Local News

Latest: 4th coronavirus case confirmed in Harnett County

Posted March 16, 2020 7:47 a.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2020 9:49 a.m. EDT

Here are the latest updates on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and across the globe for Monday, March 16, 2020:

What you need to know:

  • North Carolina has 34 people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus. Fifteen of those cases are in Wake County, and four are in Harnett County.
  • All North Carolina public schools will be closed for the next two weeks, at least.
  • Gov. Roy Cooper has ordered mass gatherings of 100 or more people to end, with the exception of restaurants and malls. The CDC recommends people avoid crowds of 50 or more for the next eight weeks and President Donald Trump is asking people not gather in groups of more than 10.
  • Four states have closed all bars and restaurants, and McDonald's, Chick-fil-A and other restaurants have closed their dining rooms, serving drive-thru and takeout only.
  • Numerous events have been canceled across the region, including business conferences, festivals, concerts and more.
  • A growing number of employers are asking workers to work from home. Companies who can't afford to let employees work remotely are limiting their interactions in the workplace.

Get details on NC cases

Latest updates:

Monday, March 16

10 p.m.: The Town of Cary declared a state of emergency, working to ensure the town has access to funds and flexibility. Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said in a statement that the state of emergency "is not an indication of Cary having a larger problem than the rest of Wake County....The SOE is a tool that allows us to remain proactive in our efforts to negotiate this crisis.”

9:43 p.m.: A fourth person in Harnett County has tested positive for coronavirus, county health officials said. The person is in isolation at home.

8:45 p.m.: Seymour Johnson Air Force Base has its first confirmed case of coronavirus, the base said on Facebook. The person and their family have been in isolation since the person first started showing symptoms. Wayne County officials first reported the case on Friday.

7:50 p.m.: Lee and Nash counties join a growing list of locales to declare a state of emergency over the coronavirus.

7:05 p.m.: The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Museum of History and Museum of Art will close to the public on Tuesday and remain closed until further notice, officials said. The North Carolina Zoo, state aquariums and state historic sites also will close, and the North Carolina Symphony will suspend performances, officials said.

The Museum Park at the Museum of Art will remain open, as will all state parks and recreation trails, but visitor centers and campgrounds will be closed.

6:25 p.m.: An epidemiologist at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill predicts that North Carolina could see thousands of cases of COVID-19, the illness associated with the coronavirus, by next month.

6:15 p.m.: Samaritan's Purse plans to airlift a 68-bed emergency field hospital, 20 tons of medical equipment and 32 disaster response specialists on Tuesday to the area near Milan, Italy, where the coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed the local medical infrastructure, leaving many families without access to critical care.

"We are going to Italy to provide life-saving care in Jesus’ name to people who are suffering,” Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said in a statement. "There is a lot of fear and panic around the world, but we put our trust in God – and we want to share that hope with others. Please continue to pray for everyone affected by this global health crisis and for our medical team as they respond."

6:05 p.m.: McDonald's is closing the seating areas of all of its restaurants nationwide at the end of Monday, a spokeswoman said. The chain will focus on serving people with drive-thru and takeout orders, as well as deliveries.

5:35 p.m.: "Saturday Night Live" has halted production until further notice to limit the spread of coronavirus.

5:20 p.m.: The North Carolina Board of Funeral Services has reminded funeral homes attewide of the prohibition on gatherings of 100 or more people amid the coronavirus outbreak. The board also is encouraging families to consider the risks associated with potential exposure from large gatherings.

"Our profession is steadfast in its commitment to the traditions and expectations that honor the deceased, and they deserve our utmost respect along with our heartfelt compassion for families who grieve their loss," board President Mark Blake said in a statement. "[We] have to assure the safety and health of those who want to attend a memorial service, a funeral or a burial, as well as our funeral service professionals and their employees who are involved in carrying out a service."

4:55 p.m.: Wake Technical Community College will extend its spring break until March 30. Faculty will start working remotely on March 23 to prepare to teach their classes online.

