failure to accept accountability and answer basic questions about staff testing at prison and other issues. Caswell Correction Center is within Berger’s district.

CPP also reported Friday on adjustments that state and county social services agencies are making to work with foster families during the pandemic. Many of the normal guidelines for maintaining foster families are not compatible with social distancing requirements.

Post 78, 11:50 a.m., May 21, 2020

Confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents increased Thursday morning to 20,910, an addition of 788 cases since Wednesday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The biggest one-day increase in cases came May 16, with 853, but Thursday’s increase is the second-highest so far and comes a day before the state’s plan to reopen restaurants to dine-in customers, which the governor has said is based on improvements in trends.

The state’s death toll also increased Thursday by 14, to 716 residents total who are known to have died from illness related to the new coronavirus according to DHHS. Hospitalizations also increased to 578, close to the highest level so far in the state. However, a network of news organizations including CPP has shown that the hospitalizations counts tells more about which hospitals were reporting on a given day than it does provide an accurate measure.

COVID-19 has been confirmed in residents of all 100 North Carolina counties, but the case numbers in some are much greater than others. The disease spreads easily in densely populated areas such as major cities and suburbs, but also in congregate residential spaces, such as nursing homes and prisons, and work areas not allowing for social distancing, such as meat-packing plants. These conditions have led to major outbreaks at some of these locations.

As of Thursday, 12 counties reported more than 500 confirmed cases. These include Mecklenburg with 2,894, Wake with 1,346, Durham with 1,119, Guilford with 944, Wayne with 911, Forsyth with 801, Robeson with 638, Rowan with 574, Chatham with 546, Cumberland with 525, Duplin with 520 and Randolph with 502. These 12 counties account for 54% of the cases statewide.

Carolina Public Press reported Thursday morning on the governor’s announcement late Wednesday that the state would move into Phase 2 of economic reopening at 5 p.m. Friday. This will allow limited reopening of dining establishments and salons, but not gyms, bars or theaters.

CPP also reported on small businesses that are looking for new resources after a popular federal payroll relief program dried up. Some owners say they will have to close if they can’t find other solutions. For owners in Western North Carolina, a program through Dogwood Health Trust is offering a new source of loans for small businesses.


Post 77, 1:35 p.m., May 20

With confirmation of a positive test for the new coronavirus in an Avery County resident, the illness has been found in all 100 North Carolina counties, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources reported Tuesday afternoon.

The statewide confirmed case count of reached 20,122, which is a 1,077 increase in cases since Monday, although DHHS has reported conflicting information about the breakdown of those cases by day.

DHHS reported 702 deaths through noon Wednesday from illness known to be related to COVID-19, an increase of 20 from the previous morning.

The state agency rolled out an overhaul of its COVID-19 data site overnight that moved from tables of number to graphs.

According to DHHS, 10 counties now have more than 500 confirmed cases. These include Mecklenburg with 2,780, Wake with 1,307, Durham with 1,084, Guilford with 916, Wayne with 888, Forsyth with 749, Robeson with 591, Rowan with 562, Chatham with 543, Cumberland with 506. These counties account for 49% of all cases in the state.


Post 76, 11:40 a.m., May 19

An additional 422 North Carolina residents have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the state’s total of confirmed cases to 19,445, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Tuesday.

DHHS also said 21 more residents with illness related to COVID-19 have died, raising the state’s death toll to 682.

Eleven counties reported more than 450 confirmed cases on Tuesday. Those included Mecklenburg with 2,704, Wake with 1,264, Durham with 1,046, Guilford with 885, Wayne with 871, Forsyth with 707, Rowan with 556, Chatham with 536, Robeson with 527, Cumberland with 491 and Randolph with 465. Those counties account for more than 51% of the cases statewide.

Avery remains the only county with no confirmed cases.


Post 75, 11:41 a.m., May 18

The number of people confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus climbed to 19,023 as of Monday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. That is an increase of 511 lab-confirmed cases and surpasses 19,000 cases for the first time.

The death toll increased by two people compared to Sunday, to 661 people.

DHHS announced Monday that all long-term care facilities will start receiving shipments of personal protective equipment and will also get a limited increased rate for some Medicaid services to pay for infection prevention and management. Earlier this month, Carolina Public Press and reporting partners revealed that nursing homes with the biggest outbreaks have a history of deficiencies including those related to infection control.

The stay-at-home order remains in place, but that could change as early as this weekend, when the governor could again loosen restrictions on public life. Monday, DHHS reported that 511 people with lab-confirmed coronavirus infections were hospitalized, with 82 percent of hospitals reporting numbers.

The next phase could allow limited reopening of restaurants, which have remained closed to in-person dining since March 18. Barbershops, theaters and other businesses could also reopen. Additional public health measures will be required, however, state officials have not said what those will be.

Avery remains the only county not to report anyone testing positive for COVID-19.


Post 74, 11:40 a.m., May 17, 2020

The addition of 530 more confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents on Sunday brings the state’s total to 18,512 cases, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of deaths in North Carolina from illness known to be related to COVID-19 also increased by seven to 659 on Sunday.

A federal judge ruled Saturday that Gov. Roy Cooper’s order preventing indoor religious meetings during the health crisis is unconstitutional, issuing a 14-day temporary restraining order to allow meetings larger than 10 people.

The judge said that, since Cooper was allowing people to use good judgment to conduct other indoor activities with social distancing, the specific restriction on religious meetings, however well-intended, likely violated First Amendment protections for free exercise of religion. The Cooper spokesperson for the governor said he disagreed with the decision but would not appeal the ruling.

The limits on religious worship already were facing problems with enforcement from some local officials across the state. In Moore County, District Attorney Maureen Krueger issued a statement Friday, prior to the federal ruling, advising law enforcement that her office viewed the governor’s order to be unconstitutional and would not prosecute anyone charged with violating it.

While outbreaks among some religious groups that were not following the governor’s orders in North Carolina have been rumored and similar outbreaks reported elsewhere in the country, what’s not disputed is the severity of outbreaks at congregate living facilities.

DHHS reports 4,201 confirmed cases in congregate living settings, including nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, prisons, jails and residential agricultural labor sites. These account for more than 22% of the state’s total cases.

But the deadliness in the disease once it takes hold in the vulnerable population of nursing homes is the primary driver of deaths in North Carolina. With 350 nursing homes deaths, those cases alone account for well over half of all COVID-19 deaths in the state. Another 63 deaths have taken place in other congregate settings.

DHHS also reports that data is not available for whether a congregate setting was involved in an additional 4,548 additional confirmed cases and 53 deaths, so the role of congregate settings may be even more substantial than is known.

As of Sunday morning, 12 North Carolina counties reported more than 400 confirmed cases, according to DHHS. These included Mecklenburg with 2,591, Wake with 1,212, Durham with 986, Guilford with 846, Wayne with 832, Forsyth with 651, Rowan with 526, Robeson with 518, Chatham with 507, Cumberland with 468, Randolph with 455, and Wilkes with 423. The counties accounted for more than 54% of the state’s total cases.

Avery remains the only county not to report anyone testing positive for COVID-19.

Post 73, 11:20 a.m., May 16, 2020

An additional 853 newly confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents, another record one-day increase, brought the state’s total case count to 17,982 on Saturday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state death toll from illness known to be related to COVID-19 rose by 11 to 652.

About 7,000 new tests were completed since Friday, bringing the statewide testing total to 238,586, still well below the state’s population of more than 10 million people. It’s also unknown how many people have been tested multiple times.

However, more people now qualify to be tested for COVID-19 under new guidelines that DHHS announced Friday.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, DHHS secretary, said anyone with symptoms, including fever, cough and changes in taste or smell, as well as anyone who has had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms now qualify to be tested.

Tests will also be more available for people who live or work in congregate facilities like nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and jails or prisons.

In addition, Cohen said, the state is seeing a “disproportionate impact” on historically marginalized populations such as African Americans and Hispanics. Frontline essential workers, including grocery store workers, gas station attendants and first responders, will also have more tests available to them.

Cohen also announced that during Phase 2 of reopening, which could begin next week, overnight camps for children will be allowed to operate under modified rules.

“Obviously, it’s not going to be the same summer camp that folks may have remembered as of last summer,” Cohen said.

“There is an opportunity for overnight camps to open with some restrictions.”

That four-page list of guidance asks camps to only consider campers from North Carolina and directly adjacent states as well as check symptoms and take temperatures when children arrive.

If campers and staff are from another state, it recommends a 14-day quarantine period. The guidance recommends camps to separate sick children from others if they develop symptoms and asks workers to stay home if they are sick. The guidance also recommends more frequent handwashing and for everyone to wear face covers when social distancing is impossible.

The problem of outbreaks in the state’s prison system has drawn criticism from public health experts an civil litigation.

Plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit seeking the release of many state prisoners due to the pandemic filed a motion Friday seeking clarification on a judge’s denial of their request Wednesday. The new motion outlined “deficiencies” and “admissions” that the plaintiffs said “are sufficient to establish constitutional violations” in information that the state supplied to the court before the judge made his ruling.

As of Saturday morning, DHHS counts show 12 counties with 400 or more confirmed cases. These are Mecklenburg with 2,504, Wake with 1,176, Durham with 974, Wayne with 819, Guilford with 776, Forsyth with 627, Rowan with 525, Robeson with 509, Chatham with 504, Cumberland with 463, Randolph with 438 and Wilkes with 405. These counties account for more than 54% of the statewide totals.

Avery County remains the only one in which no residents have tested positive.

Post 72, 11:40 a.m., May 15, 2020

The state recorded more than 600 new lab-confirmed infections of COVID-19 in residents across North Carolina. The Friday-morning announcement pushed confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus past 17,000 cases.

At least 641 people have died who tested positive for COVID-19, though the actual number of dead due to the infection is higher.

Friday’s data release was among the largest day-over-day case increases since the outbreak began. The positive results came from a batch of 12,279 reported tests. Department of Health and Human Services Director Dr. Mandy Cohen has said as the state ramps up testing, more COVID-19 positive residents will be found.

The number of hospitalizations dipped below 500 people, however, not all hospitals are reporting their counts to DHHS. The bed counts represented 94 percent of the state’s hospitals, a number which fluctuates day-by-day. DHHS bases that number off of a daily survey of hospitals. Not all respond, and only a handful of hospitals consistently report to the department.

Fifteen counties have more than 300 lab-confirmed cases as of Friday morning. These include Mecklenburg with 2,385, Wake with 1,143, Durham 938, Wayne with 801, Guilford with 725, Forsyth with 568, Rowan with 517, Chatham with 495, Robeson with 491, Cumberland with 435, Randolph with 422, Cabarrus with 370, Duplin with 338, Union with 321 and Lee with 301. These counties account for nearly 60 percent of the cases statewide.

Avery County remains the only county with no confirmed cases, according to DHHS.

CPP published a guide to North Carolina’s phased reopening Friday. The end of Phase 1, and the end of the stay-at-home order, could come as early as May 22. State officials, including Gov. Roy Cooper, have said data and science will guide their decisions on when to relax stay-at-home orders and restrictions on the conduct of commerce. So far there is no proven treatment for COVID-19, and there is no vaccine. It can take a year or more for a vaccine to be developed and made widely available.

Until there is a vaccine, health officials urge residents to wear a mask in public, wash their hands frequently and to wait six feet away from people who are not in their household to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Post 71, 11:40 a.m., May 14, 2020

Nearly 700 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents announced Thursday morning pushed the statewide case count to 16,507, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Despite efforts to reopen commerce in North Carolina because of supposedly improving metrics, this was the largest single-day increase in cases to date.

The number of North Carolinians dying from illness related to COVID-19 also increased Thursday by 18, bringing the overall death toll in the state to 615.

The number of North Carolinians hospitalized dropped slightly to 507 Thursday, but reporting from Carolina Public Press and a collaboration of other news organizations late Wednesday raises doubts about this statistic. Records show gaps and inconsistencies in reporting on patients counts by major hospitals to DHHS. Some of the biggest fluctuations in patient counts have come because a hospital missed reporting for a day or two and then began reporting again. As a result, the statistic may not be very meaningful.

Fourteen counties have more than 300 cases as of Thursday morning. These include Mecklenburg with 2,320, Wake with 1,107, Durham 924, Wayne with 775, Guilford with 705, Forsyth with 508, Rowan with 507, Chatham with 490, Robeson with 448, Cumberland with 413, Randolph with 392, Cabarrus with 362, Union with 313 and Duplin with 305. These counties account for nearly 58% of the cases statewide.

Avery County remains the only county with no confirmed cases, according to DHHS.

CPP also reported Thursday morning on the denial of a lawsuit requesting the release of large numbers of state prisoners to halt the spread of COVID-19 in the prison system, where there have been several large outbreaks. The judge ruled after receiving detailed state claims about measures being taken to protect prisoners. However, inmates who talked with CPP raised doubts about the consistency of these measures and expressed fear for their own health.

Post 70, 11:30 a.m., May 13, 2020

Rumors of an early end to the new coronavirus pandemic in North Carolina appear to be exaggerated.

After several days of smaller increases in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents, the numbers grew much faster in reports the state released Wednesday morning. With 470 additional confirmed cases since Tuesday, the state’s total climbed to 15,816, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Also growing was the state’s death toll, increasing by 20, the second straight day of double digit gains after much smaller increases over the weekend. The statewide death toll from known cases of illness related to COVID-19 now stands at 597.

Another substantial increase Wednesday was in hospitalizations, which had been below 500 after a dip over the weekend, but have been climbing again in recent days. With a net increase of 46 additional hospitalizations on Tuesday, despite the deaths, 521 North Carolinians are hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.

As deaths have increased in North Carolina, some early trends have become less pronounced, but others have stayed steady.

One trend that has changed in recent days is coronavirus-related death rates by gender. Women have consistently been slightly more represented among those who test positive for the virus, but they have been substantially less likely to die of it until recently.

Now, though men still appear more likely to die from the virus, the numbers have become much closer, with men representing only 53% of the deaths in North Carolina.

Among the trends that have continued is the overrepresentation of African Americans in those who test positive, at roughly double the rate of their presence in the state’s population. While this has also led to an overrepresentation of blacks among those who died from the illness, it does appear that whites in North Carolina succumb to the disease at a slightly higher rate once they test positive. Reasons for these trends remain unclear, but could have to do with demographic patterns.

Another trend that remains steady is the severity of outbreaks in congregate living settings, including correctional facilities, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Nearly 4,000 of the state’s confirmed cases are in these settings. But deaths in these settings are even more pronounced, with 371 total, accounting for 62% of deaths related to COVID-19 statewide.

As of Wednesday morning, 13 counties had more than 300 confirmed cases. These included Mecklenburg with 2,204,  Wake with 1,080, Durham with 903, Wayne with 760, Guilford with 670, Rowan with 497, Chatham with 468, Forsyth with 449, Robeson with 440, Cumberland with 398, Randolph with 369, Cabarrus with 361 and Union with 304. These counties account for more than 56% of the cases statewide.

Avery County remains the only one in North Carolina reporting no confirmed cases.

Carolina Public Press reported Wednesday morning on the move of homeless residents in Asheville to a motel through coordination between a local nonprofit and the city. Due to the pandemic, their usual places to shelter were inadequate and a stopgap arrangement to house them at the civic center was due to expire.

CPP already released the latest installment of its audio show, The Kicker, featuring a conversation with Dr. David Wohl, a professor of medicine at the Division of Infectious Diseases at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. Wohl discusses best practices for protecting your family during the pandemic.


Post 69, 11:45 a.m., May 12, 2020

Just over 300 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus among North Carolina residents Tuesday morning continued the steady increase in statewide cases, now totalling 15,346, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

While not one of the larger recent daily increases in cases, the death count climbed substantially by 27. This brings the number of North Carolina residents who have died from illness known to be related to COVID-19 to 577.

More than 200,000 tests for the virus have been completed on North Carolina residents, including more than 6,000 reported by DHHS since Monday. However, in a state with an estimated population greater than 10 million, this is a drop in the bucket and lags far behind the testing levels in some other states.

After a decline in hospitalizations through the weekend, they have been slowly moving higher again, with 475 North Carolinians currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

Thirteen counties have more than 300 confirmed cases, all located in the state’s central Piedmont region or the western edge of the Coastal Plain: Mecklenburg with 2148, Wake 1061, Durham with 887, Wayne with 755, Guilford with 626, Rowan with 487, Chatham with 461, Robeson with 417, Forsyth with 397, Cumberland with 368, Cabarrus with 356, Randolph with 355, Union with 301.

The only county with no confirmed cases is Avery, located in a rural mountain region along the Tennessee state line.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday morning on the process of businesses reopening under changes in the governor’s stay-at-home order that went into effect late Friday. Businesses have varied responses but many are emphasizing caution and encouraging employees and customers to wear masks and practice social distancing.

CPP and a coalition of news organizations reported Monday afternoon on the results of a survey of county elections officials about their ability to handle expected changes in voting this fall due to the pandemic, including an expected surge in absentee ballot requests. The changes are expected to be costly and it appears all counties would need outside funding to prepare.

Post 68, 11:25 a.m., May 11, 2020

North Carolina passed the 15,000 mark on confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in residents Monday morning, as 281 additional cases pushed the total count to 15,045, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Still, this represented a smaller increase than in other recent days, though it was unclear how much this might be due to a weekend reporting lag.

Three additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19 were reported Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to 550, according to DHHS.

Hospitalizations rose Monday after a drop in recent days, to 464.

Counties with the largest number of confirmed cases Monday morning were Mecklenburg with 2,134, Wake with 1,048, Durham with 873, Wayne with 752, Guilford with 609, Rowan with 488, Chatham with 458, Robeson with 391, Forsyth with 379, Randolph with 354, Cumberland with 351 and Cabarrus with 350.

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

The only county with no confirmed cases is Avery.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday morning on its release of a new table that will allow for easier viewing of data on outbreaks at nursing homes and other congregate living facilities. The data is now searchable and sortable by facility name, county or data field.


