Coronavirus local updates: SC health officials estimate 72% have recovered from the illness, 28% remain sick

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than 2.47 million people worldwide -- including more than 787,000 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

____________________

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

(WANT TO WATCH ON OUR STREAMING APPS? CLICK HERE)

Mecklenburg County: (TBD)

North Carolina Task Force: (TBD)

South Carolina Task Force (TBD)

White House Task Force: (5 p.m.)

____________________

>> 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.

[CLICK HERE FOR TODAY’S NATIONAL UPDATES]

[COUNTY-BY-COUNTY COVID-19 RESOURCE GUIDE]

[CORONAVIRUS IN THE CAROLINAS; HERE’S HOW TO STAY INFORMED]

>> We’ll bring you LIVE updates on Channel 9 Eyewitness News. Get extended coverage on the free WSOC Now app on Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV.

[FAQ: N.C. Gov. Cooper’s Stay-at-Home Order]

[FAQ: S.C. Gov. McMaster’s Work-or-Home Order]

[Everything you need to know about the stimulus payments, unemployment]

[Food banks, soup kitchens helping people affected by COVID-19 outbreak]

[Charlotte restaurants, breweries offering curbside pickup, delivery, discounts]

>> 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 6,951 Tuesday. North Carolina is now reporting 213 deaths, 83,331 completed tests and 427 people currently in the hospital.
  • Gov. Roy Cooper and the state’s coronavirus task force announced a statewide stay-at-home order which is currently in effect.
  • Gov. Henry McMaster has ordered a home or work order in South Carolina.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is tracking cases in the United States here.

Important Links:

Live, local updates from Tuesday:

10 p.m.

Oil prices crumpled even further Tuesday, and U.S. stocks sank to their worst loss in weeks as worries swept markets worldwide about the economic carnage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

7:05 p.m.

7 p.m.

6:20 p.m.

Johnson C Smith University will now hold their commencement on Wednesday October 28, 2020, at Bojangles’ Coliseum.

5:35 p.m.

Senate has approved a new coronavirus aid bill with nearly $500 billion total for businesses, hospitals and testing.

5:30 p.m.

Winthrop Returns $3.7 Million in Housing, Dining and Parking Fees to Students

The fee adjustments were calculated based on students’ unused portions of residence hall, meal plan, Café Cash, and parking permit charges.

Fee adjustments were completed last week, and for accounts that resulted in a credit balance, checks were mailed or processed by direct deposit Monday.

Winthrop University has provided $3.7 million in fee adjustments to 2,960 currently enrolled students for portions of their housing, dining and parking fees after the campus closed and the university moved to remote learning last month, Interim President George W. Hynd announced today.

“Thanks to the good work of a team of individuals from residence life, finance, information technology, and financial aid, fee adjustments were made to impacted student accounts last week,” Hynd noted. “As mentioned previously, some fee adjustments resulted in a refund if a student’s account was current, while other fee adjustments reduced the student’s balance owed to the university.”The fee adjustments were calculated based on students’ unused portions of residence hall, meal plan, Café Cash, and parking permit charges.

Fee adjustments were completed last week, and for accounts that resulted in a credit balance, checks were mailed or processed by direct deposit Monday.

Hynd also announced that pending the receipt of federal funds Winthrop soon will be distributing $2,691,065 from the CARES Act to undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in the spring semester.

“Our students have been impacted in truly unimaginable ways,” he said. “Hopefully these resources will abate some of their financial stress.”

4:45 p.m.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 172 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 4,608 and those who have died to 135.

The deaths occurred in elderly individuals from the following Counties: Beaufort (3), Berkeley (2), Charleston (2), Clarendon (1), Colleton (1), Greenville (1), and Spartanburg (1).

Based on the available symptom onset data the South Carolina officials have for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, DHEC estimates that as of April 20, 72% of individuals have recovered from the illness and 28% remain ill.

CLICK HERE for more information.

4 p.m.

During a news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper said he will make an announcement this week about whether he plans to extend the stay-at-home order set to expire next week.

“We are working to ease restrictions in a responsible way, in a staged way,” Cooper said. “We understand that we can’t stay at home forever and this is not something that is sustainable long term. But what we have to do is ease back into it to make sure that this virus does not spike, which it very easily could do.”

