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Walmart, Walgreens, Harris Teeter to offer public COVID-19 testing

WBTV Charlotte logo WBTV Charlotte 5/12/2020 WBTV Web Staff
a hand holding a toothbrush: Retail sites, including grocery stores and pharmacies, will open up COVID-19 testing to the public. © Provided by WBTV Charlotte Retail sites, including grocery stores and pharmacies, will open up COVID-19 testing to the public.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Retail sites, including grocery stores and pharmacies, will open up COVID-19 testing to the public.

Upon entering Phase 1 of Gov. Cooper’s Stay at Home order, North Carolina doubled its testing, and between 5,000 and 7,000 residents are being tested each day.

“More testing is a critical part of our ability to ease restrictions and still keep people protected,” Cooper said. “But we have to keep pushing for more.”

In a Tuesday press conference, Cooper announced many retail partners, including Walmart, Walgreens and Harris Teeter, will open up testing sites to the public. Cooper says since the tests are federally funded, there will no cost for those getting tested.

WATCH LIVE | NC COVID-19: Gov. Cooper discusses coronavirus measures as North Carolina adjusts to Phase 1 of reopening. More than 15,340 people have tested positive for COVID-19 across the state » https://bit.ly/2SW2lOD

Posted by WBTV News on Tuesday, May 12, 2020
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COVID-19 testing will also be enhanced at medical facilities. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will post a list of the testing sites online.

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“The virus is likely to be with us for a while,” Cooper said.

CLICK HERE FOR THE STATE’S LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

The first death in N.C. was reported on March 25.

On Monday, North Carolina health leaders announced it will begin releasing data on the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19.

North Carolina reported its largest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases on Thursday, May 7, with a total of 639 additional cases compared to the day before.

North Carolina entered Phase 1 of reopening on Friday, May 8 at 5 p.m.

83 new Mecklenburg County COVID-19 cases reported overnight, death toll now at 58

Phase 1 removes the designations of essential and non-essential businesses. Retail stores can increase to 50 percent capacity as long as they implement social distancing.

The order allows people to leave home to visit open businesses and it encourages parks & trails to re-open.

“I want to be clear,” Cooper said. “North Carolina’s Stay At Home order will remain in place. But it will be modified to allow for more reasons for people to leave home and to allow for more commercial activity.”

North Carolina to enter Phase 1 of reopening, easing restrictions on May 8

Businesses that were specifically closed in the last order will remain closed (salons, barbers, theaters, bars, gyms and pools). Restaurants will continue to be open for takeout or delivery only. Cooper said those businesses will have the opportunity to open and do more in Phase 2.

Gatherings under Phase 1 are still limited to 10 people, but people will be able to socialize with friends as long as they are outdoors and they are socially distanced. In Phase 1, people are still encouraged to telework when possible.

The Phase 1 news came just hours after health officials said that more than half of North Carolina adults, 51.1%, are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 because they are 65 or older, have at least one underlying health condition or both, according to data analyzed by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said the percentage of people going to the emergency room for virus-like symptoms has decreased.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed two bills into law that include a relief package, which will send money to schools, hospitals, local governments and researchers.

Gov. Cooper signs two COVID-19 bills providing more than $1.5 billion in relief funding

The pair of bipartisan measures was approved unanimously by the House and Senate on Saturday, and direct how nearly $1.6 billion in federal funds are distributed and how government activities during the outbreak are deferred or delayed.

On Friday, health officials announced they will be releasing lab-confirmed data based on zip codes throughout North Carolina.

On Thursday, Gov. Cooper and health officials said that although the overall picture with trends is “mixed,” they feel confident N.C. will be moving into the first phase of reopening plans by May 8, when the state’s Stay at Home Order expires.

Gov. Cooper extends NC Stay at Home order through May 8

During Phase One, parks can reopen, outdoor exercise is encouraged, and face masks are still recommended when social distancing is not possible.

Cohen went into detail about the metrics and where the state stands as of April 30:

Officials announced the state would begin posting new reports on outbreaks at congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes. The information will be updated twice a week.

The move marks a significant policy reversal for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, which for weeks has maintained that identifying facilities with outbreaks would reveal confidential health information for particular patients.

NC health officials to identify locations of nursing home outbreaks, reversing stance on patient privacy

N.C. schools are closed for the remainder of the school year.

Gov. Cooper said he has signed an Executive Order to help furloughed workers whose employers have paid them a severance or furlough payment. Before the order, those workers were ineligible for employment compensation, but can now apply.

“We know this virus is taking a toll on our economy and on our workforce,” Cooper said, “and we can’t lose sight of how this virus is impacting our families in North Carolina.”

Cooper had previously said in order to ease the current restrictions, North Carolina needs to make progress in three areas: testing, tracing and monitoring COVID-19 trends.

“This virus is going to be with us until there is a vaccine, which may be a year or more away," Cooper said. "As we ease restrictions, we are going to enter a new normal.”

Cooper said that experts say it would be “dangerous to lift restrictions all at once.” He said officials have to monitor for troubling signs of a spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals and risk lives.

a close up of a map © Provided by Charleston WCSC-TV

RECOVERY

An accurate number of coronavirus recoveries hasn’t been released in North Carolina. Cohen says scientists are working to determine a recovery number, but the problem is that some may define a recovery differently.

“How are we defining recovery? So how do we know – how do we document a recovery number?" Cohen said, reiterating a question that was asked to her. "We don’t all define recovery the same.”

Financial aid is available to parents and caregivers who are essential workers and who meet the following criteria:

  • Their income is below 300 percent of the poverty line;
  • They are an essential worker fighting COVID-19 or protecting the health and safety of communities; and
  • They feel they have no other viable child care options available to them.

Child care teachers and staff that work in programs serving essential workers will also see bonuses in their pay in April and May. NCDHHS will pay child care programs staying open to serve essential workers $300 per month for each full-time teacher and $200 per month for each full-time non-teaching staff member, including administrators, janitors and other support staff.

Bonus payments will be paid by the child care programs to all eligible staff during their regular pay periods. Part-time workers are also eligible for prorated bonus awards.

If you are an essential worker and need help with child care, you can call a hotline at 1-888-600-1685 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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