Post 67, 11:40 a.m., May 10, 2020

A smaller number of tests completed for the news coronavirus did not stop a steady increase in confirmed cases among North Carolina residents Sunday as more than 400 additional cases were announced, bringing the statewide total to 14,764, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Deaths increased at a much lower rater than in other recent days, though that may only represent a reporting lag over the weekend. Three additional deaths reported since Saturday are from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the death toll in North Carolina to 547.

Sunday also brought a large drop in the number of reported hospitalizations, down to 442. This has happened somewhat previously, only for the number to climb back above 500 a few days later.

The counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases Sunday were Mecklenburg with 2,074, Wake with 1,030, Durham with 865, Wayne with 743, Guilford with 592, Rowan with 483, Chatham with 455, Robeson with 388, Forsyth with 373, Cabarrus with 352 and Cumberland with 348. Those 11 counties make up more than half of the cases statewide.

Avery remains the only county with no confirmed cases.

Post 66, 11:25 a.m., May 9, 2020

Even as the state economy began a partial reopening late Friday, nearly 500 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina  residents announced Saturday pushed the statewide total to 14,360 cases, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

An additional 23 deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19 pushed the statewide death toll from the pandemic to 544.

The new cases were part of an increased pace of testing completions, including nearly 8,000 completed since Friday. A total of 178,613 tests for COVID-19 have been completed on North Carolina residents, according to DHHS.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 2,043, Wake with 1,013, Durham with 847, Wayne with 726, Guilford with 574, Rowan with 480, Chatham with 447, Forsyth with 369, Robeson with 365 and Cumberland with 347. These 10 counties account for more than half of the cases statewide.

Avery County remains the only county with no confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Post 65, 11:50 a.m., May 8, 2020

An additional 466 additional cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents announced Friday pushed the statewide total to 13,868 cases, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The death count from illness known to be related to COVID-19 also rose by 20, to 527. Hospitalizations have been fluctuating across the state in recent days, and were down slightly Friday at 515.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,989, Wake with 986, Durham with 829, Wayne with 715, Guilford with 553, Rowan with 467, Chatham with 435, Forsyth with 353, Cumberland with 342 and Cabarrus with 338. These 10 counties account for more than half of the cases statewide.

Avery County remains the only county with no confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Carolina Public Press reported Friday on adjustments in handling sexual assaults that have been necessary as a result of the pandemic. Hospitals, rape crisis advocacy agencies and law enforcement have all needed to change some procedures and protocols in order to assist survivors, collect forensic evidence and begin investigations.

Post 64, 12:10 p.m., May 7, 2020


North Carolina had its biggest single-day increase in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in state residents with 639 new cases reported Thursday, boosting the state total to 13,397 cases, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

State deaths from the virus continue to increase as well, with an additional 30 deaths added to the state total Thursday, which now stands at 507, according to DHHS.

Recent days have seen an increase in completed tests, with nearly 7,000 reported Thursday, for a long-term total of 171,328 tests statewide. Still, in a state with a population estimated above 10 million, only a tiny fraction of residents have been tested for a virus that often has few symptoms and spreads easily.

Hospitalizations remained stable in North Carolina on Thursday, rising slightly to 525.

These increases in totals come as the state has prepared to begin the first phase of economic reopening at 5 p.m. Friday. The move has generated anxiety among some workers who are concerned about job safety.

During Wednesday’s state press conference CPP lead investigative reporter Kate Martin asked DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen what guidance the state has for restaurant workers whose bosses tell them they are not allowed to wear face masks on the job, as some employers have decreed in Texas.

Cohen said face masks are “highly, highly encouraged,” but there may be situations where a mask is not appropriate,  or a wearer may not be able to breathe well. “I hope there is not going to be anyone who forbids the wearing of masks,” Cohen said.

Martin also asked Cohen to answer a question that had been asked by two previous reporters about meat-packing plant workers and whether DHHS would post information about COVID-19 infections there.

“Our role has been in a technical assistance role,” Cohen said.

“As I look around to other states about displaying these kinds of information, I found one other state. … Stay tuned for more information about that.”

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases on Thursday were Mecklenburg with 1,922, Wake with 961, Durham with 807, Wayne with 699, Guilford with 536, Rowan with 452, Chatham with 421, Cumberland with 336, Cabarrus with 333 and Forsyth with 332.

But cases and deaths are occurring throughout North Carolina.

Although urban counties or those with large congregate setting outbreaks have the most confirmed cases and often more deaths, others are not immune to either.

Polk County, one of the state’s smallest and home to only 30 confirmed cases, announced its first death from illness related to COVID-19 on Thursday.

Avery County remains the only county with no confirmed cases.

CPP published an interview Thursday with Jade Teesateskie, who said she was “heartbroken” when she tested positive last month, becoming the first confirmed case in that county. Teesateskie, who is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, took a tribe-administered test despite having no symptoms and was shocked when it came back positive, worrying that she could have unknowingly spread the virus to others at higher risk.


Post 63, 11:45 a.m., May 6, 2020

North Carolina’s economy is slated for a limited Phase 1 of reopening at 5 p.m. Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced late Tuesday.

But the state’s confirmed cases of new coronavirus continue to increase, as do deaths.

More than 500 new confirmed cases in North Carolina residents since Tuesday pushed Wednesday morning’s total to 12,758 statewide, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19  also increased by 25 to 477 total. Hospitalizations decreased slightly, possibly due to the number of deaths, down 18 from Tuesday to 516 Wednesday morning.

A large influx of newly completed tests were included in Wednesday’s count bringing the total tests conducted on North Carolina residents to 164,482. The state has been hopeful that a lower percentage of positive tests will indicate a drop in the virus, but it’s not clear whether that’s actually true, since more people who aren’t showing severe symptoms being tested would also have that effect.

There’s been no decline in the number of cases and deaths tied to congregate settings in North Carolina, both long-term care residences and correctional facilities.

Residential care facilities have been tied to 2,314 cases in both residents and staff, with 269 deaths, almost entirely in residents, more than 56% of the COVID-19 deaths in the state.

Prisons and jails account for another 1,031 cases and 10 deaths, with several less common types of congregate settings connected to 90 cases and three deaths.

Combined, more than a quarter of all cases in the state are tied to some type of congregate setting, along with the vast majority of deaths.

Counties with the largest numbers of cases are Mecklenburg with 1,850, Wake with 937, Durham with 793, Wayne with 687, Guilford with 507, Rowan with 439, Chatham with 412, Cabarrus with 323,  Cumberland with 318, Forsyth with 308. These 10 counties make up more than half of all cases in the state.

The only county with no confirmed cases is Avery.

Carolina Public Press reported Wednesday on the addition of Vidant Health, which serves much of northeastern North Carolina, and 19 counties in various parts of the state, to the NCCARE360 network. The network allows physicians and social services to communicate with patients and one another, which can be urgently needed during restrictions of the pandemic.

Post 62, 7:00 p.m., May 5, 2020

More businesses will be allowed to operate and people can leave home for more reasons starting 5 p.m. Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday night. While the stay-at-home order remains in place, Cooper authorized the first of several reopening phases to ease restrictions on public life. This level of restriction could last until May 22, but can be extended if officials see troubling signs.

State officials, including Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said they wanted to see a decline or “leveling” of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and people reporting symptoms at hospitals.

Two weeks ago, Cohen said the number of people hospitalized was “largely level but not decreasing, so not there yet.” On that day, 486 people were hospitalized with a positive COVID-19 test. Tuesday, 534 people were hospitalized, a slight rebound after the state hit a high of 551 hospitalizations last week but fell below 500 over the weekend.

But Cohen said, unlike two weeks ago, she was now confident in the capacity of the state’s hospital system to absorb extra sick people.

“We are tracking to make sure we have not only acute bed availability but ICU capacity as well,” Cohen said Tuesday. Hospitalizations are “largely level in terms of folks who are quite ill from COVID-19.”

Cooper said moving to Phase 1 “is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions to give people safe opportunities to socialize.”

All businesses will be allowed to open but at 50 percent capacity, and they must ask customers to stay six feet apart from one another. However, a segment of businesses where it is impossible to observe social distancing, such as salons, barber shops, gyms and theaters will remain closed.  Food serving establishments will also remain closed to in-person dining and can only operate via takeout or delivery.

For additional information on case numbers and deaths Tuesday, please see the post below from earlier in the day.


Post 61, 11:55 a.m., May 5, 2020

With 408 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents announced Tuesday morning, bringing the statewide count from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to 12,256, it’s unclear whether Gov. Roy Cooper’s hoped-for phase 1 of reopening the state’s economy is still on track for this weekend.

DHHS also announced 22 additional deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 452.

The jump in cases follows a few weekend days with less new cases confirmed based on fewer test results completed. More than 5,000 new test results contributed to Tuesday’s higher case count. So far, 151,800 tests have been completed on North Carolina residents according to DHHS, but it’s unclear how many people have been tested multiple times.

The vast majority of the state’s population of more than 9 million has not been tested for the infection, which often is contagious without showing any symptoms.

Tuesday’s numbers also brought a rebound in hospitalizations, which rose to 534, close to their all-time high of 551 reached last week.

If not for congregate living settings, both long-term care residences and correctional facilities, the state would have far fewer cases and less than half as many deaths.

Unfortunately, the infection spreads easily in those settings, where precautionary social distancing is impossible. Preexisting health conditions in prisoners and nursing home residents tend to encourage more serious illness. Although cases in congregate settings include residents and staff, all but a few of the deaths are in residents.

As of Tuesday morning, DHHS reported nearly 3,400 confirmed cases in congregate settings, with 263 deaths, 58% of all coronavirus-related deaths in North Carolina.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases Tuesday included Mecklenburg with 1,758, Wake with 919, Durham with 773, Wayne with 688, Guilford with 464, Rowan with 417, Chatham with 403, Cabarrus with 318, Cumberland with 290 and Forsyth with 287. Those 10 counties make up more than half of the cases statewide.

Avery County remains the only one in which new coronavirus cases have been confirmed.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday on a package of coronavirus response legislation that the governor signed Monday after unanimous passage by the General Assembly. The measures include more than a billion dollars in relief funding.

Post 60, 12:15 p.m., May 4, 2020

Despite the completion of a relatively small number of additional tests over the weekend, the total number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents increased by 184 Monday over the previous day, with 11,848 cases statewide, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Deaths known to be from COVID-19-related illness increased by eight to 430 across the state. Some 498 people remain hospitalized, a slight increase Monday in a statistic that had declined slightly in recent days.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Monday morning at a press conference that he hopes to begin a limited phase 1 of reopening the state’s economy this weekend.

“We are hopeful we can enter Phase 1 this weekend, however, please know the success we have had so far is due to the work that North Carolinians are doing to stay at home as much as they can, to sanitize and keep their physical distance from others,” Cooper said.

One place where the pandemic has been spreading in North Carolina is in congregate settings, where the social distancing is rarely an option and preexisting conditions put residents at greater risk for severe illness.

Case and deaths in North Carolina continue to be driven by outbreaks in congregate settings, including nursing homes and other types of long-term care and correctional facilities. More than 2,200 cases and 240 deaths have been in long-term care facilities. More than 1,000 cases and nine deaths have been at correctional facilities. The majority of the state’s deaths has been in these various types of congregate settings.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,734, Wake with 891, Durham with 767, Wayne with 685, Guilford with 443, Rowan with 392, Chatham with 383, Cabarrus with 314, Cumberland with 279 and Forsyth with 271. These 10 counties account for more than half of the cases statewide.

Avery County is the only county with no confirmed cases.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday on challenges the pandemic is creating for people struggling with substance addictions and those trying to treat them. Some programs have not been able to operate normally and others are struggling to adjust.

Post 59, 11:35 a.m., May 3, 2020

After big increases in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus among North Carolina residents over the last few days, Sunday brought a smaller but still substantial increase of 155 cases, bringing the total to 11,664, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS also announced just two additional deaths known to be from illness related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 422.

Hospitalizations have dropped in recent days and are down to 475 statewide, from a high reported total of 551 a few days earlier.

One additional county, Yancey, announced its first confirmed case Sunday. Avery County is now the last county with no confirmed cases.

The 15 counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,724, Wake with 874, Durham with 762, Wayne with 677, Guilford with 439, Rowan with 388, Chatham with 378, Cabarrus with 313, Cumberland with 276, Forsyth with 267, Union with 263, Randolph with 238, Orange with 226, Henderson with 201 and Robeson with 201.

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

Post 58, 12:05 p.m., May 2, 2020

An additional 585 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents brought the statewide total to 11,509 cases Saturday morning, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS also reported 21 more deaths known to be from corona-virus related illness, with a statewide death toll now at 420.

Hospitalizations in North Carolina were down Saturday, at 502.

Prisons and jails now have 999 cases and nine deaths. A judge ordered the state Friday to provide detailed information on steps being taken to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19 in prisons, Carolina Public Press reported late Friday. A lawsuit is seeking the release of many prisoners due to the pandemic.

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are tied to 2,184 cases and 233 deaths, in both staff and residents, though nearly all the deaths are residents. North Carolina released updated information on spread in these facilities late Friday, but reporting from a collaboration of news organizations including CPP has shown that the facilities and counties are not communicating consistently with each other and the state. More than half of the state’s total deaths are in these facilities.

Age is a huge factor in the lethality of the virus, with those ages 65 and older making up just 23% of cases in North Carolina, but 87% of deaths. Those under 50, on the other hand, make up 51% of cases but only 4% of deaths. COVID-19 frequently kills those who already have other serious health conditions, which are more frequent among older North Carolina residents.

The counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,699, Wake with 870, Durham with 750, Wayne with 674, Guilford with 437, Rowan with 388, Chatham with 375, Cabarrus with 310 and Cumberland with 275. Those nine counties make up more than half of the cases statewide.

The only counties without confirmed cases are Avery and Yancey, located on the state’s mountainous western border with Tennessee.

Several Western North Carolina counties are preparing for a second primary election to decide the Republican candidate for Congress in District 11, CPP reported late Friday. They are seeking to close some polling places and make other changes to adapt to the pandemic and allow social distancing during voting. The situation could be a preview of the challenges the entire state faces in November.

Post 57, 12:40 p.m., May 1, 2020

A major highway stretching from Boone to the beaches in North Carolina is U.S. 421. Unfortunately, 421 is also the number of additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus statewide Friday, bringing the total to 10,923, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state’s death toll also grew by double digits Friday, with 21 new cases, bringing that count to 399.

Test results have been coming back at a more rapid pace in recent days than previously, with more than 133,000 completed tests on North Carolina residents. Hospitalizations remain stable at 547.

[The latest: North Carolina coronavirus daily updates]

Counties with the largest numbers of known cases are Mecklenburg with 1,651, Wake with 839, Durham with 736, Wayne with 658, Guilford with 415, Rowan with 382, Chatham with 343, Cabarrus with 308, Cumberland with 256, Union with 254, Forsyth with 245, Orange with 219 and Randolph with 209. These 13 counties make up almost 60% of the cases statewide.

The only two counties without confirmed cases are Avery and Yancey.

Carolina Public Press reported Friday along with a collaboration of statewide newsrooms on inconsistencies in how long-term-care facilities and counties communicate with each other and the state about COVID-19 outbreaks. The state epidemiologist said he didn’t think keeping the public informed about nursing home outbreaks was a top priority.

CPP also reported on Gov. Roy Cooper’s statement Thursday that a minimal phase of reopening the state to commerce might begin next week. He said this depends on benchmarks that the state might be able to meet by this time.

Western North Carolina counties are preparing for a revote of the congressional District 11 Republican primary in June, but are making substantial adjustments due to the pandemic. The steps they are taking and challenges they will face could be a preview of what the whole state will face in November.

Post 56, 11:40 a.m., April 30, 2020

The biggest one-day increase in confirmed cases of new coronavirus among North Carolina residents came Thursday, as 568 additional positive tests for COVID-19 pushed the state’s total case count to 10,509, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

The increase came as the results of about 10,000 additional tests for the illness were completed. Overall, more than 128,000 tests for the virus have been completed on North Carolina residents.

The death toll also increased by 24 since Wednesday, with 378 North Carolina residents known to have died from coronavirus-related illness.

Major outbreaks at congregate living facilities continue to drive these increases. There have been more than 3,000 confirmed cases at long-term care facilities, correctional facilities and other types of congregate care settings. Deaths are especially high in this group, with 212, well above half of the deaths statewide.

Even though the illness tends to spread easily in the most densely populated areas, usually large cities, the smaller dense-population centers of congregate settings have proven to be the biggest area of vulnerability, hitting counties that otherwise are not densely populated and have few cases. Since many of these facilities are also home to people of advance age with serious health issues, the most vulnerable group to severe effects from COVID-19 if infected, the combination has been especially deadly.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,627, Wake with 821, Durham with 728, Wayne with 655, Rowan with 381, Guilford with 381, Chatham with 316, Cabarrus with 296, Union with 240 and Cumberland with 238. Those 10 counties make up more than half of the cases statewide.

The virus has been confirmed in residents of 98 of the state’s 100 counties. No new counties reported confirmed cases on Thursday. The only two counties without confirmed cases are Avery and Yancey, both located along the state’s rural western mountain border with Tennessee.

Carolina Public Press reported Thursday on an announcement by Gaston County commissioners that they were reopening their county’s economy. Despite language saying different things, one commissioner invited businesses to reopen. However, the governor warned that his executive order calling for people to stay-at-home remains in place and violations could result in arrests. The mayors of all cities and towns in Gaston County issued a statement rejecting the commissioners’ actions.

Truth delivered daily

CPP also reported Thursday on the state’s Help4NC hotline, which provides mental health counseling to people experiencing difficulty during the pandemic. Originally created in response to hurricanes, the program has been adapted to the current crisis.

Post 55, 12:05 p.m., April 29, 2020

Nearly 400 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents pushed the statewide total to 9,948 cases Wednesday morning, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

An additional 12 deaths from COVID-19-related illness raised that count to 354 across North Carolina. Tests have been completed on more than 118,000 residents.

