Coronavirus local updates: Officials report outbreaks at 7 nursing facilities in Meck County

Nearly 2.2 million people worldwide -- including more than 671,000 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***


Mecklenburg County: (TBA)

North Carolina Task Force: (2 p.m.)

South Carolina Task Force (TBA)

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


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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 5,859 Friday. North Carolina is now reporting 152 deaths, 72,981 completed tests and 429 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 Friday:

7:28 p.m.

7:05 p.m.

According to officials, out of the 1,098 positive COVID-19 cases reported Thursday in Mecklenburg County, 58% (636) of people have been released from isolation.

6:52 p.m.

Officials are reporting COVID-19 outbreaks at seven nursing facilities in Mecklenburg County.

An outbreak is defined as having two or more positive cases in a long-term care facility.

Those facilities include:

  • Hunter Woods Nursing & Rehab Center
  • Huntersville Oaks
  • Pavillion Health Center
  • Autumn Care of Cornelius
  • The Social at Cotswold
  • Carrington Place Rehab & Living Center
  • The Laurels

5:43 p.m.

Health officials reported a second COVID-19 related death in Cleveland County.

Officials said the person was in their 50s and had multiple underlying health conditions.

“My thoughts and prayers are with this individual’s family,” Interim Cleveland County Health director DeShay Oliver said. “Although the number of new cases of COVID-19 we are seeing each day seems to have flattened, this goes to show that we must continue to take this virus seriously.”

4:58 p.m.

South Carolina health officials announced 163 new cases of the coronavirus and seven additional deaths.

This brings the total number of cases in the state to 4,086 and those who have died to 116.

4:06 p.m.

Officials said 1,136 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 24 people have died due to the virus in Mecklenburg County.

3:54 p.m.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety said 30 staff members across 15 facilities have tested positive for the coronavirus. Officials said those numbers are based on staff member’s self-reporting.

Officials said there are also 281 offenders across 9 facilities who have tested positive for the virus. According to officials, six of them are hospitalized and there had been no deaths due to COVID-19.

3:47 p.m.

Channel 9′s Joe Bruno has learned that the city of Charlotte is going to give first responders and other city employees who have direct contact with the public premium pay.

It will be an increase of 5% over their base pay going back to March 26 and lasting until the stay-at-home order is lifted.

3:50 p.m.

Aldersgate retirement community said in Charlotte said a staff member has tested positive for COVID-19.

The facility said the staff member had limited contact with residents.

3:40 p.m.

The Pavilion Health Center in Ballantyne confirmed 11 residents and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

3:31 p.m.

The U.S. Postal Service told Channel 9 that an employee at the Mid-Carolina Processing & Distribution Center on West Pointe Drive in Charlotte has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Officials said they believe the risk is low for employees who work in the facility.

3:12 p.m.

Officials confirmed a third person has died due to COVID-19 in Lancaster County.

2:30 p.m.

North Carolina governor: More COVID-19 test supplies needed

Gov. Roy Cooper responded to President Donald Trump’s plan to reopen the economy by stressing that the state needs the federal government’s help supplying medical professionals to ramp up COVID-19 testing.

The state government also said Friday that it was tripling the staff handling unemployment claims as the state faces a crush of hundreds of thousands of requests.

Trump told governors Thursday that restrictions could be eased to allow businesses to reopen in the coming weeks in areas that have extensive testing and a decline in cases. Hours later, Cooper, a Democrat, said states need more supplies from the federal government to expand testing enough to reopen their economies.

2:25 p.m.

COVID-19 outbreak at North Carolina prison grows to 150

A COVID-19 outbreak at a North Carolina state prison has spread to approximately 150 inmates.

The Wayne County Health Department said in a news release Friday that 149 inmates had tested positive for the virus at the state’s Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro.

State prison officials had announced about 80 of the cases the previous night. The county health officials said that the number of positive results was expected to rise as the prison completes testing on all of its 700 inmates.

