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SC Gov. announces closure of non-essential businesses

There are 1,546 cases of coronavirus in North Carolina and 1,083 in South Carolina. So far, 26 people have died in the Carolinas from the virus.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Editor's Note: This story contains live updates from Tuesday, March 31. Click here for Wednesday's minute-by-minute coronavirus updates.

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.  

Key Facts:

  • Cases in North Carolina: 1,546, with 8 deaths
  • Cases in South Carolina: 1,083, with 22 deaths
  • Cases in Mecklenburg County: 420, with 1 death

North Carolina statewide "stay at home" order in effect

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Tuesday, March 31

CEO of Blumenthal recovering from COVID-19

Tom Gabbard, President and CEO of Blumenthal Performing Arts, and his wife were recently abroad and in New York, Once they got back to the Charlotte area from those various hotspots, they self quarantined.

A few days later, Gabbard says they felt the symptoms. Gabbard told WCNC that social distancing has taught him the value of friends and being with others and he can't wait for us all to come together again

"I look forward to getting back to that day," Gabbard said. "It's not going to be here overnight, we've got some hard times ahead but this will end and we'll be back to normal and appreciating the arts and appreciating our friendships."

The Gabbards are feeling much better, they say. While their symptoms were mild, Tom Gabbard says he can see how others are having a worse time.

Walmart to implement temperature checks for employees

Walmart is in the process of sending infrared thermometers to all store locations, which could take up to three weeks. As workers report to their shifts, they will have their temperatures taken. 

If any worker has a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, they will be paid for reporting to work and then asked to return home, and possibly seek medical treatment.

Then, the employee won't be able to return to work until they're fever-free for at least three days.

The stores will also have masks and gloves available as supplies permit for workers who feel the need to wear them. 

RELATED: Walmart to begin temperature checks, provide masks and gloves for employees

Small businesses could get COVID-19 relief loans soon

Small businesses seeking loans through the government's $2 trillion coronavirus relief package could receive money as soon as Friday.

That prediction came Tuesday from senior administration officials who spoke to reporters about the details of the loan program. 

RELATED: Businesses may get COVID-19 relief loans as soon as Friday

York County resident dies from coronavirus-related complications

SCDHEC announced four additional deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 22. One of those who died was a York County resident.

It marks the first coronavirus-related death announced in York County.

RELATED: First York County resident dies from coronavirus-related complications

Of those who died, three were elderly individuals with underlying health conditions,  one was a middle-aged individual with no underlying health conditions. They lived in Aiken, Calhoun, Marion and York counties. 

No specific information has been released about the York County individual.

DHEC also is reporting 158 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 1,083 cases in 42 counties. 

Here's a county-by-county breakdown of the new cases: 

  • Abbeville County: 1 case
  • Aiken County: 4 cases
  • Anderson County: 8 cases
  • Bamberg County: 2 cases
  • Beaufort County: 17 cases
  • Berkeley County: 1 case
  • Calhoun County: 1 case
  • Charleston County: 19 cases
  • Clarendon County: 7 cases
  • Dorchester County: 5 cases
  • Fairfield County: 1 case
  • Florence County: 4 cases
  • Georgetown County: 2 cases
  • Greenville County: 18 cases
  • Greenwood County: 2 cases
  • Horry County: 5 cases
  • Kershaw County: 6 cases
  • Lancaster County: 1 case
  • Lexington County: 13 cases
  • Oconee County: 1 case
  • Orangeburg County: 1 case
  • Pickens County: 1 case
  • Richland County: 13 cases
  • Spartanburg County: 7 cases
  • Sumter County: 5 cases
  • York County: 13 cases

SC Gov. issues executive order suspending non-essential businesses

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced an executive order suspending all non-essential businesses in the state.

Those businesses will need to close by Wednesday and runs for 15 days by state statute. It could be amended later, the governor said. 

RELATED: SC governor shuts down non-essential businesses statewide

McMaster's executive order focuses on three key types of businesses: entertainment venues, recreational and athletic facilities, and close-contact service providers. It does not apply to essential businesses, such as grocery stores or gas stations. 

Drive-in, takeout and delivery service from restaurants will still be allowed.

