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'We have community spread,' Mecklenburg County health director says

There are now 123 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in North Carolina, including 32 in Charlotte, and 81 in South Carolina.
Credit: KFSM

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 pandemic.  

Key Facts:

This daily live blog will be updated with important notes and statistics from across the Carolinas each day. For the latest breaking news alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app

BUYER BEWARE: How to report coronavirus price gouging and scams

Thursday, March 19

North Carolina online unemployment application system overwhelmed

The number of people applying online for North Carolina unemployment rose sharply this week amid concerns for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Whereas the state application averages about 6,000 people a day, that number rose to nearly 70,000 Wednesday, officials said.

Both North Carolina and South Carolina have waived some requirements to make it easier for those laid off or furloughed during the outbreak,

Hospitals further restrict all visitors 

To protect the health and safety of patients and team members, Novant Health is further limiting visitation in all acute care facilities in North Carolina. As of Friday, March 20, at noon, no visitors will be permitted in their acute care facilities.

Similar restrictions are going into place at Piedmont Medical facilities.

Winthrop University extends online-only classes

Winthrop will extend the move to remote instruction for all courses for the remainder of this semester and commencement ceremonies have been postponed.  

Tepper donates $1 Million to Atrium Health and Novant Health 

The David A.Tepper Charitable Foundation has made a $1 million donation, with Atrium Health Foundation receiving $650,000, and Novant Health Foundation receiving $350,000. This donation will be used across the Carolinas to support efforts surrounding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

South Carolina reporting 81 cases in 17 counties

South Carolina officials said Thursday their cases of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus had risen to 81 positive cases across 17 counties, including three cases in Lancaster and one in York.

"We may see a doubling of cases if people don't practice social distancing," said Dr. Linda Bell from the South Carolina public health laboratories.

Officials said less than 10 percent of those tested for coronavirus are tested positive.

Governor Henry McMaster has signed an executive order that implemented the following:

  • Regarding public universities, colleges, and technical colleges: each institution’s president will, at their discretion, determine essential employees and allow non-essential employees to work from home, and in all cases, to allow students to continue coursework online for the semester
  • Waived Department of Employment and Workforce regulations to allow unemployment claims to be expedited by at least one week
  • Unemployment insurance payments are suspended for employers until June 1st, allowing business owners to have additional capital on hand
  • Procurement regulations are temporarily suspended to allow state agencies to rapidly acquire resources to combat the COVID-19 virus
  • DHEC will temporarily suspend enforcement of certificate of need regulations necessary to expedite treatment for the virus
  • All non-essential, state-employees should work from home

32 cases of coronavirus in Mecklenburg

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said the number of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Mecklenburg County is now at 32 positive cases.

"Young people out enjoying life are at risk," Harris said while warning everyone the importance of social distancing.

"We have community spread in our community," she later added.

The county parks remain open and officials are encouraging people to use the park to get outdoors and seek exercise while remaining socially distant.

Harris also noted that the CDC is no longer considering local tests 'presumptive.' Positive tests conducted on the county or state level are now automatically added to the case count without needing CDC verification.

North Carolina confirms first case of community spread COVID-19

Gov. Roy Cooper says the state has its first confirmed case of community spread coronavirus, in Wilson County. 

This means the state has at least one case where health officials don’t know how someone contracted COVID-19. Meaning they didn’t have contact with someone who has tested positive or travel to highly impacted area.

Confirmed community spread is a signal that we need to further accelerate the next phase of the work - mitigation," NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said. "As I have shared previously, we have already been taking actions as if we already had community spread to get ahead of the virus.

Rowan County reports first positive case of COVID-19 

Rowan County Health Department officials were notified late Wednesday evening of the County's first confirmed coronavirus case.  The Public Health Command Center is working closely with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and CDC to ensure appropriate measures are taken. Additional information or guidance will be provided as more details become available. The person followed instructions, self-isolated, is no longer ill, and no longer in the area.

Mecklenburg County announces 30 positive cases of coronavirus 

The CharMeck Joint Information Center reports there are 30 total positive COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg County Thursday morning. 

Billy Joel concert in Charlotte postponed 

The upcoming Billy Joel concert scheduled to take place at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday, April 18, 2020 has been rescheduled to Saturday, April 17, 2021. Tickets purchased for the 2020 concert will be honored on the rescheduled date.

Gastonia Police moving non-emergency reports to online and telephone 

Gastonia Police will be handling some non-emergency calls by telephone until further notice. Citizens can report crimes to authorities online. You can still call 911 for emergencies. The non-emergency line is 704-866-3300. 

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