Cooper also announced new budget proposals for federal money designated to North Carolina, saying the funds will be allocated to public health and safety, schools and other core state government services, and small businesses and assistance for local governments.

During the news conference, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the testing task force is working to increase access to COVID-19 testing in communities of color -- stressing the disproportionate numbers of members of the black and African American community who have COVID-19 or have died from COVID-19.

“These disturbing trends are not going unnoticed by me or my team,” Cohen said.

Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry emphasized the state’s continued mission to acquire personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

3:15 p.m.

Stanly County currently has 21 confirmed positive cases of CoVID-19 with four deaths.

Thirteen of these individuals have recovered. As a result, there are currently four active cases.

2:30 p.m.

Marriage Ceremonies Resume Statewide Following Order of Chief Justice Cheri Beasley

In response to COVID-19, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has issued an emergency directive ordering magistrates to continue to perform marriage ceremonies statewide in accordance with appropriate social distancing practices. The directive allows the chief district court judge to restrict the times during which the ceremonies are conducted and restrict attendance at the ceremonies.

“Marriage forms an important part of the family structure and establishes a number of rights and legal obligations,” said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. “It is vital that we continue to provide this service while also making sure that we limit the risk of exposure for our court personnel to the greatest extent possible.”

North Carolina magistrates perform about 25,000 marriages a year. In recent weeks, with many wedding venues closed, couples seeking to be married brought large groups of witnesses and attendees to local magistrates’ offices to be married there instead, prompting several counties to cease performing marriages altogether.

The Chief Justice’s order directs that all counties resume providing this service and allows for local officials to limit the number of attendees, require appointments, and limit the hours in which these services are performed.

Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has taken several other emergency steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Court system deadlines have been extended until June 1, 2020
  • Most court proceedings have been postponed until after June 1, 2020
  • Filing deadlines in the appellate courts have been extended
  • Additional emergency directives issued by Chief Justice Beasley allow court proceedings to be held remotely, extend payment due dates for legal financial obligations, waive notarization requirements for court filings, and allow service of certain documents by email

In light of this rapidly evolving public health situation, the Judicial Branch will provide continuously updated information on our website, NCcourts.gov.

The public is encouraged to visit NCcourts.gov as a first resort to determine if a question can be answered without calling the local courthouse. If you have a question about your court case, please first view the county page in which the case is filed for any local announcements, as well as the closings and advisories page, then, if needed, contact the clerk of superior court office before you go to the courthouse. The public may also visit the Judicial Branch Facebook page and Twitter account to access information related to the coronavirus health concern.

2 p.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s statements:

Today I want to share some information about a new Executive Order and some information about the budget proposal we have been working on with the General Assembly this week.

Our state has sent almost $580 million to over 257,000 people who’ve filed unemployment claims since the start of this pandemic. The Employment Security Commission continues to make improvements in its filing process & call center but more work must be, and is being, done.

We know this virus is taking a serious toll on our economy and workforce, and we can’t lose sight of how this virus is impacting families in North Carolina.

I’ve signed a new Executive Order today to help furloughed workers whose employers have paid them a severance or furlough payment. Before this order these employees were ineligible for unemployment compensation. With this order, they now qualify.

We are working with legislators to try to codify into law this order and my other orders on unemployment benefits. Next week when the General Assembly returns, we hope to get consensus on more help for North Carolina.

We also know that our economy, working people, small businesses and state and local governments need financial help. Our team is compiling recommendations for how we allocate the first share of federal money that has come down to our state from Washington.

General Assembly leaders and I agree that we need to make more funding available for small business owners. And we’ll do that by providing funding to the Rapid Recovery Program through the Golden LEAF Foundation, which is up & running and can act quickly to get funding to people.

Small business is the lifeblood of our economy, and many who built these businesses are struggling. We owe it to them to help keep them afloat until it’s safe to begin easing restrictions. This money now is important in that federal small business money has been depleted.

Our budget proposal has three broad areas of focus: first: immediate public health and safety like testing and tracing of the virus; two: schools and other core state government services; and three: small business and local government assistance.

I will recommend funding for more PPE, cleaning supplies & more contact tracers who can track the spread of COVID-19; school nutrition to make sure children are still getting meals, support for local governments & underserved communities, assistance for public schools and more.

