Coronavirus in Wake County: What to know

Updated: Sunday, May 24, 6:50 p.m.

Here’s what’s happening now:

After questions from the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and others, Governor Roy Cooper shared updated guidance that breweries and wineries could open as part of Phase 2 on Friday evening. [read more]

On Saturday, the state reported the highest one-day number of cases, with a 1,107 confirmed case increase.

More on Phase 2:

North Carolina moved to Phase 2 of re-opening the state beginning 5 p.m. Friday, a “more modest step than we originally planned,” Governor Roy Cooper said Wednesday.

Some businesses originally included in a Phase 2 opening will not be allowed to open in a “Safer at Home” Phase 2. 

READ MORE: These restaurants are opening for on-site dining

What’s included in the revised Phase 2, and what’s not

State officials stressed the importance of face coverings and encouraged teleworking when possible.

The updated guidelines include but aren’t limited to:

  • Gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors.
  • Swimming pools (indoor and outdoor) can re-open at 50% capacity.
  • Restaurants can open at mostly 50% capacity.
  • Hair salons, barbers, massage therapy, nail salons, other personal grooming businesses can be open at reduced capacity. Face coverings are required for service providers and more disinfection requirements.
  • Tattoo shops can re-open.
  • Overnight camps can operate.
  • Sporting or entertainment events can be broadcast from large venues, but the audience physically in attendance can’t exceed the gathering limits.
  • Wedding ceremonies can be held without a mass gathering cap, but not wedding receptions or parties.
  • Funerals can be held without gathering limitations.
  • Worship services and “other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights” are exempt from the executive order.

Places that can’t open in Phase 2: 

  • Indoor fitness centers and gyms
  • Other indoor facilities including trampoline facilities, rock-climbing facilities, dance studios, skating rinks, and basketball courts.
  • Spas
  • Bars
  • Nightclubs
  • Entertainment destinations like movie theaters and bowling alleys.
  • Public playgrounds
  • Museums

More information and specifics can be found here in the FAQ.

These are a floor, and local governments can make stricter guidelines. The executive order is in effect until June 26.

Your questions on Phase 2:

Q: Will all restaurants open up at reduced capacity?

A: They can, but not all will choose to. Some restaurants are opting to continue only takeout and/or delivery, such as Trophy Brewing’s pizza restaurant and Postmaster’s temporary Gov’t Cheeseburger project. Others have announced later opening dates for their dining room, such as Lady Luck and kō.än.

Q: Are the libraries open?

A: Not yet. Wake County libraries say they’re evaluating cleaning and social distancing and haven’t yet shared a re-opening date. 

Q: What’s the difference between a bar and a restaurant?

A: The difference between a bar and a restaurant is defined in the executive order, but the gist is a place that’s not an “eating establishment” and its business is primarily on-site alcohol consumption.

Breweries and wineries are not considered bars according to new guidance on Friday.

What else to know:

🎓 NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill will start fall semester early and end early to avoid potential second wave. [WRAL]

➡️ Updated regularly: [how to help]

What progress did N.C. officials see to move to Phase 2?

Overall COVID-19 cases continue to rise, while other trends and capacity are improving. Those trends informed the revised Phase 2, which Gov. Cooper called a “gradual and cautious step.” 

Dr. Mandy Cohen, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services for the state, mentioned the importance of looking at several trends in concert. 

Earlier this week, North Carolina saw a record number new cases in one day, but the percentage of total tests that are positive is staying level. It serves as a reminder that the coronavirus is still in our community, Dr. Cohen said.

What are the trends state officials track?

State officials evaluate “key indicators” over a 14-day period, looking at “COVID-like syndromic cases” that come into an emergency room as well as how the number of lab-confirmed cases is trending. 

The percentage of positive tests of total tests also inform officials’ decision-making. 

Officials will look at tests completed per day, whether or not there’s capacity for widespread tracing of cases, and the supply of personal protective equipment.

How we’re doing as of the Wednesday announcement:

✔️Trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases is decreasing.

❌ Trajectory of total cases (expected with increased testing) is increasing

✔️ Trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of overall tests is level.

✔️ Trajectory of hospitalizations is level.

⬆️ Testing is increasing, now 8,000-12,000 tests per day. 

⬆️ Contact tracing is up, Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative added more than 150 employees.

↗️PPE supplies are increasing.

Future phases and what’s already open

The second phase is in effect until June 26, depending on how the COVID-19 cases and capacity benchmarks trend.

What opened in Phase 1:

  • Retail business can open and operate at 50% with frequent cleaning.
  • State parks and trails that closed could re-open. 
    • William B. Umstead Park in Raleigh re-opened May 9, including bathrooms. Restrooms will also be re-opened. Bring your own water, fountains will be off. Hours are 8 a.m.-9 p.m. [more info
  • Childcare centers could re-open to people working and people looking for work.
  • Places of worship may hold services that exceed the gathering limit, if the services are outside and people follow the recommendations to promote social distancing and reduce transmission.
  • Nature preserves in Raleigh that were previously closed re-opened May 9. That includes Durant Nature Preserve, Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve, Forest Ridge Park, and Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve. Hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

The third phase, after a minimum of 4 weeks, would increase capacity for businesses already opened and re-open others.

In all three phases, the tight restrictions at congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes, would stay in place. The spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes continues to be a concern, as older adults with COVID-19 make up the majority of deaths from the coronavirus.

More people can get access to testing:

Anyone who might have COVID-19 should be tested, according to new guidance from the state. Previously, when testing resources were limited, people with mild symptoms were encouraged to self-isolate versus seeking a test. 

