Durham Public Schools to continue online learning for remainder of the semester

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

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11 p.m.

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.

12:45 p.m.

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.”

12:30 p.m.

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.”

12:20 p.m.

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.

WEDNESDAY

6 p.m.

State Health Director Dr. Betsey Tilson sat down with ABC11 to answer some questions about the COVID-19 pandemic including “what does North Carolina need to do to get to Phase 3 reopening?”

Take a look at the video below for her responses:

5:50 p.m.

North Carolina State University announced some students will be allowed to return to dormitories for the spring semester. In a letter, the university said officials plan to keep on-campus housing open throughout the semester.

Additionally, some in-person classes will resume. The university stopped in-person classes in August after a number of COVID-19 clusters among students, particularly in off-campus housing.

The school will also allow students that live alone to stay in their dorm rooms if they need to quarantine or isolate, rather than moving to a designated isolation room. The university is also planning vaccine distribution for students should a COVID-19 vaccine be available by the spring.

The spring semester will begin January 11.

4 p.m.

The Wake County Public Schools Board of Education held a work session on Wednesday where they worked to address parental and instructor questions about returning to the classroom.

They spent more than an hour listening to Superintendent Cathy Moore update the nature of the challenges for the state’s largest school system.

The start of the next semester is Oct. 26.

The board’s recommendation calls for 6th through 12th graders to return to in-person learning on Nov. 9 on a three-week rotation.

By Nov. 16, elementary school students would return to daily in-person learning.

The board’s recommendations emphasized the importance of wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

No final decision was made on Wednesday.

A vote is expected on Sept. 29.

3:27 p.m.

Paid parking in downtown Fayetteville, initially set to begin on April 1, 2020, is delayed until January 2021. This change is because of the impacts created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Timed parking limits on regularly signed spaces are still in effect. City leaders will reevaluate this decision before the new year.

Paid parking for the downtown area was originally approved at the City Council’s regular meeting on November 25, 2019. Twenty-eight on-street pay kiosks were installed across the downtown area but are inactive until the implementation of paid parking.

12 20 p.m.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 952 new COVID-19 cases and 30 more deaths on Wednesday.

The number of reported tests increased by 17,498. As of Monday, 5.3% of the tests in the state were positive, as the figure continues to hover around 5%. Wake and Durham counties check in at a 3.5% positive rate. Cumberland County carries an 8% positive rate.

The 30 new deaths brought the total for the pandemic to 3,316. The number of new cases is a slight decrease from Tuesday.

Currently, 912 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 with 97% of hospitals reporting. Across the state, 373 suspected COVID-19 patients have been admitted to hospitals in the past 24 hours. The complete COVID-19 Statistics are available at the NCDHHS website.

9 a.m.

Raleigh Parks announced on Wednesday that it will cancel Holiday Express for 2020. “Our top priorities are the health and safety of our community. While we are very disappointed, we feel that this is in the best interest of our visitors and staff. We are hard at work planning other ways to bring you cheer this holiday season,” Raleigh Parks said in a statement.

Pullen Park is hiring 40 positions as it prepares for Gov. Cooper’s eventual Phase 3. The Parks Department is looking to hire people to help operate the amusement rides.

Staff has been doing maintenance checks on the rides throughout the pandemic, just to make sure everything runs properly.

Once they do reopen, the city is strongly considering a reservation system to help comply with social distancing guidelines.

WEDNESDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Wake County Public School System officials will review learning plans in a meeting scheduled for Wednesday. Leaders will look into recommendations from staff on the reopening of schools and a return to the classroom for students and teachers. Last week, Gov. Cooper told the state’s districts they’d soon have the option of reopening elementary schools for full-time, in-person learning. The implementation of Plan A could happen as soon as Oct. 5.

The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m.

On Thursday, Durham Pubilc Schools officials will review a survey to consider the thoughts of staff and families as the board considers its next steps. Cumberland County Schools leaders have voted to stick with online learning until the end of the semester.

TUESDAY

6 p.m.

A representative for Durham Public Schools said Hillside High School is closing after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The representative said the closure was a precaution so contact tracers would be able to find close contacts of those infected. In the meantime, the school is being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. It will reopen on Thursday.

2:45 p.m.

