March 17

  • After Governor Cooper issued an executive order closing dine-in restaurants and bars to promote social distancing and protect against the coronavirus, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR DAN FOREST—Cooper’s opponent in November—challenged its legality, arguing that Cooper did not have authorization from the Council of State. 
  • The UNC SYSTEM ordered students off its campuses and reduced their housing and dining options.
  • A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 42 PERCENT OF NORTH CAROLINA ADULTS were at risk of severe illness if infected by the coronavirus. 
  • The Raleigh Police Department’s five-day report on the police-involved shooting of JAVIER TORRES said Torres pointed his gun at the officer who shot him. 

March 18

  • Within 19 hours of Cooper’s order, nearly 5,000 PEOPLE filed claims for unemployment in North Carolina, twice as many as typically file claims in a week. By week’s end, more than 100,000 would file for unemployment.  
  • DUKE UNIVERSITY announced that it would make sure full-time contracted food-service workers got paid through May 30. It also canceled spring commencement. 

March 19

  • NPR obtained an audio recording of a February 27 meeting SENATOR RICHARD BURR had with business elites, in which he warned them about how bad the coronavirus pandemic was about to become. That same day, President Trump assured Americans that the number of cases in the U.S. would soon fall to zero. 
  • A few hours later, ProPublica reported that on February 13—a week after Burr co-authored an op-ed praising U.S. preparedness for the coronavirus—the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee DUMPED UP TO $1.7 MILLION in stocks. A week after that, the market tanked on coronavirus fears. 
  • North Carolina’s first case of COMMUNITY SPREAD—meaning the first case in which the person diagnosed with COVID-19 hadn’t traveled to an infected area or come into contact with a known infected person—was discovered in Wilson.  
  • The federal government approved a request by Governor Cooper to give DISASTER AID to the state’s small businesses. 
  • MAYOR STEVE SCHEWEL issued an order closing gyms, fitness centers, health clubs, and theaters throughout Durham. 

March 20

  • DURHAM COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY SATANA DEBERRY announced that she was taking steps to decrease the population of the county jail in light of the coronavirus pandemic.  
  • Fending off calls for his resignation, Burr asked the SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEE to investigate him. 
  • One America News Network personality CHANEL RION—fresh off accusing a lab at UNC-Chapel Hill of manufacturing the coronavirus—asked President Trump at a press conference if he thought the term “Chinese food” was racist, then accused other media outlets of being in league with the Chinese Communist Party. 

March 22

  • The number of confirmed CORONAVIRUS CASES in North Carolina exceeded 300. 
  • Wake County declared a HEIGHTENED STATE OF EMERGENCY, limiting crowd sizes to 50 people and barring people from public playgrounds. 

March 23

  • Governor Cooper declared that schools will remain closed until AT LEAST MAY 15 and ordered the closure of gyms and hair and nail salons. 

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at 

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