TRACKING COVID 19 CASES AND FATALITIES IN NC: NC DHHS reported 2,093 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 1,857 on Thursday. Of those, 259 people are hospitalized. The state’s official death toll continued to rise as Henderson County south of Asheville reported its first death: an elderly patient at Pardee Hospital. Other counties also reported deaths on Friday. Johnston County reported its second death, an elderly person with underlying medical conditions, a county release said. Gaston and Mecklenburg also each had one and Guilford reported two. Wilson County reported a death on Friday, a woman in her early 60s with underlying health problems. Davie County also reported a death, its second. The state has now tested 31,598 people. Wake County’s total cases rose to 279 Friday. Durham County had 172. Starting Saturday, Durham’s city and county stay-home orders will be combined and strengthened, with crowd sizes reduced to no more than five people.
FOLWELL CONVALESCING AT HOME AFTER CORONAVIRUS HOSPITALIZATION: State Treasurer Dale Folwell has been released from the hospital after five days treatment for COVID-19 symptoms, the Treasurer's Office said Friday. Folwell, who lives in the Winston-Salem area, was diagnosed with the virus a little more than a week ago. He was admitted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on March 29 and discharged Friday. He was never placed on a ventilator "or otherwise incapacitated," the Treasurer's Office said in a statement. "He has been in contact with his family and necessary senior staff members at the Department of State Treasurer (DST) throughout his illness," the statement reads. "He has continued to lead DST, with the assistance of his deputies, and has been as engaged as necessary given the severity of his illness and his need to rest and recuperate."
CHARLOTTE'S HOMELESS ARE BEING RAVAGED BY COVID 19: Nearly 60 homeless people have either been suspected or confirmed to have the coronavirus, or have been exposed to someone who has, a North Carolina health director said Thursday. Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris told members of the General Assembly that 58 people — all but one who are homeless — are staying in a hotel leased by the county for people who have tested positive for COVID-19, display symptoms and are awaiting results, or have been exposed to someone with the virus and need somewhere to isolate, The Charlotte Observer reported. Harris said the county is working with shelters to move out people with symptoms and reduce the risk of additional spread. County officials said in late March they had leased hotels to isolate individuals who display COVID-19 symptoms and to reduce crowding in the shelters. Government and shelter leaders say the homeless population is particularly vulnerable because it is more difficult to practice social distancing and good hygiene habits, and many people have underlying health conditions.
TRUMP MOVES TO FIRE INSPECTOR GENERAL WHO PURSUED WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT: Atkinson, a respected and understated lawyer who served for more than 15 years in the Justice Department, was informed Friday night that Trump intended to fire him and was placed on administrative leave immediately, according to U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. The statute requires that both intelligence committees be notified by the president 30 days before the date of the inspector general’s removal. But placing Atkinson on administrative leave effectively sidelines him immediately, the aide said. Trump’s action drew immediate condemnation from senior Democratic lawmakers and intelligence community veterans. “Whether it’s Lt. Col. Vindman, Captain Crozier, or Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson: President Trump fires people for telling the truth,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “Michael Atkinson is a man of integrity who has served our nation for almost two decades. Being fired for having the courage to speak truth to power makes him a patriot.” Trump in recent days has renewed his agitation against the “deep state”—what he perceives as politically-motivated enemies in the ranks of career employees, one administration official said, after a Justice Department inspector general report on FBI errors in more than two dozen national security surveillance applications.
TRUMP GIVES HALF-ASSED RECOMMENDATION FOR FACE MASKS, SAYS HE'S NOT GOING TO WEAR ONE: President Trump said on Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was urging all Americans to wear a mask when they leave their homes, but he undercut the message by repeatedly calling the recommendation voluntary and saying he would not wear one himself. “With the masks, it is going to be a voluntary thing,” the president said at the beginning of the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House. “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I am choosing not to do it. It may be good. It is only a recommendation, voluntary.” “Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I don’t know,” he added, though he stopped receiving foreign dignitaries weeks ago. “Somehow, I just don’t see it for myself.” Mr. Trump’s announcement, followed by his quick dismissal, was a remarkable public display of the intense debate that has played out inside the West Wing over the past several days as a divided administration argued about whether to request such a drastic change in Americans’ social behavior. Senior officials at the C.D.C. have been pushing the president for days to advise everyone — even people who appear to be healthy — to wear a mask or a scarf that covers their mouth and nose when shopping at the grocery store or while in other public places.