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NC coronavirus updates: State case count tops 142,000

We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus in North Carolina. Check back for updates.

Cases top 142,000

At least 142,170 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 2,313 have died, according to state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday reported an additional 1,346 cases of COVID-19, down from 1,763 new cases the day before. Thursday’s total, the highest daily count in more than a week, was still lower than the record 2,481 new cases reported in mid-July.

An additional 26 deaths were also reported Friday.

The health department said Wednesday the number of total tests it previously reported is inaccurate due to errors in lab reporting. Officials now say 1.87 million COVID-19 tests have been completed in North Carolina, about 221,000 less than originally reported.

The error, however, does not change the percentage of positive tests or the number of cases reported, officials said.

The health department on Friday reported a positive test rate of 6%. Health officials have long said that rate should be 5% or lower.

Hospitalizations drop

At least 1,049 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, down from 1,070 on Thursday.

Friday’s count is based on data from 90% of hospitals in the state.

Daily hospitalizations have remained above 1,000 since early July, data show.

UNC reports COVID clusters

Two residence halls at UNC-Chapel Hill reported clusters of COVID-19 on Friday — one at Ehringhaus Community and the other at Granville Towers.

State health officials define a cluster as five or more cases, The News & Observer reported.

“The individuals in these clusters have been identified and are isolating and receiving medical monitoring,” a campus alert said. “We have also notified the Orange County Health Department and are working with them to identify additional potential exposures.”

About 5,800 students are living on campus at UNC, which resumed classes on Monday.

Virtual charter schools can’t expand

The North Carolina State Board of Education will not let two virtual charter schools expand enrollment as the coronavirus pandemic forces more students online.

The schools had sought to add up to 3,800 more students, The News & Observer reported.

Several board members had argued in favor of a one-year pandemic-related enrollment cap exemption. But the majority voted against it, citing the schools’ poor performance.

“I want to be sure that in order to provide some options for some students who don’t have them right now that we make sure we don’t send negative ripples all the way across the state and end up affecting a large number of students negatively by trying to help the students that we’re talking about,” board member Jill Camnitz said.

Demand for virtual learning has soared as some schools opt to reopen in spite of COVID-19 concerns, The N&O reported.

The two virtual charter schools currently have close to 9,500 students on their waiting list.

Election officials urge early request for mail-in ballots

The U.S. Postal Service sent a letter Friday to North Carolina’s Secretary of State Elaine Marshall urging voters to request absentee by-mail ballots sooner rather than later, citing potential delays.

Election Day is Nov. 3, and the state deadline to request a ballot is 5 p.m. on Oct. 27, The News & Observer reported.

But state election officials said that date could be too late.

“We’re encouraging folks to put it in the mail at least a week before Election Day,” said Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the state board of elections.

Mecklenburg wants more COVID-19 testing

Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, is hoping to ramp up testing efforts to help stop coronavirus outbreaks, according to Public Health Director Gibbie Harris.

The county is also hoping to test asymptomatic people, as it’s possible up to 40% of those who have COVID-19 may not show signs of infection, The Charlotte Observer reported Friday.

“We really need more testing of individuals that are not just feeling ill or know that they’ve been exposed but are in environments where they may have been exposed,” Harris said at a news conference.

Testing volume doubled from May to June and went up again last month, but not by as much. The number of tests seems to hover at about 3,500 to 3,800 per day, the Observer’s data analysis shows.

Follow more of our reporting on Coronavirus in North Carolina

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Hayley Fowler is a reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking and real-time news across North and South Carolina. She has a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and previously worked as a legal reporter in New York City before joining the Observer in 2019.

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