May 21, 2020

Confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in North Carolina residents increased Thursday morning to 20,910, an addition of 788 cases since Wednesday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The biggest one-day increase in cases came May 16, with 853, but Thursday’s increase is the second-highest so far and comes a day before the state’s plan to reopen restaurants to dine-in customers, which the governor has said is based on improvements in trends.

The state’s death toll also increased Thursday by 14, to 716 residents total who are known to have died from illness related to the new coronavirus according to DHHS. Hospitalizations also increased to 578, close to the highest level so far in the state. However, a network of news organizations including CPP has shown that the hospitalizations counts tells more about which hospitals were reporting on a given day than it does provide an accurate measure.

COVID-19 has been confirmed in residents of all 100 North Carolina counties, but the case numbers in some are much greater than others. The disease spreads easily in densely populated areas such as major cities and suburbs, but also in congregate residential spaces, such as nursing homes and prisons, and work areas not allowing for social distancing, such as meat-packing plants. These conditions have led to major outbreaks at some of these locations.

As of Thursday, 12 counties reported more than 500 confirmed cases. These include Mecklenburg with 2,894, Wake with 1,346, Durham with 1,119, Guilford with 944, Wayne with 911, Forsyth with 801, Robeson with 638, Rowan with 574, Chatham with 546, Cumberland with 525, Duplin with 520 and Randolph with 502. These 12 counties account for 54% of the cases statewide.

Carolina Public Press reported Thursday morning on the governor’s announcement late Wednesday that the state would move into Phase 2 of economic reopening at 5 p.m. Friday. This will allow limited reopening of dining establishments and salons, but not gyms, bars or theaters.

CPP also reported on small businesses that are looking for new resources after a popular federal payroll relief program dried up. Some owners say they will have to close if they can’t find other solutions. For owners in Western North Carolina, a program through Dogwood Health Trust is offering a new source of loans for small businesses.

With confirmation of a positive test for the new coronavirus in an Avery County resident, the illness has been found in all 100 North Carolina counties, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources reported Tuesday afternoon.

The statewide confirmed case count of reached 20,122, which is a 1,077 increase in cases since Monday, although DHHS has reported conflicting information about the breakdown of those cases by day.

[The latest: North Carolina coronavirus daily updates]

DHHS reported 702 deaths through noon Wednesday from illness known to be related to COVID-19, an increase of 20 from the previous morning.

The state agency rolled out an overhaul of its COVID-19 data site overnight that moved from tables of number to graphs.

According to DHHS, 10 counties now have more than 500 confirmed cases. These include Mecklenburg with 2,780, Wake with 1,307, Durham with 1,084, Guilford with 916, Wayne with 888, Forsyth with 749, Robeson with 591, Rowan with 562, Chatham with 543, Cumberland with 506. These counties account for 49% of all cases in the state.

Thanks to Carolina Public Press.