Coronavirus local updates: 74 cases, 5 deaths reported at Five Oaks Rehab in Concord

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — More than 2.4 million people worldwide -- including more than 760,000 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

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

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Mecklenburg County: (TBD)

North Carolina Task Force: (TBD)

South Carolina Task Force (TBD)

White House Task Force: (TBD)

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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 6,764 Monday. North Carolina is now reporting 179 deaths, 79,484 completed tests and 373 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 Monday:

10:50 p.m.

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

9:10 p.m.

7:10 p.m.

Rowan County reported 265 positive case, which is up six from yesterday.

5 p.m.

No new COVID-19 cases were reported in Caldwell County today.

4:40 p.m.

Cabarrus Health Alliance provides update on COVID-19 cases at Five Oaks Rehabilitation

Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA), Cabarrus County’s public health authority, launched an investigation and conducted facility-wide testing after learning of a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Five Oaks Rehabilitation in Concord. Facility-wide testing is recommended when COVID-19 is identified in this type of congregate living facility. More than 300 tests were completed for both residents and staff at the facility.

Test Results:

  • 74 tests returned as positive
  • Five of those are staff members who do not reside in Cabarrus County
  • Since testing was completed, five individuals have died with COVID-19 related symptoms and were an average age of 88

“Our team is deeply saddened by these deaths and send our sincerest sympathies to their families and loved ones,” said Dr. Bonnie Coyle, Cabarrus Public Health Director. “Unfortunately, this is an illustration of the impact this virus has on our most vulnerable population, our seniors. Even with stringent mitigation measures in place, the spread of this very contagious virus is hard to stop in congregant living facilities.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NNDHHS) issued guidance for long-term care facilities with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. Five Oaks has voluntarily complied with NCDHHS recommendations.

Cabarrus Health Alliance asks those who’ve had recent contact with Five Oaks Rehabilitation staff or residents to monitor for symptoms of fever (100.4 or higher), cough and shortness of breath. If you exhibit these symptoms, call your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, call the CHA Health Information Line at 704-920-1213.

Cabarrus County’s confirmed COVID-19 count as of today is 218 cases, seven deaths, and 82 recovered.

4:10 p.m.

At a news conference, Gov. Henry McMaster says compliance is very good for his previous orders. He says common sense is being shown.

McMaster is canceling the order that limited access to the beaches and he’s leaving it now up to the mayors and the councils. This includes the public access to those beaches and to the piers, docks, and ramps. Goes into effect at noon tomorrow.

McMaster is canceling his past order on retail stores, reopening many businesses, but requiring social distancing. Five customers per 1,000 square feet, or 20% capacity is still required. That goes into effect at 5 p.m. today.

McMaster says law enforcement can still break up groups of three or more people, and that includes on the beaches too.

The governor says no decision has been made about schools reopening.

McMaster says, “We are still in a dangerous situation, and we know this disease is deadly.”

SC-DHEC is reporting 64 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 4,439. Projections currently indicate SC could see 750 new cases per week by early May. Projections now say the total could be 6,953 by May 9.

SCDHEC says projections show the curve may be leveling out in South Carolina. They are looking for ways to increase testing and better monitor disease activity.

Gov. Henry McMaster Creates accelerateSC, a Coordinated Economic Revitalization Plan

Recognizing the impact of COVID-19’s impact to South Carolina’s economy, Governor Henry McMaster today announced the creation of accelerateSC, a coordinated economic revitalization plan involving small and large business leaders, healthcare professionals, local government officials, and education professionals.

The plan consists of five components of analysis and effort: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources, and Information. James Burns, a partner at the law firm of Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough, will serve as accelerateSC’s executive director. Burns and the rest of the membership are serving in a voluntary capacity. For further information about accelerateSC and its members, visit the governor’s website here.

Gov. McMaster and Lt. Governor Pamela Evette will attend and lead the first meeting of accelerateSC on Thursday of this week. Additional details will be announced at a later date.

Re-Opening of Public Beach Access, Limited Retail Stores

Governor McMaster also issued Executive Order 2020-28, which removes restrictions on public access points to the state’s beaches, public piers, docks, and wharfs, while delegating to local officials the authority to restrict access, as they see fit.

