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North Carolina health officials are reporting 1,290 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 207,380.
With 92 percent of hospitals reporting, there are 917 hospitalizations throughout North Carolina. That’s up three from Saturday.
Throughout the state, 568 ICU beds and 5,768 inpatient beds are empty.
NCDHHS said 29,844 tests were completed Saturday, bringing the total to 2,974,052.
The state is reporting a 5.1% positive test rate from Friday.
There was one more death, bringing the total to 3,441.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 7,079,689 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.
A state prison offender died at the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.
“His death is saddening, and we continue to work to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our prisons,” Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons wrote in a statement. “The health and safety of the staff and the offenders in our custody continues to be our top priority.”
The early-60-year-old unnamed offender tested positive for the virus when he was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 7, his condition worsened over a 19 day period and died on Sept. 26 around 3:40 p.m.
North Carolina health officials are reporting 1,759 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 206,090.
There have been 31 more deaths reported throughout North Carolina, bringing the total to 3,440.
Officials said 40,090 more tests have been completed, bringing the the total to 2,943,144.
With 97 percent of hospitals reporting, 11 more people are being hospitalized, bringing that total to 914. Throughout North Carolina, 561 ICU and 5,382 inpatient hospital beds are empty.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 7,034,433 cases throughout the United States.
In an update to the state COVID-19 dashboard, NCDHHS began reporting COVID-19 cases found through antigen testing, which typically comes in the form of rapid tests at clinical locations such as doctor’s offices.
Previously, the state was only able to report tests collected by nasal pharyngeal swab, which are then analyzed in a laboratory through a process called PCR to determine whether genetic material from the virus is present. In an antigen test, which typically returns results very quickly, a sample is analyzed for specific markers on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2.
The data is being added now, NCDHHS said in the statement, because antigen test reporting has been challenging. However, due to improved reporting processes, the new results will be included daily.
Friday, NCDHHS reported 1,693 new COVID-19 cases, including both those reported by PCR and antigen testing. The state also completed 32,178 PCR tests and 381 more antigen tests.
As of Wednesday, 5.2% of tests are positive. The percentage of positive tests includes PCR tests only.
Currently, 903 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 with 93% of hospitals reporting. In the last 24 hours, 304 suspected COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals statewide.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced new criteria for families to qualify for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program, which provides funds for families to buy food for children who would normally receive access to free and reduced-price meals at school.
This fall, families will only be elligible for the program if their student had access to free or reduced-price meals last year, their district is eligible to provide free or reduced-price meals this year, and their school district used remote learning for all students for at least five consecutive days between Aug. 17 and Sept. 30.
Last spring, any student who received free or reduced-price meals, regardless of their district, was elligible for the benefit.
Families do not need to apply for the program. Any family already receiving Food and Nutrition Services benefits will see the money added to their EBT card. Elligible families that do not currently have an EBT card will be mailed one.
“Children need access to enough healthy food every day to learn, play and develop to their full potential,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen in a written statement. “This program will provide extra help buying groceries for children who would normally have access to free and reduced lunch at school but are now doing remote learning at home.”
FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES
Wake County Public Health is providing free public COVID-19 tests in east Raleigh Friday and Saturday. Tests are happening at the Sunnybrook building parking deck on Holston Lane from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You must register on the Wake County Public Health website to get a test.
Durham Public Schools and Johnston County Schools made big rulings for students and families in their districts on Thursday. Durham students will remain online for the remainder of the first semester, after a vote 6-1 vote by the DPS Board of Education on Thursday night. Johnston County Schools will have a staggered fall semester reopening.
Wake County Pubilc School System will hold a vote next week on the next steps for its reopening.
Durham students will remain online for the remainder of the first semester, after a vote 6-1 vote by the DPS Board of Education on Thursday night.
Fully remote learning, ‘Plan C’, will be used through Jan. 15 for traditional and year-round schools, and Dec. 23 for specialty high schools.
