Raleigh, N.C. — Here are the latest updates on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and across the globe:
What you need to know:
Map of current NC cases
12:05 p.m.: Fort Bragg officials said a civilian employee and a contractor who worked on post have died from coronavirus-related complications, marking the first deaths from the outbreak at Fort Bragg. Both were Cumberland County residents.
“We lost two valued members of our Fort Bragg community last night,” Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla, commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their families in their time of loss.”
11:15 a.m.: The coronavirus outbreak at Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro has mushroomed to 149 cases, officials said. The prison has reported only 19 cases as of Wednesday, but state Department of Public Safety officials decided to test all 700 inmates this week and offer tests to all staffers as well.
“The Wayne County Health Department is assisting the facility with this testing process, and these numbers will most likely continue to climb,” county officials said in a news release.
11:10 a.m.: An employee at the Sanderson Farms poultry processing plant in St. Pauls has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Robeson County plant employs about 1,100 people.
A company spokesman said all employees are required to wear masks inside the plant, and the temperature of each employee is taken before the start of every shift. Extensive cleaning is done each weekend, as well as routine cleaning daily, he said.
11:05 a.m.: Travel and navigation app GasBuddy reports that six states – Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Illinois – have their lowest average gas prices in over a decade, with most seeing the lowest prices since the early 2000s as stay-at-home orders during the pandemic lead people to drive less.
11 a.m.: The state Department of Commerce has released North Carolina’s March employment figures. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, increasing 0.8 percent from February.
The number of employed people decreased by 180,275 over the month of March, dropping to 4,751,781. The number unemployed people increased by 35,020 over the month to 217,626.
The state Division of Employment Services has promised to triple its workforce to handle the crush of calls from people filing for unemployment benefits.
11:05 a.m.: Fayetteville City Councilman Johnny Dawkins has asked Mayor Mitch Colvin to end the city’s pandemic-inspired curfew.
“It’s time to end the curfew. The vast majority of our citizens are responsible, and there is no need for this curfew,” Dawkins wrote in a letter to Colvin. “Fayetteville is the Home of Heroes, and we want to be the first city in the state, to open our restaurants, our gyms, our hair salons, our barber shops and our other retail stores and establishments. Let our citizens show the world, during this slow, organized opening, that we will continue to be responsible, we will continue to “social distance”, we will continue to ask the Lord to protect us and we will continue to patronize the many businesses whose employees depend on us, for their livelihoods.”
10:45 a.m.: Despite warnings that asthmatics were at higher risk for severe illness from the coronavirus, asthma is showing up in only about 5 percent of New York State’s fatal COVID-19 cases.
10:30 a.m.: The Smithfield Foods meat processing plant in South Dakota is now the single biggest source of coronavirus cases, with 518 employees testing positive. Another 126 people who are not employees became infected after coming into contact with someone who worked at the plant.
Smithfield closed the plant indefinitely on Wednesday, but despite the growing cluster of cases, the governor of South Dakota refuses to issue a stay-at-home order.
10 a.m.: A drastic worldwide trend of decreasing air pollution has been happening since lockdowns began. Pollution levels have remained low in Europe, with nitrogen-dioxide levels falling around 50 percent in some cities, according to the European Space Agency, which released images demonstrating the drop. Cities like Paris, Florence, Rome and Naples could be seen with significantly less pollution showing on maps compared with last year.
9:30 a.m.: Rapid COVID-19 tests that can provide results in an hour or less are being used at two hospitals in South Carolina. Previously, results often took 24 hours or more. Next week, two more hospitals in the state plan to begin utilizing these tests. The rapid results tests are primarily used for patients in the ER who are showing symptoms already.
9 a.m.: A new study shows paper towels may work better than jet dryers at actually removing the viruses. Scientists place harmless viruses on the hands of volunteers to simulate poorly washed hands. Then they used paper towels or jet dryers to dry them. Samples collected from clothes, doors, hands and phones showed much greater contamination when jet dryers were used.
8:30 a.m.: Some beaches in Jacksonville, Fla., will reopen Friday evening, with some restrictions in place. Beaches will be open during certain hours to allow recreational exercises like swimming and surfing. Parks will also reopen, but places for large gatherings will remain closed.
8 a.m.: Military officials said nearly 1,000 soldiers have tested positive for the coronavirus, including active Army, National Guard and Reserve soldiers. Officials said there are testing procedures on at least two bases, and new recruits will continue to be trained in safe environments.
7:30 a.m.: Starbucks announced a plan to reopen stores soon. The company said it plans to gradually expand on a store-by-store basis, monitoring conditions and guidelines, and adapting as the current situation and location allows.
7 a.m.: Officials in Wuhan, China, have raised the coronavirus death toll by 50 percent after taking another look at their numbers and adding some revisions based on new data.
6:30 a.m.: U.S. stock futures showed a significant increase Friday morning after a treatment drug for COVID-19 proves effective. The Dow Jones average was up 661 points, while NASDAQ was up 163 points.
A Chicago hospital treating patients with the drug Remdesivir in a trial found that patients were experiencing rapid recovery from severe symptoms.
6 a.m.: As part of Operation Dragon Mask, Fort Bragg soldiers will create cloth masks with supplies donated by North Carolina State University and 3D printed plastic face shields to help address the critical shortage of protective equipment impacting medical workers.
5:30 a.m.: Starting Sunday, Wake County churches can begin offering drive-in services, allowing congregations to gather, while remaining in their vehicles parked 6 feet apart. They can listen to the service through their car radios.