This order also re-opens retail stores that were closed pursuant to Executive Order 2020-18. The businesses to be reopened are as follows:

  • Furniture and home-furnishings stores
  • Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
  • Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
  • Department stores, with the exception of hardware and home-improvement stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Book, craft, and music stores
  • Flea markets
  • Florists and flower stores

All other businesses previously closed by executive order will remain closed until further notice.

Under the order, retail stores may reopen today, Monday, April 20, at 5:00 p.m., but must adhere to strict social distancing requirements, operating at 20% occupancy or five (5) customers per 1,000 square feet, whichever is less. In addition, businesses must not knowingly allow customers to congregate within six feet of one another, excluding families, and follow relevant CDC and DHEC guidelines.

Public beach access points, piers, docks, and wharfs may reopen tomorrow, April 21, at noon. Public boat ramps and boat landings were previously reopened pursuant to Executive Order 2020-25.

All other executive orders, including the Governor’s “Home or Work” order, remain in effect. South Carolinians should maintain social distancing practices and avoid large groups of people.

3:50 p.m.

Burke County’s Response to COVID-19 UPDATE

• Burke County is currently at 76 positive cases. The cases consist of both traveling and community spread. All positive cases are isolated and Public Health staff continues to investigate the cases and will be locating those close contacts to help contain the spread of the infection.

• Numbers noted on the state website may fluctuate during the public health investigations when staff find out that some positive tests are truly not Burke County residents. Numbers listed above are correct numbers for Burke County.

• Public information line has been opened Monday through Friday, 8am – 5pm for those with questions can call 828-764-9388.

As our numbers continue to rise, it is extremely important that all residents stay at home and only go out if it is absolutely necessary and only one person per household go out to pick up essentials. And while out in public, always practice social distancing by staying 6 feet or more away from others and DO NOT congregate with other people inside or outside any buildings. The rise in infections will begin to decrease if EVERYONE will practice preventive measures.

It is difficult for the state and local departments to track the number of those that have recovered from COVID-19 infection. Public health staff must perform contact tracing for all of those that test positive for this infection and has spent a tremendous amount of man-hours to perform this state requirement plus continue testing those that meet the criteria. For those who test positive for this infection, most people will be deemed in recovery if they are at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath) AND at least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

3 p.m.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris says there have been 1,213 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and that 31 people have died.

19,400 tests have been completed from March 11 through April 19.

289 tests were completed over the weekend at Atrium and Novant’s new sites.

Another infant under the age of 1 has been infected. The total of infants infected is three, and they have all been doing well.

8 long-term care facilities have outbreaks, Harris says.

Regarding reopening Mecklenburg County, Harris says there are still limitations in testing, access to PPE and other supplies.

Without resolving the testing and PPE challenges, Harris says it is hard to say the county will be opened back up on April 29.

“Anytime you open up something in one area and not in others, there will be some impact,” Harris says. If South Carolina restrictions are loosened before Mecklenburg County’s, Harris expects some effect.

When asked if NASCAR can hold a race at Charlotte Motor Speedway next month, Harris said, “I have no idea.”

County Manager Dena Diorio says County Attorney Tyrone Wade is still researching whether Mecklenburg County can extend the stay at home order without all of the towns on board. She hopes to have an answer today or tomorrow.

Mecklenburg County’s peak is now projected for mid-late June, according to Deputy Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington. The county is using Penn’s CHIME model to make this projection and is assuming 45% social distancing.

2:30 p.m.

Governor Roy Cooper on Monday joined a call with Vice President Mike Pence and governors from around the country. On that call, Gov. Cooper gave an update on what North Carolina is doing through its Testing Surge Workgroup to increase testing in North Carolina.

In particular, the governor highlighted efforts to diversify the supply chain for testing so that labs aren’t all relying on the same supplies from the same vendors.

ABC News reported that Pence and other administration officials said that states are not utilizing the full testing capacity of private laboratories. Pence said he provided governors with a list of labs they could contact.

However, Cooper said he made clear that North Carolina still needs more supplies and personal protective equipment from the federal government.