As we move through another week battling this pandemic, I want to again thank our frontline workers – you’re making tremendous sacrifices to take care of our families and ensure we can be healthy and safe as we stay at home. We are deeply grateful for the work you do every day.

I know that many people are frustrated, restless, anxious, and eager to get back to work and school. I also know that many people want to make sure that their families are as safe as possible from this virus.

I and my Coronavirus Task Force, which is made up of business, health, education and other leaders, are getting input from around the state as we prepare plans to ease restrictions, protect public health & get our economy moving forward. Right now, staying home is saving lives.

Cooper also said they will be making an announcement about the rest of the school year sometime this week.

1:30 p.m.

Approximately 300 people gathered outside North Carolina General Assembly to protest the safety precautions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina.

ReOpen NC is the group behind the protest. They came out for the second time in the last couple of weeks to show support for reopening businesses in the state.

1:15 p.m

North Carolina Leaders Act to Protect Workers at Food Processing Facilities

After witnessing outbreaks at food processing plants in other states and receiving reports of cases among workers in our state, North Carolina public and private leaders have come together to take swift action to protect workers here from COVID-19. The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDACS), local health departments, plant managers and corporate owners, community health centers and local hospitals are working together to keep workers safe and to help ensure the world’s food supply remains stable.

“Agriculture and agribusinesses are on the front lines of this crisis just like hospital workers, first responders, grocery store staff, truck drivers and many more. Their work is different, but every bit as critically important,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We are in contact with the companies, public health officials and our federal inspection partners. The companies are working to implement recommendations of the CDC and state public health and local officials to keep these facilities operating and producing a stable supply of safe and nutritious food.”

Following consultation with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH ) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NCDHHS and NCDACS developed interim guidance to help protect workers at food processing facilities from COVID-19. The interim guidance builds on previous CDC guidance for essential workers. It is not intended to replace any existing worker health and safety requirements of the U.S. and North Carolina Departments of Labor. Food processing facilities in North Carolina are regulated by the NC Department of Labor (NCDOL) for industrial hazards, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NCDACS for food handling and safety.

There are currently outbreaks in five food processing facilities located in Bladen, Chatham Duplin, Lee and Robeson counties. An outbreak is defined as two or more positive cases. Local health departments are conducting outbreak investigations including contact tracing to determine who else may have been exposed. Health care providers and hospitals are ensuring that those who test positive for COVID-19 are connected to care.

Food processing plants report that they are doing temperature and symptom checks, encouraging sick employees to stay home and implementing paid sick leave for those with COVID-19 or suspected of having COVID-19. They are also providing personal protective equipment and employing social distancing policies where possible. Strike teams composed of staff from NCDHHS, NCDACS, NCDOL and local health departments and with virtual support from NIOSH will be available to conduct on-site assessments and providing technical assistance to plants to limit further spread.

“North Carolina’s response to COVID-19 cuts across departments and sectors, particularly when it comes to protecting those working so that we all have food to put on our tables. The department will continue to provide guidance and support to our sister agencies and partners on the ground as they respond to this new virus,” said Mark Benton, Assistant Secretary for Public Health at NCDHHS.

Workers at food processing facilities help ensure the world’s food supply remains stable and provide an essential service to the state and country and globally. There are 200 food processing facilities in North Carolina. Food and agriculture is recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as being one of 16 critical infrastructures for national security.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), there is no evidence that food or food packaging is associated with the transmission of COVID-19.

1 p.m.

Workgroup Supports Food Chain Supply During COVID-19 Pandemic

North Carolina Emergency Management and its State Emergency Response Team partners have formed a Food Supply Chain Working Group to address food production and distribution issues across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, to help ensure all North Carolinians are fed.

“A critical part of staying healthy during this pandemic is having enough to eat,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “We need to make sure the food supply chain remains strong and safe for everyone.”

“North Carolina is one of the nation’s largest producers of poultry and pork. If production falters, the impacts will be felt hard within our state and far beyond our borders,” said Brigadier General Allen Boyette of the North Carolina Army National Guard, who is leading the work group.

The group includes members from private industry, the agricultural community, the state departments of Public Instruction, Public Safety, Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Health and Human Services and is focusing on the food chain as a whole in the state. This begins at the supply end with farmers and food producers and continues with processors, distribution centers and wholesalers. End users include health care facilities and schools, grocery stores and restaurants.

