Coronavirus in the Carolinas: SC reports highest virus numbers in weeks

Physician says people shouldn?t wait to go to ER for non-coronavirus-related issues

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Here is a roundup of what’s happening so far today, June 10, surrounding COVID-19 in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Scroll below for live, local real-time minute-by-minute updates.

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Live, local updates from Wednesday:

South Carolina reports highest virus numbers in weeks

Gov. Henry McMaster held a news conference about South Carolina’s response to COVID-19 Wednesday for the first time since the Friday before Memorial Day.

State Epidemiologist Dr. LInda Bell said there were 528 new cases today in the state, which is continuing a trend of increasing cases. Leaders said the latest data is the highest numbers they’ve seen in the last two weeks.

Bell said she’s more concerned now about COVID-19 than she has been during the entire length of the pandemic.

She is emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask in public and social distancing. She said the percent positive of tests is also higher, showing more people are getting sick, not just due to an increase in testing.

Dr. Bell said residents should ask themselves what they can do to stop the spread of the virus. She said hard data is not needed to show that people are not social distancing or doing enough to slow the spread.

Bell said the first increase in trends was following Memorial Day and it was not unexpected.

McMaster said slowing the virus is an individual responsibility and people need to be smart.

“The ultimate price for this lack of care, is death," he said.

He said he can’t keep businesses closed and has no intention of closing any more businesses.

He also said the state can’t require people to wear masks.

“At this point it’s individual responsibility, not mandates by the government,” McMaster said. “There are not enough police officers to go around the entire state and enforce mandates.”

McMaster, showing his frustration also said, “There’s a lot of stupid floating around out there.” -- referring to the lack of social distancing and people not taking the virus seriously.

According to McMaster, Accelerate SC will recommend to lawmakers that the federal government add $500 million to the unemployment insurance trust fund. The fund had $1.1 billion in it before the pandemic hit.

McMaster said he’s also recommending $215 million go to reimburse public school districts to provide extra days of instruction, or expand school hours to bring students up to full speed.

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“I CONTINUE TO BE CONCERNED”: DR. COHEN WORRIED ABOUT COVID TRENDS IN NC

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said during a news conference on Wednesday that she remains concerned about the direction of the trends in the state.

“We had 1,011 new laboratory-confirmed cases which was our fourth day in the last week where we exceeded 1,000 cases and it was our highest day yet of hospitalizations,” she said. “I continue to be concerned.”

She noted that other states in the region are seeing similar trends.

Cohen stressed the importance of the three Ws -- wearing a cloth face covering, waiting 6 feet apart and washing your hands. She said that coronavirus continues to be spread by people who don’t realize they have it and wearing a mask prevents people from spreading it when they don’t know they have it.

Two ways that the state is responding, she said, is through contact tracing and testing. She encouraged people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or work in essential businesses to get tested, even if they aren’t experiencing symptoms.

Cohen also said that there are particular areas across the state where health officials are working to surge tracing and testing -- including Mecklenburg, Durham, Wake, Forsyth, Duplin, Lee, Johnson, Alamance counties.

She said that some of those counties, particularly Lee County, were flagged as places of possible concern by Dr. Deborah Birx and the White House Coronavirus Task Force when the state talked to them earlier this week about potential trouble spots.

NC AGAIN SEES SINGLE-DAY RECORD OF COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATIONS

North Carolina’s hospitalizations from coronavirus continue to grow. The state hit a record high for hospitalizations Wednesday, with 780 people currently in the hospital with severe COVID-19 symptoms -- setting a record for the fifth time in June.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,011 new cases in the past 24 hours, along with 17,939 completed tests Wednesday. Twenty-four more people have died, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,053.

The additional 1,011 new COVID-19 cases bring the state’s total to 38,171, while the 17,939 completed tests bring the total number of completed tests in the state to 553,650.

Mecklenburg County continues to lead the state in both cases and deaths with at least 5,861 and 117 respectively.

For the first time since the outbreak began, the state has a full 30-day supply of personal protective equipment.

Confirmed cases by age:

0-17 (8%)

18-24 (11%)

25-49 (45%)

50-64 (21%)

65-74 (7%)

75 or older (8%)

COVID-19 deaths by age:

25-49 (4%)

50-64 (13%)

65-74 (20%)

75 or older (62%)

Cases by race:

White: 54%

Black: 27%

Cases by gender:

Women: 50%

Men: 50%

(Men account for 53% of deaths)

Cases and deaths in congregate living settings:

There are 102 outbreaks in nursing homes across the state, resulting in 3,805 cases and 554 deaths.

There are 54 outbreaks at residential care facilities across the state, resulting in 964 cases and 83 deaths.

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BOCC SEEKS APPLICATIONS FOR NEW COVID-19 RECOVERY AND RENEWAL TASK FORCE

On June 2, 2020, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) established the COVID-19 Recovery and Renewal Task Force. The twenty-three-member Task Force will include the County Manager and was created to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mecklenburg County.

The BOCC is currently seeking Task Force members with experience in: providing access to health care and eliminating health disparities, mental and emotional health, economic recovery, including help for small business, non-profit recovery and human services, education and childcare, assisting working families and vulnerable populations, housing and homelessness, jobs and workforce development, addressing food security, and arts and culture.

The Task Force will examine and help address COVID-19 impact issues that are specific to employees, businesses, public health, education, the economy, and the overall well-being of the residents in Mecklenburg County. They will develop a comprehensive Recovery and Renewal Plan of Action (or a limited series of plans) to be presented and recommended to the Mecklenburg BOCC for approval and action in the following substantive areas:

  • Access to health care and eliminating health disparities
  • Mental and emotional health
  • Economic recovery, including help for small business
  • Non-profit recovery and human services
  • Education and childcare
  • Working families and vulnerable populations
  • Housing and homelessness
  • Jobs and workforce development
  • Food security
  • Arts and culture

The action plan (or plans) will include and incorporate recommendations from the County Manager's Business Roundtable.

APPLICATION AND APPOINTMENT PROCESS

The BOCC will make nominations/ appointments at their June 23, 2020 meeting. Any remaining appointments will be completed at the July 7, 2020 meeting. The Board will also select co-chairs at the July 7, 2020 meeting.

To be considered for appointment, all candidates must:

  • Be a resident of Mecklenburg County
  • Complete the online advisory board application here: https://mecklenburgcounty.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_01JegxKq3eVQe1v.
  • If you require the application in hard copy format, please contact the Clerk to the Board at 980-314-2939.
  • Submit your resume to the Clerk to the Board at Clerk@MeckNC.Gov.
  • Submit your application and resume by Friday, June 19, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. to be considered for nomination on June 23rd.

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North Carolina Seeing Increase in COVID-19 Hospitalizations

ABC News has found eight states across the country are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Percent increase in hospitalizations since May 25:

  • Arkansas: 65.8%
  • Arizona: 45.1%
  • Mississippi: 3.5%
  • North Carolina: 19.3%
  • South Carolina: 6.6%
  • Tennessee: 65.1%
  • Texas: 10.5%
  • Utah: 10.5%

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CATS to distribute free cloth face masks to riders

Wednesday, CATS will take steps to make sure riders are safe when they get on the bus or train.

It plans to distribute 16,000 cloth masks to riders from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Transit Center and the arena side of the light rail platform.

Also happening Wednesday, the North Carolina House will take one final look at a bill that would allow bars and gyms to reopen before sending it to Governor Roy Cooper’s desk.

The North Carolina Senate passed the legislation Tuesday afternoon. It is an updated version from one that Cooper already vetoed that only focused on bars.

The bill also included a measure that would strip the governor’s power to close them back down if COVID-19 cases spiked.

Cooper specifically called out that measure as a reason to veto the bill, so in the updated version passed by the Senate, the bill allows the governor the re-close them but only with the approval of the Council of State.

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Wednesday Morning Storylines

A bill that would allow bars and gyms to reopen passed the state Senate on Tuesday and is now going to the House. The bill would allow gyms, health clubs and fitness centers to reopen at 50 percent capacity. Bars would also be allowed to reopen and restaurants to double their capacity under the bill.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Carolina hit another high on Tuesday at 774. Twenty-three additional deaths brought the total to 1,029 deaths since mid-March.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released new guidance on Tuesday about who should be tested for COVID-19. North Carolina is now focused on rapidly increasing testing of people who may not currently have symptoms but may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The guidance recommends that doctors conduct or arrange for COVID-19 testing for: Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, close contacts of known positive cases regardless of symptoms, populations with a higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected including people who live in high-risk settings, historically marginalized populations who may be at higher risk for exposure, frontline and essential workers, health care workers or first responders, people who are at high risk of severe illness and people who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings.

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South Carolina’s Latest COVID-19 Update (Tuesday)

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 434 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 15,228 and those who have died to 568.