Claire Donnelly

Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literture and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, Claire likes listening to podcasts and trying out new recipes.


Updated Aug. 18. 2021 12:06 p.m.

Masks will be required in indoor public places in the city of Charlotte and unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County starting Wednesday at 5 p.m., making it among the largest cities in the South to have a mask mandate. The measure applies to anyone 4 years old and older, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated, and will last until at least Sept. 1.

National Institutes Of Health

North Carolina’s COVID-19 numbers have started to inch back up, state health officials said this week. They cite the rapid spread of the delta variant, particularly in counties with low vaccination rates, as the reason for the increase.


Thursday is a big day for Medicaid in North Carolina.

The state is officially switching to a new Medicaid system called a “managed care” model.

North Carolina hospitals are facing a “severe” shortage of blood as part of a nationwide decrease in supply, according to the American Red Cross.


North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services announced on Wednesday that it will now pay for residents to have at-home COVID-19 test kits mailed to them. The agency said in a statement that any adult can request a COVID-19 test kit be shipped to their home overnight and DHHS will cover the cost.

Charlotte-area pool and hot tub owners may have a hard time finding chlorine tablets to sanitize their swimming pools because of a nationwide shortage.

North Carolina and South Carolina health officials said on Tuesday that the states will pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. This comes as the U.S.

Almost exactly one year ago, Jamie M. got some bad news. Her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor wanted to stop meeting in person for at least two weeks because of the pandemic.

“I just remember kind of getting scared like, “Well, what am I going to do?” Jamie M. said.

Jamie had been sober for about one year after going through detox and 30-day treatment through the Department of Veterans Affairs. She had been going to AA meetings every day. When the pandemic hit, she didn’t want to lose her progress.

Atrium Health

North Carolina is opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for more people, including prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodial and child care center employees beginning Feb. 24.

Atrium Health

Gov. Roy Cooper said on Tuesday that state officials will make an announcement this week with specific dates for when frontline essential workers, the next group slated for vaccination, can begin to schedule vaccine appointments. The state is currently vaccinating those in the first two groups of its vaccine plan: health care workers, people who live or work in long-term care facilities and people ages 65 and older.

Atrium Health

In recent weeks, thousands of people have crowded stadiums and arenas in Charlotte for COVID-19 vaccines. But mass vaccination events like the one at the Charlotte Motor Speedway or Bank of America Stadium don’t help seniors who are confined to their homes because of a disability or illness, those with sensory issues or those who don’t have access to transportation.

Courtesy of the family

Andy Strunck of Monroe won’t wear a mask. Not because the 30-year-old is trying to make a political statement but because he has autism and struggles with communication.

DoroT Schenk / Pixabay

North Carolina officials say all health care workers and residents 65 and older can start getting vaccinated for COVID-19 under the state's revamped vaccine plan.

North Carolina could start vaccinating residents ages 65 and older under new federal guidance announced by the Trump administration Tuesday. The federal government said it is no longer holding back second doses of the vaccine and is urging states to provide shots to anyone 65 and older.

Claire Donnelly / WFAE

It was difficult to find a quiet spot Tuesday afternoon in the paved lot next to Caldwell UNC Health Care in Lenoir as dozens of people rushed to meet a deadline.

A man in a blue surgical mask sawed two-by-fours. A woman wheeled two computer carts wrapped in plastic. In the middle of all of the action stood 11 white plastic tents. Melissa Strickland pulled open the flap on one of the tents and stepped inside the state’s first COVID-19 field hospital.

Centers For Disease Control And Prevention

North Carolina health officials said on Monday that they are watching for new strains of the coronavirus in the state. One variant of the virus first spotted in the United Kingdom appears to be more contagious than previous versions, though there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or is more deadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Atrium Health

A Charlotte doctor on Monday became the first person in North Carolina to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Atrium Health. In a video posted to Twitter, the hospital system's Medical Director of Infection Prevention, Dr. Katie Passaretti, said she was the first to get the shot.

"I couldn't be more excited. I feel perfectly fine. I've had no issues with the vaccine," Passaretti said in the video.

Steve Harrison / WFAE

American Airlines and other aviation groups say their employees are critical to distributing a vaccine and should be among the first groups to receive it.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that the state’s coronavirus numbers are “too high,” and the state health department has launched a hotspot map system to better pinpoint and address regional surges of COVID-19.


North Carolina’s top health official said she feels "very comfortable" with the federal process for testing and approving a coronavirus vaccine. 

We’ve grown accustomed to reading North Carolina’s daily coronavirus numbers, but those can be misleading. Here's a look at what the state’s overall trends show.

study by Wake Forest Baptist Health has found that between 12-14% of people tested in North Carolina have antibodies for the coronavirus -- meaning they have been exposed to the virus -- with most of them showing little or no symptoms. 

Updated 1 p.m. Sunday

At least 350 people crowded outside the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters in uptown Saturday night. Many chanted and held signs with phrases like “Black Lives Matter” and “Warning: Unarmed Black Man.”

Updated 4 p.m.

The mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, and Georgia's governor tweeted on Tuesday that their states "would be honored" to host the Republican National Convention if it leaves Charlotte. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, meanwhile, said he's looking forward to "continued talks" about COVID-19 safety with RNC organizers after President Trump tweeted that the convention could be moved to another state.   

A second North Carolina person has tested positive for coronavirus, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said Friday. The case is unrelated to the first case identified in the state.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at a campaign rally at Charlotte’s Belk Theater on Friday ahead of the rapidly approaching North Carolina primary, listing reasons why he believes he is the best candidate to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.



Hemp, the non-psychoactive relative of marijuana, is legal across the United States under the 2018 Farm Bill -- as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC. But North Carolina law enforcement and district attorneys are pushing state lawmakers to ban the plant’s smokable form because they say it is impossible to distinguish from marijuana, which is illegal federally.


North Carolina is still without a full state budget after state senators did not hold an expected vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto Tuesday. That means planned changes to how Medicaid pays healthcare providers are up in the air. 

Medicaid is the health insurance program for low-income adults, children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities.

Nearly 2.5 million North Carolina residents live in areas with a shortage of dental care, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. A proposed rule change would let the state use dental hygienists to help fill the oral health gap.