Coronavirus local updates: President Trump approves major disaster declaration for North Carolina

COVID-19 cases in the Carolinas: March 25

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The United States has more than 69,000 cases across all 50 states, and businesses, education, sports and more are being impacted as leaders continue to move to stricter measures to contain the coronavirus.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has declared a State of Emergency. Following the statewide declaration, Mecklenburg County declared a state of emergency. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also declared a State of Emergency.

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Mecklenburg County has issued a “stay at home” order taking effect March 26 at 8 a.m. until April 16.

President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency, opening up more avenues to battle the outbreak. In addition, the federal government has slashed regulations around testing development in order to try and speed up testing.

The president has also signed a coronavirus relief package into law. That package includes free coronavirus testing for people who need it and paid emergency leave from work, among other things.

North Carolina reported its first two COVID-19 deaths on March 25 as local governments in several higher-populated areas ordered their residents to stay at home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the United States here.

Important Links & Updates:

Live local updates from Wednesday:

10:15 p.m.

FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the state of North Carolina to supplement the state, tribes and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic beginning on Jan. 20, 2020, and continuing.

Federal funding is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance under public assistance, for all areas affected by the coronavirus at a federal cost share of 75 percent.

Gracia B. Szczech has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.

9 p.m.

There were more than 50 layoffs in Charlotte reported to North Carolina today, which brings it to a total of nearly 2,000 in the state for 2020.

7:02 p.m.

Two Republicans in the South Carolina House have joined a growing call for Gov. Henry McMaster to issue a stay at home order to fight the coronavirus.

Officials predict more than 2,650 cases by April 2 and more than 8,050 cases by May 2, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control, which warned the estimate could change significantly.

6:26 p.m.

The Pentagon is halting all overseas travel for U.S. troops for up to 60 days in an effort to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a top U.S. official.

5:55 p.m.

President Trump says committing to social distancing right now is “so important,” adding that “large sections of our country” can probably “go back to normal” much sooner than others.

5:30 p.m.

Burke County announces its first 2 positive COVID-19 cases. Approximately 73 tested. 57 were negative. The other results are pending.

5:15 p.m.

The only person who tested positive so far in Lincoln County is now recovered. So far 114 tested, 82 negative.

4:45 p.m.

United Airlines cuts domestic capacity by 52% (up 10% from previous announcement) due to a continued drop in travel demand as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The airline previously announced it is cutting international capacity by about 90% in April.

  • Delta is reducing overall capacity systemwide by 70% until demand recovers / international operation reduced over 80% in the next few months
  • American is reducing its international capacity by 75% over next few months / Reduced its domestic capacity in April by 30% compared to last year, and May’s domestic capacity will be reduced even further the airline's president says.
  • United is cutting domestic capacity by about 52% / international capacity by 90% in April
  • JetBlue is cutting capacity by at least 40% in April and May
  • Southwest is cutting 1,500/4,000 flights from mid April through early June / suspending international flights/ suspended service to all international destinations and expects operations to resume normally in early May

Other measures U.S. carriers are taking:

  • Delta's CEO and United's CEO and President will forego 100% of their salaries for a period of time / JetBlue's officers (VPs and above) are taking paycuts / All Delta officers taking 50% paycut / all Delta directors and managing directors taking 25% paycut
  • United is considering furloughs, across the board pay cuts, and reducing staffing minimums
  • Delta, American, United, and Southwest have instituted a hiring freeze
  • Delta, American, United, Southwest, and JetBlue have offered employees voluntary unpaid leaves of absence / Delta reports 10,000 have volunteered as of 3/18 / United reports "thousands" on 3/20
  • American is discontinuing the current new hire flight attendant classes that were in progress
  • Delta is parking at least half of its fleet - more than 600 aircraft and American is parking 450 aircraft

4:10 p.m.

A joint stay-at-home order has been issued for Cabarrus County and Concord, Kannapolis, Midland, Harrisburg and Mt. Pleasant.

The order begins 5 p.m. Thursday and is very similar to Mecklenburg County’s order.

Two deaths related to COVID-19 have been connected with the county.

There have been 18 total cases reported.

The proclamation requires residents to remain in their homes and limits mass gatherings to groups of 10 or fewer.

A person from Cabarrus County died on March 24 from complications associated with the virus. The patient was in their late 70s and had several underlying medical conditions. A second person in their 60s, who was traveling through North Carolina, also died from COVID-19 complications in Cabarrus County.

