Coronavirus local updates: 2 more recent COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina, bringing total to 9

COVID-19 Cases in Carolinas: March 26

At least 474,000 people worldwide -- including more than 69,000 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.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has declared a State of Emergency. Following the statewide declaration, Mecklenburg County declared a state of emergency. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also declared a State of Emergency.

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Mecklenburg County has issued a “stay at home” order taking effect Thursday until April 16.

North Carolina reported its first two COVID-19 deaths on March 25 as local governments in several higher-populated areas ordered their residents to stay at home.

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

Important Links & Updates:

Live local updates from Thursday:

11:30 p.m.

Newton, N.C. – ECCCM, as a response to Covid-19, designed a new and safer means of applying for food assistance during this virus outbreak.

Beginning Monday, March 30 those in need of food assistance due to lay-offs or shortened work hours because of Covid-19, can call 828-465-1702, and ask to do a food application via telephone.

By the time applicants come for their first pickup at our food pantry drive-thru, we will have paperwork ready to be signed, and a food card will be issued.

A staff member or volunteer will deliver food out to the client’s car. After this initial pickup, clients will simply go through the food pantry drive-thru and present their card for subsequent pickups. www.ecccm.org

9:15 p.m.

N.C. Forest Service officials are urging residents to reconsider burning yard debris through the end of May, which historically marks the end of spring wildfire season in North Carolina.

“In North Carolina, most wildfires are caused by human action and careless debris burning. When left unattended, debris burns can escape, igniting tragic wildfires,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Minimizing the number of escaped debris burns will reduce the risk of wildfires while also reducing the risk of community exposure to COVID-19 by allowing first responders to limit close-contact interactions and maintain social distance.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the N.C. Forest Service continues mission critical work such as wildfire suppression and other emergency response functions.

8:31 p.m.

Fort Bragg’s 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command has been told to prepare to deploy in response to the COVID-19 national emergency.

The order comes from U.S. Northern Command.

“I have requested this action so that, as the Secretary of Defense directs it, we rapidly and effectively deploy military capabilities in support of our U.S. government partners across the country who are responding to this national emergency,” Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson said.

A U.S. official confirmed the soldiers will assist FEMA by helping communities in need.

In total, approximately 1,100 people from Virginia, Colorado Georgia and troops from Fort Bragg will be deployed.

The service members will provide medical, planning, communication, transportation and logistic support.

They will not participate in civilian law enforcement activities.

8:15 p.m.

The North Carolina Republican Party has rescheduled its annual State Republican Convention to June 4-7 in Greenville, North Carolina.

7:40 p.m.

Attorney General Josh Stein took two additional steps to help protect North Carolinians as many face financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stein is suspending all of the North Carolina Department of Justice’s collections efforts of state debts effective immediately and until further notice. He is also asking all local and municipal utilities to commit to maintaining access to water, power, gas, and other vital services for residents.

6:43 p.m.

Wake County has hit 100 cases of COVID-19

6:32 p.m.

Cabarrus County now up to 22 cases.

6:05 p.m.

“We have to get back to work.” Pres. Trump claims “we got to start the process” in Americans returning to the work place, adding: “I think it’s going to happen pretty quickly... a lot of progress has been made, but we got to go back to work.”

4:41 p.m.

Two more COVID-19 deaths were recently reported in South Carolina, bringing the total to nine.

One patient was an elderly person from Kershaw County who had underlying health conditions. The second patient was an elderly person from Sumter County who also had underlying health conditions.

SCDHEC says there are now 456 cases of coronavirus in South Carolina. --2,578 people have been tested for the virus.

SCDHEC is now forecasting the number of expected cases statewide. The agency expects to see 2,657 cases by April 2 and about 8,000 cases by May 2. These numbers include already reported cases.

CLICK HERE for more information from SCDHEC.

4:22 p.m.

