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Coronavirus in North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper announces 'Safer-at-home' Phase 2 reopening

For immediate questions, call the North Carolina Coronavirus Hotline at 866-462-3821 or 2-1-1.

WFMY News 2 is providing daily coronavirus updates with the latest information from emergency leaders, the state's task force, health departments, universities, school districts, and a lot more. 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 2020

8:30 p.m. - NCAA to lift ban on football, basketball workouts effective June 1.

The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to lift a moratorium on voluntary workouts by football and basketball players effective June 1 as a growing number of college leaders expressed confidence that fall sports will be possible in some form despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. 

RELATED: NCAA to lift ban on football, basketball workouts effective June 1

The NCAA released the following information on their site:

Division I football and basketball student-athletes can participate in on-campus voluntary athletics activities beginning June 1, the Division I Council decided in a virtual meeting Wednesday, as long as all local, state and federal regulations are followed.

Additionally, Council members extended the blanket waiver allowing teams in those sports to require eight hours per week of virtual nonphysical activities through the end of June, recognizing that some student-athletes won’t be able return to campus or will not be comfortable doing so.

The status of voluntary athletics activities in all other sports and summer access activities in football and men’s and women’s basketball will be determined via electronic vote.

The Council members emphasized the importance of protecting student-athlete health and safety as schools make decisions about opening facilities for voluntary activities. The Council members also stated that access to facilities should be provided in compliance with applicable state and local regulations regarding the use of such facilities, group size restrictions and any other limits.

“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”

Voluntary on-campus athletics activity must be initiated by the student-athlete. Coaches may not be present unless a sport-specific safety exception allows it, and activity cannot be directed by a coach or reported back to a coach.

Legislative moratorium

The Council also approved a limited moratorium on Council-governance, conference-sponsored legislative proposals for the 2020-21 legislative cycle. Exceptions to the moratorium include conference-sponsored proposals related to transfer eligibility; the use of a student-athlete’s name, image and likeness; and concepts intended to address the impact of COVID-19.

In addition, conferences may submit legislative concepts that are essential to the operation of the division, related to significant membership priorities or advance the NCAA Division I Board of Directors’ strategic areas of emphasis, including its modernization agenda.  The Council will determine whether concepts meet the required parameters. The moratorium is effective immediately.

Additionally, the Council decided legislation introduced by the Council must follow the same parameters.

Waivers

The Council remains committed to providing appropriate flexibility to support students, schools and conferences during these challenging times, noting that in some instances the appropriate avenue for relief should be addressed on a case-by-case basis rather than through a blanket waiver. To that end, the group approved the following:

  • Waiving the minimum football attendance requirement for Football Bowl Subdivision members for two years.
  • In sports other than football, basketball, cross country, men’s swimming and diving, indoor and outdoor track and field, and wrestling, teams will not be required to play 50% of contests above the required minimum number of contests against Division I opponents. Those sports are still required to play 100 percent of the minimum number of contests against Division I opponents.
  • Football Championship Subdivision teams will not be required to play at least 50% of football games against FBS or FCS opponents.
  • Financial aid minimums for FBS schools were waived to permit an institution to award at least 75% of the maximum FBS financial aid limit for three years. In addition, institutions will be permitted to award a minimum of 150 athletics grants-in-aid or expend a minimum of $3 million on grants-in-aid to student-athletes for a period of three years. Gender equity requirements and rules governing nonrenewal/cancellation of aid remain in effect.
  • FBS schools will not be required to play 60% of their games against FBS members or play five home games against FBS opponents.

Additional waivers will be considered over the next few months.

8:00 p.m. - Tyson Foods announced 570 of its workers tested positive for COVID-19 at its poultry facility in Wilkesboro.

That’s out of 2,244 team members and contractors at the facility who were all tested. Tyson Foods said the majority of the workers did not show any symptoms and otherwise would not have been identified.

Tyson Foods said 237 workers were tested by the Department of Health while seeking their own health care. An additional 2,007 workers were tested onsite from May 6 to May 9.

