Coronavirus local updates: South Carolina jumps to 81 confirmed cases

The United States has more than 11,200 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.

[CLICK HERE for Wednesday’s update recap]

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has declared a State of Emergency. Following the statewide declaration, Mecklenburg County declared a state of emergency on Sunday.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also declared a State of Emergency.

[CLICK HERE for today’s national coronavirus live updates]

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.

Wednesday night, President Trump 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.

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

Live local updates for Thursday:

10:05 p.m.

An update from Reporter Joe Bruno

9 p.m.

Today’s numbers

7:35 p.m.

Cabarrus County update:

Cabarrus County leaders implemented additional measures to help protect susceptible populations and employees from COVID-19.

Effective Thursday at 5 p.m. and until further notice, the County closed the following facilities to members of the public who do not have appointments:

  • Government Center (65 Church Street S, Concord)
  • Human Services Center (1303 S. Cannon Blvd., Kannapolis)
  • Cooperative Extension Office (715 Cabarrus Ave. W, Concord)
  • Board of Elections and Veterans Service offices (363 Church Street N, Concord)

County parks will remain open for passive activities.

The County closed its library and senior center facilities on March 16.

“The County remains operational and ready to meet resident needs,” said County Manager Mike Downs. “We’ve created nationally-recognized online business solutions that keep Cabarrus moving forward.”

Residents doing business with the County are encouraged to contact departments by phone or email. Staff is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A full directory of County resources is available at www.cabarruscounty.us/contact.

Residents can also handle most County business online at www.cabarruscounty.us/onlineservices.

7:15 a.m.

Bank of America announces additional support for consumer and small business clients experiencing hardship from the impact of the coronavirus. CLICK here for more information.

6:24 p.m.

Piedmont Medical Center Implements No Visitor Policy

In an effort to keep our patients and staff safe, we are changing our visitation policy until further notice due to COVID-19.

Effective today, March 19th, we are no longer accepting visitors in our hospital. Alternative means of communications between families and patients, such as virtual visitations via Skype, FaceTime, etc., should be facilitated.

We understand there are situations that may require an exception to this no visitor policy. Our patients have been encouraged to discuss their needs with their care team.

We appreciate your support and understanding during this time. Thank you

6:20 p.m. INBOX

Novant Health hospitals restrict all visitors

The changes are aimed at controlling COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., March 19, 2020 – To protect the health and safety of patients and team members, Novant Health is further limiting visitation in all acute care facilities in North Carolina. As of Friday, March 20, at noon, no visitors will be permitted in our acute care facilities except for laboring mothers and patients who are minors (under age 18). Laboring mothers may have one partner and one birth support person accompany them. Minors under 18 may have one visitor, parent or guardian. As a reminder, visitors who meet these exceptions must be healthy (no cough, fever or flu-like symptoms) and at least 13 or older unless seeking medical care. Additional exceptions may be granted in special circumstances, such as end-of-life care.

This is another proactive step Novant Health is taking to care for patients during the novel coronavirus outbreak as it anticipates seeing more presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in the community. Novant Health will continue to limit entrances and exits to the acute care facilities to centralize the foot traffic of patients, visitors and team members coming in and out. Screening will be implemented at these entrances, also starting on March 20.

Please note, these restrictions do NOT apply to those seeking care.

The restrictions apply to the following hospitals throughout the Novant Health system, including:

· Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center

· Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital

· Novant Health Clemmons Medical Center

· Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center

· Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital

· Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center

· Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center

· Novant Health Matthews Medical Center

· Novant Health Medical Park Hospital

· Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center

· Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center

· Novant Health Rowan Medical Center

· Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center

This is a rapidly evolving situation and Novant Health will take additional steps to help control the spread of the virus as necessary.

We encourage all loved ones of our patients to use phone calls or video chats on personal phones or mobile devices to communicate

6:15 p.m. INBOX

Governor Henry McMaster today issued Executive Order 2020-11, Directing state agency heads to determine which agency employees should be considered essential, and to allow all non-essential state employees work from home.

