COVID-19NC: Plan-B, Phase-2 & Parents In Prison

Jul 20, 2020

The number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina is hovering close to 100,000 with 1,820 new cases reported on Sunday.  Hospitalizations declined over the weekend but remained over 1,000.  The continued rise in new cases and hospitalizations prompted Governor Roy Cooper to extend Phase-2 of his reopening plan for another 3 weeks.  The governor also announced plans for K-12 schools this fall.  

Every Friday,  BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with NC Health News founding editor Rose Hoban and this week – there was lots to talk about.

HC: So along with the rise in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, we've been hearing a lot about the impact of lagging coronavirus test turnaround times

RH:  So,  this lag in test results coming back is an issue for a couple reasons. So maybe you're encountering people between the time you get tested and the time you get your result.  It's also  a problem for the state, because if the labs are being slow to return tests to individuals are also slow to return tests to the state. So the state is getting data late from testing sites. So, it's a problem.  

HC: And all this is happening as schools are trying to figure out the upcoming year and the school plan came out from the state, Governor Cooper announced plan B. That's a mix of class time and online learning with flexibility for school districts and families.   

RH:  During the press conference, I was live tweeting, and somebody tweeted at me, ”that's kind of a cop out, you know, letting school districts decide.” And I tweeted back at this person. I was like, really? Maybe it's not because I think Avery County, which has only a handful of cases, they'll be able to take a very different approach than Mecklenburg County. So it's probably better to  not have a one size fits all, but a more tailored type of response that individual school districts now can take  There is a lot of concern out there, but I don't think any plan was going to satisfy everyone.

HC: There's been a lot of focus on outbreaks and testing in prisons, your Report for America reporter Hannah Critchfield took a different and very touching angle on this story. She looked at the impact of the pandemic on children with incarcerated parents.

RH: If you know anything about ACEs, which I know they've done a lot of work on this in Buncombe County.  ACEs are adverse childhood experiences. They're things that happen during childhood. That what we're finding is that if you've had some of these experiences like having an incarcerated parent,   predisposes children to having worse health outcomes as adults.  And so now these children are not having access to their parents. Hannah interviewed a young woman who her last line was like; I just want to see my dad.  

HC: That was a really good story. What's your team working on for next week?

RH: I have a terrific two-part investigative story about the company that manages North Carolina's veteran's homes.  It was an investigative piece. We were able to access an intern for a week's worth of work to help us do some digging and data. And I'm really looking forward to running this story.

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