Those who tested positive received paid leave and will later return to work after meeting the criteria established by the CDC and Tyson.

RELATED: 570 Tyson Foods’ workers test positive for COVID-19 at Wilkesboro poultry facility

5:15 p.m. - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announces the state will enter a Safer-at-home phase 2 reopening on Friday, May 22 and runs through at least Friday, June 26 unless changed or canceled. 

Phase 2 lifts the stay-at-home order but encourages a safer-at-home order. It encourages vulnerable populations to continue staying at home to stay safe. 

Restaurants, hair salons, and barbershops can reopen, but with restrictions. 

The following business not allowed to reopen: gyms, bars, nightclubs, fitness facilities, movie theaters and museums. 

Swimming pools will be able to open at 50% capacity, and overnight & day camps can open with safety rules. Childcare facilities remain open and are now able to enroll all children.

The mass gathering limits in Phase 2 will be no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. This applies to event venues; conference centers; stadiums and sports arenas; amphitheaters; and groups at parks or beaches. 

5:00 p.m. - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper expected to discuss Phase 2 reopening in a news conference scheduled for 5:00 p.m.

Overnight: The NCDHHS updated its coronavirus numbers at 1 a.m. Wednesday. The latest numbers showed a total of 19,700 confirmed cases statewide (up 255 since Tuesday). A communications representative with NCDHHS told us they are updating the database on their site and will have more data available in a couple of hours. Here are some 1 a.m. COVID-19 updates for some Triad counties: 

  • Alamance County has 223 cases (up 9) and 12 deaths (up 1) 
  • Guilford County has 901 cases (up 16) and 48 deaths (up 1)
  • Forsyth County has 736 cases (up 29) and 7 deaths

Gov. Cooper will hold a press briefing on Wednesday at 5 p.m. It is not known if he will address phase 2 of the state's reopening plan, which could go into effect as early as Friday, May 22. 

RELATED: 10 things to know about North Carolina’s Phase 2 Reopening

RELATED: Restaurant guidelines to protect customers, workers from COVID-19 released in preparation of possible Phase 2 reopening

TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2020

11:00 p.m. - Restaurant guidelines to protect customers, workers from COVID-19 released in preparation of possible phase 2 reopening.

Restaurants in North Carolina are already preparing to enter Phase 2 of reopening. The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association shared a document with guidelines for Phase 2 reopening.

Restaurants are required to do the following to promote social distancing between staff and customers:

  • Arrange tables and seating to have at least six feet of space between customers both indoors and outdoors.
  • Customers sitting at counters should be spaced at least six feet apart.
  • No more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy will be allowed inside the building, or 12 people per 1,000 feet if the restaurant does not have a fire code number available. The number must be posted in a conspicuous place.
  • Post signage reminding customers and staff to social distance including Know Your W’s signs.
  • Mark six feet of spacing in lines in high-traffic areas, such as cash registers or waiting areas.

10:00 p.m. - The state incorrectly reported Trinity Elms in Clemmons as having a coronavirus outbreak where two employees tested positive. 

Trinity Elms released the following statement:

There is no COVID-19 outbreak at the Trinity Elms nursing home in Clemmons. The State of North Carolina’s bi-weekly report, COVID-19 Ongoing Outbreaks in Congregate Living Settings: Updated May 19, 2020, wrongly listed the Trinity Elms nursing home as having an outbreak consisting of two employees.  The staff has asked the state to correct the mistake, especially to calm concerns from the Trinity Elms nursing home and assisted living residents and families, who are under enough stress.

The mistake may have involved a small sister organization, Trinity Elms Independent Living.  The separate corporation in a separate building with only five separate employees reported two employees who tested positive. Trinity Elms Independent Living tested the other three employees who tested negative.  None of the approximately  50 residents in this small senior living community have displayed symptoms; one wanted to be tested and the test was negative. 

