Coronavirus update: North Carolina – Friday, April 24

Coronavirus cases continue to climb in North Carolina. Many businesses have closed to promote social distancing in the community. 

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We’re keeping track of the most up-to-date news about the coronavirus in North Carolina. Check back for updates.

CASES TOP 7,800

North Carolina has at least 7,821 reported cases of the coronavirus as of Friday morning, and 278 people have died, according to data collected by The News & Observer from state and county health departments.

The state’s Department of Health and Human Services tally included an additional 388 cases on Thursday morning, up from 269 the day before.

At least 486 North Carolinians were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday morning, compared to 434 on Wednesday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mecklenburg County has the highest numbers in the state, with 1,377 reported cases and 37 deaths.

Wake County has 633 cases and 11 deaths and Durham County has 500 cases and nine deaths.

STAY-AT-HOME ORDER EXTENDED

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday afternoon he is extending the stay-at-home order through May 8.

The order was set to expire on April 29 and keeps nonessential business closed and bans gatherings of 10 or more people in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“It is clear that we are flattening the curve,” Cooper said in Thursday news conference. “But our state is not ready to lift restrictions yet. We need more time to slow the spread of the virus before we can ease the social restrictions.”

The announcement comes after hundreds of people gathered in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday to call for the governor to reopen businesses, and some county leaders have criticized the decision as a “one size fits all approach.”

The governor is set to announce his plans for North Carolina public schools on Friday, which are currently closed through May 15.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announces that he is extending his coronavirus executive orders and restrictions. Cooper spoke online Thursday, April 23, 2020. 

UNEMPLOYMENT APPLICATIONS OPEN

Unemployed workers in North Carolina who don’t qualify for state aid can start applying for federal assistance Friday.

“Everyone in North Carolina who’s out of work, whether it’s due to coronavirus or not, can apply for unemployment benefits online at des.nc.gov,” the N&O reported. “Then state officials will determine whether they qualify at all, and if so, whether they qualify for the state or federal benefits.”

LACK OF TESTING AT STATE PRISONS

Only about 2% of inmates at state prison facilities have been tested for the coronavirus and more than a third of those facilities haven’t tested a single inmate, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Neuse Correctional Institution in eastern North Carolina, where more than 460 prisoners have tested positive, is the exception. State officials have mandated that all 770 inmates there be tested.

At the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, at least 12 inmates have tested positive. But one inmate said there has been no mass testing of other inmates in her dorm, where some of those who tested positive live.

“We feel like targets and shots have been fired and we’re just waiting to see what targets get hit,” Pamela Humphrey, 58, told the Observer.

Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons, briefs reporters on the first death of a N.C. prison inmate from coronavirus and the policy for testing inmates in the majority of prisons in the state. Ishee spoke Wednesday, April 22, 2020 in Raleigh. 

WAKE BUDGET CUTS

More than $30 million in local government services could be cut from Wake County’s budget to offset losses from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The county expects to lose millions in sales-tax revenue because of store closings and people staying home to comply with government orders to stop the spread of COVID-19,” The News & Observer reported.

Departments have been asked to slash their budgets by 7%, but Wake County Public Schools has asked for 6% increase in funding.

“I understand the economic fallout from COVID-19 has likely just begun,” Superintendent Cathy Moore said. “Should it persist, the needs of the community could quickly outpace the county’s resources. That is why I am proposing a budget increase that is much smaller than recent years.”

CHANGES TO STUDENT GRADING

Public schools in North Carolina will change how they grade students since coronavirus has kept schools closed.

The State Board of Education on Thursday approved a new policy that won’t allow students in grades K-11 to get a failing grade for the Spring semester.

Students should be promoted to the next grade unless plans to retain them were “well underway” on March 13.

JIM BAKKER REQUESTS CASH

Jim Bakker, a televangelist with ties to the Charlotte area, said his ministry could face bankruptcy if his viewers don’t send in cash or checks. Bakker said people can’t use credit cards to make donations after he was accused of selling a bogus cure for the coronavirus.

He served prison time after a fraud conviction in 1989, McClatchy News reported.

OUTER BANKS LOOSEN RESTRICTIONS

Starting Thursday, some visitors are allowed back to parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

People who own property in Currituck County but don’t live there can arrive starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, as long as they have permits. But visitors won’t be allowed until May 15.

Non-resident property owners will also be allowed back in Dare County, home to most of the Outer Banks, in phases starting May 4, but it’s unclear when other visitors will be permitted.

Both counties previously closed to visitors in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper reacts to a second protest by ReOpenNC in Raleigh Tuesday, April 21, 2020. 

NURSING HOME OUTBREAKS

Three people at Universal Healthcare Lillington, a nursing home in Harnett County, have tested positive for the coronavirus, county health officials said Wednesday.

There are 40 nursing homes and 14 residential care facilities in North Carolina with ongoing outbreaks, the state health department says.

There were 1,350 coronavirus cases and 117 deaths reported among nursing homes and residential care facilities as of Thursday morning, according to the DHHS.

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