The new guidance encourages testing for:

  • “Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19
  • Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms 
  • Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
  • Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
  • Persons who come from historically marginalized populations
  • Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
  • Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain,” according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.

“We want anyone who needs a test to get one. This is particularly important for those at high-risk for severe illness, those at greatest risk for exposure and those who are being disproportionately impacted by this virus,” NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said in a release.

The NCDHHS lists testing sites on their website.

About the coronavirus cases in Wake County

Wake County has 1,450 confirmed cases, according to the county site‘s Sunday update.

33 people have died from COVID-19 in Wake County as of Sunday’s report.

But the numbers don’t show the full picture of how many people actually have the coronavirus. Not everyone gets tested. People with mild symptoms were previously encouraged to self-isolate until last week’s updated guidance.

Wake County’s dashboard of local cases and other data reminds residents that it doesn’t show how widespread the coronavirus could be in the community.

Here’s how the cases are trending locally:

Trend line

The county is also sharing data by municipality.

Sunday’s report

As for the state, there are at least 23,222 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina as of Sunday, according to the state’s tally. [NCDHHS]

Within that number, 587 people with COVID-19 cases are currently hospitalized.

At least 744 people in N.C. have died from COVID-19.

As of Sunday evening, The News & Observer is reporting at least 22,864 known cases in N.C. and 784 deaths.

The number is higher as the news organization is tracking when county health departments announce cases throughout the state, which are added later to the state total. [read more]

Updated: Local support for Raleigh & Wake County businesses

The grant period for the Raleigh small business fund is now closed.

Wake County announced a new program for small businesses, Wake Forward, which will provide loans to small businesses located in the county with 1-100 employees. Learn more.

About forecasts and increased mobility:

When Gov. Cooper first talked about a phased approach on April 15, he compared a “new normal” future as using a “dimmer switch,” rather than an off and on switch.

The often-cited and regularly changing University of Washington model, updated May 20, gives one hint of how actions can effect infections, deaths and hospital bed availability.

How to get help now

For general help/find resources: NC 2-1-1, from United Way of North Carolina, is helping connect people with needed resources from COVID-19’s indirect effects, such as “food, shelter, energy assistance, housing, parenting resources, health care, employment, substance abuse treatment, as well as specific resources for older adults and for persons with disabilities, and much more.” Dial 2-1-1 or TTY 888-892-1162 for assistance. [get info]

Need help paying rent this month? Wake County’s Wake Network of Care has a list of resources to get help. [more info]

Get mental health support: The Hope4NC Helpline is a 24/7 mental health resource during COVID-19. Call 1-855-587-3463. “A Hope4Healers Helpline (919-226-2002) is also available for health care workers experiencing stress,” the NCDHHS shared in a tweet.

If you’ve lost health insurance or are seeking it for the first time, you can find some resources here.

Help for Triangle area hospitality workers: The Triangle Restaurant Workers Relief Fund was announced March 18, run by Frankie Lemmon Foundation, to help those working in the industry experiencing layoffs or loss of income.

That fund has since been moved to NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund, managed by the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association and available for hospitality workers across the state. [donate or get help]

Families experiencing food insecurity: Community food distribution sites to help families experiencing food insecurity are open at lunchtime at some schools and community centers. ID will not be required to pick up. [Find the closest location]

Some schools will also be offering lunch and breakfast pickup. You can also text FOODNC to 877-877 for locations.

Unemployment: Gov. Cooper made it easier for people to file for unemployment, removing some of the requirements that will help food & beverage workers, including removing the one-week waiting period to apply, removing the requirement that they must be actively looking for another job, allowing those who have had their hours reduced to apply and removing the requirement to apply in person. [learn + file here]

Finding childcare: Childcare for hospital workers and emergency personnel is available. NCDHHS has a hotline: 888-610-1685.

Business owners in Wake County with questions can contact the county at a “a dedicated phone number — 919.856.7420” or visit the website

Domestic abuse and isolation are a dangerous mix, INDY Week reports. If you need help, call the InterAct 24-hour crisis line at 919-828-7740 for safety planning, resources and advocacy. In an emergency, always call 9-1-1.

Find a list of resources to get help: Revive 919.

READ MORE: How to help your neighbors

How concerned should we be?

Not all people who get coronavirus will have serious complications, but even asymptomatic carriers can pass the coronavirus along to another person who may be more at risk.

About 80% of people with the virus only experience mild symptoms. About 20% see more serious respiratory complications, such as pneumonia, or worse.

That goes in particular for people considered “high risk” — those with underlying health issues such as “heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes,” those with weakened immune systems or adults older than 65.

In North Carolina, the largest group of lab-tested cases are those ages 25-49, but that same age group represents 4% of total deaths. However, people ages 65 and older make up 24% of lab-confirmed cases and 87% of deaths.

Younger, healthy people, even young children, appear to be less affected. Some studies show infants are more at-risk for more serious symptoms. While it’s not known if pregnant women are more at risk, they should be monitored, according to the CDC.

In the U.S., there are more than 1.57 million known cases and 96,002 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control‘s Saturday update.

How does coronavirus spread?

Because the virus is thought to spread from person to person contact, anyone in “close contact” — within 6 feet — is at higher risk for coronavirus.

Droplets from a sick person’s coughs or sneezes may be inhaled by a person in this defined close contact. Getting sick from touching surfaces seems to be less risky with this virus, the CDC says.

People with the virus are most contagious when they are symptomatic. Read more on the CDC website.

How to avoid getting sick and protect others

Stay at home.

Wash your hands. With warm water and soap, for 30 seconds. As an alternative, use hand sanitizer.

Wear a mask. “Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities,” the CDC says.

“Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.”

Stay 6 feet apart.

Call your care provider if you think you might have the virus.

This story will be updated.

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