The University of Notre Dame canceled its Sept. 26 game against Wake Forest, citing multiple positive COVID-19 tests among UND players, according to a news release from the university.

Out of 94 COVID-19 tests administered to Notre Dame football student-athletes, seven came back positive. A total of 13 players are currently in isolation and 10 are in quarantine.

Both teams are working to reschedule the game, though a new date has not been announced at this time.

2 p.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper held a media briefing to announce the latest developments in the battle against COVID-19.

Cooper said the metrics in North Carolina have stabilized to the point that large outdoor venues that can seat more than 10,000 people will soon be able to allow more people in — up to 7 percent of capacity.

“When we ease restrictions, that means our efforts are working,” Cooper said.

The new order will go into effect next Friday, Oct. 2.

WATCH: Gov. Roy Cooper announces large venues can open for 7% of capacity

Cooper also announced a $40 million fund for small businesses to pay rent, utilities and mortgage payments. The program can provide up to $20,000 for each qualifying business locations, and some businesses may be able to apply for up to two of their business locations.

Qualifying businesses include amusement parks, banquet halls that employ a catering staff, bars, taverns, nightclubs, cocktail lounges, bingo parlors, bowling alleys, dance halls, gyms, movie theatres (excluding drive-ins) and museums.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” Cooper said. “They deserve our support and this new initiative can help them weather this tough time.”

Cooper also thanked the National Guard for assisting North Carolina’s food banks with meal distribution and mobilized 125 more National Guard soldiers to support at least 10 food banks across the state.

“The need is clear and overwhelming and that’s why I’ve ordered their activation again,” Cooper said.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also provided more details about the Slow COVIDNC app, assuring the public that it does not use GPS to track an individual’s location. Rather, it uses Bluetooth to recognize when other phones are near, which can allow the reporting system to notify people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.

WATCH: NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen explains how COVID-19 tracing app works

Cohen said the new app will be particularly useful as large venues open, citing the difficult nature of accurate contact tracing for mass gatherings.

12:25 p.m.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,168 new COVID-19 cases and 39 more deaths.

The state did not immediately update the number of completed tests submitted Tuesday, however, the number of reported tests only increased by 7,390, the lowest increase since June 1. As of Sunday, 5.4% of tests are positive. However, Wake, Durham, Warren, Halifax and Chatham county are all reporting less than 3.5% positive tests. Orange County is reporting 2.8% and Granville County is reporting 2.6%, the lowest in central North Carolina.

Currently, 905 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 with 96% of hospitals reporting. Across the state, 318 suspected COVID-19 patients have been admitted to hospitals in the past 24 hours and there are currently 277 adult COVID-19 patients in intensive care units statewide.

11:45 a.m.

The U.S. has surpassed 200,000 coronavirus-related deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Globally, the resource center finds there have been more than 965,000 deaths related to COVID-19.

10 a.m.

North Carolina’s COVID-19 Exposure Notification app, “SlowCOVIDNC,” is launching Tuesday. In an email to media outlets, the state said the app will alert users if they’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The app will partner with Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification System to tell users if they’ve been in close contact with someone who tests positive. The app is designed to improve contact tracing in the state. It can be downloaded for free via the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

The app, which completed beta testing earlier this month, is anonymous and doesn’t collect, store or share personal information or location data.

This summer, both Apple and Google added what’s known as an application programming interface that will enable exposure notifications to work with a COVID-19 tracking app if you choose to install one.

9:30 a.m.

The latest White House coronavirus task force report finds North Carolina in the orange zone for COVID-19 cases, indicating between 51 and 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week, with the 28th highest rate in the country. Mecklenburg County, Wake County and Guilford County have had the highest amount of new cases over the last three weeks.

North Carolina is in the yellow zone for test positivity, indicating a rate between 5.0% and 7.9%. That’s the 23rd highest rate in the country.

Other findings from the report:

  • Fifty-three percent of all counties in North Carolina have moderate or high levels of community transmission (yellow, orange, or red zones), with 12% having high levels of community transmission (red zone).
  • During the week of Sep 7 to Sep 13, 16% of nursing homes had at least one new resident COVID-19 case, 29% had at least one new staff COVID-19 case, and 6% had at least one new resident die from COVID-19.
  • North Carolina had 83 new cases per 100,000 population in the last week, slightly under the national average of 86 per 100,000.