Additional actions taken by the governor in Executive Order 2020-11:

  • Regarding public universities, colleges, and technical colleges: each institution’s president will, at their discretion, determine essential employees and allow non-essential employees to work from home, and in all cases, to allow students to continue coursework online for the semester
  • Waived Department of Employment and Workforce regulations to allow unemployment claims to be expedited by at least one week
  • Unemployment insurance payments are suspended for employers until June 1st, allowing business owners to have additional capital on hand
  • Procurement regulations are temporarily suspended to allow state agencies to rapidly acquire resources to combat the COVID-19 virus
  • DHEC will temporarily suspend enforcement of certificate of need regulations necessary to expedite treatment for the virus

5:30 p.m.

Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas will waive late payment fees and fees for returned payments

5:10 p.m.

South Carolina DHEC has received 81 confirmed cases from our Public Health Laboratory and private laboratories, and its Public Health Laboratory has performed 906 tests, of which 833 have been negative.

@SCDHEC Twitter thread: “Our top priorities remain preventing the spread of the disease and protecting the public health. This includes working to control spread and sharing measures that best protect our neighbors, friends, and family.

This will likely be an extended response and we want people to be prepared for more cases to occur and to continue to listen to and follow recommendations from public health officials.

If people don’t follow current recommendations for social distancing and avoiding crowds, we may see a doubling in rate of cases similar to what we’ve seen in other states.

Supplies to collect samples and run tests are limited. We do not recommend that everyone who is ill get a test to see if they have COVID-19.

If people don’t follow current recommendations for social distancing and avoiding crowds, we may see a doubling in rate of cases similar to what we’ve seen in other states.

This will likely be an extended response and we want people to be prepared for more cases to occur and to continue to listen to and follow recommendations from public health officials.

Our top priorities remain preventing the spread of the disease and protecting the public health. This includes working to control spread and sharing measures that best protect our neighbors, friends, and family.”

New cases

  • Abbeville County: 1 new case
  • Anderson County: 1 new case
  • Beaufort County: 1 new case
  • Charleston County: 1 new case
  • Dorchester County: 1 new case
  • Greenville County: 4 new cases
  • Horry County: 1 new case
  • Kershaw County: 4 new cases
  • Lancaster County: 1 new case
  • Lexington County: 1 new case
  • Richland County: 4 new cases
  • Saluda County: 1 new case

4:07 p.m.

Wake County Health Department said a person who attended The Millennium Tour 2020 at PNC Arena on March 13 has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was symptomatic while attending the event. The individual had floor seats in Section 5 but moved throughout the crowd.

If you went to the show and spent time on the floor, you may be at risk for exposure-- according to the Wake Co Health Department, “because the crowd was so mobile, it would be very difficult determine who came within six feet of the affected person for 10 minutes or more."

The Wake County Public Health Division has set up a special information line for people who attended the show or worked at PNC Arena on March 13. Affected Wake County residents can call 919-857-9375.

Concerts and major events were already being canceled at that point. Sports leagues were shutting down, too. But, the tour promoter decided to hold the show anyway.

3:52 p.m.

The Wake County Public Health Division has set up a special information line for people who attended the show or worked at PNC Arena on March 13. Affected Wake County residents can call 919-857-9375.

3:50 p.m.

A Livingstone College student has tested positive for COVID-19. This morning, Rowan County reported their first positive test. Campus will be shut down effective Monday.

3:28 p.m.

Union County’s Division of Public Health confirms a second resident has tested positive for coronavirus. The middle-aged individual recently returned from international travel, according to health officials.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Union County's Division of Public Health has received confirmation of a second resident whose illness...

Posted by Union County Government on Thursday, March 19, 2020

2:30 p.m.

There are 32 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Mecklenburg County, according to health officials.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said access to testing continues to be an issue, and health officials are testing those most at risk.

She asked that anyone who has symptoms to call ahead before going in for testing.

Harris also cautioned young people in our community, citing CDC data released Wednesday night that shows nearly 40% of those hospitalized with coronavirus are younger than 54.

County manager Dena Diorio said the county has entered into a lease agreement on a hotel that will be used for people experiencing homelessness and COVID-19.

She said the county’s parks are open, and they’re encouraging people to get outside and exercise while practicing proper social distancing.

“We do believe it is safe to use our parks,” Diorio said.

Officials said of the 32 confirmed cases, one person is out of isolation and recovered, several are hospitalized and no one is in intensive care.

1:00 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state lab has confirmed the first coronavirus case due to community spread in Wilson County, meaning the person had not traveled and had not been in contact with a known positive case.

