Coronavirus update: North Carolina – Thursday, May 7

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

At least 13,054 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus as of Thursday morning, and 493 have died, according to state and county health departments.

On Wednesday, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 502 new cases of the virus, a jump from 408 reported the day before. Ten deaths were reported Wednesday.

The state was averaging 401 daily cases over the last seven days as of Wednesday.

Officials say 8% of the 164,482 COVID-19 tests administered in the state have been positive.

At least 516 North Carolinians were hospitalized with the virus on Wednesday, a decrease from the 534 reported the day before. The rolling seven-day average of daily hospitalizations in the state on Wednesday was 517.

STATE PARKS REOPENING

North Carolina’s state parks will reopen this week with restrictions, officials said Wednesday.

All 41 state parks will reopen on Saturday, with the exception of Gorges State Park in Transylvania County, which plans to reopen next week.

Hiking trails, biking trails and boat ramps at the parks will be open but visitor centers, campgrounds and picnic shelters will remain closed. Officials expect to reopen campgrounds May 22.

OUTER BANKS REOPENING

Visitors will be allowed back on North Carolina’s Outer Banks on May 16.

Dare, Hyde and Currituck counties have had visitor restrictions in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Tourists were previously banned due to the pandemic.

However, social distancing measures and other restrictions are still in place, and many businesses are closed or not operating like normal.

MEAT PROCESSING PLANTS

North Carolina officials won’t say whether they will release details on coronavirus outbreaks at meat processing plants.

RAL_042220_SMITHFIELD_JMW_02.JPG
At least one employee of the Smithfield pork processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., pictured here on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, has tested positive for COVID-19. The Bladen County plant is the largest pork processing facility in the world. Julia Wall JWALL@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

More workers at these plants across the state have contracted COVID-19, but Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said at a new conference Wednesday that only one state releases data on which plants are experiencing outbreaks.

“But I hear you,” she said during the conference. “Everyone wants more and more information, so stay tuned for more information about that.”

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of North Carolina DHHS, answers questions about NC’s food processing facilities as COVID-19 outbreaks are reported at operations around the state. Cohen spoke to reporters on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. 

BILL TARGETS EXECUTIVE ORDERS

new bill proposed in the North Carolina General Assembly would allow businesses and individuals to violate several of Gov. Roy Cooper’s coronavirus-related executive orders with virtually no consequences.

The NC Freedom to Work Act has the support of some conservatives in the state Senate and would allow businesses to reopen with a $25 civil fine and no criminal charges instead of a fine up to $1,000 or criminal charges.

Cooper, a Democratic, issued an executive order this week that will move the state into Phase One of relaxing restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic on Friday. But some businesses, including salons and gyms, must remain closed.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper talks about why salons, gyms, and other personal care business will remain closed under the state’s Phase 1 of COVID-19 coronavirus guidelines. Cooper spoke with reporters on May 5, 2020. 

It’s unclear whether the bill could get enough support to pass in the House and Senate, The News & Observer reports.

SUMMER CAMPS

Summer day camps may operate under Phase One of North Carolina’s reopening plan as long as guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are followed.

Sports and other activities cannot be offered without social distancing, and swimming is only allowed if local health officials designate the pool for use by camp attendees only.

Overnight camps are not allowed under Phase One and the state is waiting for guidance from national officials on whether they can open during Phase Two.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of North Carolina DHHS, clarifies comments made at Tuesday’s coronavirus update about what summer camps would be open or closed under the state’s COVID-19 plans. Cohen spoke to reporters on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. 

WI-FI BUSES

School buses will start providing Wi-Fi to students in some areas as schools remain closed and online learning continues for the rest of the school year.

The buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots and will travel to drive-up location in under-served areas so students can use the internet to turn in assignments, download class materials or connect with their teachers.

The Wi-Fi buses can also be used for people to apply for unemployment or connect with a doctor.

See a list of locations at www.ncbroadband.gov/covid19.

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