How we decide when to send coronavirus alerts

Posted April 3, 2020 7:07 a.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2020 7:11 a.m. EDT

Testing and research

One of our primary goals as a local news outlet is to bring you important information quickly and accurately. As the coronavirus outbreak first hit North Carolina in mid-March, we were sending breaking news alerts to phones and emails with each new diagnosis.

As we get further into coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, which could last for months, what constitutes "news" is changing. It is no longer unusual for someone to test positive for COVID-19. Sadly, it is no longer unusual for someone to die in the state after contracting COVID-19.

As we all adjust to a rapidly changing world, we are updating the guidelines we apply when sending alerts related to the outbreak. We want to inform, not alarm, our audience. Here's what you can expect from us:

  • Two daily alerts -- morning and evening -- with the total number of new cases and deaths in the state.
  • Whenever possible, we will provide context about the new numbers to help you make sense of the changes.
  • We will still send alerts when someone in the Triangle region dies after contracting the COVID-19.
  • We will not send alerts for deaths outside the WRAL viewing area unless there is something unusual about the case.
  • We will send alerts when a newly infected person was in a public location, posing health risks for a much larger group of people.
  • We also will report when there is a significant number of people who did and/or could contract the disease at the same location, such as a nursing home or other housing complex.
  • We will alert our viewers and visitors when there are significant changes in national trends.

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