“When you have law enforcement and first responders that you’re having to ration PPE, plus needing PPE for testing, that is a significant concern for us,” Cooper said on the call.

Pence and other officials said the type of personal protective equipment needed to collect specimens has changed -- patients can now swab themselves rather than needing an invasive swab by a health care worker.

“I appreciate the open lines of communication that North Carolina has with the White House,” Gov. Cooper said in a written statement. “Right now, North Carolina has 14 labs able to test for COVID-19, but to continue increasing our testing numbers we need help from the federal government getting more testing supplies and personal protective equipment. More testing is necessary to be able to start lifting restrictions in a safe way.”

2:15 p.m.

Crude oil prices plummet to below $1 a barrel

U.S. crude prices dropped more than 100% and turned negative for the first time in history on Monday as traders continue to fret over a slump in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. The price of the nearest oil futures contract, which expires Tuesday, was the hardest hit, detaching from later month futures contracts with a drop of more than 100%.

Prices for West Texas Intermediate, the American benchmark of crude oil, plummeted to under $1 a barrel, the lowest prices on record.

WTI Crude oil futures saw their biggest single-day drop of more than 90%.

Some are attributing the drop to the sharp decline in demand for oil amid the pandemic with businesses closed and travel curtailed. In addition, there is excess supply and lack of places to store the oil.

2:10 p.m.

NCDHHS press secretary Mandy Cohen reports that COVID-19 deaths in the state of North Carolina have surpassed flu deaths for this year. Cohen said the state had 167 flu deaths this past season.

As of Monday afternoon, North Carolina reports 179 people have died from COVID-19.

“Remember for COVID-19 we had our first laboratory-confirmed case on March 3,” Cohen said. “Our first death reported was on March 24 and that was less than a month ago. So in less than a month, we’ve already surpassed flu deaths for this year.”

Cohen said in a news conference on Monday that COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States.

“It’s important to remember that our death rate would have been worse (if not for social distancing measures),” Cohen said.

2 p.m.

NCDHHS to Provide Additional Food Benefits for More than 800,000

Governor Roy Cooper announced today that North Carolina has been approved for the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, to help families purchase food for children impacted by school closings due to COVID-19. NCDHHS is working to operationalize the program and families will begin to receive this benefit in coming weeks.

“So many families are in need, especially with so many out of work right now. This approval helps people get assistance faster to feed their families,” said Governor Cooper.

The program provides a benefit on an EBT card to North Carolina families whose children are eligible for free and reduced lunch at school. Families will receive $250 in P-EBT benefits per child, provided in two installments, with the possibility of an additional benefit if North Carolina schools are closed beyond May 15. Families will be able to use the P-EBT benefit to purchase food items at EBT authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores.

Families will not need to apply for the P-EBT program. P-EBT eligible families already receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits will receive an additional benefit on their existing EBT card. P-EBT eligible families not already enrolled in FNS will be mailed a new EBT card in the next few weeks. Families who receive a new EBT card will receive a letter from DHHS in the mail explaining how to activate and use their card.

“As our schools closed, many families across the state worried about where their next meals would come from—and we knew we had to take action,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “The P-EBT program will provide extra help buying groceries for the families of the more than 800,000 children who normally receive free and reduced lunch at school.”

North Carolina is one of the first four states to receive federal approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide P-EBT benefits, which are entirely federally funded. The new P-EBT program is in addition to other services families may be participating in. As announced previously on March 30, 2020, all families that receive Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) will receive the maximum amount allowed for March and April 2020 for their household size. Families are encouraged to continue utilizing feeding programs at local school and community meal sites for free, nutritious meals for children.

1:45 p.m.

Due to the outbreak at one prison facility, the NC Division of Prisons temporarily suspended operations at another state prison facility and strategically transferred offenders in consultation with state health experts. To support operations at the coronavirus-impacted Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro, Prisons moved offenders out of Johnston Correctional Institution and reassigned staff to Neuse CI.

“The staff at Neuse have been working in the toughest conditions, for weeks on end, and desperately needed support,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. “They are owed everyone’s thanks for their commitment to serving the public, standing tall in their daily responsibilities and helping ensure safety of their co-workers and those in custody.”