With the extended remote learning, DPS says it is working to make learning easier while awaiting in-person instruction.
“We are going to make Plan C better,” Superintendent Pascal Mubenga wrote in a statement. “Our community and teachers are not all of one mind, but right now most families and teachers still have deep concerns about COVID-19. We are continuing to work with our health department and medical experts to identify the best, safest time to re-open for in-person instruction. Our students need in-person instruction, but parents and teachers need to be confident that our community is ready. I will always consider their health and safety first.”
Families can continue online instruction through the DPS Ignite Online Academy or go back to socially distant in-person instruction (“Plan B”). DPS will open up registration for Ignite Online Academy on Monday, Sept. 28.
DPS will have a unified lunch time for all schools to help families with students at multiple schools, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Some Johnston County elementary school students will be returning to class in waves before a full reopening during the fall semester.
The week following, on Oct. 12, all kindergarten students will have the ability to return to class. First and second-grade students will have the ability to return on Oct. 19, followed by grades third through fifth on Oct. 26. For those who do not feel comfortable returning yet, Virtual Program will remain in place until the end of the first semester.
As for middle and high school students, they will begin a staggered schedule starting Oct. 19. Those students will learn remotely on Wednesdays.
FULL STORY: Johnston County Public Schools to stagger fall semester reopening for elementary students
UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz discussed plans for returning to on-campus learning during a UNC Board of Trustees virtual meeting on Thursday.
FULL STORY HERE: UNC-CH may delay start of spring semester because of COVID-19
The chancellor expects the start date to be delayed from Jan. 6 to Jan. 13 or Jan. 19.
He said an announcement will be made in the next two weeks.
A popular holiday light event in Johnston County will not happen this year because of COVID-19.
Meadow Lights is a large family-owned Christmas light show located outside of Benson that has been happening annually for more than 40 years.
However, Meadow Lights will not open in 2020
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent spread of the virus we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Christmas light show and the opening of our candy store for the 2020 season,” the business said in a social media post.
“We will miss seeing everyone but look forward to a bigger and better 2021 season. Stay safe and please come see us next year.”
UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the start date for the spring semester will be delayed.
Students are currently scheduled to return on January 6, which Guskiewicz said was the earliest return date he remembers in his time at UNC.
Due to COVID-19, the semester is likely not going to start until January 13 or 19. Guskiewicz said there will be an official decision on the start date in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the university is working on plans to bring students back to campus. Although it’s unclear if the campus will be operating at full capacity come January.
“Our hope is that we will bring students back to live and learn on campus this spring semester,” Guskiewicz said. “We will scale this to provide an on-campus experience for as many students as we can safely accommodate.”
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,688 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single day increase in the month of September. The state also reported 27,501 more completed tests–more than double the previous day’s amount.
However, the percentage of positive tests has dipped below 5% once again, now sitting at 4.8% as of Tuesday. The key metric has been hovering between 4.5 and 5.5% for a week.
Currently, 902 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina with 97% of hospitals reporting. Statewide, 302 suspected COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in the past 24 hours.
THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES
Durham Public Schools are considering what’s next for their students as districts start to plan how to return to the classroom. They’ll discuss the results of a survey about remote learning experiences and how it’s going for families on Thursday. The survey could determine how soon in-person learning will return. In July, DPS unanimously passed the motion to move forward with remote learning for the first nine weeks of the school year.
State health leaders reported a slight decrease in new cases on Wednesday – 952. The number of positive tests was 5.3% in the latest report, which is consistent with recent figures.
Wake County Public School System K-5 students may return to in-person learning as soon as Oct. 26. The board is expected to vote on a proposal that could put kids back in the classroom. The board emphasized that safety measures would still be followed when students return to in-person instruction.
Durham’s Hillside High School is set to reopen today after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The school got a thorough cleaning after it closed on Tuesday.
Copyright © 2020 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved – The Associated Press contributed to this report.