Newly positive inmates are being put into isolation, and the state is sending additional medical and security staff to the facility.

2:20 p.m.

NCDHHS Convenes Testing Surge Workgroup

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has convened a Testing Surge Workgroup to develop a plan to increase testing, expand testing sites and options, and address testing supply challenges, including the availability of personal protective equipment. The workgroup is composed of internal NCDHHS staff and leaders from the public and private sector, including:

  • Traci Butler, LabCorp, Senior Vice President, Atlantic Division
  • Dr. Gerald Capraro, Atrium Health, Director of Clinical Microbiology Lab at Carolinas Pathology Group
  • Jay Campbell, North Carolina Board of Pharmacy, Executive Director
  • Azzie Conley, NCDHHS Division of Health Service Regulation, Chief, Acute and Home Care Licensure Certification Section
  • Dr. Michael Datto, Duke University Health System Clinical Laboratories, Medical Director
  • Dr. Garett Franklin, Cary Medical Group, Physician
  • Dr. Charlene Green, Old North State Medical Center, President
  • Jay Ludlam, NCDHHS Division of Health Benefits, Assistant Secretary for NC Medicaid
  • Dr. Melissa Miller, UNC Health Care, Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Microbiology Laboratories, Lab Director
  • Alan Myers, Quest Diagnostics, Vice President/General Manager, Southeast Region
  • Stacie Saunders, Alamance County Health Department, Public Health Director
  • Chris Shank, NC Community Health Center Association, Executive Director

Earlier this week, Gov. Roy Cooper charted a path forward for combating COVID-19. The plan focuses on increasing testing capacity, expanding testing sites and addressing supply challenges; ramping up staffing and technology to determine who has been exposed when someone tests positive; and analyzing new data, including a number of new cases, hospitalizations, deaths, protective equipment, supplies, hospital capacity and more.

2 p.m.

Update from Gov. Cooper and the NC Coronavirus Task Force:

TESTING: Testing increased by 83% in the last 2 weeks, but we need it to be more widespread. Cooper announced a partnership with three universities to bolster testing: UNC, East Carolina and Duke.

Cooper said 13 labs in the state are doing these tests but more are needed and has set up a testing surge workgroup.

Cooper stressed that North Carolina needs the federal government’s help with supplies like PPEs for testing.

TRACING: The state is deploying people to hotspots, like nursing homes, but needs more people for this to trace how the virus is spreading.

Cooper urged folks to stay home again through another beautiful weekend.

“It’s tempting to go out,” he said, but congratulated North Carolinians for staying home and doing a good job.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the goal is to get to widespread testing. Anyone with symptoms can get a test and take proper measures to stop the spread. Doctors and clinicians need to know which labs have availability to process on any given day. There needs to be a clear path of communication back to the patient.

She said they need to increase sample collection sites and need to make sure they are available throughout the state. She is hoping to use newer rapid testing and self-administered tests, which are coming on the market now. Testing supply challenges are easing some, but we’re not out of the woods yet.

Cohen gave a big shout out and thank you to early childhood development and childcare workers.

Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry encouraged everyone to support food banks. Visit http://Feedingthecarolinas.org to find a food bank near you. You can give a financial donation online, too.

1:10 p.m.

City of Charlotte Announces Open for Business Initiative to Support Small Businesses

The City of Charlotte has launched its Open for Business initiative, which is designed to support local small businesses that are open during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout the recovery. The Open for Business public dashboard and application creates a comprehensive and easily accessible avenue to connect our residents with small businesses in Charlotte while the Mecklenburg County Stay at Home Order is in effect and throughout the COVID-19 recovery.

The Open for Business dashboard will include a directory of Charlotte small businesses and their operations including modified hours, changes to service, delivery and special offers. Small business owners can complete a brief application to have their business added to the dashboard. Business owners who have temporarily closed their business as a result of COVID-19 can also submit their information to be added once the Stay at Home Order is lifted.