If businesses have questions about whether they are considered essential, they can email covid19sc@sccommerce.com or call (803) 734-2873.

NC Gov.  activates additional National Guard personnel for state active duty

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that he activated additional National Guard personnel for state active duty in North Carolina. It'll bring the total to 180 by the weekend. 

The additional guard service members are to help get supplies where they are needed quickly and to conduct engineering assessments if building alternative hospital facilities becomes necessary.

As of Tuesday morning, there were 1,498 cases in 77 counties in North Carolina. There are currently 157 hospitalizations across the state due to COVID-19.

Governor Cooper also signed an executive order prohibiting utility services from shutting off service to those who aren't able to pay.

Joey Logano partners with Elevation Outreach for $1 million Response and Recovery fund

Joey Logano announced that he partnered with Elevation Outreach to establish a $1 million Response and Recovery Fund, with a goal of helping communities get through COVID-19. 

More information on the fund can be found here.

Lowe's confirms two associates in the Charlotte-area have COVID-19

One associate at the Northlake location last worked March 24. The other last worked at the Ballantyne location on March 23.

RELATED: Lowe's confirms two cases of COVID-19 in the Charlotte area

Cooper signs order that prohibits utilities from shutting off service

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Tuesday he has signed an executive order that prohibits utilities from shutting off service to people who are unable to pay.  

The order means electric, gas, water and wastewater services cannot be shut off for the next 60 days.  Phone, cable and internet services are strongly urged to follow the same rules. Cooper also urged banks not to charge overdraft fees.

“People should pay their bills.  And the vast majority want to and do," Cooper said.  "But during this crisis some just don’t have enough money.  These protections will help families stay in their homes and keep vital services like electricity, and water and communications going as we stay at home.”

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools holds emergency Board of Education meeting

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education is holding a virtual, emergency meeting via video conference. They are discussing "local emergency leave provisions and procedures for employees" as the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak keeps students and teachers home from school buildings.

Mecklenburg County closes public sports courts

Following clarification/guidance that was released over the weekend regarding the Mecklenburg County Stay At Home Order, all sport courts (basketball, tennis, etc.) are now closed, the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation department re-emphasized Tuesday.

Catawba County identifies two new COVID-19 cases

There are now 16 positive cases of coronavirus in Catawba County. Catawba County has received 222 negative COVID-19 test results. There have been no deaths associated with COVID-19 reported in Catawba County.

Anson County reports first case of coronavirus

Health officials in Anson County announce they have their first positive case of coronavirus. The patient is in isolation and was tested by Atrium Health. She was a contact to a known COVID-19 case, officials announce. 

Good morning! As of 11:50am,we still have zero reported cases of COV... ID-19 in our county. In efforts to protect our patients and staff, our main lobby is now closed to the public (no walk-in's allowed). We will only accept patients by appointment, so please call ahead of time.

NCDHHS updates coronavirus data 

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 1,498 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those patients, 157 are hospitalized. The state has completed 23,106 tests, according to DHHS, and 43% of all patients in North Carolina are between the ages of 25 and 49. 

OrthoCarolina doctor tests positive for COVID-19

OrthoCarolina announced Tuesday that a physician at the Foot and Ankle Institute has tested positive for coronavirus. The doctor was last in the office 10 days prior to the positive test. OrthoCarolina says the practice is still seeing patients and following CDC recommendations. The doctor is doing well, according to OrthoCarolina.

There are 164,274 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of midnight ET Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. 3,164 people have died and 5,847 have recovered.

Worldwide, 785,709 people are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, with 37,810 deaths and 165,837 people recovered.

NCAA gives extra year of eligibility to spring athletes

The NCAA will permit Division I spring-sport athletes — such as baseball, softball and lacrosse players — who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility.

The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give spring-sport athletes regardless of their year in school a way to get back the season they lost, but it did not guarantee financial aid to the current crop of seniors if they return to play next year.

Winter sports, such as basketball and hockey, were not included in the decision because many athletes in those sports had completed all or most of their regular seasons, the council decided.

RELATED: Mecklenburg County data shows demographics hardest hit by coronavirus

RELATED: NC doctor speaks on working through COVID-19