We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
Reported deaths reach new daily record
At least 146,779 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 2,396 have died, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday reported more than 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 — more than double the 563 cases reported Monday. The daily record is 2,481 new cases reported in mid-July.
Forty-eight additional deaths were reported Monday, the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began in North Carolina in early March.
The previous single-day high was 45 deaths on July 29 and Aug. 12.
Not all deaths occurred on the same day, according to the state health department.
The number of people hospitalized statewide with COVID-19 jumped by 46 on Tuesday for a total of 1,026.
Workers test positive at Christmas tree farm
A Christmas tree farm in Western North Carolina reported the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the state among farmworkers housed by farmers.
Bottomley Evergreens & Farms in Alleghany County, which employs roughly 400 workers, reported 112 COVID-19 cases, according to The News & Observer.
Alleghany County had fewer than than 70 cases at the end of July before the outbreak at the tree farm began.
“It’s not particularly surprising where you’ve got such a large group of workers and essentially sharing housing spaces,” said Justin Flores, vice president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the state’s only farmworker union.
NC State reports off-campus cluster
N.C. State University reported its first COVID-19 cluster on Tuesday at an off-campus house in Raleigh.
State health officials define a cluster as five or more cases in close proximity.
The university linked the cases to a party held at the residence on Aug. 6 and encouraged anyone who attended to get tested for the virus, The News & Observer reported.
At least eight students in fraternities and sororities have tested positive, a university spokesperson told The N&O.
In Durham, Duke University said it is investigating seven cases of “flagrant misconduct and persistent non-compliance” of COVID-19 safety rules. Students who violate the rules could be suspended, removed from campus or face “permanent dismissal from Duke.”
The news comes as UNC-Chapel Hill is sending students home from campus and switching to online instruction after at least four coronavirus clusters were reported.
Mail sorting machines removed from Charlotte
Seven mail sorting machines were removed from a U.S. Postal Service facility near Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Tuesday, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The machines were among 25 to 28 used at the facility, Miriam Bell, a 23-year employee of the Postal Service and president of the American Postal Workers Union Charlotte Area Local, 375, told The Observer.
Workers didn’t know why the machines were being removed, nor was it clear if they’d be returned following an announcement by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy that retail hours would not change and blue collection boxes would remain where they are.
“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” Dejoy said in a statement.
NC Attorney General confident about mail-in voting
As the U.S. Postal Service experiences shakeups, North Carolina’s attorney general said he wants to share “a word of confidence” with voters.
Josh Stein said the state is the first in the nation to send mail-in ballots, which will start going out Sept. 4. Voters can request absentee voting ahead of time.
“You can put your ballot back in the mail and have near 100% certainty that it will get there well in advance and your vote will be counted,” he told The News & Observer.
Stein, a Democrat running for reelection against Jim O’Neill, said he is considering legal action related to USPS. The postal service last week told North Carolina voters that they should send in ballots early to ensure on-time delivery.
The USPS is facing funding concerns ahead of the 2020 presidential election, when it’s expected to see a surge in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus.
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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.
Simone Jasper is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.