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Coronavirus in NC: Live updates for May 22, 2020: Bars remain closed while breweries, wineries reopen

Here are the latest updates on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and across the globe.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus from North Carolina and across the globe showing the pandemic’s impact on health, jobs, schools and more:
At least 21,890 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, at least 753 people have died and another 570 or so remain in the hospital. State officials estimate that more than 11,600 people have recovered from COVID-19, the illness associated with the virus.

Latest updates

10:34 p.m.: The Harnett County Health Department reports another COVID-19 death. The death was reported at Universal Healthcare Lillington, a nursing home and rehabilitation center. It is the county's 21st COVID-19 death and 15th at the facility.
6:20 p.m.: Duplin County had five of the 10 reported coronavirus deaths in North Carolina on Friday. It's unclear whether they are linked to a long-term care facility.

Overall, the virus has infected nearly 21,900 people statewide and killed 753.

5:45 p.m.: Breweries, wineries and distilleries can open for business as part of the state's Phase 2 reopening plans, according to the Governor's Office.

While bars must remain closed for at least another five weeks, breweries, wineries, cideries and distilleries are able to open because they produce alcoholic beverages for commercial sale off-premises and not consumption on premises, officials said.

Any such business that does reopen must follow the social distancing and sanitizing rules in place for restaurants, officials said.

5 p.m.: Phase 2 of the state's three-part plan to resume business and social activities during the coronavirus pandemic has begun. Restaurants and personal care businesses like salons and barbershops can reopen at half capacity, provided they also adhere to specific social distancing and sanitizing regulations.
4:55 p.m.: Coronavirus has infected 24 residents and 18 staff members at Wilson House Assisted Living Facility in Wilson, county health officials said.

Wilson House now has the second-largest virus outbreak at a long-term care facility in the county. Longleaf Neuro-Medical Treatment Center in Wilson has 22 residents and 22 staffers infected, and two residents have died. Elm City Assisted Living has one resident and three staffers infected, with the resident dying.

3:10 p.m.: The pandemic has left North Carolina with a $4.2 billion budget shortfall as lawmakers put together a spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in July. Two major sources of revenue for the state Department of Transportation, the Highway Fund and the Highway Trust Fund, will be short another $772 million.

"We continue to work collaboratively with the governor on fiscal responses to this crisis, just as we did earlier this month with a consensus $1.6 billion COVID relief appropriation," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said in a joint statement. "We look forward to receiving the governor’s budget recommendations as soon as possible to move forward with a plan of action."

2:30 p.m.: State officials plan to issue guidance on what establishments, including brewpubs, are considered restaurants or bars, Gov. Roy Cooper said, as restaurants will be allowed to reopen this weekend while bars must remain closed for another five weeks.
2:25 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper says the "vast majority" of North Carolina businesses can operate during the pandemic, but it would be "irresponsible" to remove all restrictions now as coronavirus continues to spread across the state.
2:20 p.m.: State officials are working with the managers of entertainment venues to determine how they can safely operate at some time in the future, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services. Mass gatherings are difficult to manage, she said, because the coronavirus can spread so easily.
2:15 p.m.: State officials will issue recommendations for how to conduct youth sports activities safely during the pandemic, according to Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

"We're not recommending that contact sports go forward," Cohen said.

2:10 p.m.: President Donald Trump is voicing frustration that some states have put a lower priority on reopening houses of worship during the coronavirus pandemic than other enterprises that he described as less essential, according to The Washington Post. Trump said that, if governors don't follow his recommendations with regard to religious services, he will “override” them, but he didn't elaborate.
2 p.m.: As the state prepares to shift into the next phase of resuming public activity during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Roy Cooper said 3,500 people representing 1,800 businesses statewide have completed training through the Count on Me NC program to demonstrate that their restaurants are committed to public health and safety.

Cooper said he would feel safe going out to eat at a restaurant now.

1:55 p.m.: Carolina Tiger Rescue in Chatham County will reopen its gates to the public on June 5 after a partial shutdown due to COVID-19.