After a slight decline in hospitalizations on Tuesday, 89 additional people were hospitalized Wednesday bringing the total to 551.

The virus also continues to spread into additional areas, with Hyde County in the east and Swain County in the west announcing their first confirmed cases.

The spread of COVID-19 in congregate settings continues to be a major factor in North Carolina, with more than 1,800 cases and 188 deaths associated with long-term care facilities and almost 1,000 cases and seven deaths associated with correctional facilities. The deaths from all categories of congregate living tracked by the state make up 55% of the coronavirus-related deaths statewide.

The problem of easy spread in congregate settings is especially pronounced in nursing homes, where the aging population is at increased risk of severe illness and death. In all settings, 87% of coronavirus-related deaths in North Carolina have been in patients ages 65 years old and older, even though they make up only 23% of cases.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases in their residents are Mecklenburg with 1,567, Wake with 788, Durham with 708, Wayne with 645, Rowan with 366, Guilford with 357, Chatham with 287 and Cabarrus with 267. These eight counties account for more than half of the cases in North Carolina.

With the first cases announced in Hyde and Swain counties, the only remaining counties with no confirmed cases are Avery and Yancey, both rural communities along the state’s central mountain border with Tennessee.

Carolina Public Press reported this morning on how much testing has been occurring in counties that did not report cases until recently or have had no confirmed cases at all. Most of these counties described ongoing testing, but one county did not want to answer questions.

CPP also reported on recruitment of medical sleuths to help the state trace the spread of infection between people who test positive and their contacts. This will be a key requirement for the state to conduct a testing surge ahead of potential reopening of the state’s economy.

Legal arguments before a Wake County superior court in a lawsuit seeking the release of large numbers of state prisoners were heard Tuesday, CPP reported Wednesday. The plaintiffs said releasing prisoners will save lives but the state said the action poses too much risk.


Post 54, 11:45 a.m., April 28, 2020

More than 400 additional confirmed cases of new coronavirus infections in North Carolina residents Tuesday pushed the statewide case total to 9,568, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The new cases are part of nearly 3,000 additional test results reported since Monday, with more than 112,000 tests completed on North Carolina residents in total.

Deaths from known coronavirus-related illness also increased substantially by 36 Tuesday, to total of 342 statewide.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

However, hospitalizations dropped off slightly and now stand at 463.

A key part of both the increase in cases and deaths is coming from congregate living settings, where the infection spreads easily. Nursing homes are especially hard hit because their aging and often sickly residents do not fare well with COVID-19. In North Carolina, 87% of deaths from the illness are in those 65-years-old and older, even though they account for just 24% of cases.

Known cases in long-term care facilities account for 1,777 cases and 180 deaths, with correctional facilities accounting for 950 cases and six deaths. Other types of congregate care facilities, such as homeless shelters and migrant labor farms, account for 62 cases and two deaths. Combined, these various types of congregate settings in North Carolina make up 29% of all cases and nearly 55% of all deaths. Of the 36 new deaths reported Tuesday, 29 were in congregate settings. It is unclear how many of these cases and deaths are in staff versus residents at the facilities.

Congregate cases are also driving several of the most rapidly growing county outbreaks, though some urban counties have outbreaks that are not related to congregate settings.

The counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,519, Wake with 769, Durham with 702, Wayne with 641, Rowan with 353, Guilford with 318, Chatham with 274 and Cabarrus with 258. These eight counties account for more than half of the state’s cases.

DHHS also announced the first confirmed case in Graham County on Tuesday. The rural mountain county, which has no hospital, had closed its borders earlier but loosened restrictions last week. There are now confirmed cases in 96 of the state’s 100 counties.

The only counties with out confirmed cases are Avery, Swain and Yancey, in the rural western mountains along the Tennessee state line and Hyde in the state’s rural coastal region.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday morning on newly available details of major outbreaks at long-term care facilities. CPP was also part of a legal coalition that pressured the state to release this information, which DHHS agreed to do on Monday.

The North Carolina General Assembly begins its session this week, but a joint report from CPP and Coastal Review Online on Tuesday showed that leaders do not expect a return to the same issues that led to a tense budget impasse last year. Instead, the economy and tax revenues are spiraling due to the pandemic. With less money to spend and thus no argument about where it should go, lawmakers are expected to focus on responding to the pandemic and shoring up the economy.

Post 53, 11:55 a.m., April 27, 2020

More than 300 additional confirmed cases of the new conornavirus in North Carolina residents Monday morning pushed the state’s total to 9,142 cases, according to the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

The new confirmed cases come as part of some 2,100 additional tests completed since Sunday, DHHS said. Nearly 110,000 tests have been completed so far.

Deaths from illness known to be related to COVID-19 also increased Monday to 306 in North Carolina. More than 50,000 have died nationwide. Hospitals across North Carolina are treating 473 patients with COVID-19, DHHS said.

Cases in congregate living settings including long-term care facilities and correctional facilities, continue to make up a large portion of the state’s cases and most of its deaths.

So far DHHS has been unwilling to release information on individual nursing homes and adult care homes with outbreaks or about the sizes of outbreaks – by the state’s definition they could be two people or 100, including staff and residents.

But in consultation with legal counsel for a coalition of media organizations including Carolina Public Press Monday morning, DHHS’s legal counsel said it will exercise the agency’s discretion to begin releasing this information later Monday and will issue similar guidance to local health departments.

Currently, DHHS reports outbreaks at 47 nursing homes and 19 additional residential care facilities in 32 counties affecting 1,623 people, plus 13 outbreaks at correctional facilities, affecting more than 843 people. Another 48 people are affected unspecified other types of congregate living facilities. Combined, these cases make up more than 27% of cases statewide.

Long-term care facilities represent 151 coronavirus-related deaths, with six at correctional facilities and two at unspecified other congregate living facilities. Combined this make up nearly 52% of all coronavirus-related deaths.

The high death rate in nursing homes may be in part because the virus is especially lethal among people over 65 years of age, who make up 86% of coronavirus related deaths in all settings in North Carolina, but just 24% of all cases. Nearly half of all cases in the state are in people under 50, but they make up only 4% of the deaths. The virus also appears to be more deadly in men, who make up 60% of the deaths in North Carolina, but less than half of the cases.

Possibly due to demographic factors, such as living in densely populated urban settings, the African American population of North Carolina is over-represented in case of infection, at about double the rate expected based on the size of the state’s black population. However, the virus appears to have been slightly less deadly so far among African Americans. Even so, because so many black residents are getting the illness, they make up 35% of those dying from COVID-19, despite being only about 21% of the state’s overall population.

Counties with the largest outbreaks Monday were Mecklenburg with 1,492, Wake with 671, Wayne with 635, Durham with 539, Rowan with 352, Guilford with 301, Chatham with 262, Cabarrus with 254 and Granville with 240. These nine counties represented more than half of the cases statewide.

Reporting its first confirmed case Monday was Camden County. Cases have been confirmed in 95 of the state’s 100 counties.

The only counties without confirmed cases Monday morning according to DHHS were Hyde in the rural coastal region and Avery, Yancey, Swain and Graham in the state’s rural mountain region bordering Tennessee.

Post 52, 11:40 a.m., April 26, 2020

With additional cases being reported and others being removed due to an error, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ calculation of the total number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus was in flux Sunday morning, but ultimately rose to 8,830, an increase of 288 from the revised total for Saturday.

Discovery of a significant reporting error by Vidant, a major health provider in Eastern North Carolina, forced the state to revise its Saturday case count downward by about 80 cases before adding the new cases on Sunday. DHHS said Vidant had mistakenly reported all tests as coming back positive for the infection before the mistake was detected.

Sunday’s numbers also brought another double-digit increase in the number of deaths from illness known to have been related to COVID-19, increasing by 10 to 299.

As of Sunday morning, nearly 108,000 tests have been completed on state residents, some 451 of whom are hospitalized with the infection across the state.

The numbers of cases in congregate-living facilities continues to fuel much of the increase in cases and deaths. Nearly 1,600 confirmed cases are at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. More than 700 cases are in jails and state and federal prisons.

At all forms of congregate facilities the state tracks, deaths known to be COVID-19-related total 155, more than half of all coronavirus-related deaths in North Carolina. And with no data on whether more than 2,000 patients who tested positive for the virus lived in congregate settings, these facilities likely make up an even greater percentage of the state’s cases and deaths.

The prevalence of the illness in nursing homes has only increased the percentage of deaths in those 65-years-old and older, who account for 85% of all deaths in North Carolina. Still, only about a quarter of all cases in the state come from this upper age range, demonstrating a much higher mortality rate than in other age brackets. This is similar to the patterns that have been seen elsewhere.

The illness also seems to be more deadly in men, who are just under half of those infected, but make up 60% of those dying from the virus in North Carolina.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,482, Wake with 663, Wayne with 630, Durham with 535, Rowan with 346, Guilford with 299, Cabarrus with 250 and Chatham with 240. These eight counties make up more than half of the state’s cases.

Cases have been confirmed in 94 of 100 counties, with a first case credited to a resident of Hyde County on Saturday being removed from the count Sunday due to the reporting error by Vidant.

The six counties with no confirmed cases include Graham, Swain, Yancey and Avery along the state’s rural and mountainous western border with Tennessee, and Hyde and Camden in the rural northeastern coastal region.

Post 51, 11:47 a.m., April 25, 2020

Editor’s note: The total reported in this update was affected by a health provider’s error in reporting tests to DHHS, which the state reported Sunday morning. The revised total of cases for Saturday was 8,542. The report of the first case in Hyde County was also part of this error. The text below remains as it was before this error was announced. The situation is explained in more detail in the April 26 update.

North Carolina health officials added its largest daily increase of lab-confirmed novel coronavirus cases to date, with an additional 571 residents testing positive, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

That increase brings the total to 8,623 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The state also reported another 20 North Carolinians have died who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. DHHS reports the total lab-confirmed death toll is now at 289.

Of those deaths, more than half, or 148, have occurred in congregate care living arrangements such as jails, prisons, nursing homes and other residential care facilities.

Those most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19 include people who live in nursing homes and residential care facilities. Those with outbreaks now number 64. While the state reports which counties they are located in, the state has so far refused to name which facilities have outbreaks.

The state may soon face a legal challenge over its refusal to provide this information, which legal experts have said is a public record and public health experts in North Carolina and elsewhere have said is essential to tracking the spread of the pandemic.

Two additional counties are now reporting residents who have tested positive for the virus — Hyde and Madison — with one lab-confirmed COVID-19 case each.

While another 4,600 more residents have been tested for the disease as of Saturday morning, that is short of a benchmark state leaders say is necessary before considering loosening the restrictions placed on residents and businesses last month. Thursday Gov. Roy Cooper and DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the number of daily tests would have to rise to at least 5,000 to 7,000 per day, along with a number of other improvements.

Counties with the most cases are Mecklenburg with 1,450, Wake with 645, Wayne with 618, Durham with 517, Rowan with 342, Guilford with 293, Cabarrus with 247, Chatham with 211. These eight counties make up more than half of the state’s cases.

The virus has now been confirmed in 95 of the state’s 100 counties. Those so far reporting no positive cases are Camden in the state’s rural northeastern region and Avery, Graham, Swain and Yancey, in the state’s rural mountain region along the Tennessee state line.

CPP reported Friday afternoon on Cooper’s announcement to close K-12 schools for the rest of the school year. Whether they reopen in the fall depends on how well the state does in controlling the spread of COVID-19. 

Thursday state leaders announced a tiered approach with measurable benchmarks that must be met before the governor allows businesses to gradually reopen. The benchmarks include a reliable supply of personal protective equipment like masks and gowns for health care workers, a decline or flattening of lab-confirmed cases and a decline in hospitalizations.

Post 50, 11:25 a.m., April 24, 2020

More than 400 new confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents pushed the statewide count to 8,052 cases Friday morning, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Deaths also increased with 16 reported since Thursday, bringing the state’s total of known deaths from coronavirus-related illness to 269.

More than 100,000 state residents have now had completed tests for the virus. Nearly 500 are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 infections.

Nearly half of the state’s deaths and about a quarter of its cases are in congregate living settings, including nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, county jails and state and federal prisons.

The actual numbers of deaths and cases with ties to congregate living may be much greater, since data on whether the patient resided in such a setting was not gathered on about 2,400 of the people who tested positive.

As of Friday, DHHS reported outbreaks at 57 long-term care facilities in 27 counties, but has not identified the facilities or said how large each outbreak is. A collaborative group of investigate news organizations, including Carolina Public Press, released a report late Thursday on attempts to survey county health departments and nursing homes to determine more about the size and specific locations of outbreaks. While many facilities and county officials provided helpful information, others refused.

The state may soon face a legal challenge over its refusal to provide this information, which legal experts have said is a public record and public health experts in North Carolina and elsewhere have said is essential to tracking the spread of the pandemic.

The counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,407, Wake with 633, Wayne with 603, Durham with 494, Rowan with 323, Guilford with 272, Cabarrus with 239, Orange with 200. These eight counties make up more than half of the state’s cases.

While the virus has been confirmed in residents of 93 of the state’s 100 counties, seven counties still have not reported any confirmed cases. These include two counties, Hyde and Camden, in the state’s rural northeastern region, and five counties, Avery, Graham, Madison, Swain, and Yancey, in the state’s rural mountain region along the Tennessee state line.

CPP reported Friday that Gov. Roy Cooper has unveiled a plan for a phased reopening of the state’s economy based on meeting specific benchmarks. But several preconditions required to reach the first benchmark are still out of reach, especially with an accelerating number of new confirmed cases each day.

CPP also reported Friday on a fund to provide benefits to the families of medical professionals who die in the line of duty during the pandemic.

Post 49, 11:40 a.m., April 23, 2020

Amid some calls for the state to end social-distancing measures, the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina grew by 388 Thursday morning, one of the one-day largest increases so far, as the state’s total count climbed to 7,608, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Deaths also increased by 11, bringing the state’s total number of people known to have died from coronavirus-related illness to 253.

The increase in cases may be due to a large increase in test results, which climbed by nearly 6,000 since Wednesday. More than 96,000 tests have been completed on state residents, DHHS said.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

About 50 additional state residents are hospitalized with the infection since Wednesday, with nearly 500 total in hospitals.

Infections continue to spread in congregate care settings, including long-term care facilities, jails and prisons.

DHHS is tracking 54 outbreaks of two or more residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in 27 counties, but has declined to say which facilities are affected or how large these outbreaks are.

At least 12 outbreaks have taken place at county jails and state and federal prisons in 12 counties. Carolina Public Press reported Thursday on the death of an inmate at a state prison in Pender County. A massive outbreak at a Wayne County state prison includes more than 400 confirmed cases.

Counties with the largest numbers of cases are Mecklenburg with 1,362, Wake with 626, Wayne with 596, Durham with 459, Rowan with 290, Guilford with 240 and Cabarrus with 231. These seven counties account for half of the cases statewide.

Cases have been confirmed in 93 of the state’s 100 counties, but still have not shown up in testing from seven rural counties – Avery, Graham, Madison and Swain on the Tennessee line, plus Hyde and Camden in the northeastern coastal region.

CPP reported Thursday on the attention legislative committees are giving to increasing internet access as a result of the issues the pandemic has brought to light. Schools have had to come up with innovative solutions to extend Wi-Fi service to more homes.

Legislators face fundamental disagreements about whether high-speed internet access is an optional service or a necessary infrastructure.

CPP also reported Thursday on North Carolina’s participation in a federal relief program that will provide money to families of schoolchildren who were eligible for free and reduced lunches.


Post 48, 11:55 a.m., April 22, 2020

An increase of 269 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents since Tuesday brought the statewide total to 7,220 confirmed cases, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Wednesday morning.

Deaths also from known coronavirus-related illness also increased statewide by 29 cases to 242 total, DHHS said.

More than 90,000 tests for the virus have been completed in North Carolina. More than 430 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.

Counties with the largest outbreaks include Mecklenburg with 1,284, Wake with 616, Wayne with 585, Durham with 438, Rowan with 269, Cabarrus with 228 and Guilford with 226. These seven counties account or more than half of the state’s confirmed cases.

This virus has been confirmed in 93 of the state’s 100 counties, a number that has not grown substantially in days. The remaining counties without cases include Avery, Graham, Madison and Swain along the state’s rural western mountain border with Tennessee and Hyde and Camden in the state’s rural northeastern coastal region.

The pandemic has brought financial hardship to many North Carolina residents, with businesses reducing production and unable to keep workers fully employed.

Furloughed workers who receive severance payments from their employers will now be eligible for unemployment benefits, according to a new executive order signed by Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday.

The number of initial unemployment claims has skyrocketed to nearly 690,000 North Carolinians since mid-March. Most of those workers have said they are unable to find work due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As of Monday, more than $580 million has been paid to about 257,000 of those who filed claims.

An investigative collaboration by six North Carolina news organizations, including Carolina Public Press, reported Wednesday on initial findings from a review of death certificates across the state. Many individuals have been dying with symptoms identical to those for whom coronavirus-related illness was a reported factor, but their death records don’t indicate whether they were tested. The group also found inconsistency across the state in how COVID-19 was credited on death certificates and whether individuals were included in the DHHS count of deaths. There was also inconsistency in which counties provided the open records requested for this project and which ones withheld these records, sometimes based on orders from DHHS.

Carolina Public Press also reported Wednesday on the financial straits of the state’s hospitals, especially the 49 hospitals in rural areas. Due to lost revenues from canceled elective procedures during the pandemic, hospitals are reporting billions in losses. In order to offset those losses partially, they are seeking a nearly $500 million bailout from federal relief funds the state is due to receive.


Post 47, 11:50 a.m., April 21, 2020

The death toll from known coronavirus-related illness in North Carolina passed 200 Tuesday morning, with new numbers the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released.

An additional 34 deaths since Monday brought the total to 213.

