Coronavirus update: North Carolina – Monday, April 20

CASES TOP 6,500

North Carolina has at least 6,589 reported cases of the coronavirus as of Monday morning, and 192 people have died, according to state and county health departments.

State officials reported 353 new cases Sunday after 281 were reported Saturday.
At least 465 North Carolinians were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Service.

Only seven counties in the state have not reported a case of the virus.

Mecklenburg County has the most, with 1,183 cases and 29 deaths reported.

In the Triangle, Wake County has 592 reported cases and four deaths and Durham County has 409 cases and five deaths.

PEAK PROJECTIONS

North Carolina’s coronavius-related death toll reached its peak last week, according to experts at the University of Washington. The reported number of deaths in the state has fallen each day since April 16.

A University of Pennsylvania model shows hard-hit Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, will hit its peak case count on June 8.

BEACHES REOPEN

Some North Carolina beaches that closed due to the coronavirus pandemic have reopened.

Surf City lifted restrictions at public beach access points throughout the town. Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle reopened beaches for property owners and residents.

In the Southeast, Georgia reopened its public beaches, and South Carolina plans to start doing so this week.

GROUP SEEKS PROTESTING PROTECTION

ReOpenNC, a grassroots group opposing the state’s stay-at-home order and business closures, is seeking legal protection following the arrest of a protester in Raleigh last week.

Lawyers representing the group sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper and the Wake County Board of Commissioners chairman on Friday asking for written clarification that protests are considered essential activities that aren’t subject to restrictions on mass gatherings.

The group says it will take legal action if it hasn’t received a response by 2 p.m. Monday.

More than 100 protesters rallied in downtown Raleigh to reopen N.C. on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, describing Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-home order as an unconstitutional overreach that will kill the state’s small businesses. One protestor was arrested. 

RE-OPEN NASCAR?

Five Republican state senators want the governor to allow Charlotte Motor Speedway to partially reopen, without fans, for the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24.

The governor issued a stay-at-home order March 27 that closed all non-essential businesses in the state.

But the senators, all from the Charlotte area, said in a press release Sunday that Florida has adopted similar policies and that fan-less NASCAR racing seems like a “safe step” in partially reopening society.

NASCAR’s season is suspended, The Charlotte Observer reports, but the Associated Press reported Friday that NASCAR has “privately given teams a revised schedule in which racing would return with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.”

SUPREME COURT WON’T HEAR CASE

The North Carolina Supreme Court has declined to hear a case from public interest groups who sued for the release of some inmates during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NAACP, Disability Rights North Carolina, the state’s chapter of the ACLU and several inmates filed the lawsuit on April 8, The Charlotte Observer reports.

The state’s highest court left the door open for the lawsuit to proceed in state Superior Court.

CASES AT ANOTHER FEDERAL PRISON

One inmate and at least three staff members at Rivers Correctional Institution in Hertford County have tested positive for the coronavirus, The News & Observer reports.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is tracking coronavirus cases and deaths, but not at a dozen privately run facilities across the country, including Rivers.

Butner in Granville County has one of the biggest coronavirus outbreaks among federal prisons, with 65 inmates and 27 staff members reportedly testing positive. Five inmates there have died.

In the state prison system, officials said about 500 inmates who met certain criteria could qualify for early release. Now, more than 280 inmates at the Neuse Correctional Institution have tested positive for the disease.

Advocates want North Carolina to do more to protect people in custody. A group is continuing a push to release inmates early after the N.C. Supreme Court notified them it wouldn’t consider their lawsuit.

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