RALEIGH, N.C. — Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.

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SATURDAY

11:30 a.m.
North Carolina health officials are reporting 2,102 more COVID-19 cases for a total of 243,725 cases to date throughout the state. This is the third consecutive day the daily case count has exceeded 2,000 cases.

There have been 19 more deaths bringing the total to 3,929.

State health officials are reporting a daily percent positive rate of 6.6 percent, up from Friday’s 6.3 percent. The state’s goal is 5 percent or lower.

Eight less patients are being hospitalized. In total, 1,140 people are being hospitalized with COVID-19.

A total of 3,574,444 tests have been completed in North Carolina.

7:30 a.m.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 8,050,385 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.

FRIDAY

4:45 p.m.
North Carolina on Friday announced that it submitted to the CDC its COVID-19 Vaccination Plan. The goal of the plan is to immunize everyone who is eligible for and wants a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Leaders from across sectors came together under tight timelines to collaboratively develop a vaccine plan that leads with equity and prioritizes building trust. We will continue to update this plan as we learn more from the science and data on vaccines and in response to the needs of North Carolinians,” said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

North Carolina’s vaccine plan reflects five principles that guide the planning for and distribution of one or more COVID-19 vaccines in the state. The principles include:

  • All North Carolinians have equitable access to vaccines.
  • Vaccine planning and distribution is inclusive; actively engages state and local government, public and private partners; and draws upon the experience and expertise of leaders from historically marginalized populations.
  • Transparent, accurate and frequent public communications is essential to building trust.
  • Data is used to promote equity, track progress and guide decision-making.
  • Appropriate stewardship of resources and continuous evaluation and improvement drive successful implementation.

4:30 p.m.
The Wayne County Health Department said two more people have died as a result of COVID-19, bringing the death total to 76 countywide.

The two people who died were both in their mid-60s and had underlying medical conditions.

2 p.m.
NCDHHS released the following statement regarding Friday’s high numbers:
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting the state’s highest one-day increase of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases to date with 2,684 new cases reported. The department is also reporting the second highest number of hospitalizations in the past 30 days, with 1,148 reported.

As the numbers continue to move in the wrong direction on this key metric, it is more important than ever that all North Carolinians use the tools we have to slow the spread of the virus: wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, waiting at least 6 feet from others and washing your hands often. Masks have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19, especially if worn correctly and collectively. Whatever your reason, get behind the mask.

Anyone with symptoms or anyone who thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms, should be tested for the virus. If you think you may need to be tested and would like to find a nearby testing place, go to Check My Symptoms, use Find My Testing Place or find a Community Testing Event in your area.

NCDHHS also encourages people download and use SlowCOVIDNC, the official exposure notification app for North Carolina. SlowCOVIDNC alerts users when they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive. The app relies on users to anonymously submit their positive result to notify others. The more people who download and use SlowCOVIDNC, the more we can slow the spread.

The department has issued guidance for fall-related events to help organizers and consumers minimize the risk for COVID-19 transmission. Even in small groups of close friends or extended family, it is critical that all North Carolinians wear a face covering whenever they are in close contact with anyone outside their immediate household.

To find out more about the response to COVID-19 in NC, visit nc.gov/covid19. Additional data is posted on the NC COVID-19 Dashboard at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

1:37 p.m.
The Moore County Health Department said two residents died from COVID-19, bringing the county’s death toll to 38.

The latest deaths were both men, one in the 65-74 age range who died October 3. The other was older than 75 and died October 8.

Both deaths were linked to community spread.

There have been 2,068 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Moore County to date.

1:08 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports one new death and 10 new cases since Thursday.

In all, the county has had 1,217 total positive COVID-19 cases. There have been 25 deaths — 2.1% of cases.

12:35 p.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health reports 193 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death since the last report October 13. Cumberland County’s case count is now 6,331 with 95 deaths.

Cumberland County has 191 cases per 10,000 residents with 6.3% of those tested returning positive for COVID-19. The daily average of positive cases in Cumberland County is 44.7.

