Latest: North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington canceled due to coronavirus

— Here are the latest updates on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and across the globe:

What you need to know:


Latest updates:

9:20 p.m.: The North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington is the latest event to announce it has been canceled due to coronavirus. The event was scheduled for April 1-5.

On its website Thursday, officials said: “We have come to the day many of us have been dreading; out of an abundance of caution we must cancel our beloved North Carolina Azalea Festival 2020. This statement comes to you with heavy hearts – the Azalea Festival has been a staple in our community for 73 years, showcasing our beautiful city, highlighting our amazing citizens, and sharing our Southern hospitality and community pride, and we hate to lose even one year of that.”

9:18 p.m.: Cape Fear Community College announces it will extend its spring break until March 23. Online classes will begin wherever possible.

8:49 p.m.: Disney is closing Walt Disney World, its flagship theme park resort in Orlando, Florida, because of the global pandemic. The news comes after Disney closed its Disneyland resort earlier on Thursday. Disney added that its hotels at Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice and that it will pay its cast members during the closure period.

Disney’s “Mulan,” potentially one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, has been delayed. It was scheduled to be released March 27. The company also said that it is moving the films “The New Mutants” and “Antlers,” which were set to hit theaters in North America on April 3 and April 17, respectively.

8:15 p.m.: Durham Public Schools will close its schools, starting Monday, to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, officials said.

“This is an effort to protect our students, staff and community and to slow the spread of the virus. We will have more details about options for distance learning, meals for children and other concerns [Friday],” officials said in a statement.

6:35 p.m.: A family member of a Camp Lejeune Marine or civilian employee has tested positive for the new coronavirus. Both the patient and his or her family are in isolation at home on base. The family was in contact with another coronavirus patient, but non of the other family members have shown symptoms of the illness.

6:15 p.m.: Another Wake County resident has tested positive for coronavirus, local public health officials said. The person, who was tested following a visit to a physician’s office, brings the number of positive tests in Wake County to eight – half of the 16 cases statewide.

“The doctor’s office and the patient handled this situation very well,” Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald said in a statement. “The patient wore a mask and was kept away from other patients during the visit, and the medical staff wore the proper personal protective equipment.”

The person is in isolation at home.

6:10 p.m.: Orange County Schools has shuffled its schedule to keep students out of classrooms during the coronavirus outbreak. Next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will be teacher workdays. Students “will be learning from home” Marcj 19-20 and March 23-27 before going on spring break March 30-April 3.

“North Carolina law does not give us the legal authority to cancel school without creating make-up opportunities. However, our Board of Education does have the authority to alter our school calendar,” Superintendent Monique Felder said in a letter to staff and families.

5:45 p.m.: Wayne County Public Schools has canceled all after-school activities and district events until further notice and “will be deploying professional biohazard-certified cleaning services” in schools routinely to help sanitize classrooms, officials said.

5:40 p.m.: All events scheduled for this weekend at the Raleigh Convention Center and the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts are canceled, including a boat show, North Carolina Symphony performances and the Carolina Ballet.

5:20 p.m.: IBM has asked all of its U.S. workers, including thousands in the Triangle, to work from home through the end of the month to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“In this dynamic situation, there is no rule book to cover every possibility. We are relying on the good judgment of IBMers to do the right things for themselves, for our clients and for our communities,” company officials said in a memo to employees.

Meanwhile, Amazon told all 750,000 of its employees around the world to stay home if they can amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to CNBC.

5:10 p.m.: Millbrook Exchange Community Center in north Raleigh, where a person infected with the coronavirus voted early on Feb. 29, will remain closed through Friday for cleaning.

5:05 p.m.: UNC-Chapel Hill has canceled study abroad programs this semester in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City. University officials are in touch with affected students about their return to the U.S. and their academic options.

5 p.m.: Two of the three new coronavirus cases in North Carolina are in Mecklenburg County, and the third is is Cabarrus County, according to state health officials.

4:45 p.m.: Campbell University has canceled all in-person classes from next Monday through April 6 and will provide online instruction instead.

4:40 p.m.: Disneyland will be closed from Saturday through the end of the month amid the coronavirus outbreak. Hotels at the California theme park will remain open until next Monday to give people a chance to make necessary travel arrangements.

4:35 p.m.: Following the lead of Major League Baseball, minor league teams will delay the start of their 2020 seasons. No date for opening day was announced.

4:25 p.m.: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has moved its spring break up to help keep students out of school during the coronavirus outbreak. Next Monday through Wednesday will be optional teacher workdays, and spring break will run from March 19 to March 27. During the week of March 30, students will be learning at home, officials said, saying they would provide more details later.

4:20 p.m.: The NCAA has canceled both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments amid coronavirus fears.

4:15 p.m.: Bishop Hope Morgan Ward has asked all churches in the North Carolina Conference of United Methodist Church to suspend services for two weeks.

