NC reports first case of childhood illness linked to COVID-19
State public health and safety officials provide a May 21, 2020, update on the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and the state's response to it.
in language interpreters and working behind the scenes are are Spanish translators Jackie and Jasmine. Motive. Here I'll start with a rundown of the numbers. As of this morning, there were 20,860 laboratory confirmed cases. 578 people are currently hospitalized, and sadly, we're now at 716 deaths since yesterday, there were 738 new Cove in 19 positive cases. This is another high number of cases over one day and underscores the need to move cautiously as we ease restrictions as you prepare to enter Phase two just tomorrow, there have been several questions on the use of face coverings. The executive order does not require North Carolinians to wear face coverings outside the home. However, it is strongly strongly recommended. Remember, people can have cove in 19 and not have any symptoms. Face coverings. Protect your loved ones and your neighbors. The executive order does, however, require employees of personal care, grooming and tattoo businesses to wear face coverings. We are also strongly recommending customers also wear face coverings while in the business as a reminder. While this order lifts the governor's stay at home order, We're moving to a safer at home recommendation. High risk individuals are still encouraged to stay home. Just over half of adults in North Carolina are at higher risk for severe illness from Cove in 19 because they are 65 or older or they have at least one of the underlying health conditions or both. So, half of North Carolinians today, North Carolina's also reporting its first case of what's called multi system inflammatory syndrome in Children or M I S C. It's associated with Cove in 19 m. I. S C is a very rare but serious inflammatory disease found in some Children who have current or recent infections. While Children generally experienced mild symptoms from Cove in 19 recently, a possible link has been found between Cove in 19 and M. I. S C. We have asked our physicians around North Carolina to be on the lookout for M. S, I C and report suspected cases for further investigation. While I'm not able to share more information about this specific child, I can report there now home and doing well. There's addition additional information about M I s E posted now on our website and before E end, just one last reminder that we can continue to help slow the spread of the virus by remembering the three W's where. Weight wash where a cloth face covering weighed six feet apart and wash your hands off dinner. Use hand sanitizer. Please continue to take care of yourself and those around you stay well, thank you so much, and now I will turn it over to Director Mike Spray Berry for his remarks. Thank you, Madam Secretary in Good afternoon, everybody, I want to start again today with an update on severe weather that has impacted our state. Heavy rains have caused flooding in the last few days and some of our Western counties. Sadly, the severe weather has led to one death. In Surrey County, where a tree fell on a home, there have been landslides that have washed out some roads. In Polk County, Rutherford County is cleaning up from down trees and flooded roads. McDowell County is evacuated to campgrounds and his sheltering evacuees in a local hotel. Portions of N C 12 and dare US 64 in US 74 in Rutherford and U. S 52 in Stanley County are partially closed due to flooding or debris. Multiple secondary roads, particularly in western North Carolina, have portions closed due to flooding. We continue to have pockets of power outages in impacted counties and remain in close contact with our local partners to be able to support any resource needs or address any limiting factors as they continue to respond in their communities and we thank them for that. As rains continue today, we may see more flooding and I must stress the importance of not driving through moving water across a flooded road. If you can't see the road, you don't know if it's there beneath the water, the National Weather Service is issued a flash flood watch for most of North Carolina with periods of heavy rainfall. Flood warnings and advisories are in effect for many areas along the rivers across the state through the weekend, all rivers in the west will see rises, but the Catawba River is most at risk for flooding in the mountains. Minor flooding is also possible for central North Carolina through late this evening. While some recent rivers will begin to recede lake this week, river flooding may linger through the weekend in some locations. Everyone, especially those living along rivers and streams, should be alert to the possibility of flooding and landslides and should have a way to receive whether alerts like a NOAA weather radio or a weather app on your smartphone. You can also monitor river and stream levels and get flood alerts from Feinman, our Flood Inundation, Mapping and Alert network. The website is Feinman dot n c dot gov. That's f i m a n dot n c dot gov. With the holiday weekend approaching, and as we move into phase two of reopening, many people will be tempted to engage in water activities such as boating and swimming, as well as other recreational activities. Remember that fast moving water and our streams and rivers can be dangerous, and people should exercise caution. And where U. S Coast Guard approved life jacket for those planning to go to the beach, powerful surf and dangerous rip currents are expected to continue for eastern North Carolina as well as minor sound side flooding. So please use caution and remember to continue practicing social distancing even when doing these activities. Today is Day 73 of the state emergency operation centers