Of the deaths in Cumberland County. 82% were age 65 and older and 88% had underlying medical issues.

12:25 p.m.
For the second day in a row, North Carolina has again shattered its record for the highest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases. Today, the state reported 2,684 new cases, exceeding yesterday’s record increase by 152 cases.

However, the state did also report a high number of completed tests, with 37,159 more tests completed. The percentage of positive tests dropped slightly to 6.3%, still high above the state’s goal of 5% or lower.

Currently, 1,148 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide with 97% of hospitals reporting. This marks the tenth straight day that hospitalizations have remained over 1,000 and the fifth straight day that hospitalizations have remained over 1,100. While the state still has 4,886 available in-patient beds and 481 available ICU beds, NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said yesterday that rural hospitals are feeling the strain of rising infections.

11 a.m.
Duke University on Friday announced a cluster of COVID-19 cases at an off-campus apartment complex in downtown Durham.

According to the university, since October 7, a total of nine current Duke undergraduate students living at the Solis Apartments on Main Street in Durham have tested positive.

A statement from the university said: “The first individual to test positive was identified through Duke’s surveillance testing program and immediately placed in isolation. Seven of the eight students who subsequently tested positive were already in quarantine and are now in isolation. The ninth positive individual was identified after reporting symptoms. All nine students are doing well and are under the care of Duke Student Health. Based on contact tracing reports, we believe these cases occurred within a particular social group and all students reported to be exposed are following isolation/quarantine guidance.”

Duke says it is working with Durham County Public Health and the management of the Solis to continue contact tracing and ensure that all precautions are being taken.

7 a.m.
North Carolina officials are keeping a close eye on COVID-19 metrics Friday.

The hope is Thursday’s numbers were a blip and not the start of an unfortunate trend. On Thursday, state officials reported the highest ever increase in COVID-19 cases: 2,532.

Gov. Roy Cooper called the uptick in cases was frustrating. After getting the percent positive rate down under 5% for a while, that key metric has steadily increased over the past week. It’s now back up above 6%.

Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said it’s more important than ever for people to take the three Ws seriously.

Friday’s numbers are expected to be released sometime around noon.

THURSDAY
3 p.m.

At a media briefing, Gov. Roy Cooper announced the HOPE Program, which will assist eligible low- and- moderate-income renters experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19.

The new program seeks to promote housing stability during the ongoing pandemic by providing rent and utility assistance to prevent evictions and utility disconnections.

“The spread of coronavirus has affected every aspect of our lives. Many have lost jobs, had work hours cut back or had to care for someone who has become ill with COVID-19,” Cooper said. “By creating this program to help with rent and utility bills, we can keep people in their homes where they will be safest during this pandemic.”

Cooper said the HOPE Program will provide $117 million for rent and utility assistance for renters who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, have a current household income that is 80 percent of the area median income or lower, and are behind on their rent or utilities when they apply.

Renters who need rent or utility assistance can apply online at nc211.org/hope. Applicants who cannot access the online application can also call 2-1-1 from Monday-Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Cooper also reminded small business owners that they can apply for the Mortgage and Utility Rent Relief Program, which is still accepting applications through the Department of Commerce. In addition, he reminded families that today is the last day for parents who did not file a child deduction on their taxes last year to apply for an additional $335 in stimulus relief funds.

At the briefing, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s current COVID-19 key metrics and cautioned that people should continue to be vigilant and practice the 3 W’s to prevent the spread of the virus as the weather gets cooler this fall.

Cohen said all of the state’s key metrics are trending upwards–particularly concerning are COVID-like syndromic emergency room visits and the trajectory of new cases. Cohen also said many people are not answering the phone when contact tracers call and again urged North Carolinians to download the Slow COVID NC app, which keeps personal information anonymous and does not track your phone but can alert you via Bluetooth if you come into contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have the tools to slow the spread and protect one another. The science is clear on masks. They work. They slow the spread. Whatever your reason, I am asking you to get behind the mask,” Cohen said.