4:45 p.m.: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expanded its list of disinfectants believed to be effective against the new coronavirus. The product list has been updated to include the product’s active ingredient and the amount of time the surface should remain wet to be effective against the given pathogen.

4:40 p.m.: Wake County health officials confirmed a 15th person has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

To date, the county has submitted 69 samples to state officials for coronavirus testing, officials said. Fifteen people tested positive, and 29 were negative. County health officials are still awaiting results for the other 21.

"We understand that the public wants to know what our testing picture looks like,” Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald said in a statement. "Although it’s challenging to provide accurate point-in-time figures for the number of tests in process and the number of tests completed daily, we’re committed to sharing the best information available to us to help our residents better understand our COVID-19 response."

Based on supplies from the state and the private sector, the county has enough kits to test anyone deemed at risk of exposure to the virus, officials said.

4:10 p.m.: Hillsborough will close its town parks, starting Tuesday, because of coronavirus.

"We don’t take the decision to limit access to any of our public spaces lightly, but discouraging opportunities for people to gather in groups especially seems like the most responsible choice," Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver said in a statement.

Raleigh officials said parks in the Capital City will remain open, but all programs and events at city parks have been canceled through April 15.

4 p.m.: The Dow Jones dropped another 3,000 points on Monday, or nearly 13 percent, amid cononavirus concerns.

3:55 p.m.: Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said millennials can help the most at limiting the spread of the coronavirus because they are out in public more than older groups and are the least symptomatic.

3:50 p.m.: Amazon says it wants to hire 100,000 people to keep up with the crush of orders during the virus outbreak and will temporarily offer $2-per-hour raises.

3:45 p.m.: Vice President Mike Pence said industrial masks could be used to limit the spread of coronavirus. The administration is working with Congress to allow manufacturers to sell the masks publicly, which could put millions on the market soon.

3:40 p.m.: President Donald Trump pledges federal support for airlines struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the government would "back the airlines 100 percent."

3:35 p.m.: Officials in six San Francisco Bay-area counties order a near-lockdown, affecting nearly 7 million people, because of coronavirus concerns.

3:25 p.m.: President Donald Trump recommends that people limit gatherings to 10 people and not go to restaurants, bars or food courts and avoid discretionary travel to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

"We really want people to be separated at this time," said Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, noting that the 10-person limit should be carried out in homes as well as in public.

Birx said computer models suggested to public health officials that limiting groups beyond the 50 people recommended over the weekend by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would have the biggest impact on blunting the spread of the virus.

3:20 p.m.: The Nash County Sheriff's Office has canceled all visitation, including meetings between inmates and their attorneys, at the county jail to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Attorneys will have to call the jail to arrange phone call consultations with inmates, authorities said.

3:15 p.m.: Ohio leaders are recommending delaying in-person voting in the state's Tuesday primary elections until June as a coronavirus precaution.

2:30 p.m.: Actor Idris Elba tweeted that he has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

2:15 p.m.: North Carolina's state health lab has tested 329 people for coronavirus so far and has supplies for another 1,300, State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson said. Those numbers don't inlcude the tests being done by LabCorp for local health departments and by UNC Health.

So far, all COVID-19 case in the state have come from contact with other cases or through travel to a virus hotspot, she said. Only one person in the state has been hospitalized with COVID-19, she said.

2:05 p.m.: North Carolina is matching guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit gatherings to no more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson said. But the state can enforce only the ban on events of 100 or more people that Gov. Roy Cooper issued Saturday.

Although other states have ordered bars and restaurants to be closed, North Carolina is only providing "social distancing" guidelines for bars and restaurants for now," Tilson said.

1:40 p.m.: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will close his country's border to non-citizens amid the coronavirus pandemic. He later said Americans would be exempt.

1:10 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper has asked that the U.S. Small Business Administration grant a disaster declaration for business owners in North Carolina facing economic losses due to the new coronavirus.

"I’m asking the SBA for assistance so we can get relief to help business owners in our state weather the economic impacts of COVID-19," Cooper said in a statement. "We know that the new coronavirus is already impacting businesses, and this financial assistance will help."