NCDHHS total cases: 636 cases, 2 deaths

NC COVID-19 cases (in our coverage area):

  • Mecklenburg 204
  • Union 27
  • Cabarrus 21, 2 deaths (1 from Virginia)
  • Iredell 13
  • Gaston 11
  • Rowan 6
  • Watauga 4
  • Catawba 9
  • Lincoln 1
  • Stanly 2
  • Caldwell 3
  • Burke 2
  • Cleveland 2

3:53 p.m.

City of Charlotte Update: If you are discarding items from a quarantined home, follow these steps until the quarantine period is over:

  • Place recyclables in the garbage with regular garbage items
  • Double bag garbage before placing it in the garbage cart

4:02 p.m.

Gaston County announced Thursday a stay-at-home order will go into effect Friday at 5p.m.

Officials say it will run until April 16th. It will limit gatherings to no more than 10 people.

Gaston County has 11 cases.

Gaston County announces stay at home order

2:20 p.m.

North Carolina Health Director Dr. Betsey Tilson confirmed there are 636 cases of COVID-19 in 57 counties. She said the average age is 41.

Tilson said there are 50 hospitalizations across North Carolina and two confirmed deaths.

She said 15,399 completed tests from labs have reported negative tests of the coronavirus, but not all labs do. There are also more than 15,000 tests pending.

According to Tilson, with 75 percent of hospitals reporting, 50 percent of in-patient hospital beds and 18 percent of ICU beds are empty.

1:50 p.m.

Clemson University reporting its first case of COVID-19.

1:45 p.m.

A second person has died due to COVID-19 in North Carolina. A patient was from Harnett County in their 30s and had an underlying health condition, officials said.

12:55 p.m.

The executive director of NCSBE sent a letter to Gov. Cooper, Rep. Moore and Sen. Berger asking for legislative changes for 2020 elections.

12:20 p.m.

There are now 204 cases of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County, up from 170 yesterday.

11:30 a.m.

Nine positive cases reported in Catawba County, which is up from four yesterday.

11:15 a.m.

Rider Transit is joining CATS in making bus service fare-free for the time being.

11 a.m.

Fourth Watauga County Resident Tests Positive for COVID-19

A fourth Watauga County resident has tested positive for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). This case had travel history and has been in isolation since being tested. The local public health staff has identified the close contacts, who have been in quarantine.

“We recognize that another case may cause increasing concern in the community. Remember, you can help us slow the spread of this virus. Stay home to the greatest extent that you are able, especially if you are a person who is at a higher risk for severe illness. If you do become ill, call your healthcare provider or call AppHealthCare to speak with a public health staff member before going to your provider or the emergency room,” stated Jennifer Greene, Health Director, AppHealthCare.

AppHealthCare is working closely with local partners and agencies to ensure the public’s health is protected and precautions are being taken to protect all residents of Watauga County.

“We recognize this is a challenging time for all of us to quickly adapt as the situation changes and we are confident in our community partnerships to continue our response efforts. We urge everyone to follow current public health guidance to protect our community,” stated Deron Geouque, Watauga County Manager.

10:45 a.m.

The North Carolina Dept. of Health and Human Services is reporting at least 636 cases of COVID-19 in the state. That is up from 504 on Wednesday, making it the highest single-day increase we’ve seen yet.

From yesterday to today: 2,421 more tests completed in NC, 63 more tests completed at the state lab. The state lab has supplies for 129 more patients.

10:15 a.m.

Cabarrus County now reporting 21 positive cases, up from18 yesterday.

10 a.m.

The North Carolina Restaurant Workers Relief Fund will provide immediate cash to help cover necessities.

9:45 p.m.

The U.S. Attorney for South Carolina is urging people to report any COVID-19 related fraud.

9:10 a.m.

Mitchell County has first confirmed cast of COVID-19; individual in isolation

The Mitchell County Health Department, part of Toe River Health District, was notified at 8:30 tonight that a Mitchell County resident has tested positive for novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The individual is in isolation. Mitchell County has been preparing for this reality and anticipated that our community would likely be impacted at some point. Public health staff have already initiated an investigation and will be identifying close contacts to contain the spread of disease.