The number of confirmed cases also rose again Tuesday, though at a slower pace than in some other recent days. This may be due to the ebb and flow of returned test results, rather than the actual spread of the virus. The state has limited testing for the virus due to shortages of testing supplies and personal protective equipment for medical professionals. As a result, the confirmed cases are thought to represent only a fraction of the cases across North Carolina.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

The confirmed case total climbed by 186 on Tuesday, to 6,951. DHHS reports that more than 83,000 tests have been completed statewide.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infections also increased by 51 Tuesday to 427.

Congregate living facilities continue to be a focus of concern in North Carolina. Nearly 2,000 of the state’s confirmed cases are at long-term care facilities and more than 600 are at jails and prisons. Long-term care facilities account for 89 deaths from coronavirus-related illness and jails and prisons account for five.

This problem is potentially even larger, since data on whether confirmed cases involve a congregate living setting are missing for more than 2,000 of the state’s cases.

DHHS has reported 52 outbreaks of two or more cases at long-term care facilities but not identified the specific facilities or said how many people are involved in each outbreak. Some counties have identified specific facilities and the size of outbreaks, showing that some involve large numbers of people.

There are 11 known outbreaks at jails and prisons across North Carolina.

The counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are  Mecklenburg with 1,245, Wake with 611, Wayne with 581, Durham with 398, Rowan with 254, Cabarrus with 216, Guilford with 190, Orange with 189. These eight counties account for more than half of the state’s cases.

Confirmed cases have been reported in 93 of the state’s 100 counties, and there has been no reported spread into additional counties in several days.

Counties that do not have any confirmed cases so far include Avery, Graham, Madison, Swain and Yancey in the western mountains and Camden and Hyde near the state’s northeastern coast.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday on measures the state has taken as a result of the major outbreak at the Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro. A prison in Johnston County was closed Monday so that staff could be transferred to assist at Neuse. A lawsuit seeking the release of large numbers of North Carolina inmates due to the health crisis was refiled in lower court Monday after the state Supreme Court dismissed it without prejudice on Friday for having been filed directly with the high court.

CPP also reported Tuesday on a virtual forum call that Mission Health conducted Monday evening to reassure its Western North Carolina customer base that it is prepared to handle the pandemic.

Post 46, 11:45 a.m., April 20, 2020

Confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents now total 6,764, an increase of 271 cases since Sunday, according to new numbers that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released Monday morning.

An additional seven deaths since Sunday brought the statewide death total from illness known to be related to the disease to 179.

There has been a drop in hospitalizations since Sunday, with 373 North Carolina residents now hospitalized.

Congregate living situations continue to account for a huge portion of cases. Although DHHS has resisted leaving a breakdown by individual outbreaks, the agency now reports that at least 1,640 cases statewide, roughly 24% of the total, are in congregate settings, including nursing homes, adult care homes, prisons and jails. However, the number may be much larger, since no data on whether the person is in congregate living is available for more than 2,000 people, about a third of those who have tested positive in North Carolina, according to DHHS statistics.

The role of congregate living facilities in deaths is even more dramatic with 73 out of the 179 known coronavirus-related deaths occurring in congregate care residents, or at least 40% of the known deaths related to the illness. With 85% of coronavirus-related deaths in North Carolina occurring in those 65 and older, the aging populations at many congregate facilities may be especially vulnerable to severe and potentially deadly illness if infected.

The largest numbers of cases in North Carolina residents by county were in Mecklenburg with 1,210, Wake with 599, Wayne with 572, Durham with 392, Rowan with 250, Cabarrus with 212 and Orange with 187. These seven counties represent more than half of the cases statewide. Wayne County has risen dramatically on the list in recent days due to a major outbreak at the Neuse Correctional Institution, a state prison.

The number of counties with confirmed coronavirus cases has been stable for several days at 93 out of 100 and no new counties reported cases Monday.

The only remaining counties without cases are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Madison, Swain and Yancey. Two of these are located in the rural northeastern coastal region and the rest are located in the rural western mountains along the Tennessee state line.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday on a new emergency response platform being launched in Buncombe County after being piloted by the city of Asheville last year. Although planned before the health crisis, the program will allow those seeking help to communicate about special conditions, including whether anyone at a site is positive for the coronavirus or at high risk for the virus. The opt-in program is available for other local jurisdictions to adapt for their own use as well.

Post 45, 11:30 a.m., April 19, 2020

Updated data provided Sunday morning by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services showed an increase in confirmed cases of the new coronavirus by 353 people, to a total of 6,493 North Carolina residents. Eight additional deaths were attributed to coronavirus-related illness, bringing the statewide total to 172.

As of Sunday morning, 465 people were hospitalized, an increase of 77 overnight.

The number of completed laboratory tests of coronavirus in North Carolina reached 78,772, an increase of 2,561. The number of completed tests reflects those from the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial labs.

Most of the state’s 100 counties report confirmed cases in residents. The only counties without a confirmed case remain Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Madison, Swain and Yancey.

The state also reported that there are now 61 “ongoing outbreaks” in congregate care facilities in 35 counties across the state. State officials define an outbreak as two or more laboratory-confirmed tests. Congregate care facilities include nursing homes, group homes and jails and prisons.

On Saturday, the (Raleigh) News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer published Life Disrupted: 24 hours of coronavirus in North Carolina, a look at how more than 24 of the states’ residents lives have and haven’t changed in recent weeks due to the coronavirus.

WRAL also reported that a group called Reopen NC plans to hold weekly protests in North Carolina until businesses reopen. The group has nearly 58,000 members on Facebook.

WRAL said that, in a statement sent to WRAL News, the group’s lawyer said, “My clients are planning to reconvene their protest of the quarantine orders this Tuesday, April 21, 2020, and every Tuesday thereafter, until such time as they conclude that their concerns have been addressed.”

Post 44, 1 p.m., April 18, 2020

North Carolina counts of those with confirmed cases of the new coronavirus increased by 281 people overnight, to a total of 6,140 known cases across 93 of the state’s 100 counties. The only counties with no confirmed cases remain Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Madison, Swain and Yancey.

Newly reported deaths from coronavirus-related illness increased by 12, to 164 North Carolina residents. As of Saturday morning, 388 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state agency also reported that 76,211 tests have been completed, an increase of 3,211 since Friday.

Friday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper’s office announced an initiative aimed to understand how widespread COVID-19 cases with mild or no symptoms are in North Carolina. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services plans to work with UNC Chapel Hill, Duke University and East Carolina University in a collaboration focused on Chatham, Pitt and Cabarrus counties. According to a release from Cooper’s office, participants will be recruited across different populations and monitored over several months to understand the spread of the virus.

Later that day, officials with the N.C. Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice said that more than 250 inmates at the Neuse Correctional Facility, located in Goldsboro in Wayne County, had tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said 98% of the cases were asymptomatic, or showed no visible symptoms of the illness.

Carolina Public Press reported Friday morning on the progress of a lawsuit to release thousands of state prisoners in an effort to prevent or reduce such outbreaks.

Cooper also announced the first meeting Friday of a task force created to manage a planned surge in COVID-19 testing, which he said is a prerequisite to the eventual reopening of the state’s economy.

However, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the shortage of personal protective equipment has to be resolved before this surge can take place.

Asked during a Friday media access event about whether counties should be able to manage their own restrictions and reopen when they want, Cooper said letting counties impose stricter measures is reasonable, but the state’s guidelines must be the “floor.”

However, he said he was open to setting up a regional strategy for reopening the state economy, potentially with groups of counties facing different sets of restrictions than others. Regardless, both Cooper and Cohen stressed Friday that the state will not be ready to relax emergency measures for some time.

Meanwhile, at least one North Carolina county plans to launch a task force to study how to reopen businesses when restrictions are loosened. The Hendersonville Lightning reported Friday that the the Henderson County Board of Commissioners special subcommittee on post-emergency recovery will convenes for the first time at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Post 43, 12 p.m., April 17, 2020

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced an additional 394 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents Friday morning, marking the fastest growth so far in confirmation of the infection’s spread in North Carolina and bringing the statewide case total to 5,859.

Newly reported deaths from coronavirus-related illness increased by 21 since Thursday, to 152.

More than 400 state residents are hospitalized with COVID-19 and nearly 73,000 tests have been completed statewide, with many additional tests awaiting results.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said at a press conference Thursday that the state will consider new presidential guidelines for gradual reopening in coming weeks, but having better testing and tracking in place will be a prerequisite. The state has previously had to reduce the amount of testing due to the lack of personal protective equipment for medical professionals. Once enough supplies are in place to expand testing, Cohen said she favors a strategy of using a mix of different COVID-19 tests as the state goes forward.

Previously noted trends of the death toll being much greater among seniors and among men in North Carolina continue with the latest increase in cases and deaths. The trend of African Americans disproportionately becoming infected also continues. These state trends are similar to what’s being seen nationally.

Cases in congregate care facilities, including adult-care homes, nursing homes, county jails and state and federal prisons continue to skyrocket, with outbreaks of two or more residents or staff at 51 facilities across 30 counties. Although counties have released some detailed information about specific outbreaks, DHHS officials have declined to say how big outbreaks are at nongovernmental facilities, which sites are affected and what percentage of the total cases in North Carolina are represented by these outbreaks.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases, according to DHHS numbers released Friday, are Mecklenburg with 1,136, Wake with 566, Wayne with 239, Rowan with 220, Cabarrus with 201, Orange with 175 and Guilford with 162. These seven counties represent more than half of the cases statewide.

No additional counties reported new cases Friday and DHHS reports that confirmed cases now include residents of 93 of the state’s 100 counties.

The only counties with no confirmed cases remain Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Madison, Swain and Yancey.

Wayne County cases jumped dramatically this week, due in large part to a major outbreak at the Neuse Correctional Institutional in Goldsboro, with more than 80 inmates and staff testing positive for COVID-19. Carolina Public Press reported Friday morning on the progress of a lawsuit to release thousands of state prisoners in an effort to prevent such outbreaks.

The coalition of civil rights groups and criminal justice reform groups suing the state, said in a filing this week that the state’s preferred method of gradually allowing a few hundred prisoners into community confinement, such as wearing ankle monitors, is too slow and too small to protect public health. But state officials say the courts shouldn’t interfere with their discretion in running the prisons.

CPP also reported Friday on the continued innovation at major grocery chains across North Carolina that have implemented many extra measures to protect against the disease and attempt to meet shifting consumer demands during the pandemic.

They are making further mandatory adjustments this week as the result of an executive order that went into effect Monday.

Post 42, 12 p.m., April 16, 2020

After a relative lull in the increase of confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina residents on Wednesday, new numbers Thursday unfortunately showed a renewed surge in new cases and deaths.

With 342 additional cases since Wednesday, the state’s total cases stands at 5,465 Thursday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. An additional 14 deaths from known coronavirus-related illness brought the state’s total to 131.

More than 450 North Carolina residents with confirmed infections are hospitalized and nearly 71,000 tests for the virus have been completed.

The surge in cases may be tied to reported large outbreaks at long-term care facilities, which tend to have dense populations of residents over 65 years of age, a known risk factor for severe illness from COVID-19. People in this age range now account for 27% of the state’s cases but 84% of deaths. Those between 25 and 64 make up 65% of cases but just 16% of deaths. There have been few cases and no deaths attributed to COVID-19 in North Carolina among those under 25 years old.

The virus continues to be most lethal in North Carolina men, though women make up a greater percentage of cases. African Americans are disproportionately represented among those infected with the virus in North Carolina, which is also true across the United States.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 1,084, Wake with 552, Durham with 350, Rowan with 214, Cabarrus with 198, Orange with 172, Guilford with 154 and Union with 129. These eight counties make up more than half of the state’s cases.

DHHS reported Thursday morning that the virus is now present in 94 counties, which would be an increase of one county from Wednesday. However, DHHS’s breakdown of counties continues to show confirmed cases in just 93 of the state’s 100 counties, so it is unclear whether it has spread to another county.

Carolina Public Press published an interview Thursday with Mary Wyatt, who lost her husband to COVID-19 and has also tested positive for the infection herself. The resident of Murphy talked about her experience, saying the virus is “like having a bullet shot at you.” She also warns against lifting precautionary measures too soon.

CPP also reported Thursday on concerns from a nuclear watchdog group about how nuclear waste from Duke Energy’s three North Carolina plants is being stored and moved during the health crisis. Duke says it has taken extra steps to reduce risks, including checking staff temperatures regularly. But the watchdog group questions whether the steps taken are sufficient.

Post 41, 11:45 a.m., April 15

The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus continues to grow in North Carolina with new state numbers released Wednesday morning, but at a notably slower rate than in recent days.

An additional 99 new cases in state residents brought the statewide case total to 5,123, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

After a surge of deaths from illness related to COVID-19 on Tuesday, only nine additional deaths were reported in Wednesday’s count, bringing the statewide total to 117.

More than 430 residents are hospitalized with coronavirus across the state and nearly 68,000 tests for the infection have been completed.

Adults ages 65 and older account for 80% of the deaths but just 26% of the cases in North Carolina.

There have been no deaths in people under 25 and just 7% of the state’s deaths are in those under 50, even though they account for 46% of the state’s cases.

Women in North Carolina appear to be more susceptible to infection, with men only accounting for 44% of the cases. But men are dying at a much higher rate, accounting for 69% of deaths.

Infection rates among African Americans continues to be high, accounting for 38% of North Carolina cases, even though African Americans make up only about 21% of the state’s population. Although African Americans who become infected do not appear to be dying at a greater rate than other groups who become infected, the greater rate of infection is resulting in a disproportionate number of deaths among African Americans than other groups, with 40 of the state’s 117 deaths being in black residents.

There have been a very small number of confirmed COVID-19-illness-related deaths in groups other than whites and African Americans, so death rates remain unclear among these groups.

One factor in spreading infections appears to be congregate living facilities, including long-term care facilities and correctional facilities. The state has reported 45 outbreaks of two cases or more at facilities in 28 counties. However, North Carolina has not released the legally public records to show which facilities have outbreaks of which sizes. At a press conference Tuesday, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the department had decided to “strike a balance” between the privacy of facilities and public health in not releasing that information.

Carolina Public Press reported last week on a history of problematic inspections at several long-term care facilities reporting major outbreaks then, in Henderson, Northampton, Moore and Orange counties. Since that time, an explosion of new cases in Cabarrus and Rowan counties has been credited to long-term care facilities in those counties, catapulting them into the top tier of counties with confirmed cases.

State prison officials face a lawsuit from civil rights groups calling on them to release several thousand prisoners at high risk for illness, but so far have resisted calls from these groups and public health experts to do this. They did announce a more limited process Monday of transferring about 500 prisoners to community-based programs, such as wearing electronic monitoring devices.

Counties with the most cases as of Wednesday morning are Mecklenburg with 1,015, Wake with 510, Durham with 330, Rowan with 206, Cabarrus with 191, Orange with 161 and Guilford with 149. Those seven counties account for more than half of the confirmed cases among North Carolina residents.

No additional counties reported new cases on Wednesday and the virus has been confirmed in residents of 93 of the state’s 100 counties.

Counties without any confirmed cases so far are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Madison, Swain and Yancey. Camden and Hyde are in the rural northeastern coastal region of the state, while the others are rural communities on the state’s western border with Tennessee.

CPP reported Wednesday on the difficult situation facing cinemas. The Cinemark chain, with hundreds of employees across the state, has said it will not reopen those North Carolina locations. One of the last drive-in theaters in the state, in Kings Mountain, still hopes to reopen but faced a devastating loss with the destruction of a new screen during severe storms over the weekend.

CPP also took at a look at how Jackson County is handling the crisis. The first two cases in permanent residents there were confirmed this week, with two part-time residents already recuperating in Jackson County. Government and health officials there emphasis the value of continued compliance with emergency measures to limit the spread of the virus.

Post 40, 12:30 p.m., April 14

With 208 additional confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in North Carolina on Tuesday morning, the total number of cases in state residents stands at 5,024, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

An additional 27 deaths reported in North Carolina since Monday brought the state’s total of known deaths from illness related to the coronavirus to 108.

More than 400 North Carolina residents are hospitalized with COVID-19-related illness. More than 65,000 tests for the virus have been completed statewide, according to available data.

Counties with the largest number of cases are Mecklenburg with 993, Wake with 501, Durham with 297, Rowan with 201, Cabarrus with 190, Orange with 155, Guilford with 137 and Forsyth with 121. These eight counties account for more than half of the cases in the state.

Tyrrell County reported its first two confirmed cases on Tuesday. As a result, the virus is present in at least 93 of the state’s 100 counties.

The seven counties that have not reported any cases so far are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Madison, Swain and Yancey. Hyde and Camden are rural areas near the state’s northeastern coast. The others are rural mountain counties on the Tennessee state line.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday morning on the effect of the pandemic on state parks and other public lands. Overcrowding occurred early on during the crisis, but many public lands have since closed to the public.

CPP also reported on schools in North Carolina that have put their classroom 3D printers to use in creating protective face shields for medical providers.

Post 39, 11:55 a.m., April 13

An additional 296 confirmed cases of coronavirus among North Carolina residents brings the statewide total to 4,816 cases, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Monday morning.

Five more deaths since Sunday bring the statewide death toll to 86 from illness known to be related to COVID-19, DHHS said. More than 300 state residents remain hospitalized and more than 60,000 tests for the virus have been completed in North Carolina.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

Counties with the most confirmed cases include Mecklenburg with 970, Wake with 476, Durham with 287, Rowan with 204, Cabarrus with 165, Orange with 151, Guilford with 138 and Forsyth with 117. These eight counties account for more than half of the confirmed cases in state residents.

Reporting its first two cases in permanent residents on Monday was Jackson County. The county has previously reported cases in nonresidents living there, but these don’t count toward state or local totals under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s system.

There are now just eight counties with no confirmed cases in their residents — Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Madison, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey. These are all rural mountain or rural coastal counties.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday on efforts by many North Carolina universities and colleges, both private and public, to refund fees for room and board to students for the spring 2020 semester. Most schools went to remote learning, after the start of the health crisis in mid-March. Several colleges have developed a plan, while others are still trying to work out details of how it will work.

