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Coronavirus in NC: Live updates for May 4, 2020: Fourth Wake County nursing home reports outbreak

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 North Carolina coronavirus updates on cases and the pandemic’s impact on our health, jobs, schools and more:

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Latest updates:

11:00 p.m.: China reported one new case of coronavirus Tuesday and no deaths, marking three weeks since it recorded a COVID-19 fatality.

The National Health Commission said 395 people remained under treatment in the hospital, while 949 were under isolation and observation for suspected cases or after testing positive despite showing no symptoms.

10:20 p.m.: Wake County commissioners gave an update on testing capacity at tonight's monthly meeting. Four local labs will provide 2,600 test kits per day.

A total of 4,000 test kits have already been purchased and assembled.

County commissioners said, with these expansion plans, they will hit their goal of testing 3 percent of the population.

9:50 p.m.: Vance County reported a 90-year-old woman died on Sunday from COVID-19 while in the hospital. It's the eighth coronavirus-related death in the county.
8 p.m.: Multiple people, including employees and residents, at UNC Rex Rehabilitation and Nursing Care Center of Apex have tested positive for the coronavirus, Wake County health officials said. They declined to say how many cases have been reported or provide the breakdown between residents and staff.

This is the fourth long-term care facility in Wake County with a virus outbreak.

7:55 p.m.: An employee at the Moen plant in Sanford has tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said. The employee was last in the building on April 29, and any employees in close contact are now in quarantine.

The plant closed on Saturday to to sanitize affected areas and will reopen Tuesday, running voluntary shifts for the rest of the week, officials said.

7:10 p.m.: Treyburn Rehabilitation Center, a Durham nursing home, reported 17 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total at the facility to 74, county officials said.
7 p.m.: Durham County has reported two more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the county total to 26 and the statewide total to 464.

Statewide, 21 deaths from the virus were reported Monday.

6 p.m.: A spokesman for Pilgrim's Pride said some company employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, but he wouldn't firm whether any work at a poultry processing plant in Sanford.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we have implemented a policy that removes any team member who is 60 years or older from any facility that is located in an area of community outbreak. In addition, anyone who is older than 70, pregnant, on dialysis or undergoing cancer treatment has been removed from all of our production facilities," spokesman Cameron Bruett said in an email, adding that all such workers still receive full pay and benefits.

5 p.m.: Sampson County has reported its first coronavirus-related death. The county has 96 total virus cases.
4:40 p.m.: Gilead Sciences’ coronavirus-fighting drug will be in the hands of doctors and patients as early as this week, according to CNBC.

"We intend to get [remdesivir] to patients in the early part of this next week, beginning to work with the government which will determine which cities are most vulnerable and where the patients are that need this medicine,” Gilead Chairman and CEO Daniel O’Day said. "We’ve donated the entire supply that we have within our supply chain, and we did that because we acknowledge and recognize the human suffering, the human need here, and want to make sure nothing gets in the way of this getting to patients."

Preliminary results of a clinical trial shows remdesivir, which underwent initial testing at UNC-Chapel Hill, shortens the hospital stays of people with COVID-19, the illness associated with the virus.

4:10 p.m.: The state Department of Health and Human Services plans to use new federal funding to expand mental health support and crisis counseling services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through two connected efforts: the Hope4NC Helpline and a counseling program tailored for COVID-19.

"We must work quickly, collaboratively and boldly to flatten the second curve of COVID-19 – the behavioral health effects of the disease," Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Kody Kinsley said in a statement. "The Hope4NC program, made possible by this federal grant, will help us quickly stand up a statewide response that helps folks normalize their experience, get access to additional resources and build resiliency."

North Carolinians who call the Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463) talk with trained counselors who provide emotional support and share resources on building coping skills during times of crisis. The helpline staff then make referrals to community-based crisis counselors. These counselors are locally hired throughout the state to provide additional resilience supports for all North Carolinians.

4:05 p.m.: Two Lowe's Home Improvement employees who work at the company's Garysburg distribution center have tested positive for the coronavirus, as has a worker for a Lowe's vendor, officials said.

One Lowe's worker tested positive in early April and has since returned to work. The second worker was last in the warehouse Friday and is now in isolation. Anyone who worked closely with either employee has been placed on paid leave.

The distribution center remains open and has been extensively cleaned per CDC guidelines, officials said.

3:50 p.m.: North Carolina has reported more than 12,000 coronavirus infections. More than 900 of those cases are in Wake County, which reported its 20th virus-related death on Monday. Statewide, the virus has killed 453 people.
3:45 p.m.: The number of Wake County land parcels transferred by deed in April was down 13.3 percent from March and down 11.8 percent from April 2019, according to the Wake County Register of Deeds Office. That is a reversal from March, where activity was up compared with both February and March 2019.

