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NC coronavirus update August 16: North Carolina reports 1,536 new COVID-19 cases as state reports 7 percent positive test rate

RALEIGH, N.C. — Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.What can we help you with? View our COVID-19 information and resources page here


7:30 a.m.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there are 5,361,613 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States.


6:30 p.m.
Durham County’s latest update shows 6,390 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, an increase of 26 since Friday.

5 p.m.
Wake County is reporting 12,645 total confirmed COVID-19 cases with 183 coronavirus-related deaths. The average age of those infected is 39 years old.
Women make up 53 percent of those testing positive in the county.

4 p.m.

UNC has identified another COVID-19 cluster, this time at the Sigma Nu fraternity on Fraternity Court in Chapel Hill.

Students at UNC are nervous about the COVID-19 clusters popping up on campus with some leaving Chapel Hill entirely. UNC junior Hallie Phillips moved out Saturday, taking her belongings to her parents’ home in Raleigh. Phillips, a member of Phi Beta Phi, was initially anxious about the reports of the virus on campus. Friday’s news about the clusters was the last straw.

“My mom actually sent me the article as a screenshot so the message she sent was like ‘come home,'” Phillips told ABC11’s Morgan Norwood. “So that played a role.”

RELATED: UNC identifies 3rd cluster of COVID-19 cases at Sigma Nu fraternity

1 p.m.
North Carolina health officials are reporting 1,536 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 143,706 statewide.

There have been 30 more deaths, bringing the total to 2,343.

Why you might see different numbers of COVID-19 cases depending where you look

Just under 26,000 new tests were completed statewide, bringing the total to 1,903,401.

The percent positive rate of tests has increased back up to 7 percent for the first time since last Saturday. The state has been reporting a percent positive test rate of 6 percent every day since Aug. 8.

Hospitalizations have decreased by 17 to 1,032.

8 a.m.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, there have been 5,314,021 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States.

6:12 p.m.
Durham County Public Health reports an additional 46 cases within the county, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases within Durham to 6,364.

5:03 p.m.
Wake County health officials report 12,561 total COVID-19 cases as of Friday evening, up 76 from Thursday.

2:45 p.m.
The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill reports two separate COVID-19 clusters in Ehringhaus Community and Granville Towers.

In an alert to the campus, university health officials say those infected are being isolated and are receiving medical monitoring. The Orange County Health Department has since been notified and are working to identify additional cases.

RELATED: Chapel Hill, Orange County officials threaten increased enforcement of COVID-19 rules if UNC students don’t follow guidelines

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) defines a “cluster” as five or more cases in the same facility within a 14-day period.

The university urges anyone experiencing symptoms of the virus to report contact their medical provider and alert campus health officials.

Friday’s news comes weeks after UNC sophomore Greear Webb and other student leaders met with UNC’s chancellor and provost to urge them to reconsider the plan to return to in-person learning this week. Webb chose to resume his classes online from his parents’ home in Raleigh.

“I want to be on campus. But I know that’s just not a feasible option right now in the midst of this pandemic,” Webb said. “Because we knew inevitably that this was going to happen, that clusters were going to form, that these types of events were going to happen.”

Lines quickly began forming at the student campus health center. One Tar Heel undergrad posted on Twitter that he was in line for a COVID-19 test when he received the push alert about the clusters. He said the line for tests was soon out the door and the person behind him in line said two of her suitemates tested positive.

I made an appointment @ UNC Campus health the get tested for COVID-19. I arrived 10 min before my appointment & was told to stand in a line that goes out the door. I have been here for 20 minutes. The girl behind me in line said her 2 of her friends entire suite tested positive.

— Payton Tysinger (@payton_tysinger) August 14, 2020

“It was definitely shocking to hear it was in our dorm,” said Tyler Nelson, a first-year student and resident at Ehringhaus Community.

Jake Sims, also an Ehringhaus resident, added, “We kind of knew it’s hard, when so many kids are moving on to campus, to keep everyone safe. But it’s crazy to think it’s in our building — that it’s happening here.”

UNC’s return to campus questioned

Late last month, the Orange County Health Department recommended the university delay the return to campus for in-person learning. The county advised UNC to go online-only for the first 5 weeks of the semester.

“All of this really seems to be state leaders and university leaders, who are supposed to be advocating for students and bringing us into the conversation, really placing profits and politics over people,” Webb said.

In response to questions from ABC 11 on whether university officials were reexamining the school’s COVID-19 safety plan given the news of the clusters, the school released a statement:

“(UNC-CH) has been preparing for five months to identify, trace and isolate potential positive cases both on and off campus for our students, faculty and staff. We are implementing those protocols and processes with each of these cases.”

1:06 p.m.
The Sampson County Health Department reported 20 new cases Friday, bringing the total to 1,691 positive COVID-19 cases.

The health department also said it was notified this week concerning a lab error with a vendor providing a pop-up testing site in the county. This lab reported a total of 24 false positives. The errors have been corrected.

If you or someone you know was tested via Orig3n, and you have questions or concerns, please call the COVID helpline at (910) 490-1056.

There have been 20 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Sampson County.

12 p.m.
North Carolina health officials reported 1,346 new COVID-19 cases, a slight decrease from Thursday’s numbers but higher than case counts reported earlier in the week. Overall, the 7-day average for new cases is falling, though DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said daily case counts are still higher than she would like to see.

Currently, 6% of tests are positive statewide. In some counties, like Orange County and Casewell County, the percent positive rate is much lower–at 1 to 3%. However, in Cumberland, Hoke and Lee counties, that rate is much higher, at 10-11%.

The state also reported 26 new COVID-19 deaths. In a news conference Thursday, Cohen said deaths, like hospitalizations, are a lagging indicator of the state’s current caseload. Cohen said the relatively high number of daily deaths over the last week are indicative of July’s increase in cases.

According to health leaders, 1,049 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, with 90% of hospitals reporting. To date, 509 intensive care unit beds and 4,980 inpatient beds are currently available statewide.

10:46 a.m.
Cumberland County said four new deaths and 184 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported since Monday’s report. The county has a total of 55 deaths and 3,470 cases.

The residents who died were in their 80s and 90s with underlying medical conditions. Two of those lived in a congregate living setting.

Cumberland County currently has 97 cases per 10,000 residents with 9% of those tested returning positive for COVID-19.

Of the county’s 55 deaths, 80 percent were of people age 65 and older and 90 percent of people who died had underlying medical issues.


A detention officer in Mecklenburg County died Wednesday from COVID-19 complications. Coretta Downing died after last having worked in Mecklenburg County on July 26. Downing was hospitalized on July 30, according to WSOC.

Downing was 51 years old and a 20-year employee of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. No inmates were exposed.

Teens from Durham Public Schools will host a mask giveaway Friday at the Durham Rescue Mission from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Around 1,500 people are expected.

Copyright © 2020 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved – The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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