Tours will be limited to 12 guests and a guide, who will all remain 6 feet apart at all times. Both guides and guests will be required to wear masks while on site. The park's gift shop also will limit the number of people inside at any one time, and a plastic shield has been installed at the checkout counter. Disinfectant procedures will be in place in between tours and throughout the day.

1:50 p.m.: Raleigh's parking meters will be back in action on June 1. The city has allowed free use ot metered parking spaces since the pandemic began, but as more businesses start to reopen, officials said enforcement will resume to keep spaces open for customers.

Officials said parking meter touch pads will be routinely sanitized, and parking enforcement staff will wear protective gear. Also, people can pay for parking without touching a meter by downloading the Passport app.

1:40 p.m.: The state Ferry Division will offer increased service starting Saturday, due to greater expected demand and the easing of certain pandemic restrictions.

The new ferry schedule adds round trips for ferries traveling to and from Ocracoke Island, as well as those between Cherry Branch and Minnesott Beach, and Bayview and Aurora.

The Ferry Division is encouraging passengers to remain in their vehicles or stand at least 6 feet from other people while on board to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

1 p.m.: The rolling seven-day average of coronavirus infections in North Carolina remains high at 641 new cases per day over the last week, but the percentage of positive test results remains stable at about 7 percent.

The rolling average of COVID-19 hospitalizations has reached its highest level to date at 539 per day, but the rolling average of virus-related deaths is at its lowest point in more than a month at 12 per day over the last week.

12:05 p.m.: Three overnight camps that draw hundreds of children from across the Triangle, Camp Kanata, Camp Sea Gull and Camp Seafarer, will not operate this summer.

All of the camps are operated by the YMCA of the Triangle. Kanata, which is in Wake Forest, does plan to offer its day camp.

12 p.m.: Mayor Steve Schewel said an accelerating rate of coronavirus infections in Durham is the primary reason local officials are blocking restaurants, salons and some other businesses in Durham and Durham County from opening till June 1.

"For the first time, really, Durham has seen in the last week a higher rate of cases than the state of North Carolina as a whole. For a couple weeks, we were having about 12 cases a day. We have now more than doubled that in the last week," Schewel said. "When you think about a neighboring county like Wake County, we have three times the per capita number of cases that Wake County does here in Durham."

Much of the spike is in the Latino community, he said, so officials need a better outreach and education effort about social distancing and sanitization.

11:55 a.m.: Coronavirus has killed four times as many people in North Carolina in the past two months, 745, than seasonal flu has killed since last fall, 186.
11:45 a.m.: Elon University holds a virtual conferral ceremony to celebrate the Class of 2020 live at noon. To watch online and see a full list of graduates, go online to Elon's website. The university also plans to hold an in-person ceremony at a later date to celebrate the graduating class.
11:30 a.m.: Coronavirus cases in North Carolina have topped 21,000, and at least 743 people have died, according to the latest numbers.
11:20 a.m.: The pandemic will delay the Wake County Field of Honor from its traditional Memorial Day observance to Labor Day weekend. The event features a field of more than 400 U.S. flags flying in tribute to all veterans, and police, first responders and health care workers will be honored as well this year.

The has been rescheduled to Sept. 5-7 at the Exchange Club of West Raleigh Baseball Complex, at 830 Barringer Drive.

11:15 a.m.: The Wayne County Health Department is reporting 947 total positive cases of coronavirus. According to the county, 69 of the cases are attributed to group living facilities. At least 647 of the 947 infected people have recovered, and an estimated total of 282 cases are still active in Wayne County.
11 a.m.: Marbles' kids museum sent an email to supporters saying its Wake County funding has been recommended for elimination for the upcoming fiscal year. Wake County's proposed budget recommends cutting $3 million from its support of community organizations like Marbles and providing $500,000 for "Aid to Community Agencies."

Other affected groups include the North Carolina Symphony, Boys & Girls Club of Wake County, InterAct and Wake County Smart Start.

10:45 a.m.: East Carolina University says COVID-19 has caused a lot of financial damage, and as a result the school is cutting some athletic programs, including men's and women's swimming and diving and men's and women's tennis.

The cuts will save the school an estimated $4.9 million. Athletic scholarships connected to those sports will still be honored.