The Stay at Home Proclamation also supports local State of Emergency declarations signed by the same jurisdictions last week and ongoing decisions to limit mass gatherings.

What the Stay at Home Proclamation means for you

The Stay at Home Proclamation is designed to continue preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The Proclamation directs residents to shelter at home and limit travel outside the home beyond handling specific essential needs. County leaders will continually review the Proclamation, and it may be revised or extended based on recommendations from the Cabarrus Health Alliance and Cabarrus County Emergency Management.

According to the Proclamation, Cabarrus residents should stay at their homes, but can leave to “provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain essential activities and work for essential businesses and governmental services.”

Essential businesses or operations include healthcare and public health operations, human services operations, essential government functions and essential infrastructure. All these functions are fully outlined in the Proclamation.

Here’s a breakdown:

Permissible

· Visiting a healthcare professional for medical services that cannot be provided virtually

· Caring for a friend or family member

· Walking pets; visiting veterinarian

· Assisting with getting supplies for another person

· Going to a restaurant for take-out or delivery

· Going to a pharmacy for medications and other healthcare needs

· Receiving deliveries from any delivery business

· Going to grocery, convenience or warehouse stores

· Exercising outdoors, while maintaining the recommended social distancing of a minimum of six feet.

Prohibited

· Going to work, unless you fall under the essential services outlined in the Proclamation

· Visiting family and friends without having an urgent need to do so

· Traveling, except when for permissible activities

· Gathering in groups

Find local resources Cabarrus County residents can turn to the CHA for ongoing information related to COVID-19 and other public health concerns. CHA will provide updates through its website, www.cabarrushealth.org. You can also call the Health Information Line at 704-920-1213 or email healthinfo@cabarrushealth.org. Follow the CHA on Facebook and Twitter, @CabarrusHealth.

4:04 p.m.

New South Carolina positive cases

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is investigating 82 additional cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the total number statewide to 424 cases in 39 counties

  • Abbeville County: 2 cases
  • Anderson County: 3 cases
  • Beaufort County: 4 cases
  • Berkeley County: 1 case
  • Charleston County: 16 cases
  • Chesterfield County: 2 cases
  • Dorchester County: 1 case
  • Fairfield County: 1 case
  • Greenville County: 11 cases
  • Horry County: 1 case
  • Kershaw County: 5 cases
  • Marion County: 1 case
  • Orangeburg County: 1 case
  • Pickens County: 5 cases
  • Richland County: 14 cases
  • Spartanburg County: 5 cases
  • Sumter County: 2 cases
  • Union County: 1 case
  • Williamsburg County: 1 case
  • York County: 7 cases

3:20 pm.

Five new cases being reported in Union County, bringing the total there to 23.

3:10 p.m.

Statement from N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell Upon Being Diagnosed with COVID-19:

After a recent, long-planned trip with my son, I returned early to Raleigh on Monday, March 16, for three days to address the growing volatility and downturn in the financial market, and its impact on the state pension plan’s $100 billion in investments. As many who know me can attest, I have a perennial cough that I believe is a reaction to my tendency to stutter as a child. Upon my return to work, I experienced what I thought was my seasonal reaction to spring pollen which has always severely accentuated my cough.

Obviously, I was aware of the COVID-19 pandemic so I monitored my temperature and saw no increase through the weekend even as my cough seemed to worsen. After consulting with a physician, I was tested on the afternoon of Monday, March 23, and was informed late last night of a positive result.

I have quarantined myself and will follow the advice of my physician as to when I will be medically cleared to return to the office. The staff at the Department of State Treasurer has been notified and, starting today, only those absolutely necessary for continuing business services will be in our building.

My thoughts and prayers are with not only those who are sick but those who are impacted by the vast financial fallout of this pandemic. We will continue to work diligently to make sure retiree checks still go out on time, the State Health Plan provides comprehensive health care coverage, and state banking operations continue uninterrupted.

Words cannot express the gratitude that I feel for the employees at the Treasurer’s Department who have come to the office to work as well as those who have kept up with their duties from home. I am truly humbled to have the honor to work with them and hope that this crisis passes as quickly as possible.

3:05 p.m.

Visit York County, South Carolina just released projections on economic losses anticipated from canceled events. An estimate of $8.2 million lost from 19 canceled or postponed events and hotel occupancy down by 53% from this time last year.