Cove in 19 response. We're continuing to distribute personal protective gear toe long term care facilities across the state. Long term care homes picked up supplies in Greensboro for a second day yesterday, and today this operation is moved to Mecklenburg County for two days of pickups. More than 3500 license long tear care homes across the state are receiving a two week supply a protective equipment. During these events, we thank our partners with the Office of Emergency Medical Services, other DHHS partners, the National Guard and our state and local emergency managers for their support on these distribution events from our warehouses. Teams delivered supplies to 34 counties and three health care preparedness coalitions yesterday. Shipments included isolation gowns, gloves, face shields, multiple types of mask goggles, cover alls, shoe covers, anti bacterial soap, hand sanitizer, thermometers and other needed items. In the last two days, we've received more than 58,000 gowns, 29,000 face shields, 17,000 filters and close to 100,000 mask, including procedural mask in 95 mask and K N 95 mask school nutrition sites, and all 115 school districts had provided 23 million meals since schools closed on March the 16th. There are currently 101,000 pickup drive thru mill sites and 2100 school buses delivering meals around the state. We continue to work their support school feeding sites, however possible. The National Guard are assisting local school district in these efforts, and the Department of Public Instruction is continuing to work with school nutrition directors to identify and resolve potential gaps for feeding through the sun months. These feeding sites have made a tremendous difference in fighting food and security in our state, and we're extremely grateful for their continued work. Remember to observe the three W's where a cloth face covering wait at least six feet apart and wash your hands often. That's where weight and wash and is always. Don't forget to look out for your family, friends and neighbors, and to call your loved ones daily, guaranteed. They'll appreciate it with kindness and cooperation. We will all get through this together as one team, one mission and one family. Thank you so much, Madam Secretary. Turn it back over to you for questions and answers. Terrific. Thank you, Director Spray Berry and we'll open for questions. Our first question today from Steve Devein, the Fayetteville Observer. Thank you very much. Yes, this question is for six year Cohen. I know that you're all been put out. Um, uh, some information, some updated guidance for long term care facility. And that there is as Driggers Trevor said the additional PPE that's going to damn and, uh But I was wondering if my addition is correct, like more than half of the deaths have occurred in these type facilities. So is it a continued concern regarding since there have been so many outbreaks? And what are you saying, too Damn as far as the way they taken any additional ways that they could protect their residents in their staff. Thank you, Steve. Thanks much for the question. And yes, it is an ongoing sort concern related to our long term care settings. We knew that this would be, um, an issue. As we looked at other countries and states before us, I think we knew in Washington State the first, uh ah, viral spread we saw was in a long term care facility. So the concern remains. Which is why, as we're easing restriction into Phase two, you will see that we have continued to keep in place all of the requirements and guidance that we had for long term care facilities that we've had for quite a number of weeks, limiting visitation, requiring ah protective face covering for all of the workers who are in the or long term care settings. Um, obviously, that is why we did the push of protective equipment to them to make sure that they had what they need. Um, and and many other kinds of guidance, like making sure that their isolating folks who who do have Cove in 19 away from those who don't, um, to make sure that the staff who is caring for those with Cove in 19 is not mixing into those who don't. So there's quite a number of guidance. We also recognize that this is a financial and resource concern for those delivering care in long term care settings. This is mawr more work, and we want them to do that pro active and preventive work, which is why through our Medicaid program, we've also done additional rate increases for them to be able to meet these new ah requirements and do this work to protect folks. Um and then, lastly, is testing in making sure that we're doing testing in a way that we can. I identify the virus early and then react. So we have already said for a number of weeks that if you have at least one case, not even just to which is technically the outbreak, a single case that we want to be testing everyone in that facility, staff and residents. And I know my team is now working with the association to understand How can we go about periodic proactive testing of, ah, both the residents and the staff to even get further along here, work still in progress there to get to that level of testing? But that is the work ahead of us. The federal government put out additional guidance that sort of codified some of this, including expectations about doing more testing. So that's where world will head on. And we continue to have it be an area of focus for us. We obviously know that the folks in these settings are already medically frail. Um, there tend to be older already with with medical conditions, so it puts them at some of the highest risk when we're understanding Cove in 19. Thank you. The next question is from Savannah. Levin's with W C and TV. Hi there. The question is for Secretary Cohen, my understanding of M i s E is that, uh, the symptoms really present up to four weeks after exposure