If granted, the declaration would provide disaster loans to impacted businesses to help fulfill financial obligations and operating expenses. The request is for assistance to affected businesses across the state.

1 p.m.: The United Way of the Greater Triangle has launched a Rapid Response Fund to help fund nonprofit organizations that are providing area residents with needed resources during the coronavirus outbreak, including food, hygiene supplies, childcare and housing support.

People can donate online or mail checks made out to United Way of the Greater Triangle to Rapid Response Fund, P.O. Box 110583, Durham, NC 27709-0962.

WRAL News has compiled a list of other organizations providing assistance during the outbreak.

12:45 p.m.: All YMCA locations in the Triangle are suspending activities and closing to members, starting at 8 p.m. Monday, to limit the spread of coroavirus. The facilities will remain closed until at least March 25.

The Y on Friday suspended all youth sports programs through April 13, and it also has canceled all swim lessons through April 13.

12:40 p.m.: Halifax County has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus, and access to county buildings will be limited. Residents are urged to conduct as much business with county offices as possible over the phone or online.

12:20 p.m.: Sampson County has reported its first positive test for coronavirus. The person, who had traveled internationally, is doing well and is isolated at home, officials said. The Sampson County Health Department is working to identify close contacts, and based on information provided, will determine if any additional measures are needed to limit the virus' spread.

12:10 p.m.: A coronavirus test developed by Melissa Miller, director of the Clinical Molecular Microbiology Laboratory at the UNC School of Medicine, was being deployed by UNC Health on Monday, officials said. The test should help reduce some of the burden on North Carolina's public health lab regarding testing, they said.

The UNC test will initially be available only for inpatients at UNC Medical Center, UNC Rex Hospital and other UNC Health hospitals across North Carolina, as well as some UNC Health clinic locations, officials said.

"The ability to conduct in-house testing is a crucial step in our response to COVID-19," Dr. Wesley Burks, UNC Health chief executive and dean of the UNC School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Our ability to test patients and receive results in a matter of hours will help us to better understand the spread of the virus in our state and, most importantly, allow us to quickly move to treat positive patients and provide relief to patients who test negative."

12:05 p.m.: North Carolina banks are encouraging more use of drive-through and online banking, as well as ATMs, to limit in-person transactions, according to the North Carolina Bankers Association. Some banks are even requiring appointments for in-person transactions, such as accessing a safe deposit box or discussing a loan.

Many bank employees are now working from home, and banks have restricted travel and are stepping up cleaning, officials said.

11:50 a.m.: South Carolina has reported its first coronavirus-related death. Officials said it was a resident of the Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Skilled Nursing Facility, outside Columbia.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is working with the facility to identify all contacts and is providing guidance about infection control measures to prevent the virus from spreading, officials said.

11:45 a.m.: Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said the annual Dogwood Festival, scheduled for late April, will be postponed. No new date has been set.

11:40 a.m.: North Carolina State University's veterinary hospital will accept emergenc cases only due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said. Clinicians will will meet clients in the parking area and bring animals into the building so people do not come in.

11:20 a.m.: Free bagged meals for students ages 18 and under will be available for curb-side pickup from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, starting Tuesday, at the following Wake County locations: Briarcliff Elementary in Cary, Creech Elementary in Garner, Millbrook Elementary in Raleigh, PAVE Charter in Raleigh, Poe Elementary in Raleigh, Rogers Lane Elementary in Raleigh, Wendell Middle, Zebulon Elementary, Wake County Human Resources Northern Regional Center in Wake Forest, Pine Acres Community Center in Fuquay-Varina, Juniper Level Baptist Church in Garner, Washington Terrace Apartments in Raleigh , Casa de Luna Apartments in Raleigh, Raleigh Millbank Apartments, The Oaks Apartments in Raleigh and New Hope Village Apartments in Raleigh.

Each student will receive a lunch and breakfast for the following morning.

Students ages 18 and older can pick up lunches at First United Methodist Church in Cary, Chatham Forest Apartments in Cary, Apex First Baptist Church, the Arbors at Cary Apartments and Crosstimber Apartments in Morrisville.