TUESDAY MORNING STORYLINES

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to talk Tuesday at 2 p.m., giving an anticipated update on the state’s coronavirus response.

Business owners and residents are hoping Gov. Cooper will address when Phase 3 of the Carolina Comeback will begin. Bar owners, among others, are anxiously awaiting the decision. The state’s COVID-19 numbers have stabilized over the last month. On Monday, 800 new cases were announced with the percent of positive tests at 5.4%. The percent positive rate was consistently below 5% in recent weeks.

Phase 3 would allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worship and entertainment venues. Last week, Cooper told school districts across the state they will soon have the option of opening elementary schools for full-time in-person learning.

Bars could be able to reopen in Phase 3, which calls for policies to lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing physical distancing.

Phase 2.5 is currently set to end next Friday, Oct. 2. ABC11 will carry the announcement on-air and stream it on abc11.com and the ABC11 Facebook page.

MONDAY

4:30 p.m.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 9,165 more patients are presumed to be recovered from COVID-19 in the last week, for a total of 176,422 patients.

Because NCDHHS does not track when an individual patient recovers from COVID-19, the agency uses a median recovery time of 14 days for non-hospitalized patients and 28 days for hospitalized patients to come up with an estimation of the total number of recovered patients.

The number does not reflect the number of patients who are currently infectious.

3:00 p.m.

Wake County announced a new fund for nonprofits that support local artists and present cultural attractions. The county used $1 million in federal funds to create the Wake County Nonprofit Arts Relief Fund, which will be administered through the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.

Arts and culture nonprofits can apply for up to $50,000 to replace 10% of the revenue they lost due to COVID-19. Organizations that have a specific mission to promote and enhance Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American culture can apply for up to 20% of their lost revenue, if leadership of the organization is demographically representative for the identified culture.

“From the powerful messages we’ve seen painted on boarded up businesses – to the new and innovative virtual programs that help us escape for a while into another world – our local artists have proven we need them more than ever during this pandemic,” said Vickie Adamson, vice chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, in a written statement. “Today, we’re letting our arts community know we’re here for them, too.”

1:15 p.m.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported just 800 more COVID-19 cases, but only 8,231 more completed tests. As of Saturday, 5.4% of tests are positive, an increase from three previous days when the percent positive rate remained below 5%.

Currently, 885 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 with 95% of hospitals reporting. In the last 24 hours, 304 suspected COVID-19 patients have been admitted to hospitals across the state.

9:40 a.m.

Duke University released its weekly update on its COVID-19 testing program.

Duke said it administered 12,313 tests to students, faculty and staff between Sept. 12 and Sept. 18. Nine people (six students, three faculty/staff) tested positive. Duke has administered 43,775 tests since Aug. 2 with 67 positive results.

MONDAY MORNING STORYLINES

There are more places for families to pick up meals in Durham. Breakfast and lunch are available to Durham Public Schools students at one of 18 meal sites. Riverside High School, Merrick Moore Elementary School and Neal Middle School are three of those locations. Families can pick up meals from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at no cost for any child under 18.

The complete list of sites can be found at the DPS website.

Wake County commissioners are considering $1 million in funding that would trickle down to performing arts centers like the one in downtown Raleigh.

The proposal would require a vote. The $1 million arts allocation would come from the CARES Act package. Mecklenburg County commissioners approved their $1 million in August. Commissioners are meeting at 2 p.m. and could help bring back festivals and shows like the ones at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

Several cases of COVID-19 are linked to a Kannapolis brewery. Eight cases were recently identified at Old Armor Beer Company. Health officials said anyone who’s recently visited the brewery should monitor for symptoms of the virus.

SUNDAY

12:50 p.m.

North Carolina health officials are reporting 1,333 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 193,581.

There have been eight more deaths, bringing the total to 3,243.

With 94 percent of hospitals reporting, seven more people are hospitalized, bringing the total to 889.

Throughout the state, 572 ICU and 5,945 inpatient hospital beds are empty.

NCDHHS said 17,478 new tests have been completed, bringing the total over 2,800,000.

The latest percent positive rate was updated Friday and was 4.6%.

7:45 a.m.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 6,766,631 confirmed COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.

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