to Kobe 19. Because of that, is there a concern that we will see a spike in M I C cases even as cove in 19 numbers might decrease in the state? And is that something that you think the states prepared for? For that question, I do want to reiterate that the multi system inflammatory syndrome in Children and my SC is something that is very, very rare so that that but it is something notable because it is severe. Um, and we are asking doctors in our hospitals to be on the lookout for that. Um, we have found our first case here, and as we Seymour infection, Yes, because there's an association with Cove in 19 and this multi systemic inflammatory syndrome we do expect as you seem or disease. You may see more of this, but I want to make sure parents know that This is a very rare, but we want to be on the lookout for it just the same. I know that we have the capacity to be able to handle this within our our health care system. I know are Pediatricians are on the lookout for this at at our hospitals. The one child here is is likely home and and doing well. Um, so folks do recover from this, but it is something to definitely be aware of. We're tracking it and have our first case here in North Carolina. Our next question is from that Mercer in the State Journal. Good afternoon, Secretary Cohen. Two questions. First, there was a provision in DeKoven 19 released Bill passed that listed, I believe five different Metro's or data points needed to release the $25 million from The Cares Act. I don't know if the new data on the health and the VHS its website has been updated to reflect that to receive that money and then secondly, that way we can come back. Let me do that. The data and metrics. So yes, as part of the General Assembly's allocation of federal funds Ah, they allocated some money around testing. They asked for some additional metrics for us to be putting together those air metrics that we need to compile from other other places. Right. We need the that information to come from hospitals and labs and others. So we are working with our stakeholders to make sure that information can come to us, that we can assemble it and then make sure that it's available for folks. Obviously we want to be using Ah, that that money we want to be ramping up testing. So, yes, we are working hard to make sure that we can get accurate information, respond to those those requests Ah, that the General Assembly made. We aren't able to do that yet. As I said, this is not our data, but rather data that other parties have that we will aggregate put together, make sure is accurate and then post Ah, for the public, as we have been doing. Um, and we're working to do that in order to use that money. Thank you, man. If you have a follow up, happy to do that. Sorry. Might have lost you if we lose everybody. Our next question is from gin moral with the Charlotte Observer tomorrow. Hey, Secretary. Thank you. Um, as you probably know, Secretary a czars in Charlotte today. And how would you characterize the federal government assistance to North Carolina during the pandemic? Especially in terms of testing kids PP's tracing and that kind of support? Well, thanks for that question, Jim. Yes, We were aware that Secretary is our was visiting the Charlotte area. Believe you went to a tree and one of our community health centers there. And I know that they were talking to them both about the help that we've got from the federal government. But the challenges that remain here in North Carolina I know folks are articulating both the need for federal support to our state and local governments, but also the need for federal support for our providers. We know that there was a large provider relief fund and that Okay, can folks you'll hear me? OK, try that again. So I know that, um, that there is a provider relief fund, and some of that funds have been distributed, but we want to see continued support of our health care infrastructure here in North Carolina. So that's very important. As faras PPE. Look, that's been a long tread road of That's been a challenge all along. Um, we have needed to go outside of the federal, ah lines of getting supplies and we have procured our own PPE, as many many states have done on the testing supply. Similar is that they, Ah, federal government has said that they're going to be giving us some some testing supplies. I think about 20% of those supplies have come in so far, and so we have done our own procurement outside of that to make sure that we have the supplies we need. So yes, more always needed from the federal government in terms of supplies. But I really think the primary thing that that I think at this point, we're hoping for the federal government continues to be the funding peas for state and local government for our providers, but also continued funding support for testing not just the supplies, but paying for the test itself and thinking about paying for that on an ongoing basis. We want to make sure that you know, if this is a sustained effort in Fighting Cove in 19 that we have the funding to be able to continue to respond, Um, and Fight Cove in 19. So thanks, Jim. I'm looking forward to hearing how that the visit went with Secretaries are next. Question is from Richard Praver with Salem Journal. This is Richard Quest with Asylum Journal. I had a couple questions for you. One, you're probably aware will continue to have a significant increase in cases in beside County. We have another 48 today were able 800 now, and I want to see you been able to determine that there's anything specific besides just increases in cases and cost er's that may be contributing to that shop increase of the last week or so. And in the second question also, you probably saw the report about Tyson Foods saying they had 570 um, confirmed, inspected employees and Wilkesboro and I want to see what