CPP also reported on the challenges farmers face as markets they once relied on are closed. Mountain farmers are being offered some help by a nonprofit agency that has developed a relief fund and has organized a weekly farmers market that incorporates social distancing.


Post 38, 11:55 a.m., April 12

More than 200 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in North Carolina residents were announced Sunday morning by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, bringing the statewide total to 4,520 cases.

An additional death was also reported, with 81 known deaths from coronavirus-related illness in North Carolina. Some 331 state residents are hospitalized due to COVID-19. More than 62,000 tests for coronavirus have been completed on state residents.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

There has been a slight statistical shift in the age ranges of who is testing positive for COVID-19 in North Carolina in recent days, with residents ages 50 and older now a slight majority. This population range is much more susceptible to severe illness, accounting for 92% of the deaths in North Carolina. Most of those are occurring in the oldest age group, those 65 and older.

There has also been a increased trend of women contracting the illness at a greater rate than men, but with men continuing to account for 70% of the deaths in North Carolina.

The trend of minorities contracting COVID-19 in North Carolina at a greater rate than whites has also continued, but among those who do become infected, whites appear to be dying at a slightly higher rate.

Counties with the largest number of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 954, Wake with 470, Durham with 278, Orange with 150, Guilford with 135, Cabarrus with 117, Forsyth with 114 and Rowan with 111. These eight counties account for the majority of cases in the state.

No additional counties reported their first cases Sunday morning and the virus has been reported in 91 of 100 counties.

Counties that have no confirmed cases include Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Madison, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey. These are all rural mountain or rural coastal counties.

Post 37, 12:15 p.m., April 11

More than 300 additional confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents were added to state official totals Saturday morning, bringing the count to 4,312.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also reported six additional deaths of North Carolina residents from illness known to be related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 80. Currently hospitalized patients who have been confirmed for coronavirus include 362 North Carolina residents, DHHS said.

DHHS said more than 60,000 tests for coronavirus have been completed on North Carolina residents.

A significant factor in the spread of the illness has been congregate living establishments where social distancing is difficult. DHHS is not releasing information about the size of outbreaks, but reports 32 outbreaks of at least two cases in residents and staff at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across 24 counties.

Carolina Public Press reported earlier this week on major outbreaks of more than 20 cases each at four facilities in Henderson, Northampton, Moore and Orange counties, all of which had troubled recent inspection records. Pine Forest Rest Home in Northampton County, for example, was specifically cited last year for failing to comply with U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines to prevent infection, when dealing with a patient facing a severe colon infection.

A different category of congregate living facilities includes jails and prisons. DHHS reports five outbreaks at such facilities in Greene, Halifax, Johnston and Wayne counties, plus Granville County where an outbreak at the federal prison in Butner is the largest at any federal prison in the United States. CPP reported earlier this week that several rights groups have filed a lawsuit to seek the release of many low-level North Carolina offenders with elevated risk of severe illness.

Counties with the most confirmed cases in residents as of Saturday morning were Mecklenburg with 935, Wake with 424, Durham with 275, Orange with 141, Guilford with 134, Forsyth with 112, Cabarrus with 107, Rowan with 105 and Union with 101. These nine counties account for more than half of cases in North Carolina.

No new counties reported cases on Saturday. The virus has previously been confirmed in residents of 91 of the state’s 100 counties. The remaining counties without confirmed cases are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Madison, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey. These are all rural mountain or rural coastal counties.

Post 36, 12:15 p.m., April 10

An increase of 257 confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina residents since Thursday brought the statewide total to 3,908 cases Friday morning, according to numbers released by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

An additional nine deaths since Thursday brought the statewide coronavirus-related death toll to 74, DHHS said. More than 400 North Carolina residents are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19.

DHHS reports that at least 57,645 tests for the infection have been completed statewide. Additional tests are awaiting results.

The disparity in death rates for older North Carolina residents continues. Although only 22% of cases are in people 65 years old or older, they account for 82% of coronavirus-related deaths. In contrast, 50% of all cases are in people 49 years old or younger, but just 6% of the deaths are in this group. In fact none of North Carolina’s known coronavirus-related deaths so far have been in patients younger than 25.

Gender is also a factor exhibiting disparity. Although men appear less likely to become infected, or at least to be tested and have had a positive test result returned, they account for 72 percent of the deaths that have been identified as coronavirus-related.

Early deaths in North Carolina had been predominantly among white residents, but as the toll has risen, African Americans are dying at about the same rate as others who have become infected.

However, African Americans are becoming infected at a rate out of proportion to their numbers in the population.

North Carolina’s population is roughly 21 percent African American, according to Census estimates, but 39% of COVID-19 cases are among African Americans. This is similar to the trends being seen in other parts of the United States. It may be due to the virus’ intense spread in densely populated areas in cities, which are often home to many African Americans.

Counties with the largest numbers of confirmed cases among their residents in North Carolina are generally the most densely populated counties, while counties with less population density generally have fewer cases. The exceptions tend to be in small to midsize counties like Northampton, Moore, Orange and Henderson, where an outbreak at a densely populated long-term care facility makes up a large share of the cases in that county.

Counties with the most cases in North Carolina as of Friday morning were Mecklenburg with 906, Wake with 391, Durham with 259, Guilford with 127, Forsyth with 111, Orange with 104 and Union with 100. These seven counties make up more than half of the cases in the state.

No additional counties reported first cases on Friday.

The remaining counties without confirmed cases are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Madison, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey. These are all rural mountain or rural coastal counties.

Carolina Public Press reported Friday on a new executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper that will set maximum capacity limits for retailers, as well as mandate space markings and frequent cleaning. After 5 p.m. Monday, violations will result in misdemeanor charges. At a press conference Thursday, Cooper also announced new mandatory reporting and protective measures for long-term care facilities that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday. The governor also called for North Carolina residents to observe the Easter and Passover holidays remotely due to health concerns.

CPP also reported Friday on frustrations that North Carolina small businesses have experienced with the new SBA Payroll Protection Program. Glitches have interfered with businesses seeking to apply. Some business owners question why the program doesn’t consider the plight of businesses that are on reduced staff due to mandatory social-distancing closures or conversions to take-out service.

A collaboration of six news organizations including CPP released a report Friday on the state’s failure to provide as much detailed information about the pandemic in a timely manner as some other states. The group also reported on the state’s refusal to provide many public records, often citing objections that media lawyers say are nonsensical. At other times, state agencies have simply not acknowledged public records requests.

Macon County, a small mountain community on the Georgia line, reported its first coronavirus-related death earlier this week, CPP reported Friday. Public officials there are warning that they will vigorously enforce strict local measures, including bans on short-term rentals, intended to combat coronavirus.

Post 35, April 9, 11:50 a.m.

Confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in North Carolina residents increased by 225 in new numbers released Thursday morning by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, bringing the statewide official tally to 3,651.

Deaths of North Carolina residents due to coronavirus-related illness now stand at 65, an increase of 12 since Wednesday. Almost 400 residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, DHHS said.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

In all, the state reports completion of 47,809 tests for the illness, though not all negative tests by private labs have been reported. An unknown number of tests are awaiting results.

Counties with the most residents who have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 include Mecklenburg with 861, Wake with 371, Durham with 243, Guilford with 125, Forsyth with 105, Orange with 98 and Union with 93. These seven counties account for more than half of the cases statewide.

Jones County reported its first confirmed case Thursday, so that 91 out of 100 counties now have confirmed cases in their residents.

The counties without confirmed cases are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Madison, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey. These are all rural mountain or rural coastal counties.

However, this does not include cases of temporary or part-time residents of some counties who have tested positive. Jackson County, for instance, has reported confirmed cases in at least two part-time residents.

Carolina Public Press reported Thursday morning on major outbreaks at four long-term care facilities located in Henderson, Northampton, Moore and Orange counties. A review of the inspection reports at the facilities from the last year found deficiencies at each, including failure to follow CDC guidelines, prolonged bedbug infestation, improper tracking of patient data, improper food storage and failure to report a sexual abuse allegation to law enforcement.

CPP also reported Thursday on a lawsuit from civil rights organizations that want a substantial number of state prisoners released due to conditions favoring the spread of the disease in most prisons. The District Attorney in Durham announced Wednesday that she back the release of several prisoners with convictions in her county, due to concerns about the illness.

Gov. Roy Cooper issued a new executive order Wednesday to provide greater flexibility to medical facilities dealing in preparing to handle the pandemic, including adding more beds, staff and equipment, CPP reported Thursday.

Post 34, April 8, 11:55 a.m.

An additional 205 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in North Carolina brought the state’s official tally to 3,426 Wednesday morning, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS also reported five additional deaths since Tuesday, bringing the count of coronavirus-related deaths in North Carolina to 53. Hospitalized North Carolina residents with COVID-19 now number 386.

The confirmed cases are the result of 42,987 completed tests on North Carolina residents that have been reported to DHHS. An unknown number of tests are awaiting results and some negative tests may not have been reported to the state, as this is optional for private laboratories.

These counts represent only the known number of infections across the state, since many people may be infected but show no symptoms, limited supplies of tests and protective equipment for medical professionals have prevented testing of everyone who does show symptoms, an unknown number of tests are returned as false negatives and test analysis can delay results for days or weeks.

Inconsistent reporting of deaths from illnesses caused by coronavirus, especially in people who never tested positive for COVID-19, may also be leading to an undercount of deaths in North Carolina.

Counties with the highest number of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 830, Wake with 363, Durham with 236, Guilford with 122, Forsyth with 104, Union with 87 and Cabarrus with 86, which account for more than half the cases in the state.

No new counties reporting cases for the first time Wednesday. Residents of 90 of the state’s 100 counties have been confirmed positive for COVID-19.

Counties that have not yet reported a confirmed case are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey.

Carolina Public Press reported Wednesday on local governments that have imposed bans on short-term rentals, including at hotels, campgrounds and private home or room rentals during the crisis, primarily in the mountains and on the coast. Asheville police appear to be taking the ban seriously, issuing a be-on-the-lookout bulletin Tuesday for a suspected violator, who later turned himself in.

CPP also reported Wednesday on efforts by school systems to assist students whose at-home learning efforts are hindered by lousy or nonexistent internet service. Schools have provided a range of solutions including mobile hotspots and using buses to deliver work packets to students.

The NCCARE360 program, a public-private platform for information about vital services, was rolling out gradually across North Carolina counties this year. Due to the crisis, CPP reported Wednesday, NCCARE360’s statewide expansion to remaining counties is being accelerated.

Post 33, April 7, 11:10 a.m.

More than 350 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina were added to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ official tally Tuesday morning, bringing the statewide total to 3,221.

The death toll also grew, with 13 additional deaths since Monday morning’s count, bringing the statewide count of deaths from coronavirus-related illness to 46, according to DHHS.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

The agency said nearly 42,000 tests for the virus have been completed. More than 350 North Carolina residents are hospitalized with COVID-19.

There has been no deviation from the age pattern of infection and death in North Carolina. More than half of the state’s cases are in people ages 49 or younger, but they account for just 7% of the deaths. Adults over 65 years of age make up just 20% of the cases, but 80% of the deaths.

Deaths are also disproportionately occurring in men, who make up just under half of the cases, but 72% of the deaths in North Carolina. Earlier state statistics indicated that white residents of North Carolina were dying at a greater rate than other groups, but with recent deaths this trend is now less pronounced.

Metropolitan areas generally continue to lead the statewide case totals. Mecklenburg County has 810 cases, Wake has 336, Durham has 205, Guilford has 119, Forsyth has 105, Union has 83 and Cabarrus has 81. These seven counties account for more than half of those in the state.

Richmond County reported its first case Monday morning. Confirmed cases now include residents of 90 of the state’s 100 counties.

The 10 counties not reporting cases, according to DHHS, are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey. These are all rural counties in the western mountain or eastern coastal regions of the state.

Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday on how the border closure that Graham County imposed on March 23 has been working. Local officials credit the measure with preventing cases in a county that has no hospital.

CPP also reported Tuesday on a scientific model that researchers from UNC and Duke have developed in coordination with DHHS to predict statewide cases over time. The model suggests that cases will expand dramatically more quickly and risk overwhelming the hospital system if social distancing requirements are relaxed too soon.

Legislators are meeting by teleconference this week to prepare COVID-19 response bills for quick passage when the General Assembly returns to session in a couple of weeks, CPP reported Tuesday. They are looking at a wide range of issues including budgets, taxes, commerce and education.

Post 32, April 6, 11:50 a.m. 

North Carolina now has 2,870 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, according to the official tally update released Monday morning by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

This represents an increase of 287 cases over the total from Sunday. Confirmed cases are based on presumed positive tests for COVID-19. More than 40,000 tests have been completed on North Carolina residents, according to DHHS.

The statewide death toll from coronavirus-related complications also continued to rise Monday and now stands at 33, DHHS reported, an increase of two from Sunday. Across the state, 270 patients are currently hospitalized with coronavirus-related illness.

The virus continues to infect more young people, but have a much higher lethality rate in North Carolina residents over 65, who make up 82% of those who have died.

Health authorities are very concerned by concentrated outbreaks at Pine Forest Rest Home in Northampton County with at least 26 cases and at Cherry Springs Village assisted living facility in Henderson County with at least 23 cases, according to news media reports.

The lethality rate also remains much higher in men, who make up just under half of North Carolina’s confirmed cases, but 70% of the state’s coronavirus-related deaths.

Counties with the highest numbers of confirmed cases are Mecklenburg with 733, Wake with 314, Durham with 191, Guilford with 104 and Forsyth with 94, which combined make up more than half of the cases in North Carolina.

No additional counties reported new cases on Monday. Confirmed cases have been reported in 89 of 100 counties.

The only 11 counties not reporting cases, according to DHHS, are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Richmond, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday on the effort of organizations that work with homeless North Carolina residents to find ways to protect those individuals’ health during the crisis. The homeless population faces increased risk of infection due to difficulty in complying with social distancing and stay-at-home orders and increased risk of severe illness due to existing health issues that many homeless individuals face.

CPP also reported Monday on the challenges for many Western North Carolina communities whose economy relies heavily on seasonal tourism. Many of them are looking at alternatives as the pandemic and the statewide stay-at-home order are hitting during their make-or-break season.

The Dogwood Health Trust has retooled its mission to focus on getting urgently needed weapons in the fight against COVID-19 into the right hands, CPP reported Monday. This includes helping redistribute coronavirus tests to where they are needed most, backing companies that are shifting to sanitizer production and working with other nonprofit partners to direct grants toward anti-coronavirus efforts.

Federal stimulus checks will be headed toward North Carolina residents, but scammers are already phishing to get their hands on these funds, N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein has warned in an interview with CPP. He also promises to keep up the fight against scammers and price gougers, but urges North Carolina residents to contact his office if they suspect something.

Post 31, April 5, 12:15 p.m.

An additional 183 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents since Saturday morning brought the state’s official tally of cases to 2,585 Sunday morning, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

These confirmed cases come as the result of more than 40,000 completed tests for COVID-19.

The statewide death toll connected to coronavirus-related illness has reached 31. Around the state, 261 people who have tested positive are hospitalized, DHHS said. Many people with the illness have only mild symptoms and do not require hospitalization.

The virus continues to be most lethal among older adults in North Carolina, though there have been some deaths in middle-aged individuals. People ages 49 and under account for 51% of the confirmed cases, but only 6% of the deaths. Those over 65 account for just 21% of the cases, but 84% of the deaths.

The illness also appears more deadly to men in North Carolina, with just under half of the cases being in men, but 68% of the deaths affecting male residents of the state.

The effects of the illness also appear disproportionate along ethnic lines, with white residents of North Carolina dying at a greater rate. Although whites account for 58% of the cases, they make up 77% of the deaths. African Americans make up 37% of the cases but only 20% of the deaths. There have been few deaths among other ethnic groups in North Carolina.

Counties with the largest numbers of cases as of Sunday were Mecklenburg with 664, Wake with 304, Durham with 186, Guilford with 96 and Forsyth with 86. These counties, all among the most populous in the state, make up more than half of the confirmed cases statewide.

However, a number of other counties have seen substantial recent spread of the virus. Some of these are densely populated, but some are more rural or suburban. These include Union and Cabarrus counties with 67 cases each, Davidson with 57, Orange with 52, Henderson with 50, Rowan and Gaston with 45 cases each, Iredell with 44, and Northampton and Cumberland counties with 42 cases each.

Western North Carolina continues to be the region with the slowest spread of the virus, with Henderson being the only county with a large block of cases, the next closest being metropolitan Buncombe with 28 cases.

The only county to report its first case Sunday was Pender, near the southeastern coast. The virus is now confirmed to be present in 89 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Those without a reported positive test result, according to DHHS, are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Richmond, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey.

Except for Richmond in the southern Sandhills, these are rural counties in the western mountain and eastern coastal regions of the state.

Post 30: April 4, 12:25 p.m.

A total of 2,402 North Carolinians are now confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus, according to a Saturday morning update from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Of these, 309 are new cases over Friday’s tally. At least 38,773 tests for COVID-19 have been completed statewide. The number of completed tests is likely higher because private labs and private hospitals are not required to release the results of negative tests to the state, DHHS has said.

Five more people have also died from a confirmed case of COVID-19 over Friday’s count, to a total of 24, according to DHHS.

Randolph and Wilson counties reported their first deaths, DHHS data shows.

Nearly four in five deaths are among adults aged 65 or older, who account for 20 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases but 79 percent of deaths. However, those aged 25 to 49 years old still account for the bulk of positive cases, at 42 percent and only 8 percent of deaths.

More men have died than women, with two out of every three deaths being men. Slightly fewer than half of all infections statewide have been men.

The counties with the most positive cases are Mecklenburg with 635, Wake with 283, Durham with 181, Guilford with 94 and Forsyth with 82. These counties combined account for more than half of the state’s positive cases.

