North Carolina sees drop in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations for fourth straight day

North Carolina sees drop in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations for fourth straight day
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has released new data about COVID-19 cases across the state. (Source: WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina’s new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been declining for the last four days.

On Monday, the state reported 1,313 new cases of the virus, bringing the total to 125,219 lab-confirmed cases since the pandemic began. It is not know how many of the total cases are still active.

The state has now seen 41 consecutive day of at least 1,000 newly-confirmed cases.

Thirteen more coronavirus-related deaths were reported, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,982. Currently, there are 1,142 patients hospitalized with the virus.

By Monday, 1,837,410 tests had been completed in the state.

Nearly half of all COVID-19 cases reported in North Carolina in the past five months were reported in July alone.

At the end of June, N.C. had only reported 64,670 total cases since the beginning of March. That means the state saw a rise of 57,478 cases over 31 days - this is about 47.056 percent of all cases.

N.C. COVID-19 Dashboard: Click here to view the number of coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations as reported by NCDHHS

Below, you can see the number of total tests, as well as the percent positive for both the state and individual counties as reported by NCDHHS:

Face mask requirements

On June 24, N.C. Governor Roy Cooper announced that residents would be required to wear face masks in public as coronavirus cases continued to rise at an alarming rate.

This Executive Order became effective at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 26., and there is no word on when it may be lifted.

While the order is in effect, residents must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible.

Face coverings are also required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agriculture settings.

N.C. ‘paused’ in Phase 2, late-night alcohol sales banned

Gov. Cooper announced a statewide curfew on the sale of alcohol at restaurants that goes into effect on Friday, July 31, and remain in effect until 11 p.m. on Aug. 31.

Under the curfew, restaurants must stop selling alcoholic drinks after 11 p.m. and bars will remain closed.

North Carolina remains in the “Safer at Home” Phase 2 of reopening until at least August 7.

The mass gathering limits in Phase 2 are: 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.

Restaurants are opened for dine-in customers at 50 percent capacity, with distancing and cleaning requirements.

You can read the updated Phase 2 Executive Order in full below:

Testing for COVID-19 in N.C.

By July 4, more than 1 million tests had been completed across North Carolina. That number has increased by about 20,000 tests every day since.

On July 7, NCDHHS took action to decrease barriers to COVID-19 testing by issuing a Statewide Standing Order for COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing, as well as a State Health Director Temporary Order on COVID-19 Diagnostic Test Reporting.

The Statewide Standing Order allows testing sites to collect and submit samples to a laboratory for COVID-19 testing without requiring a specific order and authorizes testing sites to receive results directly from laboratories.

More resources:

Hospital capacity across N.C.

On July 20, NCDHHS unveiled an updated COVID-19 Dashboard that includes “more granular information about hospital capacity and hospitalization trends, both statewide and broken down by region.”

Additional data reported through the interactive COVID-19 Dashboard include:

  • Case and death counts searchable by county and ZIP code;
  • Case counts by date reported or date of specimen collection;
  • County map of ongoing outbreaks in congregate living settings; and
  • Rollover functions to see daily numbers.

Health officials say the new hospitalization data will provide additional insight into N.C.’s hospital capacity during the pandemic.

During a press conference on July 9, NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said health officials are “particularly concerned about the Charlotte area” and its hospital capacity.

Cohen said she spoke to all the hospitals in the Charlotte area and that they are “doing a great job of handling the higher number of cases they’re seeing” and being thoughtful about the need for more.

Outbreaks and clusters of COVID-19 in N.C.

Multiple “outbreaks” and “clusters” of the coronavirus have been reported at various facilities across the state of North Carolina, including in the WBTV viewing area.

NCDHHS reports outbreaks, which consists of two or more cases of COVID-19, specifically for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and correctional facilities among others.

A cluster consists of five or more cases at day cares, child care facilities and schools.

The NCDHHS Outbreaks and Clusters Dashboard is updated every Tuesday and Friday by 4 p.m. You can find that by clicking here.

In Mecklenburg County, clusters have been reported at several child care facilities including Kindercare Providence, Heaven’s Angels Childcare Center and Smart Kids #3 Childcare Center.

Back to school in August?

On July 14, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that schools would be returning in August with a mix of in-classroom and virtual learning options.

The “Plan B” approach lets students participate in a mix of in-classroom and remote learning. This plan involves some students potentially rotating schedules, with some students not coming onto campus at all.

Schools will also be allowed the option of completely virtual learning, as laid out in N.C.‘s “Plan C.”

Cooper said this plan is “a measured, ballanced approach that will allow children to attend but provide important safety protocols like fewer children in the classroom, social distancing, face masks and more.”

Face coverings will be required for every teacher, staff and student from kindergarten through high school. The governor says studies have shown overwhelmingly that face coverings reduce disease transmission.

To help, the state will be providing at least five reusable face coverings for every student, teacher and staff member. The state has already delivered a two-month supply of thermometers and medical-grade equipment for school nurses.

Cooper said safety precautions to help stop the spread of the virus are working, and that the state plans on using those protections when schools do reopen with “key safety precautions in place.”

COVID-19 affecting historically marginalized communities

In North Carolina, the LatinX/Hispanic community continues to have a growing number of COVID-19 cases and concerns.

Officials are telling those in the LatinX/Hispanic community to get tested if they have symptoms such as headaches, sore throat, fever or chills, cough, nausea, vomiting, congestion or runny nose, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, muscle pain, fatigue, among others.

Those in the LatinX/Hispanic community can visit the state’s Symptom Checker available in English and Spanish, to see if they might need a test. North Carolina is making free testing sites available to everyone, regardless of your immigration status.

Officials say the Statewide Standing Order for COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing enacted on July 7 will also “help to increase access to testing across the state, especially for members of historically marginalized populations, and increase reporting of North Carolina test results, both positive and negative, to the state.”

Where we stand on a vaccine/treatments

Medications and treatments for COVID-19 are being investigated, including through clinical trials in Mecklenburg County, other parts of North Carolina and across the nation.

Levine Children’s Hospital was one of 30 sites selected across the world to open a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of anti-viral drug remdesivir for COVID-19 patients. The hospital says the drug has shown “promising success.”

Tryon Medical Partners’ SouthPark clinic is one of 87 locations in the U.S. taking part in a Phase 3 clinical trial sponsored by Moderna, an American biotechnology company dedicated to drug development.

The trial will study the effectiveness of the mRNA-1273 vaccine that is being developed to prevent COVID-19. If successful, the vaccine is expected to prevent COVID-19 for up to two years after two doses of mRNA-1273.

MORE: Tryon Medical Partners enrolls participants in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

To find clinical trials happening specifically in N.C., you can also specify your search at ClinicalTrials.gov by location. Additionally, many academic medical centers update clinical trials occurring at their institutions on their respective websites.

While there is no specific treatment for COVID-19, most people with illnesses caused by the virus will recover on their own. However, there are some things you can do to relieve your symptoms, including:

  • Taking pain and fever medications (caution: do not give aspirin to children).
  • Using a humidifier or taking a hot shower to ease a sore throat and cough.
  • Drinking plenty of liquids and stay home and rest.

Officials say to follow instructions from your local health department and health care provider for the most appropriate care.

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