you are looking to do in terms of trying to help with those comments outbreaks. Thes kind of meat packing plants will even in long term players. And if the only compared to try to put out data along this point. Fuck, You have a nursing homes and residential care facilities. Well, thanks, Richard. first, let me talk about Forsyth County in the increased cases. Yes, We are watching all of those numbers very closely. We're seeing an increase in two of our more urban centres in North Carolina, Charlotte Mecklenburg area and then the Triad in Forsyth County. Um, right now, right, we just know that those are where more people are densely located. And so I think we know in those areas you bump into people more often, and we know as we ease restrictions, folks are are moving around more, which means the virus is going to move around more. That's why we need to really be sure to be cautious as we're moving into phase two. We've been watching our numbers really closely and we went through those in detail yesterday and they're not perfect and we their overall stable. But they show us a sign of caution here, which is why the step forward in phase two was more modest than we had originally. Ah, thought I think today's case count being another high number. Also right adds that concern. And I think that you are our, um your your second part of your question related to Tyson Foods is yes, we're seeing some of these cases come from some of our critical infrastructure businesses, whereby the nature of that business, they it's harder to distance at that. Their job. The president has already said, we need to keep those ah food processing plants open as critical infrastructure businesses. I think, as you also know, these meat processing plans are regulated and very heavily regulated by the Department of Agriculture. What our role is from the Department of Public Health is to help them on the infection control. Justus, you mentioned Richard, and that's what we've been doing all along in a number of meat processing plants across the state. Um, when when something like this comes to our attention and again they're not required to report. But when it does come to our attention and they seek our help, which many have, we're glad to offer it, whether it's to go on site or to help over the phone, to help them with the various infection control measures. Whether that's making sure everyone has a mask using plexi glass to do some barriers, whether it's slowing down the line, doing the deep cleanings with a lot of things that we can go through. There's a tool kit on our our website on best practices, So those are the kinds of things we're doing. We're also helping to facilitate on site or close to the plant site testing so that they can do that amount of testing. So Tyson it was a good example of that is that they wanted to make sure that folks got tested and work with both the local public health department and and the the state to make sure that that could happen. So that's how we are are working together and in terms of of, of posting the data again, these are not an industry that is required to report or is regulated by our department. We have been posting information about positive cases by ZIP code level, Um, and that gives a lot of information in terms of knowing, particularly in some of these rural areas. What what's happening. We are required to report certain other kinds of settings, like the congregate living setting. So that's why you see those show up on our our website, the way they dio all right, thanks so much for the question. The next question is from Tyler Harden WCT on news Channel 12. Good afternoon. Secretary Cohen. This is Tyler Hardin from News Channel 12. Thank you for taking my question. A lot of fitness centers and personal training studios here in the East. We're anticipating the opportunity to open and phase two of this Friday under Say that they all have the procedures set up to properly social distance and sanitized between clients, please. Plane while you all did not allow the ability to open under those guidelines And how long you anticipate they'll have to keep their doors closed. Thank you, Tyler. Thank you. And I I appreciate that we've had to take a more modest step here in our phase two. And so gyms and fitness centres were not included in that group. As you think about Jim's, I think they have to risk factors that make them challenging. Um, I think we know all of the activities were moving forward with now are higher risk. And I do want to note that for folks any time we're talking about an indoor activity where you're either sitting down or in closer proximity those air places where ah, you're gonna have more viral spread as we look at Jim specifically. That is when you know that as you you work out, you obviously breathe more heavily and more intensely. And this is a viral respiratory pathogen, right? So it is something that is expelled through. You're droplets of your mouth and your nose, which obviously come out with more force and can be in more distance when you are working out. Um, eso, some had said. Is it because of the sweat? It's not. It's not an issue related to sweat. It is really more about the heavy, heavier breathing that you do naturally when you are are doing any of the athletics in a gym set setting. But it's also knowing that when you are working out, folks are not going to be wearing a mask covering in order to get good ability to breathe in deeply again because you're you're working out. So the combination of of not wearing the face mask and the face coverings and having mawr respiratory droplets expelled because you're working out does put that at a higher risk. Now that's not to say we can never move there, and it's too risky ever. I think this is just about taking a measured approach so that we were going to do some of these