3 p.m.

Cleveland County Identifies Second Case of COVID-19

A second Cleveland County resident has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

This second case is in no way linked to the first case, although this individual also did recently travel and then return to the county. The individual began to develop symptoms shortly after returning to the county and was tested by a local healthcare provider. The individual is isolating at home and will remain in isolation until discontinued by local health department personnel, who are also working with the individual to identify close contacts.

“This is the second case of COVID-19 in Cleveland County related to non-essential travel,” Interim Cleveland County Health Director Deshay Oliver said. “This once again stresses the importance of staying home as much as possible and practicing social distancing. Everyone this individual had close contact with during the time the individual was contagious is now at risk of exposure.”

While there is not currently an indication of community transmission of COVID-19 in Cleveland County, the NC Division of Public Health (NC DPH) shared that there is community transmission of COVID-19 across our state. North Carolina is now considered to be in an “exponential growth phase” and can expect to experience widespread transmission throughout the state. Therefore, NC DPH recommends moving to a different phase of our response efforts and will be further increasing our state’s population-based community mitigation strategies.

Part of this strategy includes new COVID-19 testing guidance that recommends reserving testing for people who are seriously ill or in the hospital, people in high-risk settings like nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and healthcare workers and other first responders who are caring for those with COVID-19.

2:30 p.m.

Updated Mecklenburg County data on COVID-19 cases.

The top ZIP codes: 28269, 28216, 28205, 28210

2:15 p.m.

NCDHHS SECRETARY DR. MANDY COHEN’S UPDATE:

"I wanted to share some positive developments in our fight against COVID-19. We’ve made numerous policy changes for Medicaid providers to really ramp up access to telemedicine which allow patients to access the care they need.

"We are also getting food to children. Our public school districts – many working with community partners such as food banks and faith-based entities – have served 2.4 million meals and 32,000 snacks since March 15.

“No doubt there are a lot of challenges – our new reality of social distancing is. I know we will get through this. I already see us pulling together.”

2:10 p.m.

GOV. ROY COOPER’S WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:

"As of this morning, we have 504 cases of the new Coronavirus COVID-19 in 53 counties in NC. We have completed more than 12,000 tests and have almost 15,000 pending.

"Today is a stark reminder that we must take this disease seriously. All of us. This virus can be deadly, and that’s why our daily lives have had to change so dramatically. Earlier today we shared that North Carolina has counted our first deaths Covid-19 deaths. It’s with a heavy heart I must tell you these will not be our last.

"Stay at home when you can. Practice social distancing wherever you are. If you are a business and haven’t done so yet, get your social distancing and telework plans in place now. Do not wait. You owe it to your employees.

"I want to again thank our health care workers who are showing us what courage means. You do your jobs every day, even in the face of a pandemic, to keep us healthy. And save our lives. Our state is grateful for you.

“Today we join together as a state to keep those who are mourning in our prayers. Let’s also commit to doing our part to slow the spread of this deadly virus. In doing so, we honor their lives while we protect our communities.”

1:50 p.m.

Chesterfield County will now issue a curfew effective at 10 p.m. tonight. They are reporting 2 new positive COVID-19 cases.

1:45 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster asking all out-of-state visitors planning to stay more than two nights to self-quarantine for two weeks when they arrive.

1:40 p.m.

CMS has made a decision to cancel all school proms in 2020.

1:30 p.m.

1:15 p.m.

Mecklenburg County now has at least 170 COVID-19 cases, according to the health department. That’s up from 142 yesterday.

12:50 p.m.

12:45 p.m.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg FOP just sent a letter to all Chiefs of Police and the Sheriff regarding COVID-19.

12:30 p.m.

UPDATE FROM CHARLOTTE MAYOR VI LYLES:

Mayor Vi Lyles says the city needs to continue to lobby at the federal level for the stimulus package. After that comes through, the city will look at supplemental funding for small businesses.

She is conducting a virtual news conference as an example to the community to take social distancing seriously. The mayor says she has not been tested and has no symptoms of COVID-19. She is no longer visiting family members. She encourages people to use video chat platforms to keep in contact with friends and loved ones.

Lyles says CMPD is going to be reasonable when it comes to enforcing the “stay at home” order. She says police are not going to be following people around. She believes the order is appropriate. Lyles says it is not necessary for people to carry papers to prove where they are going is essential.

