Coronavirus local updates: Inmates to be secured in cells to decrease COVID-19 spread, fed prison officials say

COVID-19 Cases in the Carolinas: March 31

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — About 788,000 people worldwide -- including nearly 164,000 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 brace for unprecedented patient surges.

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>> 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.

>> 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 1,498 Tuesday. North Carolina is now reporting eight deaths, 23,106 completed tests and 157 people currently in the hospital.
  • Several counties have a stay-at-home order already in effect. A stay-at-home order has already been issued for Mecklenburg County, Gaston County and Cabarrus County.
  • Gov. Roy Cooper and the state’s coronavirus task force announced a statewide stay-at-home order and it took effect at 5 p.m. Monday.

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

Important Links & Updates:

Live local updates from Tuesday:

11 p.m.

North Carolina will hit a peak for the usage of health resources on April 23, according to The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

South Carolina is expected to hit its peak resource use on April 26.

10 p.m.

The Bureau of Prisons announced, beginning Wednesday, there will be a 14-day lockdown of all institutions. Inmates will be secured in their assigned cells to decrease COVID-19 spread, WTVD reported Tuesday night.

8:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump applauded Boone-based Samaritan's Purse during Tuesday’s Coronavirus Task Force briefing just days after it built a hospital in the middle of New York City's Central Park.

“I think only good things can be said when you look at that job that's been done,” Trump said. “I just spoke with Franklin Graham who is an extraordinary person, and Samaritan's Purse has been like so many others, just been amazing and so fast. They did it so fast.”

The 14-tent, 68-bed emergency field hospital is outfitted for the respiratory needs of coronavirus patients and staffed with dozens of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

7:45 p.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper: “If you’re grocery shopping over the next few days, it’s important not to buy more than you need — especially items with WIC labels — so that North Carolinians receiving SNAP/WIC benefits are able to get what they need for themselves & their families.”

7:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday warned Americans to brace for a “rough two-week period” ahead as the White House released new projections that there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.

6:30 p.m.


5:20 p.m.

Belmont City Council passed a $400,000 small business assistance package. It will allow emergency loans up to $10,000 to help businesses in Belmont.

5:15 p.m.

Wells Fargo says two employees who work in their Customer Information Center have tested positive for COVID-19. One works in the 3rd Building on the 5th floor. The other works in the 1st Building on the 3rd floor.

5 p.m.

Gov. Henry McMaster Orders Non-Essential Businesses Closed Throughout S.C.

Governor Henry McMaster today issued Executive Order 2020-17, which orders the closure of non-essential businesses, as defined by the executive order, throughout the state in order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The businesses that will be closed as a result of the governor's executive order are as follows:

Entertainment venues and facilities as follows:

  • Night clubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Arcades
  • Concert venues
  • Theaters, auditoriums, and performing arts centers
  • Tourist attractions (including museums, aquariums, and planetariums)
  • Racetracks
  • Indoor children’s play areas (excluding daycare facilities)
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Bingo halls
  • Venues operated by social clubs

Recreational and athletic facilities and activities as follows:

  • Fitness and exercise centers and commercial gyms
  • Spas and public or commercial swimming pools
  • Group exercise facilities, to include yoga, barre, and spin studios or facilities
  • Spectator sports
  • Sports that involve interaction with another person in close proximity and within less than six (6) feet of another person
  • Activities that require the use of shared sporting apparatus and equipment
  • Activities on commercial or public playground equipment

Close-contact service providers as follows:

  • Barber shops
  • Hair salons
  • Waxing salons
  • Threading salons
  • Nail salons and spas
  • Body-art facilities and tattoo services
  • Tanning salons
  • Massage-therapy establishments and massage services

Clarification Assistance Provided by the South Carolina Department of Commerce

If a business has a question as to whether they qualify as essential, they should complete the Essential Business Clarification form located on the South Carolina Department of Commerce website, which will be easily accessible on the South Carolina Department of Commerce’s website. Questions can also be sent to covid19sc@sccommerce.com, or business representatives can call 803-734-2873.

A team from South Carolina Department of Commerce will review the business’s request for clarification, and the business will receive a response with their determination, essential or non-essential, within 24 hours. If a business is not explicitly addressed in the governor’s executive order, the business should continue normal operations until a determination is made.

4:50 p.m.

York County reporting first COVID-19 related death.

4:43 p.m.

Today there are 418 cases of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County.

4:40 p.m.