8:33 a.m.

U.S. unemployment claims have soared to 3.3 million -- quadrupling the record from 1982 -- as layoffs from the coronavirus engulf the economy.

8:30 a.m.

Grab-n-Go Meal Services Expanded into 60 Locations Across Catawba County

Beginning on Thursday, March 26, Catawba County Schools will be offering Grab-n-Go Meal Program at 60 locations across Catawba County. You can still choose to pick up your free meals at one of our 16 drive-through school locations between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. or you can choose to meet one of our yellow buses parked at one of 44 locations across the county.

Simply go to the location that is most convenient for you and look for the big yellow bus. Our buses will be at each location for 30 minutes each day between 10:30 AM and 12:30 PM, depending on the location.

Please click here to view a list of all 60 locations across the county. It is organized by "feeder" area.

Remember, these meals are free to any child 18 years and younger! Please help us spread the word.

If you have any questions, please contact Valda Robinson, Director of School Nutrition Services at 828-464-8333 or by emailing her at valda_robinson@catawbaschools.net.

8:15 a.m.

Lancaster County Responds to Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Update:

Citizens are reminded that the County Administration Building has extremely limited public access. Operating hours are 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday with the exception of the Drive Thru services outlined below. Citizens should check the Lancaster County website: www.mylancastersc.org/COVID19 link Virtual Resource Center for the latest information.

The following changes to public services are effective immediately:

Treasurer’s Office:

  • Lancaster County Council approved the waiver of credit and debit card fees for tax payments through April 27th, 2020. E-check fees for payment remain unchanged. Citizens are urged to utilize online or phone services for tax payment needs. Pay online @ www.mylancastersctax.org or call 1-888-525-3661. For additional assistance please call the office directly at 803-285-7939.
  • The Indian Land Service Center will be closed until further notice. Citizens are required to utilize the Drive Thru Window at the Administration Building for paying property, vehicle, and delinquent taxes. Drive-thru hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Parks and Recreation Department:

  • The Parks and Recreation Department remains closed to the public through May 3rd and currently plans to reopen on May 4th, 2020.
  • The 2020 Spring Sports season including T-Ball, Baseball, Softball, and Soccer is canceled. The Department has also postponed all afterschool programs, activities and rentals through the end of April, 2020.
  • All Spring Sport Participants will receive a refund by the end of April, 2020. Your patience is appreciated as the process unfolds to refund Participants. Staff members are available to answer any questions by calling 803-285-5545.

Library:

  • The Library remains closed to the public through May 3rd and currently plans to reopen on May 4th, 2020. Residents are encouraged to utilize the library’s on-line resources by visiting https://www.lanclib.org/

The Animal Shelter will temporarily waive pet adoption fees until further notice. Please call the Shelter in advance of your arrival.

7:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump Approves North Carolina’s Disaster Declaration

Last night, President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for the state of North Carolina:

President Donald J. Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of North Carolina and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic beginning on January 20, 2020, and continuing.

The President’s action makes Federal funding available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the State of North Carolina impacted by COVID-19.

Pete Gaynor, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Ms. Gracia B. Szczech as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further assessments.

7:10 a.m.

At 8 a.m., everyone in Mecklenburg County will be under a “stay at home” order. That order will remain in place for three weeks until April 16.

7 a.m.

About 24 hours after reaching a deal on the $2 trillion stimulus package, the Senate passed the measure unanimously overnight.

The bill includes a $1,200 payment for most adults and $500 per child. For most of us, those payments would come by direct deposit. Others will get checks.

It also includes $350 billion in small business loans and $500 billion in aid for airlines and other large corporations.

Minority leader Chuck Schumer praised the bipartisan cooperation.

"It's a historic day because it matches a historic crisis and our people need help,” he said. “They were crying out to us to help."

The House will debate the bill starting at 9 a.m. and the final passage will be done by voice vote on Friday.

6:45 a.m.