Concerns include keeping work forces healthy and safe at the state’s food production facilities, keeping children who rely on school meals fed, providing for our state’s aging population and keeping shelves stocked at the state’s food banks.

Food banks are facing extreme demand now, with many people out of work and struggling to make ends meet. Food banks in rural areas are a special concern, as they do not have the resources available in urban areas.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina National Guard will begin providing personnel and vehicles to assist the food banks. Each food bank will receive a support package of approximately 40 personnel and 15 cargo vehicles, tailored to the needs of the food bank and those they serve. National Guard soldiers and airmen will be performing a range of tasks including warehouse and forklift operations, meal distribution, as well as food transportation and delivery to Area Agencies on Aging and school nutrition programs.

“Food banks are doing great work right now to help people who need assistance,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “But demand is very high and food banks need your support.”

Sprayberry is encouraging those that can to donate. Food banks say financial contributions are what they need most at this time, because the funds provide flexibility to purchase exactly what they need. To find the website of a food bank near you and donate online, visit feedingthecarolinas.org.

12:30 p.m.

COVID-19 Impact on NCDOT Revenues Forces Delays of Most Projects

As people across North Carolina have taken lifesaving measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, traffic volumes have plummeted, causing at least a $300 million budget shortfall for the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) for this fiscal year (ending June 30).

Because NCDOT revenue is fully funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and DMV fees, this significant impact has forced the department to notify local governments, stakeholders and the general public that all but about 50 major projects scheduled to start in the next 12 months are delayed. Projects moving forward are funded by GARVEE bonds, BUILD NC bonds and federal grants.

A list of the projects that are still scheduled to be awarded in the next year is available on the NCDOT website. The list of projects that have schedule changes is attached.

These changes do not affect construction projects already underway or that have already been awarded.

The department is taking other significant steps to decrease expenditures, including:

  • Allowing only mission-critical purchases
  • Laying off temporary and embedded consultants
  • Suspending or decreasing many programs and services
  • Hiring freeze (except for positions that impact public safety)

The department is in the process of developing plans for potential furloughs and a Reduction in Force (RIF). Those plans are not yet complete and no decision has been made at this time to enact them.

12:15 p.m.

NC Medicaid Receives Approval for Temporary Plan Changes to Respond COVID-19

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to temporarily waive certain Medicaid policies as part of North Carolina’s response to the COVID-19.

The waivers will provide flexibility to NC Medicaid and providers to address the urgent health care needs of beneficiaries during this public health emergency.

DHHS received temporary modifications to home- and community-based services provided through Medicaid waivers, including the Innovations, Community Alternatives for Disabled Adults, Community Alternatives for Children and Traumatic Brain Injury waivers.

These requests include removing certain dollar and stay limits, expanding the type of location where services can be delivered and easing requirements for reviews of personalized care plans and in-person meetings. Flexibilities are effective March 13, 2020, to March 12, 2021, the end of the public health emergency, or when the State determines the flexibilities are no longer necessary, whichever is first. Temporary modifications to waiver services and requirements will be made on an individual basis.

All Medicaid-related COVID-19 information, can be viewed at www.medicaid.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus. For general COVID-19 information and resources, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

11:40 a.m.

Act Now – Go to IRS.gov: A Message from Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul

Action Needed for Social Security Beneficiaries with Dependents and Who Do Not File Tax Returns to Receive $500 Per Child Payment

“Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department soon. People receiving benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here section to provide their information.

Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries with dependent children and who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Wednesday, April 22, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly. SSI recipients need to take this action by later this month; a specific date will be available soon.

By taking this proactive step to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment. If beneficiaries in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, their payment at this time will be $1,200. People would then be required to file a tax year 2020 tax return to obtain the additional $500 per eligible child.

I urge Social Security and SSI recipients with qualifying children who do not normally file taxes to take action now. Immediately go to IRS.gov so that you will receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments you and your family are eligible for.

People with Direct Express debit cards who enter information at the IRS’s website should complete all of the mandatory questions, but they may leave the bank account information section blank as Treasury already has their Direct Express information on file.