11 a.m.: Although Cumberland County has no COVID-19 cases, officials there and in Fayetteville declared a state of emergency on Monday to help with response efforts to the growing outbreak.

The Fayetteville City Council is limiting access to Monday night's meeting, allowing only city staff and people who have signed up to speak at a public hearing to attend. Other residents can watch the meeting on the city's website or government-access cable channel.

10:50 a.m.: A Campbell University student has tested positive for coronavirus, university officials said. The student, who has been in isolation since last Wednesday after first reporting symptoms to campus health officials, is the third COVID-19 patient in Harnett County.

Two other Campbell students have since presented symptoms and have been tested for the virus, officials said. One of the students tested negative, and results are pending on the other.

All in-person classes at Campbell have been canceled, and instruction was moved onlione, starting Monday.

10:30 a.m.: Governors say bars, restaurants and casinos will close in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut on Monday night following similar decisions made Sunday in Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington state, and the Supreme Court has postponed arguments due to the coronavirus.

North Carolina's virus count is now at 33, based on data from the NCDHHS, up just one from Sunday's total. Many more cases are expected as officials increase testing.

9:50 a.m.: Charter Communications announced it will offer free Spectrum internet to students for 60 days so they can continue learning at home while schools are closed around the country.

Sky 5 flew over Costco in Apex, where long lines were wrapped around the building at 9:45 a.m. Many stores have limited shoppers to the number of items they can purchase during the coronavirus outbreak.

9:30 a.m.: European and Asian stock indexes were down as much as 10 percent, as was the price of oil. Trading in Wall Street futures was halted for the third time in two weeks after they fell by the maximum 5%.

8:45 a.m.: Public health care workers, including representatives from the state Department of Health and Human Services and UNC Hospitals, are voicing their concerns about the state and federal governments' response to the coronavirus outbreak. The group organizing the event, UE Local 150, represents over 5,400 public health workers.

The organization sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper that recommends the following changes, among others.

  • Establish a minimum 14-day sick bank for every worker that does not draw from vacation time
  • Ensure personal protective equiptment like N95 masks, gowns and gloves are readily available for healthcare workers
  • Establish free child care facilities for all state and local government employees.

8:30 a.m.: All public schools across the state are closed to students, starting Monday through at least March 27. On Tuesday, Wake County principals will open schools from 12 to 5 p.m. so staff and families can pick up any personal items, if needed.

8:11 a.m.: Some children rely on their school days for breakfast and lunch. Since public schools will be closed for the next two weeks at least, a group of volunteers from Rolesville Middle School are accepting food donations at the Food Lion at 405 S. Main St. on Monday starting at 7 a.m. They ask that all donations be bagged or boxed. Find more ways to help your local community.

7:36 a.m.: A member of the TODAY show has tested positive for coronavirus, the show tweeted.

"We learned late last night a colleague on the 3rd hour of TODAY tested positive for COVID-19," the post read. "Out of an abundance of caution, Craig and Al are taking the morning off while we map that colleague’s close contacts."

6:30 a.m.: Almost 3,500 have tested positive for coronavirus in the country, and 65 people have died. CNN reports there are now more cases outside mainland China than there are inside.

5:50 a.m.: Far fewer people are traveling through Raleigh -Durham International Airport on Monday morning as more international travel restrictions take effect. United Airlines said it will cut flights by 50 percent in April and May, and other airlines are already slashing flights.

After the CDC's announcement that everyone should avoid spaces with more than 50 people, there is a possibility that U.S. flights could be grounded domestically the first time since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

5 a.m.: Vice President Mike Pence said the country should be ready for an announcement of more guidelines Monday afternoon, including the possible closing of restaurants and early curfews.

4:30 a.m.: Chick-fil-A has closed its dining rooms to limit person-to-person contact, according to a press release. Drive-thru and takeout are still available.

Four states -- llinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington state and New York City -- have ordered bars to close and restaurants to stop dine-in service.

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