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Coronavirus in North Carolina: Saturday updates

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

GREENSBORO, N.C. — 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.   

SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2020

11:00 a.m. - NCHHS releases updated case numbers. There have been 27, 673 lab-confirmed cases in North Carolina. The number of people hospitalized due to coronavirus fell in two consecutive days for the second time in May.

Visit the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website for more info.

RELATED: 311 Speedway's owner urges coronavirus caution for fans: 'Please use social distancing'

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2020

6:30 p.m. - WFMY's Grace Holland takes a close look at Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools' Virtual Academy.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools parents are getting a clearer look at what online learning will look like in the district's Virtual Academy.

"Students will be able to have some personal time with the teacher but [do] also some group work," said Anissa Scales who will be the academy's principal.

Parents will have to weigh if the virtual learning option is a good fit for their student(s).

Enrollment will be open to any student from kindergarten through grade 12. Virtual Academy superintendent Jesse Pratt said there will not be a cap on enrollment and teachers will be assigned to the academy as if it were a physical school.

RELATED: 'You don't want to make the wrong decision for your child,' Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools' parents weighing new virtual academy learning option

6:15 p.m. - Guilford County health officials announce they will continue free testing events in June.

Guilford County said they aim to keep the community healthy and expand COVID-19 testing. The county said the Guilford County Division of Public Health will work together with UNC Greensboro, the City of High Point Parks and Recreation Department, and the City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department to host testing sites on their properties.

RELATED: Guilford County extends free COVID-19 testing events into June

6 p.m. - North Carolina prison officials announce they will begin COVID-19 tests on all inmates at the Caswell Correctional Center.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety made the announcement Friday afternoon.

NCDPS said Division of Prisons officials initiated the testing of all 420 offenders at Caswell Correctional Center and will continue to provide testing access and to encourage staff to get tested.

RELATED: Prison in Caswell County begins COVID-19 testing on all offenders, officials say

11:30 a.m. - NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen is asking the Republican National Committee for more information on how it plans to protect people during the convention set for late August in Charlotte. Cohen outlined a list of questions, including how many people would be in attendance. This comes after the RNC shared some of its COVID-19 safety guidelines in a letter to Gov. Cooper while demanding more direction on safety measures from his office. 

RELATED: Dr. Cohen responds to RNC, asks for more information on COVID-19 safety plan

11 a.m. - The NCDHHS released the latest COVID-19 numbers. 

  • Total cases: 26,488 
  • New cases: 1,076 
  • Total tests: 391,231 
  • New tests: 15,704 
  • Currently hospitalized: 680 (down 28 from Thursday)
  • Total deaths: 859
  • New deaths: 32
  • Guilford: 1,195 cases, 64 deaths (8 more deaths)
  • Alamance: 307 cases, 20 deaths (No new deaths)
  • Forsyth: 1,179 cases, 11 deaths (2 more deaths)

News to note: 

CVS is opening 55 test sites across North Carolina on Friday. Seven of those drive-thru test sites are located in the Piedmont Triad. 

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2020

9:30 p.m. - In a letter to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Thursday, the Republican National Committee is demanding he establish "solid guidelines" ahead of the RNC. 

RELATED: RNC to governor: We're looking to you to set the rules and requirements

7:00 p.m. - The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education has given its approval to a new virtual option for students for the 2020-2021 school year.  

The W-S/FCS Virtual Academy is designed to provide k-12 students with a personalized education option that offers flexible virtual experiences that are also innovative and rigorous. 

Classes will be taught by W-S/FCS teachers unless there is a special circumstance that requires otherwise.  In those cases, a fully certified North Carolina teacher will be utilized. While the school day will be flexible, direct instructional times with teachers will be scheduled.  There will also be some selective non-core courses like art and music. The academy will follow district grading guidelines.  Electronic devices and hot spots will be provided for those students who need them.

The academy will have its own attendance policy and transportation will be provided to the student’s residential school for any required state assessments. Students will be allowed to participate in extra-curricular activities at their residential school.  

The application period will open on June 1, 2020. The applications are located on the W-S/FCS webpage, under Virtual Academy. The district is planning a series of informational webinars for interested staff and parents in June.

5:30 p.m. - Guilford County announced today that its annual July 3rd Fireworks Extravaganza held at Northeast Park is canceled due to Covid-19. 

4:33 p.m. - Guilford County Schools is rolling out "Smart Buses" to help students connect to Wi-Fi and online learning. 

Guilford County Schools (GCS) is rolling out its new “smart buses” into communities in Greensboro and High Point.

Twice a week, Monday through Thursday, these buses will go into communities that are historically underserved and allow students to use the vehicles’ hotspot capabilities to access the internet for free. This will allow students to fully utilize the online learning options the district is currently providing.

Each smart bus can manage up to 65 simultaneous connections and the Wi-Fi reach for each bus is about 300 feet. Each bus has been outfitted with a rugged Wi-Fi device that provides connectivity to an internet service provider.

To protect the health of students and staff, students are not allowed on the buses, which are simply serving as Wi-Fi hotspots. Multiple buses will be parked strategically throughout large apartment complexes, mobile home parks and neighborhoods where census data indicates a lack of connectivity near where GCS students live. 

Smith Homes

Tuesday/Thursday

9 a.m. – Noon & 1 – 4 p.m.

Ray Warren Homes

Tuesday/Thursday

9 a.m. – Noon

Hampton Homes

Tuesday/Thursday

1 – 4 p.m.

Claremont Homes

Monday/Wednesday

1 – 4 p.m.

Partnership Village

Monday/Wednesday

9 a.m. – Noon

Glen Haven Center

Monday/Wednesday

9 a.m. – Noon

JC Morgan

Monday/Wednesday

9 a.m. – Noon

Carson Stout

Monday/Wednesday

1 – 4 p.m.

2 p.m. - Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the state coronavirus task force will hold a briefing on COVID-19 updates. You can watch the live stream in this story. 

Key points:

  • North Carolina case count is up because of testing, Cooper said. The NCDHHS has an interactive tool to find a testing site near you.
  • North Carolina received a $6M  federal grant to support workforce efforts and helping those affected by coronavirus back on their feet, Copper announced.
  • Dr. Mandy Cohen said an extension of P-EBT program has been requested through the summer.
  • On legislation to reopen bars, "Now is not the time," Cooper said. He said he hopes senators will change their minds.

RELATED: North Carolina Senate passes bill to allow bars to open for outdoor seating

  • NCDHHS has reiterated that a race at a raceway with a lot of spectators is dangerous and local officials should take action. Across the state, most businesses and organizations are heeding the rules and suggestions, Cooper said.
  • With cases, hospitalizations, there is a concern about the uptick in numbers. This why we're staying in phase 2 for a while to see how the numbers trend, Copper said. Percent positive tests are staying steady, Cohen said, which is good. The numbers are telling us we need to take slow, cautious steps to protect ourselves.
  •  "We are ready to hold the RNC in North Carolina in a safe way," Cooper said. Conversations have been had about how to do that. The same conversations have been had with the Panthers and others. Cooper said he's asked the RNC to submit plans for a  safe gathering and has yet to see them.
  • There may be a number of people who feel it's unsafe to go out and vote, Cooper said. He said he will support absentee voting for those who feel it's unsafe. He also said more money is needed for the vote process.
  • A lot of families are struggling now with layoffs and other reasons related to COVID-19. They are reviewing options when it comes to utility shutoff, as the utility order runs out in three days, Cooper said.

11: 30 a.m. - CVS to open 55 new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites across North Carolina.

RELATED: CVS to open 55 new drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in North Carolina

11 a.m. - On Thursday, the North Carolina Senate passed legislation that would allow bars to open their outdoor seating to customers at 50 percent total capacity. Under Gov. Cooper's current executive order, bars aren't allowed to reopen until phase three, which could be several weeks away. Cooper has not responded in favor or opposition of the measure at this time. 