The dollar value of Wake County real estate changing hands in April was down 27 percent from March and down 26 percent from April 2019, officials said, although the median sales price in April was $325,000, up from $319,000 in March.

3:30 p.m.: Hungry for some popcorn while watching streamed movies at home during the pandemic? Carolina Theatre of Durham has what you need.

Carolina Theatre concessions will be available for takeout via online ordering starting Friday. Durham officials gave the go-ahead for the theater to offer its full concessions menu – candy, other snacks, beer and wine are also available – for takeout from 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays. After ordering online, people can pick up their to-go orders at the theater, at 309 W. Morgan St., but they are urged to follow Durham's regulations and cover their faces in public.

3:25 p.m.: Amid more defiance to stay-at-home orders from local governments, California Gov. Gavin Newsom says some businesses can reopen Friday with restrictions, according to The Associated Press.
3:20 p.m.: Gas prices, which have dropped in recent weeks because of a glut of supply, could start to rise as states ease stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, according to AAA Carolinas.

Last week, North Carolina’s average price for unleaded gas decreased by one cent, to $1.64 per gallon. That was 13 cents less than a month ago and $1.07 cheaper than a year ago.

3:05 p.m.: The U.S. Treasury Department says it will have to borrow a record $2.99 trillion in the current quarter to deal with the costs of the pandemic, according to The Associated Press.
2:45 p.m.: The State Health Plan has abandoned efforts to test all state prison workers, citing logistical difficulties.

"Unlike other state agencies, [the Department of Public Safety] has unique safety and operational hurdles that could not be overcome by the State Health Plan’s desire to directly test these state employees," State Treasurer Dale Folwell said in a statement. "We’re disappointed that we could not work out the details on how to go directly to the facilities outside of the fence to test."

Folwell's office oversees the State Health Plan, and he had secured 20,000 coronavirus tests for the mass testing. He told providers that the tests set aside for prison workers could now be released for other testing.

2 p.m.: Brookdale Senior Living in Pinehurst and St. Joseph’s of the Pines, a senior community in Southern Pines, are the only long-term care facilities in Moore County to take up the county's offer to provide supplies for mass testing of residents, officials said.

The county has 19 such facilities.

1:50 p.m.: East Carolina University will hold a virtual commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday. Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson will confer degrees to 3,860 undergraduate students and 1,201 graduate and doctoral candidates via a taped message.

Lynn Gangone, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, will deliver the keynote address.

"This university will forever remember the Class of 2020 as its most adaptive, its most resilient and its most patient,” Mitchelson said in a statement. "Given my experiences in life, these are very good attributes and can only spell future success for the members of this outstanding class. I, for one, will never forget them."

1:45 p.m.: The state Department of Transportation's cash reserve has fallen below the $293 million minimum set by state law, meaning the agency cannot start any new road projects, officials said.

The DOT is funded through gas taxes and fees paid on vehicle purchases and Division of Motor Vehicles services. All three sources of revenue have declined as people drive less during the pandemic. State officials estime more than $300 million in lost revenue for the fiscal year that ends in June and more than $370 million in fiscal 2020-21.

"Never in the history of NCDOT has there been such an immediate and sustained decline in revenues," Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette said in a statement. "We need revenue to begin putting people back to work across North Carolina."

The agency has laid off about half of its temporary workers and consultants, enacted a hiring freeze and is developing plans to furlough workers and cut its budget in other areas.

12:35 p.m.: Registration for Cary’s summer Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources programming has been postponed until further notice because of coronavirus concerns. The town will offer refunds for registered classes, camps and programs, as well as ticketed events and rentals, that have been canceled through May 31.
12:30 p.m.: The NFL won't play any games in London or Mexico during the 2020 season, moving all games to U.S. stadiums to better protect players and staff from COVID-19.
12:25 p.m.: The Diamante Arts & Cultural Center, a Hispanic/Latino art and cultural nonprofit organization, and Asian Focus’ Project Unity will distribute free masks to people from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday at La Bonita Tienda y Carniceria, at 836 E. Chatham St. in Cary, and from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Holton Career & Resource Center, at 401 N. Driver St. in Durham.

"We understand the stresses and constraints that families are going through right now. We just want to serve the community and keeping them as safe as possible by providing masks. We will distribute masks as long as funds are available to secure their purchase," Roberto Perez, Diamante Awards & Cultural Center board chairman, said in a statement.

12:15 p.m.: In partnership with Manna Church and House of Raeford, Carlie C's IGA will give away up to 40,000 pounds of chicken to Fayetteville residents on Tuesday. The drive-thru giveaway will start at 8 a.m. at Manna Church, 5117 Cliffdale Road.
12:10 p.m.: About 4,000 people have applied for 250 jobs with the state and county health departments to track the contacts of people with coronavirus, Gov. Roy Cooper said.
12 p.m.: The rolling seven-day average in new coronavirus infections state wide has dropped for a second day in a row, to 387 per day. Meanwhile, the rolling average for positive virus tests remains flat at 8.1 percent a day and the average of virus-related deaths also remains flat at 18 per day. But the rolling average of people hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness associated with the virus, reached a new high of 512 per day.

