Durham County health officials report 6,512 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday night, up 35 from Tuesday.
Wake County health surpassed 13,000 total confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday evening.
Health officials report 136 additional cases, raising the county total to 13,062.
Two additional COVID-19 clusters have been identified on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus; one at the Morrison residence hall, the other at the Zeta Psi fraternity house.
A cluster is defined as five or more cases that are deemed close proximity in location, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
“The individuals in these clusters have been identified and are isolating and receiving medical monitoring. We have also notified the Orange County Health Department and are working with them to identify additional potential exposures,” the university wrote in a campus alert.
North Carolina State University announced two COVID-19 clusters at two sorority houses within the school’s Greek Village.
According to a news release from NCSU, seven cases were identified at the Alpha Delta Pi sorority house and six were identified at the Kappa Delta house.
The university said all students of both houses are being quarantined, and any student who tests postive will be isolated.
UNC-Chapel Hill announced that it will be suspending athletic activities for all sports teams until 5 p.m. on Thursday due to an “upward trend” in on-campus COVID-19 cases.
“After consulting with our health experts and University leadership, we are taking this action to protect our students, coaches and staff,” Carolina Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham wrote in a statement. “We want to make sure we continue to do everything we can to ensure that that our teams, campus and community remain healthy.”
The campus will also be closing recreation facilities.
In a news conference, Gov. Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced state officials are pushing for more free testing events and locations as fewer North Carolinians seek COVID-19 tests.
“Cost should not prevent people from getting a test,” Cooper said.
Cohen also announced a new partnership with StarMed Urgent Care and Family Care, a North Carolina company launching free testing sites in Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Onslow, Orange and Randolph counties.
“We anticipate continuing to expand our testing partners in the weeks ahead,” Cohen added.
In addition, as students and teachers return to classrooms, Cohen announced that teachers and school staff members could call the Hope For Healers helpline, previously only available to health care and child care workers, for mental health resources. The helpline number is 919-226-2002.
Both Cohen and Cooper also urged North Carolina’s universities to follow the lessons of UNC-Chapel Hill and emphasize enforcement of prevention measures on campus, particularly face coverings and limits on gatherings.
“Protection of students and faculty has to be the number one priority,” Cooper said. “We want learning to be productive, but we want it to be safe.”
Cohen said her office provided guidelines to universities about how and when to open dorms and classrooms, but universities were put in charge of creating their own policies and plans. However, she and Cooper both said the Department of Health and Human Services would work with any schools seeking additional help in implementing preventative measures on campus.
Cooper said if necessary, an executive order mandating strict enforcement of social distancing guidelines on college campuses is a possibility, though he and other officials are currently working closely with universities to help them come up with a plan to protect students and faculty.
Overall, Cohen and Cooper noted that North Carolina’s key metrics are stabilizing and starting to decline, but the good news is a sign that North Carolinians need to keep up their prevention efforts.
“While we’re encouraged by the numbers, just remember this is because many North Carolinians are doing the right thing, taking the right precautions and making the right decisions,” Cooper said.
North Carolina reported 1,153 more COVID-19 cases–a smaller increase than yesterday. However, the state also reported at least 26,323 competed tests–more than double the numbers for both Tuesday and Monday and more in line with reported numbers from previous weeks. To date, 7% of tests are positive.
At least 35 more people died following severe complications from COVID-19, bringing the state death toll to 2,431.
Currently, 1,001 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina with 91% of hospitals reporting. Across the state, 580 intensive care unit beds and 5,744 inpatient beds are available.
Sampson County health officials are reporting eight new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,755 cases county-wide with 21 deaths.
The technical issues with NCEdCloud have been fixed and the service is available to all users again.
Technical issues for NCEdCloud, the system used to access PowerSchool and Canvas, are being reported across the state. Some staff and students are struggling to log in. System representatives said they’re working to resolve the problem.
#DPSAlert | NCEdCloud, the system used to access PowerSchool and Canvas, is experiencing technical issues across the state making it difficult for some staff and students to log in. State IT teams are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it. pic.twitter.com/8b32oR91cL
— Durham Public Schools (@DurhamPublicSch) August 19, 2020
WEDNESDAY MORNING STORYLINES
Colleges and Universities in North Carolina are struggling with controlling the coronavirus among their student bodies.
The all-virtual learning slate at UNC begins Wednesday, just days after the school year began with hopes of having in-person instruction. Duke is investigating seven instances of what they describe as ‘flagrant misconduct and persistent non-compliance” of COVID-19 rules. In Raleigh, NC State identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases at an off-campus residence.
At UNC, all undergraduate in-person instruction is shifting to remote learning.
Appalachian State University has identified a cluster of 11 (7 students and 4 staff) active COVID-19 cases linked to the university’s football team. Multiple clusters have been reported in Chapel Hill, forcing UNC to take action weeks after students moved in.