10:30 a.m. - NCDHHS releases daily COVID-19 numbers. 

  • Total cases: 25,412
  • New cases: 784
  • Total tests: 375,192
  • New tests: 10,968
  • Currently hospitalized: 708 (up 6 from Wednesday)
  • Total deaths: 827
  • New deaths: 33
  • Guilford: 1,137 cases, 56 deaths (2 more deaths)
  • Alamance: 293 cases, 20 deaths (No new deaths)
  • Forsyth: 1,081 cases, 9 deaths (No new deaths)

6 a.m. - Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, North Carolina reopened its doors to patrons at 6 a.m. Thursday. On its Facebook page, the casino said it will operate at 30% capacity in keeping with North Carolina and tribal guidelines and operating with social distancing in place. Officials said the casino gaming areas will temporarily be non-smoking.

More news to note:

Head of state unemployment benefits office replaced 

Gov. Cooper replaced the head of the state unemployment benefits office with a former legislator. The agency has been struggling to handle unprecedented numbers of pandemic-related job loss claims. The Commerce Department announced Wednesday that Pryor Gibson is the new assistant secretary overseeing the Division of Employment Security. Out of the job is Lockhart Taylor, who apologized last week to citizens testifying at a legislative hearing about their problems obtaining benefits. Taylor said there have been more claims filed since mid-March than in the previous six years. 

Elections amid a pandemic: North Carolina lawmakers are preparing

North Carolina voters could soon have more options in requesting absentee ballots this November. A new bill would allow preparations for November's election to occur amid the pandemic. It would expand the options to seek and return absentee ballot forms, and it would also decrease the number of required witnesses on the ballot envelope from two to one. The measure cleared two House committees on Wednesday and heads to the House floor Thursday. The bill would also distribute money to help with election security, equipment, poll-worker recruitment, and keeping precincts clean. 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2020 

11:45 a.m. - Greensboro Public Library announces a phased reopening. 

The library branches will begin in-person book return services at all branches on June 1, followed by other stages of reopening

11:20 a.m. - NCDHHS releases COVID-19 numbers for Wednesday. 

  • Total cases: 24,628
  • New cases: 488
  • Completed tests: 364,156
  • New tests: 11,875 (one of the bigger daily increases we’ve seen this month)
  • Currently hospitalized: 702 (the highest number yet with a jump of 81 hospitalizations in one day) 
  • Total deaths: 794
  • New deaths: 28
  • Guilford County: 1,101 cases and 54 deaths (1 new death) 
  • Forsyth County: 1,022 cases and 9 deaths 
  • Alamance County: 281 cases and 20 deaths (1 new death)
  • Randolph County: 624 cases and 12 deaths (2 new deaths) 

7:45 a.m. - How do you handle people who stand too close to you in stores? We're talking about it on After GMS. Join the live conversation and get the latest coronavirus headlines and a look at your forecast. 

News to note:

  • North Carolina bars closed due to the pandemic might be able to serve customers outdoors soon because of legislation that's advancing in the General Assembly. One of two bills that cleared a Senate committee on Tuesday would allow bars to sell beverages outside, whether on a patio or under a tent. Another bill expands the customer capacity for restaurants and breweries allowed to partially reopen their indoor serving areas by going outside, too. The measures now head to another committee.
  • After ACE Speedway drew large crowds on Saturday, Gov. Cooper responded by saying he hopes no one gets sick or worse following the event. Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said it's the speedway's First Amendment right to assemble. He said it would have been unconstitutional to stop them. 

PREVIOUS BLOG: Coronavirus in North Carolina: Gov. Roy Cooper responds to President Trump's RNC threats

RELATED: Alamance County leaders ‘puzzled’ by Gov. Roy Cooper’s comments regarding ACE Speedway

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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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