Gov. Roy Cooper said how those trends play out in the coming days will determine whether he can start to ease some of the restrictions under his statewide stay-at-home order this coming weekend. He said he would be able to provide an update by Wednesday as to how the rules might be relaxed.

11:45 a.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper has signed two pieces of legislation into law, directing about $1.5 billion in federal aid to schools, businesses and others hid hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cooper said he would provide pens used to sign the bills to legislative leaders after wiping them down with disinfectant.

11:30 a.m.: Eight coronavirus-related deaths reported Monday, including deaths in Johnston and Chatham counties, have pushed the statewide death toll during the pandemic past 450. Overall, nearly 12,000 North Carolinians have been infected with the virus.
11:15 a.m.: UNC-Wilmington summer programs and non-athletic camps and conferences have been canceled through Aug. 5 because of coronavirus concerns. Some camps and programs will offer online activities. UNC-Wilmington athletics will announce a decision about their camps by May 15.
10:55 a.m.: Northgate Mall in Durham is closing due to financial struggles caused by the pandemic. A spokesperson from the mall said the crisis "has resulted in extreme financial difficulties experienced by a majority of our tenants and the property." Stores in the adjacent Shops at Northgate shopping center and the Stadium 10 movie theater will reopen when it is safe to do so, officials said.
10:45 a.m.: A 19-year-old University of North Carolina student in Lee County has been sick with coronavirus for 48 days. She got the virus while at a college basketball conference in Washington, D.C., cheerleading and has been isolated in her room ever since. She still has a fever and is sleeping 20 hours a day. Her doctors aren't sure why she hasn't improved yet.
10:10 a.m.: More than 1 million unemployment claims were filed from March 15 to May 3, according to the state Division of Employment Security. More than 840,000 of those claims were directly related to the coronavirus. The state has paid $1.2 billion in unemployment benefits on those claims. About 20 percent of the state's workforce has filed for unemployment.
10:05 a.m.: Lowe's Home Improvement is requiring all workers in its stores and making deliveries and installing appliances and other items in people's home to wear masks.

The Mooresville-based chain also is providing a second bonus to hourly-wage workers, following one in March. Full-time workers will receive $300, and part-tme workers $150.

A crowded Surf City during "social distancing." Photo from Eric Vithalani on Facebook.
10 a.m.: Ocean Isle Beach opened last week, with social distancing required. But as the warmer weather rolls in, concern grows over the social distancing measures.
9:30 a.m.: On the agenda today for the Durham County Board of Commissioners: COVID-19 testing done in the Durham at the county's Public Health facility. It will cost the county $100 each test. If approved, the plan is to begin testing mid-May.
9 a.m.: J. Crew is filing for bankruptcy during the pandemic. Sales at stores and restaurants plunged in March by the largest amount on records that date to 1992. More bankruptcies from retail stores are expected to be filed later this week, according to the AP.
8:45 a.m.: Wake County is using a ultraviolet-light sanitation process from science classrooms in the public school system to disinfect and reuse their masks, according to a recent press release. A total of 42 of the UV-light cabinets that teachers use to sterilize science goggles in their classrooms are being put to use by Wake County staff.
8:39 a.m.: The United Way of the Greater Triangle is distributing more than $250,000 to nonprofits this week to provide resources to Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties.
8:30 a.m.: North Carolina small businesses, defined as having fewer than 500 employees, are faring better in the second round of COVID-19 disaster loans because of the Paycheck Protection Program.
7:30 a.m.: The Starbucks that are closed around the Triangle are supposed to open up Monday. Starbucks announced it is going to tighten up its safety procedures for its stores. Some Starbucks are letting in only one customer at time. Employees are required to do temperature checks before going into work, and alarms in the headsets remind them to wash their hands every 30-minutes.
6:30 a.m.: Costco is putting a limit on how much meat shoppers can buy – only three pork, beef, or poultry items per purchase. Costco is also allowing people to enter only if they are wearing masks.
5:30 a.m.: China responded to a claim from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that said he had evidence which indicated coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory. The virology lab in Wuhan has been at the center of the controversy, although experts continue to say that the virus shows signs of originating in an animal. In an editorial in The Global Times, which is run by the Chinese ruling Communist Party, Chinese leaders say Pompeo was "bluffing" and called on the United States to present the evidence to this claim.
5 a.m.: The State Fairgrounds lost $1.5 million after 119 events were canceled due to coronavirus concerns. Organizers say its too hard to tell how the October's State Fair will be impacted.

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