We’re keeping track of the most up-to-date news about the coronavirus in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
At least 12,511 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Wednesday morning, and 472 have died, according to state and county health departments.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday reported 408 new cases of COVID-19, a jump from the 184 it reported the day before. The state was averaging 384 daily cases over the last seven days as of Tuesday.
At least 534 North Carolinians were hospitalized with the virus on Tuesday, up from 498 the day before. The rolling seven-day average of daily hospitalizations on Tuesday was 522, a number that has been steadily increasing since the beginning of April.
Avery County is the only of the state’s 100 counties that hasn’t reported a case of the coronavirus. At least one death has been reported in 64 counties.
FIRST PHASE OF REOPENING STARTS FRIDAY
Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday issued an executive order that will allow North Carolina to move into the first phase of the lifting of statewide restrictions.
The order goes in effect at 5 p.m. Friday. The statewide stay-at-home order will still be in place, but restrictions on leaving the home will be loosened and more businesses will be allowed to open.
Retail stores will be allowed to operate at 50% of their capacity with cleaning and social distancing measures.
Restaurants and bars will still be restricted to take out and delivery services, and other businesses, such as salons, gyms and movie theaters, will remain closed.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed, and state parks and trails are encouraged to reopen. But social distancing is still required.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, said North Carolina has hit three out of four trend benchmarks related to coronavirus.
North Carolina has hit three of the four “trends” state leaders have identified as important factors in deciding when to reopen the state’s economy.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, made the announcement Tuesday when the governor also said Phase One of the reopening plan will begin Friday.
Cohen said the state is meeting the following trend benchmarks because the numbers are declining or leveling off: patients with COVID-19 patients seen by health care workers, hospitalized patients with the virus and the percent of tests coming back positive.
The state has not met the fourth trend benchmark, which is the number of coronavirus cases. The figure continues to climb as more people get tested.
THOUSANDS HAVE HOURS CUT
More than 4,000 North Carolinians who work at a restaurant chain had their hours reduced.
The cuts at OS Restaurant Services, which includes Outback, Carrabba’s, Bonefish and Fleming’s, affect 4,184 workers at 65 locations across North Carolina.
“We have not had any layoffs and do not currently plan any,” said Elizabeth Watts, a company spokesperson, according to The Charlotte Observer. “We sent WARN notices to employees and the required municipalities due to a reduction in hours resulting from the closing of our dining rooms.”
CASES AMONG INMATES
Inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women who were paid $1 a day to clean government buildings say they later tested positive for the coronavirus.
Officials said on March 25 they were suspending the prison work release program due to coronavirus concerns, but the program went on until April 16, The Charlotte Observer reported.
John Bull, a spokesperson for the state prisons, told the Observer the cleaning was “deemed to be essential to the continued effective operations of the Department of Public Safety during the response to this pandemic” and that they stopped “the moment anyone showed symptoms.”
At least 90 inmates at the facility in Raleigh have tested positive for COVID-19.