10:30 a.m.: The state’s seasonally adjusted April unemployment rate was 12.2 percent, increasing 7.9 percent from March’s revised rate, according to the state Department of Commerce. The national rate increased 10.3 percentage points, to 14.7 percent.
10:15 a.m.: Coleen Speaks, who owns Hummingbird in downtown Raleigh, plans to open her cafe Friday, but customers won't be allowed to eat inside. Instead, people will be seated in Hummingbird's large outdoor patio. Laminated menus will be wiped down between uses, and customers will even be asked to bus their own tables after dinner. Tables will be spaced 6 feet apart.

Speaks said the steps seem odd, especially asking customers to clear their plates, but health and safety of her diners and employees is the top priority. People planning to eat at Hummingbird or any other restaurant are encouraged to make reservations, as restaurants will be capped at 50 percent of their normal capacity by state order.

10 a.m.: Award-winning TV host and chef Vivian Howard has closed her Kinston oyster bar, Boiler Room, permanently, representatives confirm. Chef & the Farmer, which opened in 2006, remains closed due to coronavirus concerns.
9:45 a.m.: Retail sales of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine that President Donald Trump has promoted as a potential coronavirus cure — and claims to be taking himself — have been soaring, CNN reports.

Currently, the drug is FDA-approved only to treat or prevent malaria or to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. While so-called off label prescribing of the drug to treat other conditions is legal, it has not been found by the federal government to be safe or effective for any other uses.

9 a.m.: IBM, under new chief executive Arvind Krishna, is making major cuts to its workforce, WRALTechWire reports. Late on Thursday night, against the backdrop of a pandemic and sudden economic downturn, Big Blue confirmed that it was making layoffs “in the long-term interests” of the business. It didn’t disclose the scale of the losses. A person familiar with the company’s plans told the Wall Street Journal that they are thought to affect “several thousand people.”
8:30 a.m.: In Orange County, 291 people have tested positive for coronavirus, and 39 people have died. A county report says 37 percent of those the people who have tested positive are 65 and older, while 30 percent are between the ages of 25 to 49.
8 a.m.: About half of the nursing homes in the nation had a problem containing infection before the pandemic, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Nursing home staff did not regularly wash their hands, isolate sick residents, use masks or personal protective equipment prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report says.

The office looked at 13,299 nursing homes, and 48 percent had infection prevention and control deficiency cited in one or more years from 2013 through 2017, which "is an indicator of persistent problems."

Cases at long-term care facilities in North Carolina account for nearly 18 percent of infections and more than half of the total deaths reported.

7:30 a.m.: Patients with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis have high mortality rates from the COVID-19 virus, CNN reports that a new study conducted by Oxford University Hospitals in the UK and the University of North Carolina finds.
6:30 a.m.: A petition to allow gyms to reopen open Friday is getting a lot attention online. The petition argues that fitness centers are key to improving the overall well-being of people in the state. So far, the GoFundMe has raised $15,000 for North Carolina Health Clubs to take legal action against the state government.
4 a.m.: North Carolina goes into the second stage of a three-part plan to resume business and social activities during the pandemic at 5 p.m. Friday.

For months, restaurants have had to readjust, offering only takeout or delivery service. It’s been a new experience for customers as well. While the food may taste the same when dining rooms reopen, restaurant owners say expect the experience to be a little different. The state Department of Health and Human Services has already issued guidance to restaurants, including the following:

  • Keep tables at least 6 feet apart, both indoor and outdoor
  • Keep 6-foot gaps between counter seats
  • Seat only 50 percent of maximum fire code occupancy

At Big Ed’s restaurant in Raleigh, that means serving 80 people. Staff have had to remove several tables to make space in the restaurant.

Some restaurants will take extra steps, like paper menus and plexiglass shields. Wearing a mask is encouraged but not required.

Other restaurants won't open right away. Those that do will compare their protocol with other restaurants.

"I did speak to some other restaurants that have decided to stay closed for a little longer," said Sammy Hobgood from Big Ed's. "Later this morning we will be talking to Hummingbird about their reopening tonight."

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