Lyles declined to say whether she thinks the RepublicanNational Convention in Charlotte should go as scheduled in August. “Who knows what the summer will be like,” she said.

Lyles says the hospital systems have not requested city-owned space for additional room and that she wants the stimulus package adopted and signed.

The mayor wrapped up her call by saying "this is an unprecedented time in Charlotte’s history -- unknown -- it’s been very, very hard. I want to assure our residents we will do everything in our realm of authority.”

She praised county health director Gibbie Harris for leading with “grace and fortitude.”

11:40 a.m.

Durham mayor issues ‘stay at home’ order amid coronavirus pandemic

Durham city leaders on Wednesday issued a “stay at home” order for the city to slow COVID-19 community spread. Durham has a reported 74 cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday morning.

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said he hopes Gov. Roy Cooper will soon enact a stay-at-home order for the entire state.

11:15 a.m.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the first COVID-19 associated deaths.

A person from Cabarrus County died on March 24 from complications associated with the virus. The patient was in their late 70s and had several underlying medical conditions. A second person in their 60s, from Virginia who was traveling through North Carolina, also died from COVID-19 complications.

To protect the families’ privacy, no further information about these patients will be released.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones. This is a stark warning that for some people COVID-19 is a serious illness. All of us must do our part to stop the spread by staying at home as much as possible and practicing social distancing,” said Gov. Roy Cooper.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. On March 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated who is at high risk for severe illness. People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Is 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Has a high-risk condition that includes:
  • chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • heart disease with complications
  • compromised immune system
  • severe obesity - body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

In addition, pregnant women should be monitored closely since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness. However, data so far on COVID-19 has not shown an increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness in pregnant women. While children are generally at lower risk for severe infection, some studies indicate a higher risk among infants.

Cooper has taken several actions to protect the health of North Carolinians, including ordering all K-12 public schools in North Carolina to close through May 15, banning gatherings of more than 50 people, limiting bars and restaurants to only take-out or delivery service, restricting visitors to long-term care facilities, and promoting social distancing by closing businesses like movie theaters, gyms, nail salons, and several others.

10:45 a.m.

The North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services is now reporting at least 504 cases of COVID-19 in the state. There have been no deaths due to COVID-19 in North Carolina. The state was reporting 398 cases on Tuesday.

State of testing in NC as of March 25:

  • 10,489 tests completed in NC
  • 1,071 tests completed in the state lab
  • The state lab has supplies for 1,071 patients

10:30 a.m.

Teachers at Wesley Chapel Elementary School in Charlotte are parading through neighborhoods to cheer up their students.

10 a.m.

Novant Health is accepting donations of medical supplies like masks, shields and disinfectants.

9:30 a.m.

Eastridge Mall in Gastonia is temporarily closed because of ongoing coronavirus concerns. Officials said the DMV Office, as well as Dillard’s, will remain open. It is not known when the mall will reopen.

9:15 a.m.

If you have a student enrolled in a VirtualSC course this semester, officials said the company has decided to waive the proctored final exam requirement.

This is a result of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster’s decision to keep schools closed through April 30.

Officials said at the end of the Spring semester, VirtualSC will give a final grade that will be based on the student’s coursework alone.

7 a.m.

Some closures start Wednesday -- gyms, beauty salons and movie theaters all have to close by 5 p.m.

These are considered businesses where people can’t keep 6-feet away from each other.

The closures have and will significantly impact people who work in these industries. The owner of Emerson Joseph in uptown closed before the Wednesday deadline. He said revenue dropped nearly 80 percent in a matter of weeks.

He has been encouraging customers to book “virtual” appointments online, which means clients pay for the visit even though they can’t make it to the appointment. This will help stylists stay in business.

Some businesses say they plan open again around April 6, but since Mecklenburg County is under a “Shelter at Home” order until the 16th, they will likely be closed until then.

11:13 p.m. (Tuesday)

More than 1,000 layoffs announced in Charlotte in just the last 5 days:

10:02 p.m. (Tuesday)

South Carolina DHEC says there are 342 cases of COVID-19 in 36 counties.

This is an increase of 44 cases. Local counties with new cases:

  • Chesterfield (1) and York (4)

Counties with the most cases:

  • Kershaw 58
  • Richland 45
  • Greenville 39

There have been 2128 negative tests.