Caldwell County Sheriff and Police Chiefs issue joint statement regarding Stay At Home Order

Caldwell County Sheriff Alan Jones and Police Chiefs Brent Phelps, City of Lenoir; Richard Blevins, Town of Hudson; and Chris Jenkins, Town of Granite Falls, issued the following joint statement regarding Governor Roy Cooper’s Stay At Home Order.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a Stay At Home Order effective at 5:00 p.m. yesterday, March 30, 2020. The order was included in the Governor’s Executive Order 121 (EO121). The Stay at Home order is in effect through April 29, 2020, but can be revised or extended.

Under the Stay at Home order, residents can still:

  • Go to work, if they are providing essential services
  • Go to the grocery store or pharmacy to buy food or medicine
  • Go to medical appointments after first checking with their medical provider
  • Go to restaurants for takeout, delivery, or drive thru
  • Go outside for exercise, while following the social distancing guidelines
  • Visit a family member to provide care
  • Volunteer

If residents are not involved in these activities, they should stay at home. Click here to read EO121. Click here to read the Frequently Asked Questions about EO121.

The Governor’s order does not require that people carry some type of documentation or letter giving them permission to travel. The public is allowed to travel and go outside for all of the reasons allowed in EO121. Officers are not looking for letters which give people permission to be outside their home, nor are our agencies giving permission to people to be outside of their home.

However, we want to make certain that our residents know that violating this order may result in a Class 2 misdemeanor. An example of violating the order would be driving around just to visit stores without intending to buy essential goods or services. All state and local law enforcement agencies are tasked with enforcing Governor Cooper’s order.

We have received multiple calls asking if our officers plan to stop people or arrest people if they are driving or are outside their homes. We want to remind our residents that the Fourth Amendment is still in full effect. Officers MUST have a reasonable and articulable suspicion to conduct an investigative stop. Our officers WILL NOT stop vehicles for the sole purpose of checking to see if people are following the Stay at Home order.

We know this is challenging time, but we all have a responsibility to help protect EACH OTHER during this pandemic. Everyone needs to understand and adopt this “new normal” for ourselves and each other. We urge all residents of Caldwell County, Granite Falls, Hudson, and Lenoir to voluntarily follow the Governor’s order and support these public health recommendations. Hopefully, we can get back to normal in the near future.

- Sheriff Alan Jones, Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office

- Chief Brent Phelps, Lenoir Police Department

- Chief Richard Blevins, Hudson Police Department

- Chief Chris Jenkins, Granite Falls Police Department

4:35 p.m.

SC Gov. Henry McMaster’s COVID-19 update with the SCDHEC:

South Carolina DHEC announced four additional deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the state’s total number of deaths to 22. DHEC is reporting 158 additional cases of COVID-19. As of today, the total number statewide is 1,083 cases in 42 counties.

Our response to this public health threat expands beyond the great halls of our national, state and local institutions, beyond the frontline staff at our hospitals and healthcare facilities, and into the homes of every South Carolinian.

To date, we have reported receiving 1,083 confirmed cases from our Public Health Laboratory and private laboratories.

In some way or another the spread of COVID19 is going to affect every one of us. We are all in this together, and with your help, our hope is to minimize the risk for everyone. Our focus now is on protecting those at highest risk for exposure or complications from infection.

The desire to obtain details about where infected people are known to be has become a disturbing distraction because it suggests that there are still individuals who don’t understand the potential threat for exposure for anyone and the need for everyone to take precautions.

From the perspective of protecting the public health we are focusing on reducing transmission through social distancing of individuals in all potentially affected areas. This is a challenging time and it will not end soon, and what we’re calling on everyone across our state to do is not easy.

Among our many priorities, two are top. The first is protecting those at highest risk of complications from infection, that will reduce hospitalizations and will save lives. The second is protecting those at highest risk of ongoing exposure.

If we don’t follow the guidance for social distancing and staying home, then we will see higher rates of cases similar to what we’ve seen in other states.

McMaster signing an executive order that takes effect Wednesday suspending non-essential, close contact businesses. Those being suspended include: nightclubs, bowling alleys, theaters, arcades, race tracks, indoor children’s play facilities, bingo halls, adult entertainment.

Athletic facilities effected: Sports requiring interaction closer than 6 feet, shared equipment

Service providers effected: Barber shops, hair salons, nail salons, spas, body art & tattoo, massage therapy

4:30 p.m.

Lowe’s confirms two local employees have tested positive:

We can confirm one case at the Northlake store and one case at the Ballantyne location. In both cases, the associates have been quarantined and are receiving care, and we are supporting them as they recover.

  • Northlake, located at 10275 Perimeter Pkwy. The associate last worked on March 24.
  • Ballantyne, located at 5310 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy. The associate last worked on March 23.

The well-being of our associates and customers is Lowe’s priority. The stores remain open, and we continue to take extra steps to clean the store beyond our daily cleaning protocols. In an abundance of caution, associates who had worked closely with either individual over a period of time have been put on paid leave.

4:25 p.m.

Wells Fargo has released a statement regarding two employees at their Customer Information Center testing positive for COVID-19.

4:20 p.m.

Burke County is now reporting its 6th positive case of COVID-19.

4:15 p.m.

Update from NC Attorney General Josh Stein:

This crisis is not only taking a toll on our physical well-being, but it is also affecting our economic well-being. This past Sunday alone, more than 20,000 North Carolinians filed for unemployment.

In just the last two weeks, this insidious virus has forced businesses to lay off more than 300,000 people. Just think about that number . . . it’s massive. It’s orders of magnitude worse than those from the great recession.

These are people who serve us at restaurants. They fly us on airplanes and greet us at hotels. They produce and sell our clothing. They manufacture the products we use each day. They do these things and so much more. They’re our neighbors and they need our help.

With this executive order, we are prohibiting utilities from shutting off services, charging late fees and charging reconnection fees. We are encouraging landlords to work with their tenants, not evict them.

We are encouraging banks and mortgage servicers to be flexible with homeowners and other borrowers. And we are encouraging telecommunication providers to keep their customers connected in these trying times.

The industries affected by today’s order, power, water, natural gas, lending and telecommunications, are necessary to life. I want to recognize that many businesses in these sectors have already been doing right by their customers during this crisis.

4:10 p.m.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen’s COVID-19 update:

I’ll start with a run-down of the numbers. As of this morning:

• 1,498 Cases

• 77 Counties

• 47 Median Age. This is the median age of people who tested positive.

• 157 current hospitalizations

• 8 deaths

• 23,106 completed tests across the state from labs that have reported their negative tests, not all do

• 8,441 tests pending

• 17,572 in-patient hospital beds in the state and 7,024 are empty (40%). These numbers are based on 84% of hospitals reporting.

These numbers do not include surge. We are working with our hospitals right now to plan out what their maximum surge capacity is and will be sharing those numbers as they report back on just how far they can stretch their capacity.

4 p.m.

NC Gov. Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 update:

Good afternoon. Thank you for joining today’s update on COVID-19 in North Carolina. As of this morning, we have 1,498 confirmed positive cases and unfortunately, this virus has now taken the lives of eight North Carolinians.

As a state, I know we are keeping their families and loved ones in our prayers. Our Stay At Home order is in effect now. I know it’s hard, but prevention is still the single most important thing you can do right now. Prevention means maintaining physical distance from each other, washing hands, coughing into the elbow. Those simple things can save lives, including your own. It’s vitally important that everyone take this order seriously and obey it. Don’t let down your guard.

Staying home slows the spread of this illness. It lets our hospitals and healthcare workers keep up with the demand. If we don’t slow the spread and flatten the curve, our medical system will be stretched beyond its capacity.

You only have to turn on the TV or glance at your iPhone to see what happens when hospitals get more cases than they can handle. I know our economy has taken a hit and so have the finances of people across North Carolina.

Help for small businesses is on the way along with federal stimulus checks. But we know we’ll have to do more. Now we are taking another step to help families. That’s why I took action to make unemployment benefits more widely available. With the federal boost of $600 a week, it can help keep people afloat who’ve lost their jobs.

Today, I have signed an executive order to prohibit utilities from shutting off service to people who are unable to pay. This action is particularly important since tomorrow is the first of the month, and I know that’s a date many families fear when they can’t make ends meet. People should pay their bills, and the vast majority want to and do. But during this crisis, some just don’t have enough money.

I appreciate companies like Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, AT&T, Spectrum, local electric co-ops and many others for already announcing policies to prevent shutoffs. I know there are too many companies to name, but I commend them for doing the right thing.

Households are already getting help in other ways. The State of Emergency I declared outlaws price gouging. Those unemployment benefits I mentioned earlier will start going out this week.

And at the outset of this pandemic, Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley took the important step to stop newly entered evictions from moving forward. I am grateful for her swift action and I know many families are too. In consultation with Attorney General Josh Stein, who is here with us today, this order strongly encourages the delay of any evictions that had already been entered.

I’ve activated additional National Guard personnel for state active duty, bringing our total by the weekend to 180. These additional guard servicemembers will help get supplies where they’re needed as quickly as possible and conduct engineering assessments should we need to begin building alternative hospital facilities.