Additionally, any new beneficiaries since January 1, 2020, of either Social Security or SSI benefits, who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, will also need to go to the IRS’s Non-Filers website to enter their information as they will not receive automatic payments from Treasury.”

11 a.m.

The latest COVID-19 data for North Carolina has been released for Tuesday

North Carolina reports 34 more people have died of COVID-19, bringing the total death toll of the virus up to 213. That is the largest single-day increase in fatalities so far in the state.

The first death in North Carolina was reported on March 25, meaning COVID-19 is to blame for 213 deaths in 27 days.

The state health department said 6,951 people have tested positive for the virus. Many more are expected to have had the virus and recovered without getting tested.

Numbers:

There are now 6,951 positive cases reported across North Carolina, which is 187 more than the day prior.

Thirty-four more deaths were reported overnight, bringing the total for the state to 213.

There have been 83,331 completed tests and 427 people are currently in the hospital for COVID-19.

Mecklenburg County continues to lead the state in both cases and deaths, with 1,245 and 31 respectively.

Case breakdown by age:

0-17 (1%)

18-24 (6%)

25-49 (39%)

50-64 (28%)

65 or older (25%)

COVID-19 deaths by age:

25-49 (5%)

50-64 (10%)

65 or older (85%)

Of those positive cases, 53% are white and 39% are black.

Women make up 51% of the positive cases, and men account for 48%, though men make up 62% of the deaths.

Outbreaks:

There have been 38 reported outbreaks at nursing homes (Burke, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Iredell, Mecklenburg (5), Rowan (2), Union). Those nursing homes have seen 1,003 positive cases and 70 deaths.

There have been 14 reported outbreaks at residential care facilities (Cabarrus, Mecklenburg (5), Stanly, Union). Those facilities have seen 191 positive cases and 19 deaths.

10:50 a.m.

In appreciation for the healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics who are committed to the public’s health and safety, McDonald’s will offer free Thank You Meals, between Wednesday, April 22 and Tuesday, May 5, as a token of appreciation for their selfless service.

Each Thank You Meal will be available at no charge via drive-thru or carry out at participating McDonald’s restaurants nationwide through May 5. The Thank You Meal, available during breakfast, lunch or dinner, will feature a choice of sandwiches, drinks, and a side featuring small World Famous Fries or a Hash Brown, along with a note of appreciation. It will be served in McDonald’s iconic Happy Meal box, in the hopes of bringing a smile along with delicious food.

Day or night, these frontline heroes can simply show their work badge to receive one of the below Thank You Meal options:

Breakfast

  • A choice of an Egg McMuffin®, Chicken McGriddles® or a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit. All options come with any size soft drink, tea or hot coffee and a Hash Brown.

Lunch and Dinner

  • A choice of a Double Cheeseburger, 6-Piece Chicken McNuggets® or a Filet-O-Fish® will be offered. All options come with any size soft drink, tea or hot coffee and small fries.

10 a.m.

The North Carolina Division of Employment Security reports that 689,424 unemployment claims were filed between March 15 and April 20, and that 593,235 of those claims were related to job loss due to COVID-19.

9:30 a.m.

Rowan County Public Health Response To Outbreak at The Citadel

Admittedly, COVID-19 has brought many challenges to everyone throughout the United States. Here in Rowan County, NC we have the good fortune of having excellent leadership in the Medical Community. Gary Blabon, President of Novant Hospital Administration has been with us every step of the way during this crisis. Novant Health Rowan has been especially supportive and has offered supplies, resources and physician expertise to the County, and specifically regarding the Citadel. Under Gary’s leadership, the community has two amazing experts, Dr. Tom Trahey, Chief Medical Officer of Novant Rowan and Dr. Yomi Agbebi, Lead Infectious Disease Physician of Novant Rowan. They have worked tirelessly to provide assistance to Rowan County Health Department (RCHD) in developing treatment plans and care protocols for the skilled nursing facility. We will continue to collaborate with the professional expert advice provided by Drs. Trahey and Agbebi. While we appreciate Dr. John Bream’s passion and concern, the frustration expressed in his letter is misdirected.

Rowan County Health Department and Novant Rowan responded quickly to positive case information received from the official North Carolina State reporting system. We then worked with the facility and Novant Health Rowan to perform testing within 24 hours and implement on-site plans for containment. Our personnel then hand-delivered the tests to the state testing facility in Raleigh and received results according the highest priority timeframe.