As the outbreak continues, people in smaller counties are also testing positive for COVID-19. New to the list Saturday are Ashe and Warren counties, with one confirmed case each.

The virus is now confirmed to be present in 88 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Those without a reported positive test result, according to DHHS, are Avery, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Pender, Richmond, Swain, Tyrell and Yancey. State officials have said they expect the novel coronavirus will be present in every county soon, if it is not already.

Outbreaks at congregate living facilities, such as jails, prisons, group homes and nursing homes, also rose, from 11 such facilities on Friday to 13 facilities Saturday. DHHS defines an outbreak of COVID-19 as two or more people living in a facility who have tested positive for the disease.

DHHS is also releasing data on cases by ethnicity and race. Of those with a known race, 36 percent of the positive cases are black or African American while 58 percent of the positive cases are white. Comparatively, the state’s population is 21 percent black and 63 percent white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Friday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper encouraged North Carolinians to stay in their homes. This is the first weekend since Cooper signed a statewide stay-at-home order, which went into effect Monday. Residents can leave their property to secure food, medicine or to work for essential businesses. They can also leave to get exercise as long as they maintain at least 6 feet of distance from other people, according to the order.

“No one is immune. There is no vaccination. Social distancing is our best protection,” Cooper told a group of journalists on a press call Friday afternoon. “Now is not the time for beach trips or neighborhood cookouts. … Stopping the spread is in our control. If we avoid mass gatherings, if we wash our hands like never before, if we stay home as much as we can.”

DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said Friday, “We have got to do better in complying with this order.

“I really need North Carolinians to understand this. Everyone needs to do everything possible right now to avoid overwhelming our hospitals in the future,” Cohen said. “When supplies and medical equipment are scarce it forces decisions no one wants to make.”

If the hospitals are full of COVID-19 patients, Cohen said, people with a heart attack, or appendicitis, or who get in a car crash will also suffer when hospital beds are full.

While North Carolina has received three shipments of personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, face shields and gowns for medical personnel — from the Strategic National Stockpile, the total was only about a third of what the state asked for, said Mike Sprayberry, director of the state’s Department of Emergency Management.

Cooper said the state’s emergency management teams are working “around the clock” to buy more protective equipment.

“Governments at all levels … are competing against each other for a scarce amount of PPE,” Cooper said. “There simply isn’t enough on the market to go around.”

Imagine shopping at an online retailer, he said, and adding a product to your shopping cart. When you check out, the website says an item is no longer available.

“The federal government should do more,” Cooper said. “This pandemic is a war and we need the armor to fight it.”

Post 29: April 3, 11:55 a.m.

The total number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina is now 2,093, according to an updated official tally from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released Friday morning.

This represents an increase of 236 over Thursday’s count. More than 31,000 tests for COVID-19 have been completed across the state.

The death toll related to coronavirus also increased in Friday’s county to 19, up three from Thursday morning’s total, according to DHHS.

Two of the latest deaths occurred in Guilford County, with another in Mecklenburg County. Both counties had previously reported single deaths involving their residents.

The death rate in North Carolina continues to be highest among adults over 65 years old, who account for 20% of cases, but 79% of deaths. Those under 49 years old account for 53% of cases, but only 11% of deaths.

The death rate among men continues to be higher than among women. Men account for slightly less than half of the cases in the state, but 68% of the deaths.

DHHS also has released data on cases by ethnicity, showing that whites are dying at a higher rate. White’s account for 59% of the cases but 74% of the deaths. By comparison, black residents of North Carolina account for 35% of cases but only 21% of deaths.

The counties with the highest number of cases as of Friday were Mecklenburg with 564, Wake with 258, Durham with 159 and Guilford with 79, which combined account for more than half of the cases in the state.

While the virus tends to spread most easily in densely populated areas, it has gradually spread in to most rural North Carolina counties as well and several deaths have occurred in smaller counties.

Counties reporting their first cases Friday were Bladen, Chowan and Haywood.

The virus is now present in 86 out of 100 counties. The only counties that have not reported cases so far, according to DHHS, are Avery, Ashe, Camden, Graham, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Madison, Pender, Richmond, Swain, Tyrell, Warren and Yancey.

Carolina Public Press published a collaborative investigative report Friday morning along with The Charlotte Observer, News & Observer, WBTV, WECT and WRAL, examining the staffing levels at North Carolina hospitals. Few hospitals responded to questions about their staffing levels and that those that did respond failed to provide specific numbers. The state does not track hospital staffing levels. But medical experts agree that hospitals need to ensure enough qualified medical personnel are in place for when the potential peak load of coronavirus patients hits. The state government and various agencies have been taking extra measures to place new doctors and assign volunteers who have adequate credentials to hospitals.

CPP also reported Friday morning on the situation at Mission Health’s hospitals in Asheville, where nurses have been attempting to unionize but owner HCA has sought repeated delays in labor board hearings, citing the coronavirus crisis. The union has suggested this effort is disingenuous, as HCA has ordered nurses to attend anti-union propaganda sessions during their work shifts. The union has asked the National Labor Relations board to conduct the hearings remotely.

Jobless claims have overwhelmed North Carolina’s system for filing new claims in recent weeks, but state officials are quickly adding additional staff and upgrading their computer servers to prevent continued problems, CPP reported Friday morning. The first wave of unemployment checks since the crisis began are going out this week.

CPP also took at look Friday morning at how the state’s westernmost county, Cherokee, is handling the crisis that has already claimed one life in the small community. The county’s two towns, Murphy and Andrews, have both placed restrictions on public activity, with Andrews barricading most entrances to the town. Local officials say the restrictions are working and most people have been compliant.

Post 28: April 2, 11:35 a.m.

The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina jumped by more than 250 in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services report issued Thursday morning, with the death toll also climbing.

The state now has 1,857 confirmed cases, with 16 deaths related to the illness, according DHHS. More than 28,000 tests for COVID-19 have been completed statewide. Of those who have tested positive, 184 are hospitalized, which usually includes those with the most severe symptoms.

Deaths have included residents of Bertie, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cherokee, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Harnett, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Onslow, Rockingham, Rowan and Wilkes counties.

Deaths in North Carolina residents 65 years old and older account for 75% of the total, but only 20% of the state’s cases involve this age group. More than half of the state’s cases are in people ages 49 or younger, but they account for just 13% of the deaths.

Men account for 69% of the deaths among North Carolina residents so far, but just under half of the total cases.

The virus also spread to additional counties in Thursday’s report, with 83 of 100 counties now having cases in their residents.

Counties reporting their first cases in Thursday’s update were Dare, Gates, Macon, Mitchell, Rockingham and Stokes counties.

Counties with the most cases were Mecklenburg with 495, Wake with 234, Durham with 147 and Guilford with 71. These four large metropolitan counties combined account for more than half of the confirmed cases statewide in an illness that is spread most easily in dense population centers.

Counties with confirmed cases now include, alphabetically, Alamance, Alleghany, Alexander, Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Carteret, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Henderson, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, Macon, Martin, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Washington, Watauga, Wayne, Wilson and Yadkin counties.

Carolina Public Press reported Thursday on the first confirmed case of coronavirus in an inmate in the North Carolina prison system. The man is housed at Caledonia Correctional Complex in Halifax County. The prison dorm has been placed under quarantine. Public health experts have called for additional measures, including releasing hundreds of low-level offenders who are in high-risk categories for the illness, but state officials have so far not acted on this advice.

Carolina Public Press also reported Thursday on complaints of widespread price gouging and scammers trying to exploit North Carolina residents during the health crisis. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has warned for residents to be wary. The N.C. Department of Justice shared data on the scam complaints showing that items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, food and protective masks were among the most commonly price-gouged items, according to complaints the state has received. Scammers appear to have primarily targeted large urban communities, but Robeson County has seen an unusually high number of complaints, more than several much bigger counties.

Post 27: April 1, 11:50 a.m.

Confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina now number 1,584, according to the official count released Wednesday morning by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The presumed positive tests for COVID-19 come as the result of more than 26,243 tests completed statewide, according to DHHS.

There have been nine deaths of North Carolina residents that are known to be related to the coronavirus, DHHS said. The latest death was a resident of Cherokee County in the state’s far southwestern corner. Previous deaths include residents of Buncombe, Forsyth,  Guilford, Harnett, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Onslow and Rowan counties.

An earlier death was previously listed as Carbarrus County but has been reassigned due to that person’s permanent residence. Cases are assigned by permanent residence rather than where the person tests, became infected or will be recovering.

[Stay up-to-date: All coronovirus news, resources and updates]

The trend continues of older NC residents accounting for a relatively low portion of cases, 19%, but a high percentage of deaths, 78%. Similarly, a slightly higher percentage of North Carolina cases have been in women, but 89% of deaths have been in men.

Counties with the most cases are Mecklenburg with 444, Wake with 195, Durham with 126, and Guilford with 55. These four counties combined account for most of the cases in North Carolina.

No additional counties reported their first cases in Wednesday’s DHHS report. Statewide, 77 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have reported confirmed cases.

Counties with confirmed cases now include, alphabetically, Alamance, Alleghany, Alexander, Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Carteret, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Henderson, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, Martin, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Rutherford, Robeson, Rowan, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Washington, Watauga, Wayne, Wilson and Yadkin counties.

Carolina Public Press reported Wednesday morning on Gov. Roy Cooper’s latest executive order, issued Tuesday, which prevents utility companies from cutting off electric, gas, water and wastewater customers during the crisis.

CPP also reported on a confirmed case in a state prison staff member based in Greene County, hours after the head of the state prison system briefed state lawmakers on efforts to prevent the disease from spreading through the prisons. The state has so far not acted on advice from public health experts and civil rights experts to free hundreds of inmates with low-level offenses during the crisis.

Rural hospitals across North Carolina face unique challenges with limited resources and are bracing for a surge of patients as the disease spreads. CPP reporting Wednesday takes a close look at Chatham Hospital in Siler City and other rural hospitals preparing for the next wave of the crisis.

Post 26: March 31, 10 a.m.

The official count of confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina neared 1,500 Tuesday morning, with eight deaths, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

DHHS reported 1,498 cases statewide, with 157 people currently hospitalized. The confirmed cases come as the result of more than 23,000 completed tests, the vast majority of which were negative for the infection.

The largest number of cases are in Mecklenburg County with 420, Wake County with 186 and Durham County with 122, Guilford with 50, Cabarrus with 47, Forsyth with 42 and Union with 41. These seven counties account for more than 60% of the state’s cases.

Three additional North Carolina deaths related to coronavirus were reported since Monday, bringing the statewide total to eight. Deaths have now occurred in residents of Buncombe, Cabarrus, Forsyth, Harnett, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Onslow and Rowan counties.

State statistics for ages of patients show that just 12% of North Carolina’s confirmed cases are in people under 25, with no deaths so far in that age range. Nearly half of the state’s cases, 43% are in patients in the 25-49 age range, but only 13% of the deaths have occurred in this group. Slightly older residents, ages 50-64, account for 26% of cases, but only 13% of the deaths.

The overwhelming majority of deaths, 75%, have been in patients ages 65 and older, even though only 19% of the state’s confirmed cases have been in patients in that age range.

While infections in North Carolina are somewhat evenly spread between men and women, men account for 88% of the deaths.

Counties reporting their first confirmed cases Tuesday included Anson, Clay, Martin and Wilkes, however Jackson County, which had previously reported a case, saw its case removed due to the patient’s permanent residence. Confirmed cases now include residents of 77 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Counties with confirmed cases now include, alphabetically, Alamance, Alleghany, Alexander, Anson, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Carteret, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Henderson, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, Martin, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Rutherford, Robeson, Rowan, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Washington, Watauga, Wayne, Wilson and Yadkin counties.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order Monday to speed the movement of medical gear, especially protective equipment to North Carolina first responders. Carolina Public Press reported Tuesday morning that state health experts including epidemiologist Zack Moore are warning that the pandemic is still accelerating in this state. They warn residents to stay home, while pointing to models that suggest a high number of cases and deaths across the state in coming months, but less if people practice social distancing.

CPP also reported Tuesday morning on a call by some civil liberties advocates and health experts for the state to free hundreds of state prisoners to slow the spread of the virus. Political leaders indicated they are not prepared to do this at this time. CPP also reported on the move of $30 million for behavioral health agencies, to ensure that essential mental health and substance abuse services don’t stop flowing during the pandemic. In addition, CPP reported that North Carolina legislators are meeting in remote conferences to begin work on a range of coronavirus-related legislation, including some that would provide economic relief or adjust regulations to help with the response to the pandemic.

Spanish translation of the Carolina Public Press daily update is provided by JMPRO-TV and Hola Carolina.

Post 25: March 30, 11:40 a.m.

North Carolina now has 1,307 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, according to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services data released Monday morning.

There have been six deaths statewide known to be related to the illness, in Buncombe, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Cabarrus, Harnett and Johnston counties.

Counties reporting their first confirmed cases since Sunday morning’s update include Alexander, Jackson, Rutherford, Pamlico, and Washington, bringing the total number of North Carolina counties with confirmed cases to 74 out of 100.

Counties with the most cases at this point are Mecklenburg with 382, Wake with 166 and Durham with 106. Combined, these three counties account for just over half of the confirmed cases statewide.

Counties with confirmed cases now include, alphabetically, Alamance, Alleghany, Alexander, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Carteret, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Henderson, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Rutherford, Robeson, Rowan, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Washington, Watauga, Wayne, Wilson and Yadkin counties.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s statewide stay-at-home order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday. He also announced over the weekend that the first round of unemployment checks since the rules were adjusted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will be issued this week.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday morning on the innovations that food banks and food pantries have been making in order to provide food to their communities, at a time when economic hardship is driving up challenges in obtaining food, donations of food and money are down and social distancing rules require special procedures.

CPP also reported Monday morning on measures that schools across North Carolina have been making to keep meals flowing to kids who rely on them, even though the schools are currently closed due to the pandemic.

Post 24: March 29, 11:15 a.m.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus have climbed past the 1,000 mark in North Carolina, as the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released new official totals Sunday morning.

According to DHHS, 1,040 presumed positive tests for COVID-19 in North Carolina residents have been confirmed.

Statewide, four deaths, in residents of Cabarrus, Harnett, Johnston, and Rowan counties, are known to have been related to the disease. However, this does not yet include a Buncombe County resident who died Saturday at Mission hospital in Asheville, according to Buncombe County officials. There may be additional deaths around the state that also have not yet been added to the statewide totals.

Nearly 19,000 tests have been completed in North Carolina, DHHS said. Patients currently hospitalized in North Carolina number 91.

Reporting cases for the first time Sunday were Alleghany, Caswell, Columbus, Currituck, Halifax and Yadkin counties, bringing the total to 69 of the state’s 100 counties.

Counties with the highest number of cases are Mecklenburg with 298, Wake with 134 and Durham with 101.

All counties with confirmed cases, alphabetically, include Alamance, Alleghany, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Carteret, Caswell, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Harnett, Henderson, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Robeson, Rowan, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Watauga, Wayne, Wilson and Yadkin counties.

On Friday, Gov. Cooper’s stay-at-home declaration said North Carolinians must stay at home for at least the next 30 days to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday. Exceptions will be made for essential tasks like grocery shopping, helping loved ones, exercising outside while staying at least 6 feet away from others, and for those who have work deemed essential. All gatherings with more than 10 people are explicitly banned. Many local jurisdictions have their own stay-at-home orders that are already being enforced. Once the statewide order takes effect, whichever order, local or state, is more restrictive on a specific issue will take precedent.

Post 23: March 28, 2 p.m.

The U.S. Forest Service said Saturday that it has temporarily closed down trailhead facilities and access points to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests in North Carolina and the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee. The closures are related to state and local measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the agency said.

Among the closures, the following popular access sites are affected:

  • Wayah Bald – Nantahala National Forest
  • Cheoah Bald – Nantahala National Forest
  • Hampton and Dennis Cove Trailheads (Laurel Falls) – Cherokee National Forest
  • Osborn Farm – Cherokee National Forest
  • Max Patch – Cherokee and Pisgah national forests
  • Road Mountain/Carvers Gap – Cherokee and Pisgah national forests
  • Lovers Leap – Pisgah National Forest

See a complete list of access sites affected by the change.

Post 22: March 28, 11:30 p.m.

Less than a day after Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statewide stay-at-home declaration, state health officials on Saturday morning reported that four people have died in North Carolina from coronavirus. Eighty-seven people are currently hospitalized.

The state also reported that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina has now reached 935. That represents an increase of 172 cases over Friday’s totals. Not all cases of COVID-19 are tested, so this number does not represent the total number of people in North Carolina who have or had COVID-19.

More than 17,500 tests for COVID-19 have been completed, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Sixty-three of the state’s 100 counties now report a confirmed case of coronavirus. Counties with confirmed cases according to DHHS are, in alphabetical order: Alamance, Beaufort, Bertie, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Cherokee, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Davidson, Davie, Duplin, Durham, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Harnett, Henderson, Hertford, Hoke, Iredell, Johnston, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Robeson, Rowan, Sampson, Scotland, Stanly, Surry, Transylvania, Union, Vance, Wake, Watauga, Wayne and Wilson.

Become a Carolina Public Press insider.

Text INSIDER to (919)897-8555 and be among the first to hear about special events and exclusive content.

On Friday, Gov. Cooper’s stay-at-home declaration said that North Carolinians must stay at home for at least the next 30 days to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday. Exceptions will be made for essential tasks like grocery shopping, helping loved ones, exercising outside while staying at least 6 feet away from others, and for those who have work deemed essential. All gatherings with more than 10 people are explicitly banned.

Post 21: March 27, 12:15 p.m.

North Carolina has 763 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus based on presumed positive test results, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Friday morning. This represents an increase of 127 cases over Thursday’s totals.

Three North Carolina residents have now died of coronavirus-related illness, DHHS said.

More than 15,000 tests for COVID-19 have been completed on North Carolina residents, according to DHHS. The actual total is difficult to determine because some private test providers have not consistently been reporting negative tests. Reporting positive test results is mandatory.