Gov. Roy Cooper and the state’s coronavirus task force team will speak Wednesday at 2 p.m. ABC11 will carry the briefing on-air and online at abc11.com.
Appalachian State University has identified a cluster of 11 (7 students and 4 staff) active COVID-19 cases linked with the university football team.
After consultation with AppHealthCare and Chancellor Sheri Everts, Doug Gillin has suspended practice until further consultation warrants a change in status.
Duke University said on Tuesday that it is investigating seven instances of “flagrant misconduct and persistent non-compliance” of COVID-19 rules by individuals or groups of students.
According to the university, since Aug. 2, the Office of Student Conduct has received approximately 100 reports of COVID-related conduct violations involving students on and off-campus. Some of those were multiple reports for a single event or violation.
As of Friday, the university’s testing program has administered 5,765 tests to the undergraduate and graduate students who have returned to campus since August 2.
The testing process identified 11 students as positive for COVID-19 as of last Friday. Those students are now in isolation until cleared by medical staff. As of Friday, another seven students were placed in quarantine on-campus and 66 were asked to quarantine off-campus.
“Overall, undergraduate compliance with wearing face coverings and several of the other Duke Compact expectations has been very high,” a news released from the university said.
However, since the return to campus “several hundred students have received verbal reminders, warnings, and other interventions from Residential Life, Student Affairs, and the Compliance Team (C-Team),” university officials said.
Since Friday, two dozen students have been referred for formal educational interventions and training for less severe infractions.
The City of Raleigh officially canceled special events through the remainder of 2020.
A city spokesperson confirmed that the city manager made the decision to cancel events — including the popular New Year’s Eve First Night celebration — after a recommendation from the Special Events and Emergency Services director.
This decision does not impact events at the Raleigh Convention Center, Performing Arts Center, or any recreation programming by Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources.
Earlier this summer, city officials canceled events through Oct. 31. The decision on Tuesday means events are now canceled through the remainder of the year.
Wake County Human Services has identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases where some NC State students live off-campus.
A “cluster” is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as five or more cases that are deemed close proximity or location.
Several individuals who have tested positive as part of this cluster have been identified, including some who are NC State students.
According to an NC State safety alert sent to students on Tuesday, reports indicate a party or other gathering was hosted at an address on Clark Avenue on or around August 6.
Officials said it was unclear how many were at the event but anyone who attended should follow up with their personal healthcare provider or Student Health Services at 919-513-0227.
North Carolina State University on Tuesday updated its dashboard regarding the total number of cases in students and employees. According to the dashboard, between the dates of Aug. 11 and Aug. 17, 41 students and 1 employee reported a positive case of COVID-19.
The dashboard shows that 583 tests were completed in that time frame.
33 of the new cases were self-reported, meaning the report was made by students, faculty, staff and subcontractors who have received a positive or presumed positive test result from a healthcare provider.
Currently, 26 quarantine/isolation units on campus are in use. 166 are still available.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 48 more COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily increase since the first deaths were reported at the end of March.
NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said last week that death is a lagging indicator and the numbers we’re seeing now are likely from the high COVID-19 metrics the state was experiencing in July.
“We know in July as we saw from the metrics earlier that I shared is that was when our cases were at our highest,” she said. “So it’s not surprising now that our deaths have gone up a bit. I think that reflects that’s what was happening in July. I expect those to be leveling off and then decline. When you look at us compared to our other Southern states, it’s not going to be surprising. They had a surge of cases, they’re going to see a surge of hospitalizations as the Governor mentioned. And they’re going to see a surge of deaths. We won’t see that here. We’ll see that increase to reflect the increase in cases. We’ll also likely see that stabilize and see the trend decline in the next couple of weeks as well.”
Also on Tuesday, the state reported 1,263 more COVID-19 cases, more than double Monday’s two-month low. At the same time, 10,048 completed tests were reported, the lowest in more than a month. 7% of tests are positive–a slight increase from last week.
Currently, 1,026 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.
TUESDAY MORNING STORYLINES
Raleigh officials will decide the fate of many of the rest of its scheduled 2020 public events, including the popular First Night New Year’s Eve celebration on Tuesday.
The cancellation will apply to events from the end of October through the end of the year. The city will consider events with 25 people or less such as neighborhood block parties. The directive will include festivals, road races and parades. The cancellation won’t include parks, recreation and cultural resources or Raleigh Convention and Performing Arts programs.
Also on Tuesday, UNC students are scrambling to prepare for a switch to all virtual learning after multiple clusters of COVID-19 cases appeared on campus.
At least 21 states are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases. Texas has surpassed 10,000 deaths.
Copyright © 2020 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved – The Associated Press contributed to this report.