Commissioner Ishee added his extension of a deep appreciation to those Johnston CI staff for stepping up to aid their colleagues. He said many across the system have shown their tenacity and skill at helping manage a constantly changing situation during the unprecedented and ongoing event.

A mass testing operation of the approximately 250 employees and 700 offenders at Neuse Correctional Institution has revealed a total of 13 staff and more than 330 offenders are infected with virus and 98 percent of those are asymptomatic. Another 197 test results are pending.

The first two offenders at Neuse tested positive for COVID-19 on April 2. As more tests returned as positive, Prisons took a proactive approach and worked with the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Laboratory for Public Health, LabCorp and the Wayne County Health Department in the major effort.

To bring staff some help and to keep security at appropriate levels there, over the weekend Prisons’ Incident Command team members took the following actions:

  • Temporarily closed Johnston Correctional in Smithfield and transferred approximately 600 offenders to Southern Correctional Institution in Troy and to the Burke Confinement in Response to Violation Center in Morganton.
  • Transported around 100 offenders from Southern CI to Tabor Correctional Institution in Columbus County to make room for the incoming offenders from Johnston Correctional.

These movements, completed primarily on Saturday, freed up the staff at the now-closed Johnston facility for the majority to be reassigned to Neuse Correctional, located about 23 miles away.

All transported offenders were medically screened – including temperature checks -- before they were transported and when they arrived at their destinations. On their arrival, they were all placed under 14-day medical quarantine and did not mix with the existing offender population already housed there.

“No offenders from Neuse or any of those exhibiting any symptoms were transferred,” Commissioner Ishee said. “These very strategic moves were done in consultation with medical experts and completed by following CDC guidelines.”

The transportation vehicles were disinfected before and after each trip. The offenders and staff were all outfitted with face masks. The transfers were completed without incident.

The Johnston CI staff should start arriving to help their colleagues at Neuse CI over the next few days. The staff reassigned to Neuse CI, like their colleagues working at the facility, will receive supplemental pay while on this assignment.

A truckload of PPE was delivered to the Neuse facility on Saturday as five portable, large-scale disinfectant-dispersal units called Power Breezers were used to clean the facility from top to bottom.

In addition, Prisons has taken more than three dozen actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the prisons, and to contain it within a facility if it does. Some of those actions include:

  • Provided extra soap and disinfecting supplies and required additional cleaning regimens.
  • Increased Correction Enterprises production of washable cloth face masks. Approximately 79,000 have been produced so far. Masks have been made and distributed to staff and offenders in all 52 facilities.
  • Extending the moratorium on the acceptance of offenders from the county jails through May 3 with support of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.
  • Continuing the suspension of visitation, offender outside work assignments and offender home leaves for another 30 days, until May 16.

12:30 p.m.

Mecklenburg County has released information on the modeling they are using. Of note -- on April 13, there were approximately 90 patients hospitalized in acute care facilities in Mecklenburg County – about 1 in 4 were ventilated.

11:55 a.m.

Employee at Charlotte CVS tests positive (statement):

On Friday, April 17, we were informed that an employee at our store on Kendall Drive in Charlotte tested positive for COVID-19. The employee has not been at work since Tuesday, April 9. The employee and any co-workers exposed to the employee have been placed under a 14-day quarantine consistent with CDC guidelines and are on paid leave.

CVS Pharmacy follows CDC cleaning guidance, which includes hourly cleaning of hard surfaces and more frequent cleaning of commonly handled items. Our pharmacies are a critical resource for the communities we serve and we’ll continue to be here for customers and patients in these trying times.

11:45 a.m.

NCDMV Call Center in Bladen County is Closed, Pending Result of Employee Virus Test

An employee at the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles Call Center in Bladen County is being tested for the coronavirus, so for the safety of its workers, the center has been temporarily closed, pending the test results.

Callers will not be able to get through on the 919-715-7000 customer service line. They are instead encouraged to send any requests for assistance to the NCDOT/DMV Contact Us system at www.ncdot.gov/contact. Go to the section titled Ask NCDMV a Question, and choose the appropriate link.