Cohen and Cooper added that the increase in cases isn’t linked to a particular age group, community, activity, geographical area or industry, which they said is concerning as the state heads into flu season.

“I know we’re all tired of this. It’s frustrating to feel confined and to do the things we need to do to slow the spread of the virus,” Cooper said. “We cannot let weariness and frustration win out. Wearing masks and being careful are more important than ever.”

With a little more than a week until the governor’s current executive order expires, Cooper and Cohen both stressed the importance of following the public health safeguards in place, including wearing a mask with anyone outside of your immediate family and staying socially distant from others.

“I really believe that if people would take the responsibility to do the things we need to do, then we can control the spread of this virus,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he and health officials had not made a decision yet on whether to impose more restrictions, keep the state in phase 3, or further reopen the state next week.

1:38 p.m.
Wayne County Public Schools reported its first COVID-19 cluster. The cluster, which happened at North Drive Elementary School, involves four staff members and two students, none of whom have been on campus for the past week.

“Out of an abundance of caution.” the school will be transitioned to Plan C, full remote instruction, while the district monitors for further cases.

“The school had four reported cases between October 6 and October 9. Today, we learned about two additional cases. Based on contact tracing, we believe these cases are connected,” Dr. James Merrill, WCPS superintendent, said.

Last weekend, North Drive Elementary was deep cleaned by a professional cleaning service after the district started seeing a higher-than-usual number of cases in the course of a week. A second deep clean will occur before any staff or students return to the building.

1:35 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 25 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 1,207 total cases. One additional death was reported, for a total of 24 COVID-19 related deaths countywide, 1.9% of cases.

1:16 p.m.
The Sampson County Health Department reports 30 new cases, bringing the total to 2,522 positive cases. The county death toll from COVID-19 remains at 28.

12 p.m.
North Carolina reported 2,532 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day increase since the first case was reported in March. The large increase in cases was accompanied by a jump in completed tests–32,479. The percentage of positive tests dropped a bit to 6.5%–still high above September’s average of around 5%.

Currently, 1,140 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 with 96% of hospitals reporting. This marks the fourth day that hospitalizations have remained above 1,100 and the ninth day they have been above 1,000.

In the last 24 hours, 311 suspected COVID-19 patients were admitted to North Carolina hospitals.

12:46 p.m.
Wake County is teaming with The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral to provide a site for free drive-thru COVID-19 testing near downtown Raleigh and the campus of N.C. State University.

“We are continuing to look for new opportunities to provide safe, free and convenient COVID-19 tests across Wake County,” said Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald. “Our partnership with The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral will bring testing to the heart of the county’s biggest population center.”

The new drive-thru testing site will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from October 23, through October 25. The church is at 715 Nazareth Street in Raleigh.

In addition, Wake County Public Health will return to the Sunnybrook Building parking deck in eastern Raleigh at 2925 Holston Lane. Testing will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on October 19 and 20 and October 22-24. Testing will also continue with Radeas Labs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from October 19-24 at 907 Gateway Commons Circle in Wake Forest.

Click here for more information and registration.

11:10 a.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Services released a set of guidelines for voters and poll workers to keep North Carolinians safe during early voting.

NCDHHS officials said those who want to vote in-person should wear a face mask and keep it on throughout the voting process. As lines at polling locations get long, NCDHHS recommended staying six feet apart from others, and washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after voting.

“Everyone should make their voting plan, and just like going to the grocery store, take your mask and wait apart from others. I’ll be voting in person during early voting,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen in a written statement.

Other guidelines include sanitizing voting equipment between each use, monitoring poll workers for COVID-19 symptoms, and marking the ground so voters can properly distance. Polling locations will also have face coverings available for those who do not have one.

NCDHHS sent election offices in every county gloves and face shields for poll workers, as well as additional disposable masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and paper towels.

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

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