other activities because what we're seeing is we have virus here in our community. We have it at at higher day over day new case rates. Um, as as Richard mentioned in his last question, seeing four size, for example, with higher increases. Mecklenburg Gary Higher increases Wilkes County. Others. We want to make sure we understand how the virus is spreading around North Carolina. What are our triggers on hot spots? Ah, here in North Carolina, that may be different. Seven other states And how do we need to continue to move forward? So we wanted to take this modest step forward with Phase two gyms was not a part of it have we have been working with the associations that represent gyms to try to get together the guidance so that when we are able to move forward, they know what those parameters that they would need to put in place in order to move forward. Um, and so you know, we'll take this modest step, will keep looking at our data and keep looking at our numbers and will continue to, Ah, report those publicly and come back to this and hopefully continue to make progress. Strings From Nick Henderson with Carolina Journal Hi, Dr Cohen. Thank you very much for taking my question. I have a question about outdoor dining. Has to find Phase two. There are limits, of course. A Sfar, a social distancing and table distancing, are concerned for outdoor dining at the restaurants. Like, I just wondered if there was any sort of additional information that could be available about restaurants that wanted to add dining space if they could do so, perhaps in a parking lot or at a patio or something like that is happening in other states. I just wondered if that was something that was being considered, because there is some confusion among some restaurant owners about whether they could do that. Thanks for the question, and I don't know that answer and let me take that back to our team to understand the parameters here so we'll take that back. I appreciate the feedback, and we'll be sure to be in touch with the restaurant association. I know that we work collaboratively to put the guidelines together with them, so let me take this back. Teoh are our experts that were closely on this and we will let you know. Take a last question today from Joe Bruner wsoc cheese in Charlotte. Thank you. Hey, Dr Cohen. Its job? Er no, from channel nine. Why is it a restaurant can reopen dark indoor dining, but a brewery or cocktail bar can't. Why not just make the breweries and cocktail bar called the same rules. His restaurant, A south and table limit capacity. No bands are dancing things along that nature, Joe. Thanks for that. And so we know that all of these activities that we were contemplating for a phase two now constitute activities that are higher risk right where they're indoors there. They're places where people sit down and we know there there, opportunities for more virus spread. And so, as we looked at our metrics, right, the indicators that we're trying to tell us how are we doing as a state? Should we move forward? What? What we said is largely they're stable. However, there were some early warning signs. T tell us. You know what? We need to take a modest step here. And so we did pull back from all of the original businesses that we contemplated. So we are moving forward with restaurants at 50% capacity to salon and other personal care services to pools and such a k a day camp overnight camp. So we recognize that that means there were some businesses we didn't want to move forward with at this time. Right? Because, like I said, all of these activities have have risks, and the question is, should we be doing them all at the same time? And the data really indicated to us that we need to take, ah, modest step and continue to go go slow. It's not an on off switch. Unfortunately, we really have to think about this as a dimmer switch and bring things up slowly. What I want to see is how our state does. With this new opening, I think folks will go out and enjoy there favorite restaurants as as they go go forward here that go back, will get their haircuts and, um and so let's see how we do with this and then we'll continue to reassess, continue to look at those numbers on and then continue high hope to make progress I think the things that will help us make the most progress if you're thinking, Gosh, how do I help get those additional businesses open? How do we keep the virus? Ah, level low. It starts with this. It starts with wearing a face covering. Um, and so that is something. We're strongly urging anyone. If you're leaving the house when you pick up your keys. Ah, pick up your face. Covering. Make sure you have, You know, throw some in your car so you have them. Um, so face coverings one, but it can't be in isolation. Got to do it with also washing your hands as well as waiting six feet apart. If we do all of those things and we all do this together, right, that's what's going to get us us through here. That's gonna allow us toe live with this virus because we know it's here with us in North Carolina. And the question is, how can we safely return to all the activities that we love, whether it's at a brewery or a restaurant? How do we do that in a way that will allow us to live with the virus and still protect the most vulnerable among us, even if we are not personally vulnerable. The fact that we could transmit the virus without knowing it makes us a risk to those who are vulnerable. And we know that half of North Carolinians fall in that category of either being over 65 or having, ah, chronic disease risk factor. So let's take care of each other. Will do or three W's, Um, and I'm hoping everyone will ah, you know, embrace that as we move forward into phase two and beyond. All right, Joe, Thanks for a question. And thanks everyone for tuning in today. I'm sure we'll be back tomorrow.