Trinity Elms teammates have worked heroically to keep COVID out of our senior communities,” said Ted Goins, president of Trinity Elms’ parent ministry, Lutheran Services Carolinas.  “Senior living is the canary in the coal mine of our communities.  As the pandemic spreads and our communities re-open, our elders will be more at risk and no senior community will be immune.”

Goins concluded, “We do encourage everyone to please pay careful attention to the three Ws: Wait 6 feet apart, Wash hands regularly, and Wear a face covering.”

5:50 p.m. - Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen in Winston-Salem has closed its doors for good due to the coronavirus. The restaurant located on Fox Trot Court said they’ve permanently closed its Winston-Salem site.

RELATED: Cheddar’s restaurant in Winston-Salem permanently closes doors due to COVID-19, officials say

3:22 p.m. - Guilford County Parks delays reopening aquatic centers. Usually, GCP aquatic centers are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but not this year.

These aquatic center locations will be shut down "until further notice."

RELATED: Guilford County Aquatic Centers reopening delayed

2:51 p.m. - RJ Reynolds confirms one of its Tobaccoville, NC employees recently tested positive for coronavirus. The employee will stay at home until it is safe to return to work and the company has taken precautions to prevent the spread of the virus at the worksite.

RELATED: RJ Reynolds Tobacco employee tests positive for coronavirus, company said

2 p.m. - State coronavirus task force members NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry will provide an update on the state's response to the pandemic. 

  • Case count and trends for COVID-19 largely stable across North Carolina, Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, says she is hopeful the state can enter Phase 2 of easing restrictions this week. 

"Right now we see [the numbers as] largely stable. They're not perfect, but they are largely stable in terms of our ability to respond to this virus," Dr. Cohen said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.  

  • Coronavirus has spread to all 100 North Carolina counties, NCDHHS officials reported.
  • As of Tuesday morning, there were a total of 19,445 total lab-confirmed cases with 682 deaths in North Carolina.  The state reported 422 new cases Tuesday, down from 511 new cases on Monday. There was a slight increase in state-wide COVID-19 related hospitalizations Tuesday at 585.

Watch the full press conference HERE:

11 a.m. - NCDHHS released the latest coronavirus numbers for Tuesday. Here are the statewide totals: 

  • 19,445 CASES (UP 422)
  • 682 DEATHS (UP 21) 
  • 265,008 TESTS (UP 9,253)
  • 585 HOSPITALIZED (UP 74)

*7.3 percent positive cases of total tests (holding steady)

RELATED: Curve in Context: New COVID-19 cases, deaths, testing slow down in North Carolina

News to note:

North Carolina lawmakers resumed their annual session on Monday to scrutinize unemployment benefit delays as massive virus-related layoffs and furloughs have stretched the state's system. Legislators left town earlier this month after giving unanimous support to a $1.6 billion package that distributed federal funds. They will spend the session trying to address revenue shortfalls from the economic downturn.

North Carolina Department of Transportation employees will be taking furlough as part of cost-cutting measures during the pandemic. Secretary J. Eric Boyette wrote in an email to employees on Monday that they will have until June 26 to take 20 hours of unpaid time off. The furloughs will also affect the department’s executives and senior leaders. An official told the News & Observer the furloughs will save the department about $7 million.

Gov. Cooper said during a press conference on Tuesday that he hopes to make an announcement about Phase 2 of the reopening plan by midweek. He said state officials are closely monitoring the coronavirus data while keeping in touch with business leaders about plans for keeping employees and customers protected. NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also addressed the state's largest single-day increase of more than 850 new cases from Friday to Saturday. She said more testing is something to keep in mind, and we are averaging 7,500 tests per day. Additionally, Cohen said the rate of positive tests as a percentage of the total number of tests has remained stable at 7-percent. 

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2020

10:30 p.m. - NCDOT announces furloughs for workers.

The NCDOT laid out a three-phase plan for furloughs. 

RELATED: NCDOT furloughs employees due to COVID-19

9:30 p.m. - ITG Brands' worker tests positive for COVID-19

The company closed to deep clean the facility through tomorrow. 