And as with every day, we continue to push for more medical supplies like protective gear for health care workers. To date, North Carolina has received 17.6 percent of what it’s asked for from the Strategic National Supply. That’s not enough, and we are pushing to get these orders filled any way we can. We’re searching high and low to get medical supplies from other sources, and we’ll keep pushing until we get what we need.

3 p.m.

The CMS Board has passed “Local Emergency Leave” procedures. It applies to hourly employees, awarding up to a maximum of 80 hours of locally-funded emergency paid leave to eligible employees. It is meant to address reduced hours for staff unable to work remotely.

2:45 p.m.

Cabarrus County now reporting 46 cases and two deaths. Union County reporting 43 cases.

2:25 p.m.

To prevent people from playing basketball at Tuckaseegee Park in west Charlotte, Mecklenburg County officials have zip-tied the nets and dumped a giant pile of dirt on the court.

In Freedom Park, we saw the volleyball nets have been taken down, the tennis nets have been lowered, the courts are zip-tied shut and the swings are also tied up.

1:10 p.m.

Cherokee County in North Carolina reports its first COVID-19 related death.

1 p.m.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster will be joined by state public health officials for a media briefing to update the public on the state’s response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus today at 4 p.m.

You can watch it live on Channel 9 or stream it here.

12:20 p.m.

Following clarification/guidance that was released over the weekend regarding the Mecklenburg County stay-at-home Order, all Park and Recreation sports courts in Mecklenburg County are now closed.

Officials tell Channel 9 Mecklenburg County is taking down volleyball nets, tennis courts are being locked and basketball nets are being zip-tied. The county is also putting up signs saying playgrounds are closed and will heavily monitor the use of sports courts.

CLICK HERE for more details.

11:40 a.m.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office has served over 3,842 students in the community over the past nine days with breakfast and lunch.

11:30 a.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper will hold a news briefing on the latest COVID-19 details today at 4 p.m. He will be joined by the state’s virus task force.

This will be the first time he will speak since his statewide stay-at-home order went into effect.

You can watch it live on Channel 9 or stream it here.

11:25 a.m.

The city of Belmont is taking steps to help small businesses weather the pandemic.

Last night, the city council passed a $400,000 small business assistance package. It will allow emergency loans of up to $10,000 to businesses in the city. That money will be available until they can receive state or federal assistance or capital from a bank.

11:20 a.m.

TWO NEW CASES OF COVID-19 REPORTED IN CATAWBA COUNTY

Two new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Catawba County, bringing the county’s current total case count to 16.

Catawba County has received 222 negative COVID-19 test results. There have been no deaths associated with COVID-19 reported in Catawba County.

According to new guidelines from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), healthcare providers are no longer required to submit a form to the local health department for every patient tested for COVID-19. Providers and patients are still required to follow all current NCDHHS guidelines regarding patient care and isolation during the testing period.

Because of this reporting change, counties are no longer able to accurately track the total number of tests occurring on a county level. Positive and negative COVID-19 test results are still reported to local health departments.

10:24 a.m.

The Untappd Beer Festival has been postponed because of ongoing coronavirus concerns.

The festival was set to return to Bank of America Stadium on May 16. Officials did not give an exact date for when it will be rescheduled, but told Channel 9 it will be in the fall.

9:30 a.m.

As of Tuesday morning, health officials reported nearly 1,500 positive coronavirus cases across North Carolina.

According to the Department of Health and Human, there are 420 cases in Mecklenburg County.

North Carolina Case Statistics:

Cases: 1,498

Deaths: 8 -- Buncombe, Cabarrus, Forsyth, Harnett, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Onslow and Rowan counties

Completed Tests: 23,106

Currently Hospitalized: 157

Age Group:

0-17: 1%

18-24: 11%

25-49: 43%

50-64: 26%

65+: 19%

Gender:

Male: 47%

Female: 52%

Unknown: 1%

County-by-county breakdown:

  • Alexander County: 2 cases
  • Anson County: 1 case
  • Burke County: 5 cases
  • Cabarrus County: 47 cases, 1 death
  • Caldwell County: 3 cases
  • Catawba County: 14 cases
  • Cleveland County: 6 cases
  • Gaston County: 27 cases
  • Iredell County: 25 cases
  • Lincoln County: 4 cases
  • Mecklenburg County: 420 cases, 1 death
  • Rowan County: 23 cases, 1 death
  • Stanly County: 5 cases
  • Union County: 41 cases
  • Watauga County: 5 cases

9:30 a.m.

According to North Carolina’s Workforce WARN Reports, more than 250 employees at Great Wolf Lodge in Concord have been laid off.

