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.
There were more than 1,040,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States around 5:15 a.m. EDT Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. death toll is almost 61,000, while over 124,000 people have recovered. Beyond 6 million tests for COVID-19 have been performed in the U.S.
Worldwide, there have been more than 3.2 million cases with 227,000 deaths and 970,000 recoveries.
Rowan County appoints Nursing Home coordinator
The Rowan County Health Department has appointed a public health nurse to focus on the coronavirus impact at the county's nursing homes.
"This is a proactive commitment to our long-term care facilities in which we can directly support their needs and work to prevent outbreaks as much as possible,” said Public Health Director Nina Oliver.
The Nursing Home Coordinator’s time will be dedicated to contacting or visiting the 25 nursing homes in Rowan County on a daily basis.
As of this week, Rowan County had at least 3 nursing homes battling coronavirus outbreaks.
One of those nursing homes is Citadel Salisbury, which had 102 people tested positive for the virus, the Rowan County Health Department said last week.
Cooper optimistic on easing restrictions next week
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper held a news conference Thursday afternoon and talked about the three-phase plan to ease restrictions.
"We remain optimistic the trends will be stable enough to move us into Phase 1 next week," Cooper said.
Cooper explained the three-phase plan is like a dimmer switch and lets the state gradually lift restrictions without a dangerous spike in infections.
"My message today is to stay vigilant," Cooper stressed. "Right now, we need people to continue following the Stay At Home order so that we can move into the phases of easing restrictions. Complacency could risk lives and undo these plans."
Cooper also announced that an experimental drug tested at UNC shows promise of easing COVID-19 symptoms.
South Carolina announces new coronavirus cases
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced 220 new cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, and 12 additional deaths were reported to DHEC.
This brings the total number of people confirmed to have COVID-19 in South Carolina to 6,095 and those who have died to 244.
The newly reported deaths include one in Chesterfield County.
The number of new cases include 13 in York County, 3 in Chester County, 3 in Chesterfield County, and 3 in Lancaster.
City of Gastonia Extends Free Bus Service Until May 30
In a continued effort to respond to the significant economic and social issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Gastonia Transit system will extend free bus service through May 30, 2020.
“The City understands the significant economic impact that the pandemic has had on the community and we will continue to provide essential transportation service,” said Vincent Wong, Director of Community Services. “We know many residents rely on our transit services and we want to help them during this time.”
The City asks that passengers only use transit for essential trips under COVID-19 protocols. In addition, passengers will continue to enter/exit from the buses using the rear door. This keeps bus drivers safe by limiting interaction with riders while operating in accordance with social distancing guidelines. ADA passengers can continue using the front door and will be secured by the driver using current safety protocols.
Stanly County has 29 cases
Stanly County Health Department currently reports 29 positive cases of COVID-19, with 4 deaths. Eighteen individuals have recovered and approximately 960 COVID-19 tests have been
North Carolina House passes $1.7 billion COVID-19 relief bill
The state House of Representatives passed House Bill 1043, which would fund $1.7 billion for COVID-19 relief in North Carolina.
House Bill 1043 Pandemic Response Act funds recovery priorities and provides assistance for small businesses, streamlines access to unemployment benefits, modifies education requirements, ensures continuity of government operations, and supports healthcare facilities on the front lines of the public health crisis.
Mecklenburg County reports 1,612 total COVID-19 cases
Health Director Gibbie Harris says the county now has 1,612 confirmed cases of coronavirus. So far, 49 people have died from COVID-19. The trends and daily case counts in Mecklenburg County remain stable. They are not increasing or decreasing.
“I feel confident that unless there is some drastic change in the next couple of days, which we don’t anticipate, that we’ll be ready to move into phase one next week,” Harris said.
Harris says 63% of Mecklenburg County cases have been removed from isolation and recovered from the virus. Harris also said there are two new outbreaks at long-term care facilities, one in Mint Hill and another in Charlotte.
Mecklenburg County's stay home order has been lifted, and the county is now following the state's stay home recommendations and guidelines.
The Mecklenburg County Manager said there is a provision to the order that allows all retail establishments that want to are permitted to operate curbside and can take phone orders and internet orders.
Parking lots for parks, greenways, nature preserves reopened Thursday for vehicles instead of walking and bike access. Boat ramps at Ramsey Creek, Blythe Landing and Copperhead Island have also reopened.
Tennis is now allowed in county parks as well as private tennis facilities that follow safety rules and restrictions.
Coca-Cola 600 will continue Memorial Day Weekend without fans
NASCAR announced the May racing schedule that includes the crown jewel Coca-Cola 600 in its traditional Memorial Day Weekend home at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR season will resume without fans starting May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
Carolina Mall in Concord reopens
In a Facebook post, the mall said it is reopening in compliance with the latest local health order. Customers are asked to check with individual stores for their hours and reopening schedule.
Charlotte to close some streets for cyclists, runners during pandemic
After some Charlotte leaders called for it, the city will close some streets to traffic and designate them for walking, biking and wheelchair access as a way to promote social distancing and exercise.
NC DMV adds contactless payment options at license plate offices
The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles is expanding the type of payments it accepts at its license plate agencies to include non-contact credit and bank cards.
All license plate agencies now accept Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and other contactless cards for Visa and MasterCard transactions. The same payment options will be available at driver license offices in the near future.
North Carolina eclipses 10,000 coronavirus cases
North Carolina health officials now report 10,509 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. Sadly, another 24 people have died, bringing the statewide total to 378 virus-related deaths.
There are at least 546 people hospitalized with confirmed cases in 98 counties.
U.S. could see 30 million jobless claims
Weekly U.S. job losses from the coronavirus pandemic are expected to decrease when the latest numbers are reported Thursday, but is expected to bring the total to more than 30 million.
The numbers for the week ending April 25 will be announced at 8:30 a.m. ET. Thursday.
Economists estimate 3.5 million Americans will have filed new applications for unemployment last week, according to USA Today. Economists CNBC cited had that number between 3.25 million and 4 million. That's still down from the 4.4 million claims filed the previous week and the record 6.9 million for one week in late March.
Mecklenburg County stay home order expires Thursday
County leaders announced that its stay home order will expire in order to align with the state's restrictions. This allows some businesses to reopen in accordance with the state's policy.