As with any outbreak, The Health Department conducts extensive case investigation. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), given their congregate nature and pre-existing risk population (e.g., older adults often with underlying chronic medical conditions), nursing home populations are at the highest risk of being affected by COVID-19. RCHD responded urgently to test and set on-site standards for containment.

The Rowan County Health Department’s primary authority includes investigating and tracing potential community spread and assisting the facility with implementation of plans to limit on-site spread. RCHD is not permitted to contact family members of those who test positive for COVID-19 if there is no risk of exposure. Patients at long term care facilities are not patients of RCHD, and our response is to notify the patient or facility where the patient resides.

In this case, RCHD relies upon the long term care facility to communicate patient status to those family members who are entitled to receive status updates. Immediately upon notifying the Citadel of the risk of an outbreak, The Citadel agreed to follow CDC and NC Department of Health and Human Service guidance as it was issued.

Rowan County organized multiple daily calls with the Citadel Administration and Novant that included extensive guidance on appropriate disinfection, appropriate need for and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), accessing PPE, accessing testing supplies, testing for residents and staff, infection control measures, and investigation information.

Below is a recent timeline of factual events:

4/7/20: First Citadel case identified by the Rowan County Health Department (RCHD). RCHD had a preliminary discussion with Citadel Administration regarding infection control measures, containment, and prevention.

4/8/20: Received confirmation of additional positive cases at the Citadel. RCHD identified and reported the Citadel outbreak to the NC Division of Public Health as required by law.

4/8/20: RCHD had a conference call with Dr. John Bream to discuss Citadel situation per Dr. Bream’s request.

4/9/20: Conference call between Novant Health Rowan, Citadel, and RCHD. A RCHD Communicable Disease Nurse conducted a site visit at the Citadel. Novant donated specimen collection kits to Citadel to complete resident testing.

4/10/20: Conference call between Novant Health Rowan, Citadel, and RCHD to discuss situation progression. The RCHD received Citadel resident specimens at approximately 8:45 pm.

4/11/20: RCHD packaged resident specimens and Emergency Management delivered specimens to NC State Lab in Raleigh. We received testing supplies from State to facilitate testing Citadel staff.

4/13/20: RCHD received test results and sent to Citadel Administration (approximately 12:00pm EST) and coordinated investigation process with Citadel Administration. Conference call between Novant, Citadel, and Health Department took place, Citadel Administration conveyed that they started the process of notifying families, continued the discussion regarding infection control measures, containment, and prevention and 21 specimen collection kits given to the Citadel for testing of staff.

4/14/20: Emergency Management worked with Citadel Administration to order necessary supplies. Citadel Administration conveyed that they continued the process of notifying families, RCHD Communicable Disease nurse and Environmental Health Specialist conducted a second site visit.

4/15/20: Conference call between Novant Health Rowan, Citadel, and RCHD took place. Citadel conducting staff testing - 21 additional specimen collection kits given for testing of staff. Continued the discussion regarding infection control measures, containment, and prevention.

4/16/20: RCHD had a conference call with the State Outbreak Coordination Team.

4/17/20: Began to receive staff test results from State Lab; RCHD began staff investigations and interviews.

4/18/20: Received additional staff test results; continued staff investigation and interviews.

4/19/20: Discussion with Citadel Administration regarding status of residents and staff management.

4/20/20: Conference call between Novant Health Rowan, Citadel, and RCHD. Continued the discussion regarding infection control measures, containment, and prevention.

Rowan County Health Department will continue to work in collaboration with Novant Hospital in compliance with all State and Federal rules, regulations and laws.

Nina Oliver, Public Health Director

9 a.m.

Gaston County planning for gradual reopening

While waiting to see what Gov. Cooper and state leaders will decide on the current Stay at Home order, Gaston County leaders are doing work behind the scenes to prepare for a gradual re-opening of the local economy.

As of Monday evening, Gaston County has had 120 positive COVID-19 cases. Of those, nearly 100 have recovered. In addition, of those with active cases, only a handful currently need hospitalization.