Great Wolf Lodge temporarily closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Statement from Great Wolf Lodge:

"Providing for the health and safety of our guests, pack members and overall community is our guiding principle at Great Wolf Lodge. With the continued community safety measures for social distancing and group gatherings instituted by government and health officials in response to COVID-19, we feel it is in the best interest of guests, pack members and the communities we serve to extend the closure of our resorts through May 19, 2020. We will continue to monitor the ongoing situation and stay connected with federal and state health officials.

"We are providing a full refund to any guest with a current reservation that falls within our revised closure period, or offering the opportunity to reschedule their reservation to a future date. For guests who reschedule by April 1, we are extending a complimentary $50 resort credit for each night booked if their revised stay falls within calendar year 2020.

“These are challenging and unprecedented times, and we are very appreciative of the support from those within the community who have spent quality family time at our resorts over the years. We are looking forward to re-opening soon and providing so many families with the fun-filled getaway they missed this spring.”

9:27 a.m.

Last week, an employee in the eye department at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose and Throat (CEENTA) in SouthPark tested positive for coronavirus.

Officials said the employee has not been to work since March 25 and is doing well at home.

CEENTA said it is taking necessary precautions to prevent further exposure of the virus.

Any staff member or patient who may have come into contact with the virus will be notified by the doctor’s office. It is recommended you self-isolate at home and monitor for any symptoms.

Officials said at this time, no other employee at CEENTA has tested positive for coronavirus.

9:13 a.m.

Anson County has identified its first case of coronavirus. Officials said the patient was a known contact of another case.

Health officials said she is doing well and is following isolation orders. Now, the Anson County Health Department is working to determine if anyone else may have come into contact with the virus.

9 a.m.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has decided to continue the suspension of all fingerprints for the general public.

Deputies said the only exception is for new concealed carry permit applications, which will be taken by appointment only.

The sheriff’s office did not say when they will start taking fingerprints again.

8:25 a.m.

A doctor at OrthoCarolina Foot & Ankle Institute tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend, a spokesperson confirmed to Channel 9.

The doctor was in the office 10 days before testing positive.

Officials said they are open and are seeing patients, but they are following all the CDC recommended precautions such as screening both staff and patients.

8 a.m.

According to our news partner WTVD, a curfew for the town of Fayetteville will go into effect on Wednesday.

This is an effort to combat COVID-19.

City leaders told WTVD they are working on an order that will require non-essential workers to remain in their homes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

They are also considering fines or charges if people break that curfew.

7 a.m.

As we enter another week with restaurant dining rooms shut down and hotel rooms empty, thousands of their employees have no other option than to file for unemployment.

With many bills due on April 1, the North Carolina Restaurant Lodging Association has created a relief fund to give $500 to workers who lost their jobs and haven’t received unemployment checks yet.

In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration granted Governor Roy Cooper’s request for financial relief for small businesses impacted by coronavirus.

Monday

To help families access food during the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is temporarily increasing benefits for March 2020 and April 2020 to current Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) recipients in North Carolina. NCDHHS received federal authority to implement the program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on March 27.

All families that receive FNS will receive the maximum amount allowed for March 2020 and April 2020 for their household size.

For example, a family of four would be eligible to receive a total of $646 for each of the two months regardless of their usual benefit amount. The increase is subject to the following guidelines:

• Households that have already received the maximum amount for their household size will not receive the temporary increase.

• The household size will not include ineligible or disqualified members.

• Households that were ineligible in either March 2020 or April 2020 will not receive a temporary increase for the month(s) they were ineligible. Approximately 360,000 households will begin receiving the temporary increased benefit on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card on April 1 and April 22. They will be randomly generated and staggered every other workday until all eligible households have received their temporary increase.Recipients will continue to receive their regular benefits and should be aware they will receive two separate payments for March and two for April.To check availability of benefits families should:

• Call 1-888-622-7328.

• Visit www.ebtedge.com. Click on More Information under EBT Cardholders. •

Download the ebtEDGE mobile app. The app is available as a free download on the Apple Store and Google Play. To help limit the spread of COVID-19, NCDHHS has also received approval to extend FNS certification periods so that beneficiaries don’t have to visit county Social Services offices to qualify for continued services.

In addition, with many businesses closing to reduce the spread of COVID-19, work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents are being temporarily and partially suspended. All eligible beneficiaries are being notified of this change.Questions about the emergency supplements and the FNS program should be directed to the EBT Call Center at 1-866-719-0141.

8:45 p.m. (Monday)

The death toll due to COVID-19 has risen to over 3,000 Monday evening according to John Hopkins University.