COVID-19NC: Case Spike & Coronavirus Voting Complications

Oct 12, 2020

The number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina is now over 231,000 with 1,719 new cases reported on Sunday.  Hospitalizations remain over 1,000 as health officials keep a close eye on trends, amid a week that saw the third-highest jump in cases since start of the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as President Trump prepares to return to the campaign trail after recovering from COVID-19.  The virus is also complicating the voting process for some North Carolinians.   Just a few of the topics BPR’s  Helen Chickering unpacked with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban and this week.

HC:  We've seen some daily spikes in new Corona virus cases and at Tuesday's Corona virus news briefing, both the governor and health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen noted they are watching closely.

RH: I know they're watching the trends because the concerning thing is, we're getting into colder weather. People are going to be indoors more, and that's a place where now the CDC is saying, yeah, this disease really is spread by aerosol. So, it's not just heavy droplets that sort of fall within a foot or two from your mouth, but maybe droplets with COVID can float around in the room for a while after even you leave.

HC:  I want to  follow up on the president's COVID-19 diagnosis. And I'm thinking his comments about dominating the virus, taking off his mask as he stood in front of the white house and other actions really sparking lots of pushback.  

 RH: Yeah, that really is a big issue. You know that we still are not seeing messaging from the top. I mean, the research the is becoming clearer and clearer. Yeah. We all need still wash your hands, but it's about aerosols and it's about people talking loudly, people singing it's about people being in a room together.    

HC: So, speaking of politics, we are less than a month away from election day. I spotted an article you wrote on the challenge of voting if you live in a nursing home.  I didn’t know that North Carolina is one of only two States where the law prevents nursing home facility staff from assisting residents with voting in any way. And you looked at efforts by local boards of elections to help.

RH: I was inspired by a lot of the County boards of election. These people are serious about a good vote. They are going out there recruiting these bipartisan teams who go into nursing homes. You know, so there's a Republican and a Democrat. They go in together, they sit down with a resident in the nursing home and they go through the vote page by page, you know, line by line. They train these folks. They're very professional.  And what really got to me was the story of a gentleman from our area. He's in a nursing home and Polk County ended up in the hospital in South Carolina while he's trying to make sure his vote gets counted back in North Carolina. He's 84. He's been voting since he was 20. And now he might not be able to vote because, you know, did you know that it's a felony, that if you're a medical provider in a nursing home too, even so much as take the ballot and drop it in the mail?

About Rose Hoban: 

Rose Hoban is the founder and editor of NC Health News, as well as being the state government reporter. Hoban has been a registered nurse since 1992 but transitioned to journalism after earning degrees in public health policy and journalism. She's reported on science, health, policy, and research in NC since 2005. Contact: editor at northcarolinahealthnews.org