Three additional counties – Surry, Person and Greene – reported their first cases in Friday’s count. At this point, 61 of the state’s 100 counties have reported cases in their residents.

Counties with confirmed cases according to DHHS are, from west to east, Cherokee, Jackson, Transylvania, Buncombe, Henderson, McDowell, Burke, Watauga, Caldwell, Cleveland, Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Surry, Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Davie, Rowan, Davidson, Stanly, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Moore, Scotland, Chatham, Alamance, Hoke, Lee, Orange, Harnett, Person, Durham, Robeson, Cumberland, Wake, Granville, Vance, Franklin, Brunswick, Johnston, Sampson, Wayne, Nash, Wilson, Duplin, Northampton, New Hanover, Lenoir, Greene, Onslow, Pitt, Craven, Bertie, Beaufort, Hertford, Carteret and Pasquotank.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections announced Thursday that it has asked the governor and the legislature for changes to several election laws and procedures in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. The letter outlining the proposed changes, issued Thursday, is the first step in preparing the state for conducting elections during a pandemic. The board suggested most of the changes be made permanently.

The changes centered on making mail-in absentee voting more accessible, especially to elderly voters who often live in nursing or assisted-living homes and are at increased susceptibility to serious health complications associated with COVID-19.

The state board also requested changes to expand poll-worker recruitment, as the average poll worker in North Carolina is 70 years old. These include making Election Day a state holiday, or, at a minimum, providing paid leave for state and county employees who serve as poll workers, and increasing poll-worker pay above minimum wage.

Carolina Public Press reported Friday morning on how the health crisis is affecting undocumented workers across North Carolina, many of whom work in agriculture or food-related industries, which are essential industries. Advocates express concern about economic disruption, working conditions that are not conducive for social distancing, access to information in Spanish and fear of reprisals if someone tests for COVID-19.

CPP also reported Friday morning on the importance of the state’s banking industry during and after the health crisis. As both lenders and major employers in parts of the state, the stability of banks will be crucial to the state’s future.

The chairman of the Lumbee Indian Tribe of North Carolina is under self-quarantine, CPP reported Friday morning, as the Lumbee, Catawba and Cherokee tribes in the Carolinas take measures to safeguard their people and territory during the health crisis.

Victims of domestic violence during the health crisis face closed courthouses and other challenges, but in most cases can still obtain protection orders, CPP reported Friday morning. In many cases, these are being handled by phone or video conference.

Post 20: March 26, 10:50 a.m.

North Carolina now has 636 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, based on presumed positive tests for COVID-19, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday morning.

This is an increase of 132 over Wednesday’s count.

The state is reporting one death of a North Carolina resident related to the coronavirus, which was announced at midday Wednesday. The individual resided in Cabarrus County, near Charlotte.

According to the state’s official tally, counties with cases now number 58 out of 100, with McDowell, Burke, Duplin, Northampton and Beaufort counties joining the list Thursday morning. As with the counties added on Wednesday, this represents the spread of confirmed cases into rural counties straddling the western Piedmont and eastern Blue Ridge Mountains and into rural northeastern counties.

Counties with confirmed cases, from west to east, are Cherokee, Jackson, Transylvania, Buncombe, Henderson, McDowell, Burke, Watauga, Caldwell, Cleveland, Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Davie, Rowan, Davidson, Stanly, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Moore, Scotland, Chatham, Alamance, Hoke, Lee, Orange, Harnett, Durham, Robeson, Cumberland, Wake, Granville, Vance, Franklin, Brunswick, Johnston, Sampson, Wayne, Nash, Wilson, Duplin, Northampton, New Hanover, Lenoir, Onslow, Pitt, Craven, Bertie, Beaufort, Hertford, Carteret and Pasquotank.

The more than 600 confirmed cases reflect the presumed positive test results on at least 12,910 tests administered to North Carolina residents. However, an unknown number of additional negative tests may also have been administered. Some private organizations doing testing may not have reported negative test counts to the state.

Carolina Public Press, in conjunction with a collaboration including WBTV, WRAL, WECT, The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer, reported today on changes in the state’s testing policies. Gov. Roy Cooper said the lack of personal protective equipment is prompting the state to reduce testing of people with mild symptoms, instead directing that gear to medical providers working with seriously ill patients. Counties continue to demonstrate uneven policies on providing information to the public on testing numbers. Some situations, such as testing sites, are so fluid that counties are encouraging residents to call in rather than listing current sites on their websites.

CPP also reported this morning on the general problem of inadequate supplies for North Carolina medical professionals, including masks, ventilators and hospital beds. Gov. Cooper said the market for some equipment is like the “wild West” right now. Some North Carolina companies and nonprofits, including HanesBrands, Lowe’s and the Dogwood Health Trust have stepped in to help with making or procuring supplies. The governor has asked the Army Corps of Engineers to assist with creative solutions to the shortage of hospital beds.

CPP reported today on additional stay-at-home orders from local governments, including Guilford and Buncombe counties. Several additional major counties have announced they are working on their own plans as well.

Post 19: March 25, 11:40 a.m.

Shortly after Carolina Public Press’ updated appeared earlier this morning, CPP received word from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office that a resident of Cabarrus County has died due to complications from the coronavirus. A resident of Virginia who was traveling through North Carolina has also died. These are the first coronavirus-related deaths known in North Carolina. For more details on today’s status, see the previous update below.

Post 18: March 25, 11:05 a.m.

North Carolina’s official count of confirmed coronavirus cases grew by 106 between Tuesday and Wednesday morning, now totaling 504 statewide, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

No deaths are attributed to COVID-19 in North Carolina, DHHS said.

Five counties — Caldwell, Cleveland, Lenoir, Bertie and Hertford — reported their first cases in Wednesday morning’s count, bringing the statewide total to 53 counties out of the state’s 100. The virus appears to be spreading into rural northeastern counties for the first time, while continuing to spread into additional areas of the western Piedmont. Cleveland had previously reported a positive test, but the case was assigned to another county because of the test subject’s permanent residence.

Counties with confirmed cases, from west to east, are Cherokee, Jackson, Transylvania, Buncombe, Henderson, Watauga, Caldwell, Cleveland, Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Davie, Rowan, Davidson, Stanly, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Moore, Scotland, Chatham, Alamance, Hoke, Lee, Orange, Harnett, Durham, Robeson, Cumberland, Wake, Granville, Vance, Franklin, Brunswick, Johnston, Sampson, Wayne, Nash, Wilson, New Hanover, Lenoir, Onslow, Pitt, Craven, Bertie, Hertford, Carteret and Pasquotank.

North Carolina reports that it knows of nearly 10,500 tests that have been completed, though some testing is also being done by private organizations that are not required to report negative tests. Reporting of positive tests is mandatory.

Nationally, the U.S. Centers for disease control released its latest case count Tuesday afternoon, with 44,183 cases nationwide and 544 deaths. Almost have of these cases have been reported in New York. States with more than a thousand cases so far include New Jersey, Washington state, California, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana.

Congress approved a massive package of relief overnight, which should put money in the hands of individual taxpayers. Carolina Public Press reported this morning on regional efforts in North Carolina for foundations, nonprofits, private corporations and local governments to team up in creating response funds to bolster coronavirus relief, with millions already being dedicated to the effort.

Although Gov. Roy Cooper has resisted calls for a statewide stay-at-home order, he is allowing local governments to issue these on their own, Carolina Public Press reported this morning. The orders in places like Mecklenburg and Pitt County have similarities, but also important differences, including whether non-incorporated jurisdictions are included.

CPP also reported this morning on a decision from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to close casinos and tribal lands to outsiders, with the chief issuing a stay-at-home order to tribal members.

Post 17: March 24, 10:20 a.m.

North Carolina added 101 confirmed cases of coronavirus presumed positive tests to its official totals Tuesday, bringing the overall total of cases to 398, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

There are still no deaths in North Carolina tied to coronavirus, DHHS reported.

The confirmed cases come as the result of more than 8,500 tests for the virus, according to DHHS.

Jackson, Transylvania, Stanly and Montgomery counties joined the list of those with confirmed cases. But Richmond was removed from the list when its only case was reassigned to Montgomery County based on the patient’s permanent residence, Richmond County health officials said in a statement on their website.

This brings the total number of N.C. counties with confirmed cases to 48 out of the state’s 100. In the western mountains and eastern coastal regions only a few counties have confirmed cases, but most counties in the central Piedmont do have cases.

Counties with confirmed cases, from west to east, are Cherokee, Jackson, Transylvania, Buncombe, Henderson, Watauga, Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Davie, Rowan, Davidson, Stanly, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Moore, Scotland, Chatham, Alamance, Hoke, Lee, Orange, Harnett, Durham, Robeson, Cumberland, Wake, Granville, Vance, Franklin, Brunswick, Johnston, Sampson, Wayne, Nash, Wilson, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, Craven, Carteret and Pasquotank.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday afternoon that Gov. Roy Cooper has extended public school closings to May 15. He also ordered closure of a number of additional businesses, including salons and theaters. However, the governor has not embraced a “shelter-in-place” order at this time. A group of hospitals has called on the governor to take this stricter stance. Some counties, including Madison, have announced plans to impose their own shelter-in-place.

CPP also reported Tuesday morning that the federal government has given North Carolina schools a waiver on federally required end-of-year testing this year.

With confirmed cases spreading more into the state’s western mountain counties this week, CPP reported Tuesday morning on additional steps being taken in many of these counties by public health officials, hospitals and county government, including in Graham County, which is closing it’s borders.

HCA, which last year acquired Mission Health, the largest hospital company in Western North Carolina, faces a union organizing effort from nurses at its Asheville facilities. CPP reported Tuesday morning that both sides are citing the coronavirus outbreak in their filings with the National Labor Relations Board. HCA wants to slow the pace of hearings due to the crisis. But in a sworn statement, nurses say Mission has been forcing them to attend anti-union meetings during their work shifts, despite the crisis.

Post 16: March 23, 10 a.m.

New confirmed coronavirus case numbers that the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services released Monday showed a smaller increase than the day before for the first time in several days.

Still, the addition of 42 cases to the official statewide tally, bringing the total to 297, shows continued spread of the virus. Since this represents the results of tests taken several days earlier in most cases, it’s a snapshot of who had the virus and was sick enough to be tested a few days ago.

DHHS reported six counties with their first confirmed cases on Monday, including Buncombe, Randolph, Richmond, Vance, Franklin and Nash. These last three counties, relatively rural areas north and east of Raleigh, may indicate continued spread radiating out of the Triangle region, which has seen a large number of the state’s cases.

Buncombe County had announced its first case publicly on Saturday, but it was not included in the state’s Sunday totals for some reason. A spokesperson for Buncombe County said Sunday they did not know why the state left them out either. Meanwhile, the largest county in the state’s western region, which has seen a slower pace of confirmed cases than much of the rest of the state, reported several additional positive tests on Sunday.  County health officials said Saturday that they had “hundreds” of tests outstanding, and so anticipated a substantial number of new confirmed cases in coming days.

By DHHS’s count, 45 of the state’s 100 counties now report confirmed cases through presumed positive tests for COVID-19. These are (from west to east) Cherokee, Buncombe, Henderson, Watauga, Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Davie, Rowan, Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Richmond, Moore, Scotland, Chatham, Alamance, Hoke, Lee, Orange, Harnett, Durham, Robeson, Cumberland, Wake, Granville, Vance, Franklin, Brunswick, Johnston, Sampson, Wayne, Nash, Wilson, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, Craven, Carteret and Pasquotank.

DHHS still reports no deaths in North Carolina that are known to have been caused by the coronavirus.

In good news for North Carolina taxpayers, both the federal and state governments have announced extensions over the weekend on the deadline to pay 2019 taxes, which normally falls in mid-April. For now, federal and state taxes are both due July 15. Congress is working on a financial stimulus package related to the crisis, but was unable to come to agreement about important details as of Monday morning.

Carolina Public Press reported Monday morning on the challenges many North Carolina small businesses face as a result of coronavirus restrictions. Many say they will struggle to survive. Federal Small Business Administration loans could help some. Information on how to apply for SBA assistance is included in today’s article.

CPP also reported Monday on efforts to safeguard Duke Energy’s three nuclear power plants in Mecklenburg, Wake and Brunswick counties. The company is coordinating efforts to ensure full and qualified staffing while also practicing social distancing measures and preparing for possible illness among key personnel. However, critics of nuclear power generation question requests from Duke and other companies to loosen federal restrictions during the crisis.

The North Carolina 2019 Teacher of the Year, Mariah Morris of Moore County, is releasing weekly online materials that students can use to continue learning while they are away from school for an extended period, CPP reported Monday. Morris also provided helpful suggestions to parents wanting to ensure their kids keep learning despite the crisis.

Despite the coronavirus crisis, the N.C. Board of Elections completed its major work stemming from the March 3 primary election on Friday, CPP reported Monday. Several regional and local elections still have unfinished business, including a congressional Republican primary runoff in Western North Carolina that has been moved to June 23. Absentee ballots are expected to become a significant factor in the runoff and this year’s general election if the health crisis persists.

Post 15: March 22, 11:15 a.m.

New statewide totals of confirmed coronavirus cases released at 10:16 Sunday morning showed COVID-19 spreading at an accelerating rate in North Carolina, with 71 new cases since Saturday and a new total of 255 from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Service’s official count.

Yet the updated report did not include Buncombe County, the most populous in the state’s western region, which announced its first case around midday on Saturday, raising questions about the timeliness and accuracy of the DHHS total, as the statewide agencies coordinates with health officials in 100 counties.

CPP has asked Buncombe County and DHHS for clarification on this situation, but did not receive a response before publication of this update.

Buncombe County health officials said Saturday that they are waiting on the results of “hundreds” of tests taken over the last week, many of which they expect to be positive for coronavirus.

The state totals for Sunday added five counties for the first time, including Cherokee and Henderson counties in west, where Watauga had been the only county included on the official totals. Other new counties Sunday were Davie, Robeson and Carteret. One county that had previously been reported with a confirmed case, Cleveland, was removed from the list after finding that the patient was a resident of a different county.

DHHS is reporting confirmed cases as of Sunday morning include 39 of the state’s 100 counties. From west to east, these are: Cherokee, Henderson, Watauga, Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Davie, Rowan, Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Moore, Scotland, Chatham, Alamance, Hoke, Lee, Orange, Harnett, Durham, Robeson, Cumberland, Wake, Granville, Brunswick, Johnston, Sampson, Wayne, Wilson, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, Craven, Carteret and Pasquotank.

DHHS reports that 6,438 tests for the virus have completed across the state, however the agency acknowledges that this includes only testing completed by the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and voluntarily reported cases from hospitals and commercial laboratories. While reporting of positive tests is mandatory from these private entities, they are only supposed to report negative tests and not required to do so. As a result, the total number of tests administered in North Carolina so far is difficult to know.

Post 14: March 21, 12:10 p.m.

Buncombe County health officials announced the county’s first confirmed case of coronavirus in a midday press release Saturday. This represents an expansion of the virus into the state’s western mountain region, with Watauga, the only county in the region to report a case previously.

Buncombe County had previously been connected to a case involving a New York resident who is recuperating in Macon County, but that counts as a New York case under U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rules.

County officials said the person has been notified and is resting at home.

“We know that there is already community spread in North Carolina,” said county Interim Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Mullendore. “It is critical that the public follow our guidance regarding social distancing and staying home when you are sick.” 

Buncombe officials reiterated calls for people not to call 911 to request testing, reserving the emergency system for severe illness. “If you have fever and respiratory illness and want to know if you should be tested for COVID-19, it is best to call your health care provider or (828) 250-5300 for information on how to get tested in Buncombe County,” the county advised.

This case was not included in the state’s count of confirmed cases, released earlier Saturday morning.

For details on the statewide count and spread to additional counties, see the previous update below.

Post 13: March 21, 11:25 a.m.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina now total 184, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ new official tally, released 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

While these presumed positive tests for COVID-19 represent a relatively small percentage of the 5,276 tests administered in NC of which DHHS is aware, it represents another day of rapid increase in cases, up 47 from Friday’s count.

More counties also joined the lists of those with cases on Friday. Cleveland, Catawba, Scotland, Alamance, Lee, Cumberland and Granville all reported cases for the first time.

This brings the total count of counties with confirmed cases to 35 out of the state’s 100 counties. The state’s western mountains continue to report almost no positive tests, with the exception of Watauga County.

Counties with positives tests (from west to east) are: Watauga, Cleveland, Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Rowan, Davidson, Forsyth, Guilford, Moore, Scotland, Chatham, Alamance, Hoke, Lee, Orange, Harnett, Durham, Cumberland, Wake, Granville, Brunswick, Johnston, Sampson, Wayne, Wilson, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, Craven and Pasquotank.

Nationally,  the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 15,219 cases and 201 deaths as of late Friday, but independent estimates are much higher. Some of the biggest concentrations of cases have been in Washington state, New York state and California.

So far, no North Carolina deaths have been confirmed as caused by the novel coronavirus, according to DHHS.

Gov. Roy Cooper has issued an order waiving some restrictions on care givers in order to increase access and “provide flexible child care and elder care during the coronavirus emergency,” the governor announced in a Saturday morning statement. The governor also took steps to allow the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles offices to operate while practicing social distancing and waived some truck registration requirements to help expedite deliveries.

“Doctors, nurses, first responders and other critical personnel need to know their children are safe to they can continue to respond during this time of crisis,” Cooper said in the statement. “And we’re loosening trucking requirements so important medicine and equipment can get quickly to the people in all 100 counties (who) need it.”

On Friday, the governor announced that the deadline for state income taxes filings has been extended to June 15 this year due to the pandemic. The NC Board of Elections also announced Friday that the runoff election for congressional District 11 Republicans, in Western North Carolina, has been moved from May to June 23 due to the crisis.

Carolina Public Press reported earlier this week that some private organizations and counties were setting up drive-thru testing sites for COVID-19. However, Friday some counties had halted this practice either because they had run out of testing supplies or they were “re-evaluating” the situation.