“The decisions we make and the actions we take now will help determine how we fare in the end,” Cooper said. “These are life or death decisions that government leaders pray we never have to make. When these decisions do come, we pray for the wisdom and courage to make the right calls.”

Cooper stressed the need for the federal government to help with testing supplies, protective equipment and ventilators.

He said the state is asking for Disaster Food Assistance that expands eligibility for families who need help buying groceries, and the state is also requesting approval on Medicaid changes to streamline health care.

There has been a disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration to help small businesses who have lost business.

Cooper said there has been a spike in unemployment benefit applications after his executive order was announced Tuesday.

“We know this will get worse before it gets better. And I know people are shell shocked. One day you’re at work and going about your business and the next day your world has turned upside down,” Cooper said. “Know we are doing all we can to help all of us deal with this crisis. But we need you. To take this seriously. To take care of your own health. To practice social distancing and stay home, or at the very least, to stay six feet apart from others.”

Cooper said students across the state will likely be out of school for longer than two weeks because of community spread. He did not have an exact timeline.

12:03 p.m.

Rowan County Health Department officials were notified late Wednesday evening of the county’s first confirmed coronavirus case.

In a press release, officials said the Public Health Command Center is working closely with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and CDC to ensure appropriate measures are taken. More information/guidance will be provided as more details become available.

The person followed instructions, self-isolated, is no longer ill, and is no longer in the area, according to the release.

11:35 a.m.

11:30 a.m.

According to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, in-person pick up of permits has been suspended until future notice

11:05 a.m.

Mecklenburg County reporting total of 30 COVID-19 cases. That’s more than double yesterday’s total. This brings the state total to 115.

10:57 a.m.

Davidson County is reporting its first positive case.

9:55 a.m.

The North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services says there are now at least 97 cases of COVID-19 in the state. Nearly half of the cases are in Wake and Durham counties.

9 a.m.

The Billy Joel concert, scheduled for April 18, has now been moved to April 17, 2021.

8:20 a.m.

The U.S. Small Business Administration granted Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration for small businesses that are suffering economic losses due to the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

“Many small businesses are desperate right now and this SBA approval will help,” said Cooper. “Even more is needed and we will continue to push for additional assistance while we work to protect the health of North Carolinians.”

At the governor’s request, the SBA granted a disaster declaration to small businesses across the state, allowing affected businesses to apply for low-interest SBA disaster loans.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or 1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

6:15 a.m.

Some gas stations in Charlotte are offering latex gloves for fueling.

5:45 a.m.

Social distancing is key to keeping people safe -- especially the elderly and those with health problems -- but those aren’t the only groups at risk.

Health officials in Europe are treating more and more young people, and their conditions are serious. Experts fear there may be a higher number of infections within the younger age group because they’re not following the warnings.

5:30 a.m.

NC CORONAVIRUS CASES (70)

  • Wake: 17
  • Mecklenburg: 14
  • Durham: 12
  • Harnett: 4
  • Chatham: 3
  • Forsyth: 2
  • Johnston: 2
  • Watauga: 2
  • New Hanover: 1
  • Brunswick: 1
  • Cabarrus: 1
  • Craven: 1
  • Guilford: 1
  • Hoke: 1
  • Iredell: 2
  • Lincoln: 1
  • Onslow: 1
  • Sampson: 1
  • Union: 1
  • Wayne: 1
  • Wilson: 1

SC CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS (60)

  • Anderson: 2
  • Beaufort: 6
  • Calhoun: 1
  • Charleston: 3
  • Fairfield: 1
  • Greenville: 3
  • Horry: 5
  • Kershaw: 25
  • Lancaster: 2
  • Lee: 1
  • Lexington: 4
  • Richland: 4
  • Spartanburg: 1
  • York: 1

11:17 p.m. (Wednesday)

The JCSU 2020 Commencement ceremony is postponed.

“We are looking into our options and will have more information on how we will celebrate the Class of 2020 after the immediate threat has passed. Graduating seniors, who fulfill their academic requirements, will have their degrees conferred upon completion of the spring semester,” officials said.

10:26 p.m. (Wednesday)

Students at JCSU are required to move out of residence halls as soon as possible. All residence halls will close at 12 noon on Monday, March 30, 2020.

This is subject to government mandates, which may result in residence halls being closed before March 30.

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