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Mecklenburg County reports 2 new COVID-19 deaths

There are now over 7,600 cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina and 4,900 in South Carolina. Meanwhile, Mecklenburg County is reporting more than 1,200 cases.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At WCNC Charlotte, we are focusing our coronavirus coverage on facts, not fear.  We aim to give our viewers the information they need from officials to best protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

For updates from Wednesday, April 22, click here

Key Facts:

There were more than 842,00 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States around 5 a.m. ET on Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been over 46,000 deaths in the U.S., with more than 76,000 recoveries. More than 4.4 million tests have been conducted nationwide.

Worldwide, there have been 2.6 million cases and 183,559 deaths.

Mecklenburg County reports 2 new COVID-19 deaths

Mecklenburg County announces that two additional people have died from coronavirus. This brings the countywide death toll related to the virus to 37. There are 1,377 cases of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County. 

South Carolina reports 10 new COVID-19 deaths

South Carolina health officials announce the state now has 4,917 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 150 deaths. That's 10 additional deaths from Wednesday's update from DHEC. 

RELATED: Virus pushes US unemployment toward highest since Great Depression

RELATED: Announcement expected Friday on whether to reopen North Carolina schools

Cooper extends North Carolina's stay home order

Governor Roy Cooper announced he has extended the state's stay home order until May 8. The order was initially set to expire April 30. Cooper also rolled out a three-phase plan to reopen the state, saying North Carolina has flattened the COVID-19 curve but is not quite there yet. 

"After a thorough analysis of the details of testing, tracing and trends, it's clear that we are flattening the curve but our state is not ready to lift restrictions yet," Cooper said. 

Atrium Health requiring masks for everyone at acute care, skilled nursing, behavioral health facilities

Following the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atrium Health is now requiring everyone entering one of its acute care, skilled nursing or behavioral health facilities to wear a mask, including patients, permitted visitors and vendors. Atrium Health teammates are already wearing masks while at work, whether or not their responsibilities include direct patient contact. The new requirement will provide the best protection possible for everyone in the Atrium Health community.

All patients arriving at acute care, skilled nursing or behavioral health facilities will need to be masked and will wear a mask anytime they leave their room, including for therapy sessions or going for tests. Any visitors and vendors who are permitted to enter these facilities will also be required to wear a mask. Patients, visitors and vendors may wear their own masks or will be issued a surgical mask, if they don’t have one.

North Carolinians can apply for pandemic unemployment assistance beginning April 24

North Carolina independent contractors and self-employed workers out of work because of COVID-19 can apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance beginning this Friday, April 24 at des.nc.gov.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, is a federal program for people who are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 and not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits, such as self-employed workers and independent contractors.

Novant Health to resume non-emergency, time-sensitive surgeries and appointments across facilities

Novant Health will resume some non-time sensitive and non-emergent surgeries and procedures beginning Monday, May 4.

Additionally, clinics will reinstate appointments that were previously delayed by phasing in visits starting with pediatric well checks, chronic disease and acute issue visits.

26 million have sought US jobless aid since virus hit

More than 4.4 million laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week as job cuts escalated across an economy that remains all but shut down, the government said Thursday.

Roughly 26 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the five weeks since the coronavirus outbreak began forcing millions of employers to close their doors. About one in six American workers have now lost their jobs since mid-March, by far the worst string of layoffs on record. Economists have forecast that the unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20%.

Publix buying extra food from farmers to give to Feeding America food banks during pandemic

Farmers and food banks have been among the hardest hit in terms of supply when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, and Publix is looking to help. 

The company launched a relief program Wednesday to purchase produce and dairy directly from farmers and donate it to Feeding America food banks.

"Farmers who normally sell their goods to restaurants, schools and hotels are being left without buyers, meaning they are dealing with a huge glut of inventory. In many cases, farmers have no choice but to dump huge amounts of dairy and produce," Publix wrote in a release. 

North Carolina governor to announce plan for phased reopening: Report

Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to lay out a three-part plan Thursday that would allow data to determine when to lift the restrictions of his stay-at-home order, in place since March 30.

A source familiar with the governor's plans shared them Wednesday with WRAL, the NBC affiliate in Raleigh.

Cooper and his coronavirus advisors are planning for a phased return similar to what Pres. Donald J. Trump laid out last week.