“We heard directly from the small business community that visibility today is critical to surviving this pandemic,” Assistant City Manager Tracy Dodson said. “Small business owners are finding creative ways to continue to serve their customers during this time, and we want to elevate their presence however we can. We are excited to launch this dashboard and share it with our residents who are eager to support them.”

The dashboard will be featured on the city’s small business resource webpage, open data portal and the CLT+ mobile app in the coming days.

Small businesses that are added to the dashboard will also receive the Charlotte Open for Business Logo to display in their storefront and share on social media. The Open for Business logo will help customers quickly identify that a business is open and serve as a symbol of the community’s support for local small businesses and their employees.

“Our small businesses are the heart of our City and employ a substantial part of our workforce,” Dodson said. “It is critical that we all band together to support them today and in throughout the COVID-19 recovery.”

Small business owners can contact the city for more information on the dashboard or visit the city’s small business resource page for other local, state, federal and partner resources.

1 p.m.

“NASCAR is postponing the scheduled events on May 8-9 at Martinsville Speedway. Our intention remains to run all 36 races, with a potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined. The health and safety of our competitors, employees, fans, and the communities in which we run continues to be our top priority. We will continue to consult with health experts and local, state and federal officials as we assess future scheduling options.”

12:30 p.m.

Fort Bragg reported its first two COVID-19 deaths -- a civilian employee at Fort Bragg and a contractor. Both were Cumberland County residents.

“We lost two valued members of our Fort Bragg community last night,” said Lt. Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, in a written statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families in their time of loss.”

12:15 p.m.

We just learned Mecklenburg County is providing special duty pay to county healthcare, medical and social workers on the front lines.

12:05 p.m.


Three new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Catawba County, bringing the county’s total number of residents who have tested positive to 43. We have received 666 negative test results.

The county’s total case number is based on COVID-19 test results. Not all cases of COVID-19 are tested, so this does not represent the total number of people who have or had COVID-19.

Because community spread is occurring locally and across North Carolina, all residents are urged to stay home and avoid contact with others to the extent possible.

11:50 a.m.

The Wayne County Health Department has announced 149 positive cases at Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro. DPS has initiated testing of all 700 offenders and any staff members who wish to be tested.

11:15 a.m.

Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics from the NCDHHS:

There are now 5,859 positive cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina, up 394 from Thursday.

The state is reporting 152 deaths, an increase of 21 from Thursday.

There have been 72,981 completed tests with 429 people currently hospitalized. That number is down from 452 on Thursday.

Mecklenburg County is reporting the most positive cases in the state, at 1,136. Twenty-one people in the county have died.

Age breakdown of positive cases:

0-17 (1%)

18-24 (7%)

25-49 (37%)

50-64 (28%)

65 or older (27%)

Of those who have died, 84% were 65 or older.

55% of positive cases are white while blacks make up 39% of the cases.

54% of positive cases are women and 45% are men.

69% of those who have died were men.

There are currently 35 nursing homes that have experienced an outbreak (Burke, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Mecklenburg (5), Rowan (2), Union).

There are now 11 residential care facilities that have experienced an outbreak (Mecklenburg (3), Stanly, Union).

10:45 a.m.

COVID-19 spreads at separate small gatherings in Cabarrus County

A wedding. An Easter family gathering. Birthday parties.

Cabarrus County residents held these gatherings over the past two weeks, and now the Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) is investigating COVID-19 outbreaks at each event, with more than 18 people infected.

In most of these cases, the number of attendees was below 10, which highlights the need for following all the recommended guidelines, according to Erin Shoe, Chief Operating Officer at CHA, Cabarrus County’s public health authority.

“Less than 10 isn’t some magic number that prevents the spread of the virus,” Shoe said. “There’s a reason for the Stay-At-Home Proclamation (put into effect by the county and municipalities on March 26 and revised on March 31), and there are real, consequential effects of not following that order and socializing and interacting in groups outside your family nucleus.”