4:10 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper recommends that all gatherings of more than 100 people in North Carolina be canceled or postponed and urges employers to allow as many workers as possible work from home.

“We expect people to abide by this guidance,” Cooper said, adding that officials could order compliance if needed.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said none of the coronavirus patients have needed hospitalization and all are recovering at home.

State and local health officials also are monitoring 84 people who have contacted a coronavirus patient and another 76 who have traveled to a place deemed a hotspot for the virus.

4 p.m.: The Dow Jones average dropped another 10 percent, down more than 2,300 points, as virus-related shutdowns escalate.

3:40 p.m.: All legislative committee hearings are being pushed back into April, and student tours of the Legislative Building are on hold until at least April 1. Legislative staff will work from home as much as practicable.

3:35 p.m.: Episcopal churches across the region are suspending services and events though the end of March or until Palm Sunday.

3:30 p.m.: Wake Technical Community College will move all of its courses online and suspend all activities on campus, beginning Sunday and running through April 5. The shift covers spring break next week and two subsequent weeks.

“We realize the transition to all online classes will be challenging for both students and faculty, but students can rest assured that instructors will work with them to achieve their academic goals this semester,” Wake Tech President Scott Ralls said in a statement.

3:15 p.m.: Major League Baseball has suspended spring training and will delay the opening of the 2020 season by at least two weeks.

3:10 p.m.: The Atlantic Coast Conference has suspended all athletic activities, including games, practices, recruiting and participation in NCAA championships until further notice.

“This is uncharted territory, and the health and safety of our student-athletes and institutions remains our top priority. This decision is aimed to protect from the further spread of COVID-19,” Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement.

3:05 p.m.: The state Department of Health and Human Services website lists 15 coronavirus cases in North Carolina, up from 12 on Thursday morning. There was no immediate word on the locations of the new cases.

3 p.m.: UNC Interim President Dr. Bill Roper, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, talks in a video about efforts to contain coronavirus on the system’s campuses.

2:35 p.m.: The lights will be out on Broadway for a while, as all performances have been suspended through April 12 to limit the spread of coronavirus in New York and among visitors, according to The Associated Press.

2:30 p.m.: Fort Bragg has canceled the All American Marathon and associated activities in Fayetteville because of the virus.

“The well-being of our soldiers, families and civilians is our top priority. The difficult decision to cancel the marathon was made for the safety of our community to prevent the possibility of transmission,” Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Phillip Sounia said in a statement.

2:25 p.m.: The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has suspended all athletic activities statewide, beginning Saturday, until April 6.

2:10 p.m.: After earlier saying games would be played without fans, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association said it would postpone its boys’ and girls’ basketball championships indefinitely because of coronavirus.

2 p.m.: Singer Michael Bublé will halt his tour, postponing concerts between March 17 and April 5. That includes a March 18 concert in Charlotte and a March 20 date at PNC Arena in Raleigh. New dates in the same markets will be announced in the near future.

1:50 p.m.: Duke University has suspended all athletic competition for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus outbreak. It wasn’t immediately clear if that would prevent the Blue Devils from playing in the NCAA Tournament, if that starts next week as scheduled.

“We are taking this action to protect the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and others who are essential to these activities. I know it is a great disappointment to our student-athletes and coaches, whose hard work and dedication to their sports and Duke is inspirational to so many, but we must first look out for their health and well-being,” Duke President Vicent Price said in a statement.

“We emphatically support the decision made by Dr. Price today regarding the suspension of athletic competition at Duke. The welfare of our student-athletes, and all students at Duke, is paramount, and this decision reflects that institutional priority,” men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement.

1:45 p.m.: NASCAR will hold its race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans in attendance. The races will be restricted to competitors, crews, officials and other necessary personnel.

1:40 p.m.: The National Hockey League is suspending its season, starting Thursday night.

“Following last night’s news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. Until then, we thank NHL fans for your patience and hope you stay healthy.”

1:35 p.m.: The United Soccer League has suspended its season for 30 days.

1:25 p.m.: Italy’s coronavirus death toll has topped 1,000, as Europe is becoming the new center of the world’s coronavirus pandemic, according to The Associated Press.

12:55 p.m.: North Carolina FC has suspended all youth soccer activities, including practices and games, until after Easter.

“Our intent is to restart training and all activity beginning April 13 and extend the season through May to reschedule games, host tournaments, extend time for supplemental training and ensure that teams can play their full season,” NCFC officials said in a statement.

Similarly, Oak City Lacrosse has suspended youth lacrosse activities indefinitely.

12:50 p.m.: A senior Brazilian official who met President Donald Trump on March 7 has tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to The Associated Press.

12:45 p.m.: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is quarantined at home after his wife exhibited flu-like symptoms, according to The Associated Press.