Some county health agencies that are not able to administer tests or are out of supplies are encouraging people with symptoms to contact their primary health care provider first, then try urgent care clinics, but in all cases to call ahead. If someone is experiencing severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, they should call 911.

However, state has allowed a range of public policies from county to county with varying levels of private testing and other health services, which have also changed from day to day. So anyone seeking clarification on what is happening where they live should call their local health department first for the most up-to-date information. Links for all county health departments are available in the CPP coronavirus in North Carolina resource guide.

CPP reported Saturday on counties with large concentrations of older residents, who may be at greater risk of serious illness if they become infected with the virus. Many of these are rural counties, especially in the western and eastern parts of the state.

A CPP report Saturday looks at options for exercise and talks with a medical expert about the safest practices during the pandemic, including hiking and at-home exercise. Another Saturday CPP article takes a look at how families are coping while children are home from school for an extended period and many typical activities are unavailable.

Gov. Cooper has not announced a decision on extending school closures through the end of the school year, but some individual school districts are moving in that direction on their own.

Most colleges have moved to online instruction, which was already a growing trend. But events such as commencements are gradually being canceled as the coronavirus emergency appears likely to last for some time.

Post 12: March 20, 10:05 a.m.

A new tally from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday morning brought another substantial increase in presumed positive tests for COVID-19 across the state, with several counties reporting cases for the first time.

The total number of confirmed cases stands at 137, an increase of 40 from Thursday.

Counties with new cases according to the official tally are Rowan, Davidson, Orange, New Hanover, Pitt and Pasquotank.

Although these cases show the outbreak’s continued spread in central and eastern North Carolina, the only county in Western North Carolina with a confirmed case has been Watauga.

However, out-of-state individuals temporarily in Cherokee and Macon counties have tested positive according to local health department reports. The individual in Macon also spent time in Buncombe County, where she was tested for the virus, before returning to Macon to recuperate. Cases like these are assigned to the state of the person’s permanent residence.

Overall, the new official totals indicate confirmed cases in 28 of the state’s 100 counties. Counties with cases, from west to east are Watauga, Lincoln, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Iredell, Rowan, Cabarrus, Union, Forsyth, Davidson, Guilford, Chatham, Moore, Orange, Durham, Hoke, Harnett, Wake, Johnston, Wilson, Wayne, Sampson, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pitt, Onslow, Craven and Pasquotank.

Carolina Public Press is reporting this morning on action by several large counties to release low-level pretrial inmates from jails due to the pandemic. Conditions in jails can allow a contagious disease to spread easily, so precautions are being taken to slow the spread, protecting both inmates and jail workers.

A NC State University economist tells CPP that the state’s manufacturing sector may be in for a rough ride, especially if the pandemic worsens and disruptions continue for a longer time. Gov. Cooper also acknowledged the obstacles to social distancing in industrial workplaces during a press conference Thursday. He noted the state’s efforts to meet the surge in jobless claims in recent days.

As community needs increase due to the pandemic, nonprofits and foundations across the state are conducting talks about pooling their resources. A group of foundations in Western North Carolina has created a special fund for that part of the state, CPP reported Friday. A similar group is doing the same in the Triad, and more efforts from additional groups around the state are anticipated in coming days.

Post 11: March 19, 2020, 10:35 a.m.

The statewide number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, based on presumed positive tests for COVID-19, grew substantially with the new state totals released Thursday morning. The number of counties affected also grew.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services released an official tally of 97 cases in 22 of the state’s 100 counties. No deaths have been confirmed as caused by COVID-19 in North Carolina, DHHS reports. The state tally also cites 2,505 completed tests in North Carolina, which “reflects testing completed by the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial laboratories.”

Counties identified with their first cases today include several suburban and rural counties near the state’s center — Gaston, Union, Moore and Hoke. From west to east, all counties with cases cited by DHHS include Watauga, Lincoln, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Iredell, Cabarrus, Union, Forsyth, Guilford, Chatham, Moore, Durham, Hoke, Harnett, Wake, Johnston, Wilson, Wayne, Sampson, Brunswick, Onslow and Craven.

Carolina Public Press published late Wednesday the initial results of a collaborative investigative project with the Charlotte Observer, News & Observer, WBTV, WECT and WRAL. CPP and the other news organizations asked every local health department in the state for information to help better explain testing for the virus, how many tests they have and how many they have done. The group also reached out to DHHS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Although DHHS and some of the local agencies answered parts of the questions, many inquiries went unanswered or were not completely answered.

CPP also reported today on the decision of several major hospital chains to shake up their surgery schedules, generally not allowing some elective surgeries during the pandemic. This is to prepare for a possible surge of coronavirus patients at the hospitals.

CPP reported earlier this week on the governor’s request to include North Carolina in a U.S. Small Business Administration coronavirus program. The SBA approved that request this morning, which will open the door for businesses to seek assistance. Look for additional reporting from CPP on this situation going forward.

There have been no cases in Western North Carolina, according to the official tally, except for Watauga County. However, earlier this week a New York resident temporarily residing in Macon County was reported as having tested positive during a visit to Buncombe County. Because of the way tests are assigned geographically, that is counted as a North Carolina case, even though the person will be recuperating in Macon County. Cherokee County radio station WKRK reported Thursday morning that another New York resident residing temporarily in that county has also tested positive.

Post 10: March 18, 2020, 5:30 p.m.

Pregnant women now in the high-risk category

Pregnant women are now considered at high risk from COVID-19, the condition caused by the novel coronavirus.

“There is now some new data that have pregnant women now in that high-risk category,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, state health director and chief medical officer for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Tilson made the remarks during a Wednesday afternoon press conference. High-risk individuals include those over age 65, people with underlying health conditions and now pregnant women.

For those in the high-risk category, Tilson said, “Don’t go out.” Stay at least six feet away from other people and frequently wash hands with soap and hot water.

[More about how to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.]

Call 211 for non-emergency COVID-19 questions or help

People who are seeking help can call 211 statewide to be connected with information about local food banks, community resources or with questions about COVID-19.

“Dial 211 and based on the nature of their question they will be routed appropriately for an answer,” said N.C. Department of Emergency Management Director Michael Sprayberry. “We’ve been seeing a surge of non-emergency calls at 911 centers. 911 is for emergencies only. 211 is a good resource for non-emergency calls.”

[Find Carolina Public Press’s coronavirus (COVID-29) resource guide, which includes direct links to many community-based resources, including medical facilities.]

Attorney General: Beware of COVID-19 scams and hucksters, price gouging

N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein said scammers and hucksters are trying to take advantage of the fear and uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.

“There are no miracle cures” for COVID-19, Stein said Wednesday afternoon. “If someone is promising that, they are trying to steal your money.”

Stein also advised people to donate to reputable charities. People can report robocalls to the attorney general’s office by calling 844-8-NO-ROBO. Report scams to 877-5-NO-SCAM. Stein’s office has also created a guide to identify scams related to COVID-19. Click here to find a copy of the guide.

Post 9: March 18, 2020, 11:15 a.m.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday morning that North Carolina now has 63 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in 18 counties across the state. The state’s leading health agency also reported that 1,850 tests had been administered by the state Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial laboratories.

Some additional cases of COVID-19 in the state are not included in these confirmed numbers, however. In at least one case, a person who is a permanent resident of New York but who received a positive test result while visiting Buncombe County last week is not included. That person is now thought to be staying in Macon County.

The Fayetteville Observer is also reporting that Fort Bragg says a civilian worker now has its first case of coronavirus. Womack Army Medical Center’s Department of Public Health is investigating where the employee might have had contact with people at Fort Bragg and will advise the individuals who need to be informed, officials said.

When it comes to testing, health systems across the state announced plans Tuesday to open “drive-thru” screening locations, including two in Buncombe County and one at Blue Ridge Community College in Henderson County. Please visit your county health department website to see whether this resource is available near you and what the guidelines are for using it.

Carolina Public Press also reported Tuesday that one North Carolina county has closed its borders and is now requiring residents to display permits. People wanting to get into Dare County need to show proof that they are permitted to be there while the statewide emergency lasts. The county, which is on the coast and is home to Manteo and the Outer Banks, does not have a confirmed case of the coronavirus right now. It is the only county in North Carolina to have made such a requirement at this time.

Post 8: March 17, 2020, 12 p.m.

This is a brief midday update clarifying what Carolina Public Press reported this morning. CPP has received clarification on why a Macon County person who took a coronavirus test while visiting Buncombe County last week and has been confirmed positive for coronavirus is not included in the state’s totals, and neither Macon nor Buncombe have been added to the state map at this time.

The individual is a permanent resident of New York, so it is not being counted as a North Carolina case by health officials, even though the person is apparently staying in Macon County for now. Local health officials have said they are monitoring people who have been in contact with that person in North Carolina.

For additional information on today’s status, please see the rest of the daily updated posted this morning, below.

Post 7: March 17, 2020, 10:45 a.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday morning that he plans to shutter all restaurants and bars for dine-in service and limit operations to delivery or curbside pickup only. Cooper and the state’s coronavirus task force will hold a news media briefing today at 2 p.m., when he will announce his new executive order to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The order will be effective starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services updated its official count of confirmed coronavirus cases based on presumed positive tests this morning with several additional cases around the state. According to the official count, there are 40 cases in North Carolina, though no deaths are so far connected to those cases.

DHHS also updated the list of counties with confirmed cases to include Iredell and Sampson. Counties that have previously been reported with confirmed cases are (from west to east), Watauga, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Forsyth, Chatham, Harnett, Durham, Wake, Johnston, Wilson, Wayne, Brunswick, Onslow and Craven.

CPP reported Monday on announcements from health officials in Buncombe and Macon counties that a Macon resident tested positive while visiting Buncombe County last week and has returned to Macon County. The state has not so far identified Macon as a county with a positive test. It’s unclear whether that person is part of the statewide total or whether there has been a lag in the sharing of information among agencies. CPP has asked DHHS for clarification but did not receive a response prior to this update.

Several North Carolina counties have announced the placement of drive-thru testing centers for the coronavirus. Visit your county health department website to see whether this resource is available near you and what the guidelines are for using it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is updating its official tally in the afternoons on weekdays and increased its total Monday for the first time since Friday. The CDC count shows 3,536 cases, with 68 deaths. Many of the deaths are from the large cluster near Seattle, but other substantial clusters of cases have also developed in California, New York and Massachusetts.

Increased calls for social distancing and limiting gatherings to 10 people if possible for several weeks surfaced nationally on Monday with an announcement from President Donald Trump. CPP reports this morning on the problems that efforts at social distancing are creating for state and county election officials, who are generally required to work in close proximity to complete tasks after the March 3 primary. The coronavirus crisis may also affect the upcoming 11th Congressional District primary runoff in May and interfere with the elections process in other ways going forward.

Post 6: March 16, 2020, 12:15 p.m.

After the state posted its new official numbers this morning, local health officials reported the first confirmed case in southwestern North Carolina. Health officials in Macon County have reported a confirmed case there in a person who visited Buncombe County last week. According to Buncombe County health officials, this is the first confirmed case associated with Buncombe, which is the region’s most populous county. Previously, the only Western North Carolina confirmed case was in Watauga County in the northwestern corner of the state.

Also after the state’s morning update, The Fayetteville Observer reported another new case in Harnett County, which is between Raleigh and Fayetteville. This is the third confirmed case in Harnett. These two cases would increase the state total to at least 35, but there may be other confirmed tests throughout the day today.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has, so far, only been updating its official count once a day, usually before noon. Unlike the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which is only updating its national count at 4 p.m. daily on weekdays, NC DHHS did provide updated numbers on Saturday and Sunday.

Earlier today, the state officially confirmed the first case in a resident of Wilson County.

Besides the newly reported Macon County case, there are now confirmed cases in (from west to east) Watauga, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Forsyth, Chatham, Durham, Wake, Harnett, Johnston, Wilson, Brunswick, Onslow and Craven counties.

So far, there are no confirmed deaths in North Carolina due to coronavirus.

North Carolina students are beginning what could be an extended period off from school today after Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order on Saturday closing public schools and banning large gatherings. This order placed a misdemeanor charge on gatherings over 100, with a few exceptions, such as for shopping centers. However, since then the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has called for a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people. It’s not clear whether North Carolina will adjust its rules accordingly.

New reporting out from Carolina Public Press this morning looks at the issue of testing for coronavirus, how it’s working, why there are limits on who can be tested, whether insurance is waiving copays and related issues. CPP is also reporting this morning on the cancellation of major spring events in several parts of the state, such as Wilmington’s Azalea Festival, and adjustments made at major venues like the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and the Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

Post 5: March 16, 2020, 10:55 a.m.

The official count of confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina increased by just one today, to 33, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The new case involves a resident of Wilson County, the first confirmed case in that county.

There are now confirmed cases in (from west to east) Watauga, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Forsyth, Chatham, Durham, Wake, Harnett, Johnston, Wilson, Brunswick, Onslow and Craven counties.

So far, there are no confirmed deaths in North Carolina due to coronavirus.

North Carolina students are beginning what could be an extended period off from school today after Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order on Saturday closing public schools and banning large gatherings. This order placed a misdemeanor charge on gatherings over 100, with a few exceptions, such as for shopping centers. However, since then the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has called for a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people. It’s not clear whether North Carolina will adjust its rules accordingly.

New reporting out from Carolina Public Press this morning looks at the issue of testing for coronavirus, how it’s working, why there are limits on who can be tested, whether insurance is waiving copays and related issues. CPP is also reporting this morning on the cancellation of major spring events in several parts of the state, such as Wilmington’s Azalea Festival, and adjustments made at major venues like the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and the Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

Post 4: March 15, 2020, 11:15 a.m.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services updated its public count of confirmed coronavirus cases today, adding 9 new cases, just one day after adding 8. The total count is now 32 confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina.

One additional county, Watauga, has a resident confirmed with the COVID-19 virus today. This is the first Western North Carolina county with a confirmed case.

This follows the addition of several coastal counties to the count on Saturday. Counties with confirmed cases are now spread throughout the state. They include (from west to east): Watauga, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Forsyth, Chatham, Durham, Wake, Harnett, Johnston, Wayne, Brunswick, Onslow and Craven.

Late Saturday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order closing public schools for at least two weeks, with many details to be worked out, including how to feed children who relied on school meals.

The governor’s order also banned most large gatherings, making any violation a misdemeanor. He said this was necessary because a previous request to avoid large gatherings, with no criminal penalty, was being ignored by event planners and attendees.

For more information on the executive order, please see the related article from Carolina Public Press.

CPP continues to update its Resource Guide to Coronavirus in North Carolina, with additional information about major religious organizations added. Many churches used websites to update their schedules and policies late Saturday in light of the governor’s order restricting large gatherings.

Post 3: March 14, 2020, 2:45 p.m.

North Carolina health officials updated their public tallies for coronavirus cases today, adding new cases for the first time in three days. They now show 23 confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina, an increase of 8 cases from the former count.

They also are reporting cases in more counties, with Harnett, Wayne, Craven, Onslow and Brunswick counties added to the totals. This brings confirmed cases into the state’s coastal region for the first time. Previously, the state had reported confirmed cases in central counties, including Wake, Durham, Chatham, Johnston, Forsyth, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg. No counties in the state’s western region have confirmed cases so far, according to the official count.

There are still no known deaths in North Carolina due to coronavirus.

Nationally, 1,694 cases have been confirmed, with 41 deaths tied to the illness. Most of the deaths have been in Washington state.

Post 2: March 14, 2020, 9 a.m.

Although the state has not publicly updated its official count of confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina yet, the Fayetteville Observer reported late Friday, March 13, that a presumed positive test had been confirmed for a Harnett County resident. There may also be other positive tests that have not been added to the official tally yet. Harnett is adjacent to Wake and Johnston counties, where residents previously tested positive.

At this time, the state reports the same tally as it has since Thursday, March 12: 15 confirmed cases in North Carolina, 14 of which are presumed positives and one of which is confirmed positive.

There are still no known deaths due to coronavirus in North Carolina. See the previous post below for a list of affected counties.

Post 1: March 13, 2020, 11:59 p.m.

This is the first installment of a regularly updated post on the status of COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, in North Carolina, provided by Carolina Public Press until such time as it is no longer deemed necessary.

At this time, North Carolina officials have reported 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Carolina, including 14 presumptive positive tests and one confirmed positive test.

According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, one of those cases involves a resident of Durham County who tested positive for COVID-19 while in another state. The presumed positive tests are based in Wake, Durham, Johnston, Chatham, Forsyth, Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties.

These totals do not represent a change from the status reported a day earlier.

There have been no known novel coronavirus deaths in North Carolina, state officials say.

Nationally, there have been 1,215 cases and 36 deaths, according to official counts. Most of the deaths have occurred in Washington state.

Additional details about the origins and spread of the coronavirus, plus practical medical information and information about how hospitals, schools, colleges and other organizations are dealing with the virus are available on the Carolina Public Press Resource Guide To Coronavirus In North Carolina, which is being updated regularly.

On Friday, March 13, Carolina Public Press activated its Emergency News Team to provide accurate, robust and actionable information about the pandemic.

Look for regular updates to this post and expanded coverage of this unprecedented situation in the days ahead. For reader convenience, all coronavirus stories can be found at this coronavirus link.


You can strengthen independent, in-depth and investigative news for all of North Carolina

Unlike many others, Carolina Public Press isn’t owned by umbrella organizations or corporations. We are an independent and nonpartisan 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, founded and operated in North Carolina. Dedicated to being the go-to independent, in-depth and investigative news arm for North Carolina, we haven’t put up a paywall — we believe that fact-based, context-rich watchdog journalism is a vital public service. But we need your help. Carolina Public Press’ in-depth, investigative and public interest journalism takes a lot of money, persistence and hard work to produce. We are here because we believe in and are dedicated to the future of North Carolina.

So, if you value independent, in-depth and investigative reporting in the public interest for North Carolina, please take a moment to make a tax-deductible contribution. It only takes a minute and makes a huge difference. Thank you!

Staff Reports

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *