Coronavirus local updates: South Carolina reports 331 new COVID-19 cases, 13 more deaths

Coronavirus local updates: May 29 evening

More than 5.8 million people worldwide -- including more than 1.7 million people in the United States – have been infected with the new coronavirus, and the number of deaths from the outbreak continues to rise. Officials are attempting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. as hospitals manage unprecedented patient surges.

>> Scroll below for live, local real-time minute-by-minute updates

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Content Continues Below

***Possible news conferences scheduled for today***

Mecklenburg County: (TBA)

North Carolina Task Force: (TBA)

South Carolina Task Force (TBA)

White House Task Force: (TBA)

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>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

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>> Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina and South Carolina. Scroll below for real-time updates.

  • The number of cases across North Carolina reached 26,488 on Friday. North Carolina is now reporting 859 deaths, 391,231 completed tests and 680 people currently in the hospital.
  • Gov. Roy Cooper and the state’s coronavirus task force announced the state moved into a “safer-at-home” plan on May 22.
  • Gov. Henry McMaster lifted the home or work order in South Carolina on May 1.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the United States here.

Important Links:

Live, local updates from Friday:

6:15 p.m.

COVID-19 Drive-thru Testing Event

The Rowan County Public Health Department is conducting the first drive-thru COVID-19 testing event on June 1 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at West End Plaza. There are many testing times and locations throughout Rowan County.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, anyone receiving a test from any source or location should self-isolate until test results are received. This is intended to minimize the risk of spreading the virus during the time from testing until results are received.

For a complete list of testing locations and additional information, visit the Rowan County COVID-19 Testing webpage.

3:30 p.m.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced 331 new cases of the coronavirus and 13 additional deaths.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in South Carolina to 11,131 and those who have died to 483.

Officials said eight of the deaths were elderly people from Berkeley (1), Darlington (1), Fairfield (1), Florence (2), Greenville (1), Horry (1) and Spartanburg (1) counties

Five of the deaths were middle-aged people from Florence (1), Laurens (1), Lee (1), Saluda (1), and Williamsburg (1) counties.

As of May 28, it is estimated that 85% of the cases in the state have recovered.

3:15 p.m.

New data released by Mecklenburg County shows an increase in positive COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations over the last 14 days.

On Friday, the county reported 3,667 cases of the coronavirus and 89 deaths.

“These increasing trends are a clear sign that COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our community. With expanded testing and increased commercial and recreational activity, we anticipated these increases. We will continue to monitor our local data closely,” said Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director.

The data below represent cases reported as of May 27:

According to data, an average of 8.2% of people who were tested for the virus were positive, which is an increase.

Officials said about three in four reported cases were adults ages 20 to 59 years old. Also, more than a third of reported cases in the county are Hispanic individuals, officials said.

Also, about one in eight cases were hospitalized due to the virus. Officials said adults ages 60 and over were more likely to be hospitalized.

The county said deaths due to COVID-19 were almost all older adults, with five deaths being adults ages 40 to 59. Also, more than half of the deaths in the county were tied to outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

“I am, however, concerned that the lack of adherence to the current guidance on gatherings, physical distancing and wearing cloth face coverings is likely accelerating the spread of this infection in our community,” Harris said. “We must all play our part in protecting ourselves and those most vulnerable to this infection by avoiding large gatherings, keeping 6 feet physical distance from others, wearing a cloth face covering, and practicing good hygiene.”

3 p.m.

President Trump called a news conference at the White House, where he discussed the nation’s relationship with China.

The president claims China covered up COVID-19, costing American lives.

He also announced that he is severing ties with the World Health Organization in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

1:35 p.m.

OUTBREAKS ONGOING AT CONGREGATE CARE FACILITIES

Catawba County Public Health is seeing an increase in cases related to ongoing outbreaks at congregate care facilities. Based on test results received today, 31 residents and two staff at Brian Center Health and Rehabilitation in Viewmont have been infected with COVID-19. No additional cases have been identified at Abernethy Laurels in Newton. Two cases are associated with a small group home for adults in Catawba County.

“We have been conducting aggressive testing to help rapidly identify new cases associated with long-term care facilities,” said Catawba County Health Director Jennifer McCracken. “These numbers are a disheartening reminder of how quickly COVID-19 can spread in this environment. Families of facility residents are understandably worried about their loved ones, and we are committed to supporting these facilities as they work to protect and care for their residents.”

Assistance from Public Health has included ongoing and frequent communication with facility administrators, advising facilities on measures they should take to prevent the spread of COVID-19, helping to address Personal Protective Equipment concerns, and aiding facilities in rapidly identifying additional cases.

1:30 p.m.

Atrium Health Increases Ongoing Commitment to Charlotte’s Hispanic Community Amid COVID-19

Throughout the greater Charlotte region, there has been an increase in positive coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases directly affecting the Hispanic population. The latest data indicates the pandemic is largely affecting young Hispanic people ages 20 to 40, including several clusters at construction sites in Charlotte. As part of its mission to improve health, elevate hope and advance healing – for all, Atrium Health is focusing its commitment by launching a new initiative, “Para Tu Salud” – simply translated to “For Your Health” – to further educate and inform Hispanic communities on how to stay safe and healthy.

“We are incredibly proud to be a national leader in how we’re improving access to coronavirus testing and have eliminated the testing disparity among African American and Hispanic patient populations in the communities we serve, but our commitment doesn’t stop there,” said Kinneil Coltman, DHA, senior vice president, chief community and external affairs officer at Atrium Health. “We’re opening our hearts in new, innovative and thoughtful ways to ensure all members of all our communities receive the care and support they need to stay safe and healthy during these uncertain times.”

Committed to caring for all, Atrium Health understands where one lives, works and plays can have a meaningful impact on health outcomes. Since the initial COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas, Atrium Health is protecting the health and well-being of all our minority and underserved communities through existing and new efforts:

  • Initiated a nationally-leading innovative mobile COVID-19 testing model designed to accommodate schedules for essential workers, ensure the ability to pay is not an inhibiting factor for those who need to be screened and tested, and eliminate barriers to care by not requiring an appointment or referral.
  • Started a grassroots communication outreach to trusted community leaders, organizations and clergy to help share critical COVID-19-related health information, care, and testing options.
  • Convened roundtable discussions with service providers to bridge services and resources to meet the needs of our Hispanic community.
  • Introduced virtual technology support to connect our patients with their families and loved ones as part of their care.
  • Continued language assistance in over 200 languages to communicate in a way our patients are most comfortable.
  • Established a dedicated Spanish-translated Coronavirus webpage with information, resources and a free risk-assessment.
  • Continued protecting our patients’ information, including immigration status, to ensure nothing prevents our patients from getting the care they need to get better and stay safe.
  • Built a robust data infrastructure to track and monitor for health disparities among the underserved and communities of color.
  • Formed a Multicultural Communications Taskforce to provide culturally responsive communications and a Disparities Work Group comprised of teammates across the system to identify ways to further address disparities and access to testing.

“As representatives and supporters of the Latino business community in our region, we are incredibly thankful to have our partners at Atrium Health so deeply involved in the safety and health of our community,” said Rocio Gonzalez-Zornosa, executive director of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte. “We applaud that they are not waiting for individuals to come to them, but they are going out into the communities they serve and offer their services ‘for all.’ We appreciate having access to Atrium Health’s in-language information, their 24/7 hotline, website resources, and their constant involvement in the many community groups. It is clear that Atrium Health truly wants to ensure they are meeting the needs of our businesses, workforce and families.”

Experts believe there are several prominent reasons why the Hispanic community may be at greater risk for contracting COVID-19, including the fact that many are still working in essential jobs. Additionally, these communities face obstacles to care including socioeconomic challenges, language barriers, cultural differences and concerns seeking timely healthcare due to underlying fears based on their immigration status.

In the wake of even the most difficult times, quality care should never discriminate – and at Atrium Health, it doesn’t. No matter one’s age, race or socioeconomic status – regardless of where someone comes from or their personal history – Atrium Health is the leader throughout the region providing compassionate care now and always.

1:20 p.m.

Per Coroner Karla Deese: Lancaster County Coroner’s Office has confirmed Lancaster County’s 6th COVID-19 positive death.

12:45 p.m.

Prisons Begins COVID-19 Tests of All Offenders at Caswell Correctional

To protect staff and offenders, Division of Prisons officials today initiated the testing of all 420 offenders at Caswell Correctional Center, as well as continuing to provide testing access and to encourage staff to be tested. Data and previous experience at Neuse Correctional Institution prompted the decision to test all offenders at the facility.

“This data-driven decision and strategy is the result of a strong collaborative and coordinated effort with the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “We will do all we can to stamp out this stubborn outbreak at Caswell Correctional with hard work and strict attention to medical protocols. We have done it before at Neuse and we will do it again.”

COVID-19 tests swabs will be taken from the entire offender population at the facility. The results from LabCorp are expected by the beginning of next week.

When the results are in, anticipated actions include: • Placing newly positive offenders in medical isolation • Separating offenders who test negative and keeping them in medical quarantine in cohorts while their health conditions are closely monitored. • Disinfecting thoroughly all facility offices and dormitories with industrial-strength Power Breezers. • Elevating hand hygiene regimens and strictly enforcing the wearing of face masks by all staff and offenders.

The data-driven decision to test the entire offender population at the prison was based on a gradual increase in the number of offenders who tested positive for COVID-19 through symptom-based testing, as well as a gradual increase in the number of staff who either self-reported testing positive for the virus or who tested positive in a Caswell County Health Department-offered voluntary testing initiative that began on May 8.

A similar mass-testing of the offender population was conducted at Neuse Correctional in Goldsboro in April and revealed an extensive outbreak of coronavirus, mostly in offenders who never showed any symptoms, that was then contained. All current offenders at that prison have met DHHS and Centers for Disease Control criteria to be presumed recovered.

Since mid-April, a total of 19 of the 420 offenders at Caswell Correctional have tested positive and 19 of the 136 staff assigned to the dormitory-style prison have tested positive.

An additional factor in the decision to test the entire Caswell Correctional offender population: Previous symptom-based testing has revealed positive results in offenders housed in 12 of the prison’s 14 dormitories. This is an indication the virus is not confined to limited sections of the prison.

“The safety of the staff and the offenders throughout the state prison system absolutely remains our top priority,” Ishee said. “This is a nasty virus that poses significant challenges. It is sneaky, highly contagious and difficult to contain because people may have it and not know it and spread it unwittingly to others. We will address this problem at Caswell.”

The Division of Prisons has taken more than four dozen actions to prevent COVID-19 from getting into the prisons, and to contain it within a facility if it does and to prevent its spread to other prisons.

12 p.m.

City of Charlotte Announces Small Business Partner Support Grant

The City of Charlotte will accept proposals beginning Monday, June 1 for the Small Business Partner Support Grant, which will allow our partners to serve the small business community as they maneuver through this difficult time. The Small Business Partner Support Grant is a $2 million fund to provide grants to small business ecosystem partners focusing on COVID-19 impact relief. Funds may be used to provide programs, projects, or services to the local small business community. The maximum grant is $250,000 and must be used by December 30, 2020.

Eligibility:

To be eligible for the program the applicant must be a government, non-profit, academic, or Chamber/501(c)6 organization that’s main purpose is to serve the local small business community. You will be asked to provide/describe the following:

  • Agency description
  • Must be located in the City of Charlotte (Headquarters or Local Office)
  • Must provide documentation that the organization has served the Charlotte business community for at least two years (i.e. annual reports or similar supporting documents)
  • Agency mission and vision statement
  • Documents supporting agency designation
  • 501(c)3 letter
  • 501(c)6 letter
  • Cooperative Agreement with governmental agency
  • Other supporting documentation
  • List of current Board of Directors/Advisory Board: Name, Title, Year Appointed to Board
  • Annual Audit (with two-year comparative financials), if applicable
  • Federal Tax Returns for the previous two years

Proposal Requirements:

Applicants will be asked to submit the following information to help us better understand your proposed project/program/service:

  • A detailed scope of work describing how the project/program/service alleviates the impact of COVID-19 for the local small business community
  • An itemized budget and specific timeline for the proposed project/program/service
  • Detailed performance measures and outcomes (i.e. number of businesses served)

Application Process:

The application can be found online. The application will open on Monday, June 1 at Noon and will closed on Thursday, June 11 at 5 p.m. Grants will be awarded by the end of June. Please direct all questions to Christi Floyd cfloyd@charlottenc.gov or call 704-336-6924.

11:20 a.m.

NCDHHS has released updated data on COVID-19 for the state:

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,076 new COVID-19 cases, the second-highest number of daily reported cases since the pandemic began. However, the state also reported 16,039 more completed tests, more than doubling its daily goal of 5,000 to 7,000 tests. This brings the total number of completed tests in the state to 391,231.

According to NCDHHS data, 9% of tests were positive.

There have been 32 new deaths attributed to COVID-19 since Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 859.

The state reported 680 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, which is down from 708 on Thursday.

Mecklenburg County continues to lead the state in both cases and deaths with at least 3,837 and 88 respectively.

Confirmed cases by age:

0-17 (6%)

18-24 (9%)

25-49 (44%)

50-64 (23%)

65-74 (8%)

75 or older (10%)

COVID-19 deaths by age:

25-49 (4%)

50-64 (12%)

65-74 (21%)

75 or older (63%)

Cases by race:

White: 54%

Black: 30%

Cases by gender:

Women: 51%

Men: 49%

(Men account for 53% of deaths)

Cases and deaths in congregate living settings:

There have been 89 outbreaks in nursing homes across the state, resulting in 3,181 cases and 456 deaths (Anson, Burke (2); Cabarrus (2); Catawba; Cleveland; Iredell; Mecklenburg (9); Rowan (4); Union (2)).

There have been 37 outbreaks at residential care facilities across the state, resulting in 753 cases and 64 deaths (Cabarrus (2); Mecklenburg (6); Stanly; Union).

HOW ARE WE DOING? As the state looks to go through the phases of reopening, officials are looking to meet certain benchmarks. Here’s how we’re doing on some of those

Decrease in percent of positive tests? This metric has been level so far this week, though it increased slightly today with 9% of positive tests. However, it has remained mostly level, around 7 or 8%.

Hospitalizations decreasing? Twenty-eight fewer people are in the hospital for a total of 680, but that metric is still much higher than in previous weeks and the state’s third highest day. Still, 23 percent of inpatient beds and 16 percent of ICU beds in the state are available. NCDHHS reports 76 percent of ventilators are available.

Testing capacity? The state more than doubled its goal in the last 24 hours.

Contract tracers During a news conference Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper said the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative has hired nearly all 250 new contact tracers they were contracted to employ. This doubles the state’s number of contact tracers to 500.

PPE Supplies? Though the state still does not have a 30-day supply of surgical gowns on hand, supplies have now reached a 29 day supply--a dramatic increase from a 0 da supply last week. However, the state’s stockpile of N95 respirators has decreased to a 19-day supply.

11:10 a.m.

COVID-19 Testing Extended to July 31 for Prisons, Community Corrections, Juvenile Justice Staff

The N.C. Department of Public Safety today announced it will extend until July 31 an initiative that provides voluntary COVID-19 testing to employees in its Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice (ACJJ). The initiative was expanded past its original tentative May 31 end date after the State Health Plan announced earlier this week it would extend to July 31 the time period in which state employees covered by the plan could receive COVID-19 testing at no cost.

The testing initiative occurring in collaboration with the State Health Plan, FastMed Urgent Care and LabCorp will provide more than 21,000 ACJJ employees statewide the opportunity to schedule a private appointment to be tested. Starting June 1, these tests will be conducted at all FastMed locations statewide.

Employees who work across the state in prisons or juvenile facilities, or in the community supervising juveniles and adult offenders continue to be eligible for confidential, flexible and voluntary COVID-19 testing. Effective June 1, ACJJ employees can either call into a FastMed hotline from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily or schedule the appointment online at the FastMed website. Employees will continue to access their results through LabCorp’s secure online portal.

“The Department of Public Safety would like to thank our partners -- FastMed Urgent Care, LabCorp, the State Health Plan and the Department of Health and Human Services – in extending this important initiative,” said ACJJ Chief Deputy Secretary Tim Moose. “Our dedicated staff continue to face the challenges of providing public safety to our citizens through the pandemic, and their health and safety are our top priorities.“

This staff testing initiative has made testing available to employees who work for Prisons, Community Corrections and Juvenile Justice in more than 350 work sites, facilities, office settings and communities in each of the state’s 100 counties. This plan has allowed for the safe continuity of operations and confidentiality for ACJJ staff.

The total number of ACJJ employees tested and the number of positive results can be found here.

11:05 a.m.

SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza is meeting with the owners of The Goodyear House in NoDa. The restaurant is just one business that received money from the federal government’s paycheck protection program to pay bills & retain staff during COVID-19.

10:50 a.m.

More than 640,000 North Carolinians have received unemployment benefits since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the state. According to the Department of Employment Security, 640,797 people have received $2,849,120,423 since March 15.

A total of 969,031 people have filed unemployment claims--meaning 34% of those who have filed still have not received any compensation.

10:30 a.m.

Morganton Festival canceled for 2020, will resume in 2021

In order to keep our community safe from the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the Historic Morganton Festival, Inc. Board of Directors has canceled the 2020 Morganton Festival. The next Morganton Festival will be held on September 10 and 11, 2021.

“The decision was not made lightly, but in the end the Board of Directors decided to hit the pause button for 2020 to ensure the safety of our community,” said Festival Director Sharon Jablonski. “The Board felt strongly that there was simply no way to have tens of thousands of attendees in 8 blocks of downtown and provide any safe social distancing. As our retailers, restaurants and bars struggle to re-open while managing customer counts, safety and food product availability, it was quickly recognized that the added stress of a large event would not be feasible.”

With North Carolina reopening in phases more slowly than expected, there was no guarantee that restrictions would be lifted in time for the event to go on as planned. Jablonski said important deadlines of the planning process were approaching, and while the call was a tough one to make, it was ultimately the right decision.

“All of our contracts with deposits would have to be in place by June 1, and with our big contracts confirmed even earlier in the year, the deadline had approached to send final deposits,” Jablonski said. “But how do you ask a loyal sponsor for money when they are concerned with day to day business and keeping their own people employed? We are incredibly thankful for our loyal sponsors, and look forward to working with them next year.”

The Morganton Festival has brought tremendous enjoyment, economic benefit and wonderful memories to our community for almost 40 years. While it cannot happen safely this year, citizens can look forward to smaller events happening throughout the rest of 2020, where proper safety precautions can be implemented to protect our community.

“Downtown Morganton is excited to get back open safely, and we look forward to seeing everyone at the various events being planned,” Jablonski said.

10:25 a.m.

THE 45TH ANNUAL WALDENSIAN FESTIVAL CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19

The Waldensian Festival has been a highlight of each Valdese summer for over 44 years and in an effort to keep our community safe, the event has been canceled for 2020. In consideration of the current situation with COVID-19, the Town of Valdese is exploring options to still honor our annual tradition and celebrate the Glorious Return.

Every year the event is held in celebration of the “Glorious Return” of the Waldenses to the Cottian Alps of Northern Italy and is mirrored around the world by other Waldensian communities on the second Saturday in August. This year the event was scheduled for August 7 & 8th, however, due to the impacts surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the event in its normal fashion will be postponed to August 13th and 14th, 2021.

While this decision is disappointing for all of us, we fully support the directives from our State and County officials. The health, safety, and well-being of all involved with the Waldensian Festival is, and always will be, our primary concern. Our decision was driven by several factors, but primarily we could not gain any reasonable guarantee that we would be permitted to gather in large groups, nor that it would be safe to do so in August of this year given that we still have limited testing and no vaccination. The decision to cancel the event was not made lightly. This celebration is very near and dear to our community. However, during this difficult time, many elements have changed our ability to host the Waldensian Festival in its full capacity. “During a typical year, at this point, we would have over 120 vendors registered. This year we had only 30 applicants. The last thing we would ever want to do is cancel”, Angi shares. This type of challenge had a direct impact on deciding if the event could be held as originally planned. The support of our local sponsors is vital to the success of the annual event and we look forward to planning the 2021 event with our supporters.

As our businesses struggle during this difficult time we are focusing our efforts on helping them rebound. The Valdese Community Affairs Department is in the process of planning smaller events that will support our businesses throughout the summer. “We are truly saddened to have to cancel this wonderful celebration we all look forward to”, states Angi, “Summers in Valdese are full of music, car shows and friendly get-togethers. While this summer will be drastically different, it is important to rebuild our community.”

The Town of Valdese would like to extend their gratitude to our sponsors, entertainment, vendors, civic groups, and all others who supported us in making this decision. While this major event is canceled, our downtown is not closed. The Town of Valdese would like to encourage our community to rally around our local businesses. “We have an amazing variety of businesses downtown and we sympathize with the hardships they are enduring through the COVID-19 pandemic. Take the time to visit their businesses safely or online and if you can’t support them financial with a purchase, share their specials or website with your friends and family,” Angi stated.

10:20 a.m.

North Carolina Receives Federal COVID-19 Employment and Training Grant

Governor Roy Cooper has announced that North Carolina has received a $6 million federal grant to support jobs and workforce training to help address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Getting more North Carolinians back to work in a safe way is a critical part of rebuilding our economy,” Governor Cooper said. “This grant will help workers and families that have been struggling financially due to COVID-19 get back on their feet.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Workforce Solutions (DWS) requested the funds, which were awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor. North Carolina is among a number of states and territories receiving these national Dislocated Worker Grants, which are funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“While our state is focused on making sure North Carolinians are healthy and safe, we also want to enhance their economic security,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland said. “To support our state’s recovery, we will use these resources to help people find new jobs that provide vital services and to pay for needed job training, so that both workers and employers can thrive.”

Through the grant, eligible North Carolina residents may receive certain employment services or workforce training for industries that are hiring workers. Opportunities funded by the grant will vary depending on local needs, but may include:

  • On-the-Job Training (OJT), in which a wage reimbursement incentive may be provided to a business to help offset the cost of training a new employee with limited skills.
  • Temporary Employment, in positions that either conduct humanitarian assistance and public health duties (such as contact tracing and delivery of food and medical supplies to those in need) or assist with disaster clean-up and sanitizing areas to prevent the spread of disease. Employers for these positions must be either nonprofit organizations or government agencies.
  • Occupational Skills Training and Supportive Services, including short-term training to dislocated workers, allowing them to pivot into jobs that are in-demand and services that provide transitional support to ensure job seekers have the tools they need to be successful entering a new career.

To administer this grant, DWS will partner with 14 participating local workforce development boards (WDBs) that, collectively, serve 59 counties. These boards include:

  • Cape Fear WDB (Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties);
  • Capital Area WDB (Wake and Johnston counties);
  • Centralina WDB (Anson, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties);
  • Charlotte Works WDB (Mecklenburg County);
  • Cumberland WDB (Cumberland County);
  • Eastern Carolina WDB (Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico and Wayne counties);
  • Gaston WDB (Gaston County);
  • Guilford WDB (Guilford County);
  • High country WDB (Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Watauga, Yancey, Mitchell and Wilkes counties);
  • Kerr-Tar WDB (Franklin, Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties);
  • Lumber River WDB (Bladen, Hoke, Richmond, Robeson and Scotland counties);
  • Mountain Area WDB (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties);
  • Piedmont Triad Regional WDB (Caswell, Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties); and
  • Regional Partnership WDB (Alamance, Montgomery, Moore, Orange and Randolph counties).

Workers may be eligible for participation in the grant by being temporarily or permanently laid off as a consequence of COVID-19, or by meeting certain other criteria.

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker training and employment programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses. DWS has recent experience administering federal grants of this type, in partnership with local workforce development boards, including grants that came in the wake of Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

10:15 am.

East Carolina University will start fall classes two weeks earlier than previously scheduled.

The move comes as schools across the state grapple with how to resume classes and still keep students and staff safe from COVID-19.UNC and NC State already announced they would be starting August 10 and ending before Thanksgiving--in an effort to get students home before a possible second wave of the virus hits in the fall.

Duke University has not officially announced its plans for the upcoming semester.

In addition to ECU’s earlier startdate (August 10), it will move to a block schedule. This means the semester will be split up into two 8-week blocks. Instead of taking all of their classes at once, the students will split their semester’s classes into those 8-week blocks. For example, a student signed up for five classes could take three of them in the first 8-week block and the other two in the second 8-week block.

“These changes will minimize the coming and going en masse of students to and from campus and make it possible to have everything completed by Thanksgiving,” said Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson. “By adapting, respecting each other and working together we will weather this storm.”

9:50 a.m.

NCDHHS Urges Congress to Extend P-EBT

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is requesting Congressional support to extend the Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to provide food for children beyond the traditional school calendar year. Extending P-EBT benefits through the summer months would help provide the families of nearly half of North Carolina school children about $250 in additional support per child to buy groceries.

“One of the challenges of COVID-19 is making sure our children have the nutritious meals they need to thrive while schools are closed,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “That need doesn’t go away at the end of the school year, and neither should food assistance for families.”

Secretary Cohen has written a letter to the NC Congressional delegation urging them to support extending P-EBT through the summer as families continue to struggle from the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 emergency. Currently, states are not authorized to provide P-EBT benefits beyond the end of the state school year (June 12 in North Carolina).

North Carolina was one of the first states to take advantage of the USDA’s P-EBT program, securing federal funding for the families of nearly 900,000 children who receive free and reduced lunch. This program has provided critical help feeding children since schools closed in March due to COVID-19, and families have received about $370 per child to buy groceries and support good nutrition.

If P-EBT benefits were to be extended through the summer for two additional months at the current benefit levels, North Carolina would receive more than $200 million in critical help to families with school-aged children throughout the state. Without Congressional action, the funding will end in June.

For more information, read Secretary Cohen’s full letter to the NC Congressional delegation. To learn more about P-EBT in North Carolina, visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov/information/human-services/pandemic-electronic-benefit-transfer-p-ebt-program.

8:50 a.m.

Personal income levels have increased 10.5% due to unemployment benefits.

Even with employers cutting millions of jobs during the month, personal incomes soared 10.5% in April, reflecting billions of dollars in support through government payments in the form of unemployment benefits and stimulus checks.

U.S. consumer spending plunged by a record-shattering 13.6% in April as the viral pandemic shuttered businesses, forced millions of layoffs and sent the economy into a deep recession.

Last month’s spending decline was far worse than the revised 6.9% drop in March, which itself had set a record for the steepest one-month fall in records dating to 1959. Friday’s Commerce Department figures reinforced evidence that the economy is gripped by the worst downturn in decades, with consumers unable or too anxious to spend much.

8:40 a.m.

A pet dog from Chapel Hill that previously tested positive for COVID-19 may not have ever actually had the virus. A laboratory operated by the USDA said it retested the dog’s sample and collected new samples to test. Those tests came back negative.

The lab said it believes the original test was contaminated by the dog being in a home where the virus was present.

7:30 a.m.

Novant Health announces new hours of operation for COVID-19 respiratory and screening assessment centers

Beginning June 3, hours of operation for all Novant Health respiratory and screening assessment centers in North Carolina will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Respiratory assessment centers (RAC) test and treat patients, by referral, who are experiencing moderate to severe respiratory symptoms associated with the coronavirus. A patient can obtain a referral from a provider through a virtual or telephonic visit.

Screening centers, which include mobile locations, evaluate patients with symptoms and test patients, as clinically necessary. They also provide important education on how patients can stay safe and healthy. While appointments are not required, we recommend anyone experiencing symptoms first contact their primary care provider to get advice on whether they should be further evaluated. Patients seeking advice who do not have an established care provider are encouraged to use the online coronavirus assessment tool at NovantHealth.org/coronavirus or call the helpline 1-877-9NOVANT. As a reminder, visiting a screening center unnecessarily will only further risk of exposure and put a strain on resources for those who need it most.

Novant Health has respiratory and screening assessment centers at the following locations:

Brunswick County area

  • Novant Health Oceanside Convenient Care – 5145 Sellers Road, Shallotte

Greater Charlotte area

  • East Charlotte – 5501 Executive Center Drive, Charlotte
  • Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinic - 3149 Freedom Drive, Charlotte (RAC)
  • Huntersville – 16525 Holly Crest Lane, Suite 120, Huntersville
  • Matthews – 3330 Siskey Parkway, Matthews

Rowan County area

  • Salisbury – 1904 Jake Alexander Blvd., Suite 301, Salisbury

Winston-Salem/Triad area

  • Highland Oaks – 600 Highland Oaks Drive, Winston-Salem
  • Kernersville – 111 Gateway Center Drive, Kernersville
  • Thomasville – 903 Randolph St., Thomasville
  • Novant Health Waughtown – 656 East Monmouth St., Winston-Salem (RAC)

7:10 a.m.

Researchers found patients with advanced cancer were more than five times more likely to die from coronavirus. The study looked at data from more than 900 cases between March and April. Researchers found that, even if their cancer wasn’t spreading, the coronavirus infection nearly doubled their risk of dying. Overall, 13% of patients died during the study period and within 30 days of being diagnosed with COVID-19.

6:15 a.m.

FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Bar industry leaders are planning to sue Gov. Roy Cooper for not allowing bars to reopen as part of Phase 2. Industry insiders said the lawsuit is the last resort. Restaurants and salons have been able to reopen under decreased capacity and strict health guidelines.

Bar owners initially expected to be part of the Phase 2 reopening and said they were caught off guard by Cooper’s change. On Thursday, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill to allow restaurants and bars to allow outdoor seating equal to 50% of capacity.

Thursday was another record-setting day for COVID-19-related hospitalizations in North Carolina. The state said 708 people were in the hospital being treated for COVID-19. Since the start of the outbreak in North Carolina, 25,412 people have tested positive for the virus; 827 of them died.

The Republican National Committee has provided a new safety proposal to Gov. Cooper for the planned GOP convention in Charlotte. The RNC has asked Cooper to respond by June 3. The plan includes eight safety steps, but doesn’t include asking attendees to wear masks or practice social distancing.

A new interactive tool is now available on North Carolina’s Health and Human Services website. You just plug in your address and it’ll show the one closest to you. It includes more than 300 places to get tested. Gov. Cooper said the state now has more than 30 companies and hospitals doing lab work to get patient results sooner.

After the pandemic upended every part of our lives, schools changed graduation plans for seniors. Tonight, seniors at Lincoln Charter School will be the first to graduate at Charlotte Motor Speedway.