12:30 p.m.: Software company SolarWinds has closed its offices in Morrisville and told its employees to work from home after an employee contracted COVID-19, the illness associated with the new coronavirus, the company said in a statement. SolarWinds is bringing a cleaning crew “to deep clean and sanitize the office.”

12:20 p.m.: The ACC canceled the remainder of its men’s basketball tournament in Greensboro shortly before the third day of competition was set to begin. Florida State will get the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as the regular-season champion.

“We are disappointed for our student-athletes, schools and fans to have to make this decision; however, the overall health and safety of all involved is the priority,” conference officials said in a statement.

12:10 p.m.: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said The Players Tournament in Ponte Vedra, Fla., and all tournaments in the near future will go on as planned but without spectators due to the spread of the coronavirus.

12 p.m.: WakeMed has suspended volunteer work in various areas of its hospitals to limit the spread of coronavirus.

11:55 a.m.: The Big Ten, the PAC-12 and the SEC have joined other collegiate conferences canceling their basketball tournaments because of the coronavirus, and Major League Soccer has suspended its season for 30 days.

The Wake County Public School System has “indefinitely postponed” all non-conference games against schools outside of the district and all multi-team events, beginning this weekend. For games that are played, handshake lines have been suspended, and players are asked to bring their own water bottles, as no water coolers will be provided.


11:50 a.m.: The U.S. Capitol and the House and Senate office buildings will remain closed to the public, starting at 5 p.m. Thursday until April 1. The White House also has suspended public tours.

11:30 a.m.: A Wake County resident who has tested positive for coronavirus self-isolated on March 6, shortly after developing symptoms of the illness, public health officials said.

“This is a perfect example of how people should act when they begin to feel sick,” Wake County Medical Director Dr. Kim McDonald said in a statement. “If you start to feel sick, stay home, get some rest and avoid having close contact with your family members.”

11:25 a.m.: Organizers have canceled Sunday’s running of the Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon in Raleigh because of the coronavirus.

“We take this action with tremendous sadness for our runners who have trained for many weeks for our charity event,” they said in a statement, noting that they were following the lead of other sporting events that have been postponed or canceled in recent days.

11 a.m.: The State Farmers Market has canceled its annual Spring Craft Fair, which had been scheduled to run Friday through Sunday. The market itself will remain open with regular vendors and will operate normal hours, officials said. Market staff have stepped up cleaning at the venue, and signs to encourage hand-washing and hygiene have been posted.

10:55 a.m.: North Carolina State University will limit attendance at athletic events, starting this weekend with baseball games and men’s tennis matches. The events will be closed to the general public.

“We are committed to following the leadership and direction of our campus and taking the measures we feel are responsible given all of the information available to us,” Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan said in a statement.

10:50 a.m.: Following Wednesday’s decision by the University of North Carolina system to halt most in-person classes at its campuses, East Carolina University officials said they would extend spring break until March 22 and begin online classes and independent study the following day.

10:40 a.m.: 6th District Congressman Mark Walker said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has told lawmakers it’s tested about 3,800 people to date, and 7,800 have been tested overall when other labs are factored in. Enough kits to test 800,000 more people have been disseminated, he said, but questions remain about the capacity to use them.

10:30 a.m.: The North Carolina High School Athletic Association said its its 2020 boys and girls basketball state championships will be played with limited spectators in attendance at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh and the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill.


Previous story:

State health officials confirmed at least three more people in North Carolina have been infected by the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in North Carolina to 12.

Testing showed two new cases in Forsyth County and one in Johnston County.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in response to the viral outbreak and issued recommendations for employers and groups sponsoring events with large crowds as ways to limit the spread of the virus.

A state health lab has completed tests for coronvirus infection on 67 people, with another 21 pending, officials said. All but one of the people tested have known the contact that might have linked them to the virus.

The lab has supplies to test approximately 700 people, and supplies to test another 900 are on backorder.


Public schools are remaining open for now, but superintendents plan to meet on Friday to explore e-learning possibilities.

“Nothing is more unpopular than whichever decision is made for the public schools,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said.

He said officials hear from a lot of parents who “have the ability to keep students home, conduct e-learning and make sure their students get proper nutrition at home” that they are frustrated by the decision to keep schools open.

“If, heaven forbid, we have to make the decision to close the schools, we’ll have to hear from parents who struggle to keep their children home, who may not have internet connection. And we know there will be students who will not get the nutrition they need during the day,” he said.

The World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic on Wednesday, but State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson said North Carolina is “still in the acceleration phase, in the early stages.” So, state officials are focusing on containment strategies and are discussing potential community mitigation strategies.

“Some of our major efforts are what we call non-pharmaceutical community mitigation strategies, which are meant to blunt the peak of the spread of the disease, to ensure we have the resources in order to respond,” Tilson said.

Published at Fri, 13 Mar 2020 01:35:20 +0000