“The compliance of our residents with the Stay at Home order has done exactly what we hoped it would – flatten the curve and protect our local hospital from experiencing a spike that could have overwhelmed its capabilities and resources,” Department of Health and Human Services Director Chris Dobbins said.

Gaston County has been in front of the COVID-19 crisis, with leaders putting a stricter restriction on gatherings than Mecklenburg County first did, and implementing its own Stay at Home order three days before Gov. Cooper put one in place for the whole state.

Board Chairman Tracy Philbeck said those decisions were made because of the data about the crisis and the projected needs for the health care system and Gaston County residents. Now, with no new significant rise in cases despite a broadening of testing capacity, County leaders are assembling plans for a slow re-opening of the economy once the Governor’s Stay at Home order ends on April 29th.

Much as the adding of restrictions until arriving at the Stay at Home order was incremental, so too will be the lifting of those restrictions. The first step, Philbeck said, is to get people back to work at businesses where social distancing can be maintained and proper sanitizing used to keep employees and customers safe.

“People need to work to support themselves and their families,” Philbeck said. “Every step along the way, we’ve listened to our experts. And now our experts are telling us that with the conditions we see here, we can start putting folks back to work.”

A slight loosening of restrictions on gatherings is under consideration, as are which categories of businesses will be allowed to re-open.

Dobbins warned that COVID-19 would likely be an ever-present concern for Gaston County residents until an effective vaccine is created and doses can be widely distributed.

“We’re going to continue to watch this very closely,” Dobbins said. “We’re constantly checking our data, and our residents need to know if we see a spike in the numbers of cases, we may have to tighten certain restrictions for a time once again.”

Restrictions will continue to be stronger for long-term care facilities, which are filled with residents at higher risk for serious complications from coronavirus. Additionally, more stringent safety precautions for those who are 65 and older, as well as those who are immunocompromised will likely continue for some time.

“This will not be a case of us flipping a switch and returning to our old normal,” Philbeck said. “This will be a gradual reopening with a constant eye on this devastating disease as we fight to create a new normal in these months ahead.”

County manager Dr. Kim Eagle has instructed a task force to put plans in place for what a gradual return to work for Gaston County’s nonessential employees will look like. Most non-public safety county employees have continued to telework during the Stay at Home order.

That will be followed by at a later date of a gradual reopening of certain buildings and in-person services once data indicates it is safe to do so.

8 a.m.

At 7 a.m., first responders from the Mooresville Police Department, Mooresville Fire-Rescue, Iredell County EMS, and local volunteer fire departments provided a “Parade of Lights” to thank health care professionals at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center.

Public safety vehicles traveled on Medical Park Road to the second entrance of LNRMC during morning shift change. Vehicles then exited the rear parking lot of LNRMC onto Medical Park Road.

PARADE OF LIGHTS - First responders from the Mooresville Police Department, Mooresville Fire-Rescue, Iredell County EMS, and local volunteer fire departments will provide a “Parade of Lights” to thank health care professionals at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center.

Posted by Town of Mooresville NC on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

7:30 a.m.

North Carolina-based LabCorp has announced it has gotten emergency authorization from the FDA for COVID-19 tests you can use at home.

The swab tests will initially be for front line healthcare workers and first responders. Then, in the coming weeks, the self-collection kits will be available to everyone.

“LabCorp continues to develop new ways to help patients and healthcare providers fight the COVID-19 crisis through our leading testing capabilities and deep scientific and research expertise,” Adam Schechter, president and CEO of LabCorp said. “Our at-home collection kits are designed to make it easier and safer to test healthcare workers and first responders during this important time.”

By having individuals self-test it will help prevent the spread of coronavirus and reduce the demand for personal protective equipment as the tests do not require a healthcare worker to perform the test.

It is important to note -- the emergency authorization means it is only meant to detect COVID-19 and can only be used during the State of Emergency.

6:30 a.m.

Governor’s Office statement on reopening Charlotte Motor Speedway for a race next month:

Governor Cooper knows the importance of NASCAR to our state and he’s already been talking with track and team owners about how we could potentially restart racing. It’s too soon to predict specific decisions about future sporting events but any plan would prioritize public health and safety and preventing the spread of the virus.

10:50 p.m. (Monday)

President Donald Trump said Monday he is signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.

9:10 p.m. (Monday)