RELATED: ITG Brands’ worker tests positive for COVID-19

5:35 p.m. - The American Red Cross is launching a Virtual Family Assistance Center to support families struggling with loss and grief due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

You can visit redcross.org/get-help to access a support hub with special virtual programs, information, referrals and services to support families in need. The hub will also connect people to other community resources provided by American Red Cross and other partners. People without internet access can call 833-492-0094 for help.

RELATED: American Red Cross offers virtual care for grieving families who have loss loved ones due to COVID-19

5:00 p.m. - From the Associated Press: Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tells reporters “we will not be holding a virtual convention.” 

The statement came Monday during a conference call with reporters and appears to be a line in the sand about the Republican National Convention scheduled for late August in Charlotte, North Carolina. Democrats had to move their convention from July to August amid the coronavirus outbreak. There's still uncertainty about whether Democrats will gather in person. McDaniel cautioned on the call that it's too soon to know exactly what a Republican convention will look like. But she appears to expect at least some in-person aspect. 

4:15 p.m. - Furman University announced plans to cut salaries, implement furloughs and discontinue baseball and men’s lacrosse programs to address the financial impact of COVID-19. 

RELATED: Furman University cuts salaries, implements furloughs, discontinues baseball and men’s lacrosse amid COVID-19

3:30 p.m. - The ACC has formed a medical advisory group to help aid its decisions on when and how to return to play in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Atlantic Coast Conference's "COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group" will include one representative from all 15 of its schools.

RELATED: ACC Announces COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group

2 p.m. - Gov. Cooper will hold a press briefing with other members of the state coronavirus task force. Watch it live here. 

1:30 p.m. - UNC Greensboro and North Carolina A&T State University both released calendars for the fall 2020 semester. The universities plan to have in-person classes with some online instruction while taking precautions against coronavirus. 

RELATED: UNC Greensboro Fall 2020 calendar released: Dates to know

11:00 a.m. - North Carolina coronavirus NCDHHS updates. The number of total coronavirus cases in North Carolina surpassed 19,000, while 661 total deaths were reported.

County-by-county breakdown:  Track COVID-19: Carolinas outbreak map

8:05 a.m. - Macy's at Friendly Center in Greensboro is reopening to customers on Monday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., the retail store said in an emailed release. Contact-free curbside pickup will also be available for shoppers. 

7:45 a.m. - We'll bring you a live update on coronavirus headlines and weather on our digital newscast 'After GMS.' Join the two-way conversation on our Facebook page. More Americans are turning to retail therapy during the pandemic, according to a recent survey. Have you bought anything for yourself lately out of impulse? 

News to note: 

The North Carolina legislature is resuming its annual session on Monday, two weeks after meeting to approve a $1.6 billion package that distributed COVID-19 funds from Washington. Constituents can come inside the Legislative Building again now that it will reopen to the public after being closed for four weeks. The building’s capacity will be capped and members, staff, and visitors should expect temperature checks when going inside.

Gov. Cooper will hold a press briefing with other members of the state coronavirus task force at 2 p.m. Monday. 

RELATED: Coronavirus and kids: What we know (and don't know) about rare inflammatory complication

RELATED: NC churches win temporary right to worship indoors, Gov. Cooper reacts to judge's ruling

FACTS NOT FEAR

Remember facts, not fear when talking about the coronavirus. You should take the same measures recommended by health leaders to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses. That means washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, and covering coughs and sneezes.

WHERE YOU GET INFORMATION ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS IS IMPORTANT 

It is important to make sure the information you are getting about the coronavirus is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. Be careful not to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media. 

For more information visit the CDC OR NCDHHS

NC CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE 

The state also has a special hotline set up where you can call 866-462-3821 for more information on the coronavirus. You can also submit questions online at ncpoisoncontrol.org or select chat to talk with someone about the virus.

You can also text keyword VIRUS to WFMY News 2 at 336-379-5775 to find out more information. 

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