The call center service will resume operation as soon as it is determined it is safe for the employees to return to work.

Normal staffing at the call center is about 140 customer service operators. But to be within the social distancing parameter recommendations from state and federal health officials, the facility staffing was adjusted to approximately 65 employees.

11:15 a.m.

Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods is making a $1 million donation to the Atrium Health Caregiver Heroes Fund. Other Atrium executives are stepping up as well to match with $1 million worth of donations for a total of $2 million.

The Atrium Health Caregiver Heroes Fund was established to provide Atrium workers with financial assistance when they have suffered hardship caused by catastrophic events beyond their control, including emergency support during COVID-19.

10:50 a.m.

North Carolina has released Monday’s latest COVID-19 information:

The NCDHHS is reporting 6,764 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, an increase of 271 from Sunday.

There have been 179 deaths in the state, up seven from Sunday.

A total of 79,484 tests have been completed and there are currently 373 people hospitalized. That is 92 fewer people in the hospital from the day before.

Mecklenburg County continues to have the most positive cases and deaths, with 1,210 and 29 respectively.

Positive cases age breakdown:

0-17 (1%)

18-24 (7%)

25-49 (39%)

50-64 (28%)

65 or older (25%)

Deaths by age group:

25-49 (4%)

50-64 (11%)

65 or older (85%)

Of those who have tested positive, 54% are white and 39% are black.

51% of those who tested positive are women, and 48% are men. Men make up 64% of the deaths.

There are currently 37 outbreaks at nursing homes across the state (Burke, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Iredell, Mecklenburg (5), Rowan (2), Union).

There are currently 13 outbreaks at residential care facilities (Cabarrus, Mecklenburg (4), Stanly, Union).

Across the state, 905 positive cases have been reported at nursing homes, with 53 deaths.

There have been 182 cases reported at residential care facilities, resulting in 13 deaths.

There have been 505 cases reported at correctional facilities, with five deaths.

10:45 a.m.

Closed Buildings Need to Flush Water Pipes

If you have a business, church or school building that is closed or partially closed you need to flush your pipes (flush toilets/run faucets) at least biweekly.

Unless completely shut off there is always some water left in pipes. If a building is not in use water in the pipes becomes stagnant. The City of Kannapolis Water Department recommends that you flush pipes biweekly by turning on faucets for a couple of minutes and flushing toilets. This will decrease the risk of waterborne bacteria in your pipes. This will also keep water from being discolored or having an odor or taste due to the chemicals used in the water treating process.

10:35 a.m.

Burke County reports two additional deaths

Burke County Public Health is reporting two additional COVID-19 associated deaths in Burke County bringing the total to eight deaths. These individuals, one in their late 40s and the other in their early 80s, died from complications associated with their underlying medical conditions, officials said.

To protect the family’s privacy, no further information about the patient will be released.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the friends and family of these individuals," said Burke County Health Director Rebecca McLeod. "As our efforts continue to fight this virus, we hope that all persons will continue to take the social distancing, the stay at home order and all other preventive measures seriously. Infection cases will continue to rise if these measures continue to be ignored or not practiced. We want to minimize the number of deaths by protecting at-risk persons with underlying health conditions.”

10:25 a.m.

Atrium Health is planning on opening these screening/testing sites this week. No appointment is needed.

10:10 a.m.:

In addition to first responders, city workers with these occupations or in these departments could qualify for premium pay (5%):

10 a.m.:

Six people suing Dare County over their non-resident entry ban are seeking an injunction.

7:30 a.m.

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster is expected to make a big announcement Monday -- he is expected to share that some non-essential businesses could open as soon as Tuesday.

This would include department stores, music and book stores and flea markets.

The re-openings do come guidelines. When they reopen, the stores are expected to initially limit occupancy to 20 percent and while beach accesses are expected to reopen, social distancing will still be enforced.

Local governments can also still make their own rules about waterway access.

5:31 p.m. (Sunday)

Health officials report two additional COVID-19 cases in Rowan County, bring the total to 250.

4:50 p.m. (Sunday)

Officials confirmed 5 more people have died due to the coronavirus in Mecklenburg County.