These types of gatherings are a growing trend locally, according to clinical investigators.

“One of the most frustrating things for our new positive cases is that they tell us, ‘Yeah, I had a party this weekend’ or ‘I had a get-together this weekend,’” said Dr. Natasha Mofrad, a member of the CHA’s clinical investigation team. “Some people are feeling more comfortable and they are starting to have small gatherings, and then we’re seeing many people (at those gatherings) getting sick.”

The clinical investigation team is charged with initially contacting the person who tested positive. They determine when the sickness began as well as what the patient did and where they went in the days leading up to the onset of symptoms.

“We’re going to ask you about all your household members, their names, their dates of birth, their relationship to you and the last date you’ve been around them and then we’re also going to do that same thing with close contacts,” Shoe said.

That’s when the contact tracing begins. During that phase, investigators try to identify and notify “close contacts” of the positive case, which means anybody within six feet of the subject for more than 10 minutes in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms.

In the follow up with close contacts, the team makes sure they aren’t developing symptoms and issues quarantine orders to make sure they’re staying home to prevent the spread, said Dr. Elly Steel, another member of the clinical investigation team.

Steel and Mofrad are dentists who joined the clinical investigations team in recent weeks.

The team has identified 35 close contacts associated with the four recent gatherings. Each contact is now under a 14-day quarantine. One of Mofrad’s many tasks this week: following up with attendees of the birthday parties.

In Cabarrus County, another recent issue involves essential workers going to work sick, which has the potential to cause large outbreaks. Of the positive cases from the four gatherings, six are now out of work, and most of those are essential workers.

It’s clear that workplace spread can be devastating.

“We’ve seen people who were in close quarters with co-workers on Wednesday and no one starts having symptoms until Friday, and then all of them are quarantined and stuck at home for two weeks, even though they are doing essential jobs,” Steel said.

Added Mofrad: “It’s better to send a few employees home sick for two weeks than it is to send the whole department home for that long.”

It’s important for Cabarrus County residents to remain vigilant about following all the recommended guidelines, Shoe said. “And that doesn’t just mean having less than 10 people at a gathering. It means staying home. It means wearing masks in public. It means social distancing regardless of where you are. It means doing your part to help stop the spread locally.”

10:25 a.m.

North Carolina’s March Employment Figures Released

The state’s seasonally adjusted March unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, increasing 0.8 of a percentage point from February’s revised rate. The national rate increased 0.9 of a percentage point to 4.4 percent.

North Carolina’s March 2020 unemployment rate increased 0.3 of a percentage point from a year ago. The number of people employed decreased 180,275 over the month to 4,751,781 and decreased 100,381 over the year. The number of people unemployed increased 35,020 over the month to 217,626 and increased 12,282 over the year.

Seasonally adjusted Total Nonfarm industry employment, as gathered through the monthly establishment survey, decreased 22,600 to 4,589,400 in March. The major industries with the largest over-the-month increases were Financial Activities, 1,000; Construction, 800; Other Services, 800; Government, 600; and Information, 600. Major industries experiencing decreases were Leisure & Hospitality Services, 13,600; Trade, Transportation & Utilities, 4,100; Professional & Business Services, 3,600; Education & Health Services, 2,800; and Manufacturing, 2,300. Mining & Logging employment remained unchanged over the month.

Since March 2019, Total Nonfarm jobs increased 30,200 with the Total Private sector increasing by 21,800 and Government increasing by 8,400. The largest over-the-year increases among major industries were Financial Activities, 12,400; Leisure & Hospitality Services, 9,200; Government, 8,400; Other Services, 4,200; Information, 3,400; and Construction, 1,900. Major industries experiencing decreases were Professional & Business Services, 4,000; Education & Health Services, 2,400; Manufacturing, 2,200; and Trade, Transportation & Utilities, 700. Mining & Logging employment remained unchanged over the year.

The next unemployment update is scheduled for Wednesday, April 29, 2020 when the county unemployment rates for March 2020 will be released.

10:15 am.

NC Division of Employment Security to triple staff to meet unprecedented surge in unemployment claims

In the last month, more than 630,000 people have filed for unemployment insurance benefits in North Carolina, mostly due to the impacts of COVID-19. By the end of the next week, the Division of Employment Security plans to have more than three times its original staffing in place to respond to the surge in claims and ensure payments go out as quickly as possible.

DES expects to have more than 1,600 people working to process claims and issue payments.

  • Prior to COVID-19, DES had a staff of approximately 500.
  • The division has since added 403 people to the current efforts.
  • 95 time-limited and temporary staff
  • 100 N.C. Division of Workforce Solutions staff
  • 200 private call center agents
  • 6 N.C. Department of Information Technology staff
  • 2 N.C. Department of Agriculture print operators
  • By the end of next week, DES will have engaged an additional 600 private call center agents and 100 Division of Workforce Solutions staff.

“This will be the largest number of people working to provide unemployment benefits in North Carolina’s history,” said Lockhart Taylor, assistant secretary of the Division of Employment Security. “We are prepared to take whatever steps we need to take to deliver the help North Carolinians need during these difficult times.”

In addition to providing state unemployment benefits, DES will issue payments for three different federal programs. This week, DES completed implementation of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which pays an additional $600 in weekly unemployment insurance to eligible claimants. Eligible North Carolinians are now receiving these payments.

DES estimates its online filing system will be ready to accept claims around April 25 for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for individuals not eligible for regular unemployment insurance. The division is also continuing to work on a timeline to provide Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, the federal program that allows for up to 13 additional weeks of benefits.

Updates about eligibility and how to apply for these benefits can be found on des.nc.gov.

DES has now paid out a total of more than $350 million to more than 210,000 people for unemployment claims effective as of March 15.

10 a.m.

On April 27, Solid Waste Services will temporarily resume yard waste collection. Residents are asked to put yard waste at the curb on April 27 and leave it until it is collected.

8:20 a.m.

Volunteers are handing out 30,000 pounds of food and supplies today to families in need along Main Street in Belmont as part of a mobile food pantry between 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.

8 a.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to give an update on the state’s response at 2 p.m.

You can watch it on Channel 9 or livestream here.

7:30 a.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster’s Office has issued a revision to Executive Order 2020-16, Section 1(C) that reopens public boat landings and ramps in South Carolina for the purpose of launching or retrieving a boat beginning at noon today.

6:20 a.m.

This morning, our team is working to make sure we keep you caught up on what’s going on with the coronavirus. We start with the three big updates we’ve been working overnight to bring you.

  • North Carolina lawmakers are close to drafting a bill they say would help everyone in the state. It focuses on childcare, Medicaid coverage when it comes to testing, and online health. The bill would also increase testing for antibodies when the technology is more widely available. There’s talk among lawmakers to have this bill drafted in a week.
  • Also, officials are working on your child’s school calendar for next year. They say there is a lot to still figure out. On Thursday, lawmakers drafted a bill to waive testing and licensing requirements for teachers until next year. As far as your student’s grades go, the bill would create a “pass or withdraw” system.
  • Overnight, we also received new numbers on China’s outbreak. Deaths in Wuhan are much higher than previously reported. China’s foreign ministry says nearly 3,900 people died in Wuhan -- that’s nearly three times what they previously said. They blame the under-reporting on overwhelmed medical facilities. This comes as experts say China’s economy shrank for the first time since 1976.

9 p.m. (Thursday)

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he had a call with President Donald Trump and other governors from around the country.

Cooper said on the call, the White House shared guidelines and information for lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

“Yesterday I laid out what’s required for North Carolina’s path to gradual re-opening, and it’s good the White House has shared similar guidance, but we still need the federal government to help with testing and personal protective equipment. We will continue working with our federal and local partners to beat this virus, protect people’s health and recover our economy," Cooper said in a statement.