The number of deaths from the coronavirus in the United States has surpassed 1,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

FEMA says New York state asked the government to build emergency morgues as the number of confirmed cases there surpassed 30,000.

6:30 a.m.

COVID-19 AFFECTS TRAVEL IN NC

Travel restrictions are in place in some North Carolina cities and counties. Commercial travel is not restricted, however, permits may be required.

All North Carolina Welcome Centers are closed. Rest Area facilities, including restrooms and vending, remain open.

1:10 a.m.

State-by-state breakdown of 65,131 US coronavirus cases, 1,000 deaths

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 69,000 across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands late Wednesday night.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there are at least 69,018 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 1,000 deaths.

At least 233 deaths were recorded on Wednesday, alone, making it the deadliest day on U.S. soil since the pandemic began.

Of the confirmed deaths, 285 have occurred in New York, 130 Washington state and 65 in Louisiana.

In terms of diagnosed cases, New York remains the hardest hit with nearly 30,811 confirmed cases – more than seven times any other state – followed by New Jersey with 4,402 and Washington with 2,586.

Nine other states have now reported at least 1,000 novel coronavirus cases, including:

California: 2,535

Michigan: 2,295

Florida: 1,971

Illinois: 1,865

Massachusetts: 1,838

Louisiana: 1,795

Georgia: 1,387

Pennsylvania: 1,127

Colorado: 1,086

The figures include 21 people aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship and 49 repatriated citizens. The repatriations include 46 sickened aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and three others retrieved from the outbreak’s epicenter in Wuhan, China.

The state-by-state breakdown – including presumptive cases – of at least 65,131 cases detected on U.S. soil is as follows:

Alabama: 386, including 1 death

Alaska: 42, including 1 death

Arizona: 401, including 6 deaths

Arkansas: 308, including 2 deaths

California: 2,535, including 53 deaths

Colorado: 1,086, including 19 deaths

Connecticut: 875, including 19 deaths

Delaware: 119

District of Columbia: 183, including 2 deaths

Florida: 1,971, including 22 deaths

Georgia: 1,387, including 47 deaths

Guam: 37, including 1 death

Hawaii: 95

Idaho: 123

Illinois: 1,865, including 19 deaths

Indiana: 477, including 14 deaths

Iowa: 145, including 1 death

Kansas: 126, including 3 deaths

Kentucky: 198, including 5 deaths

Louisiana: 1,795, including 65 deaths

Maine: 142

Maryland: 423, including 4 deaths

Massachusetts: 1,838, including 15 deaths

Michigan: 2,295, including 43 deaths

Minnesota: 287, including 1 death

Mississippi: 377, including 5 deaths

Missouri: 356, including 8 deaths

Montana: 65

Nebraska: 64

Nevada: 321, including 6 deaths

New Hampshire: 137, including 1 death

New Jersey: 4,402, including 62 deaths

New Mexico: 112, including 1 death

New York: 30,811, including 285 deaths

North Carolina: 504, including 2 deaths

North Dakota: 45

Ohio: 704, including 10 deaths

Oklahoma: 164, including 5 deaths

Oregon: 266, including 10 deaths

Pennsylvania: 1,127, including 11 deaths

Puerto Rico: 51, including 2 deaths

Rhode Island: 132

South Carolina: 424, including 7 deaths

South Dakota: 41, including 1 death

Tennessee: 784, including 3 deaths

Texas: 974, including 12 deaths

U.S. Virgin Islands: 17

Utah: 346, including 1 death

Vermont: 123, including 8 deaths

Virginia: 391, including 9 deaths

Washington: 2,586, including 130 deaths

West Virginia: 39

Wisconsin: 585, including 6 deaths

Wyoming: 44

10:15 p.m. (Wednesday)

FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the state of North Carolina to supplement the state, tribes and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic beginning on Jan. 20, 2020, and continuing.

Federal funding is available to state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance under public assistance, for all areas affected by the coronavirus at a federal cost share of 75 percent.

Gracia B. Szczech has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments.