Claire Donnelly

Health Reporter

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. 

Retha Ferguson / Pexels


Fran Redic is normally pretty nervous about medical stuff. She’s had a few surgeries -- on her rotator cuff, her sinuses and a lumpectomy -- and she worried a lot about anesthesia.  

“My brain goes first to all of the complications,” Redic said. “I always go to, ‘What are the side effects? What are the bad things that can happen?’”

Ann Doss Helms / WFAE

Stephanie Sneed is stressed. 

She has two kids — rising second- and seventh-graders — enrolled in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ all-remote academy for the fall semester. 

“The upcoming school year has my anxiety level off the charts,” Sneed said. 

Protesters demonstrate near the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters on May 30, 2020.
Jesse Steinmetz / WFAE

It’s been about two months since protests first erupted in Charlotte over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Here, across the U.S. and the world, people took to the streets to demonstrate against police brutality and the mistreatment of Black people. We’ll take a look back at those protests and answer your questions about policing and protesting.

Retha Ferguson / Pexels

Charlotte’s Tryon Medical Partners is one of about 90 locations across the U.S. that will participate in the Phase 3 trial of a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the company Moderna.



The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina has hit record highs over the past couple of weeks. On Wednesday, the statewide number was 1,142 -- the highest since the pandemic started. Are Charlotte-area hospitals prepared? 


Ann Doss Helms / WFAE


Schools in Charlotte and across North Carolina have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus. Online classes became the new norm. Many in-person graduations, sporting events and proms were canceled. Now, state health officials say North Carolina’s coronavirus trends are moving in the wrong direction. As fall draws closer, what’s next for schools? Will buildings reopen?

Flickr/Karolina Kabat

North Carolina’s top health official said Tuesday that the state’s coronavirus contact tracers have only been able to reach between one-third and one-half of the people they call.

Google Maps


An Iredell County preschool on Friday reported a cluster of coronavirus cases. It’s the second cluster discovered at a school or childcare facility in the county.   

Wake Forest Baptist Health

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. 

Mattie Marshall sits on her porch one block away from where the Charlotte protests first erupted about one month ago.
Claire Donnelly / WFAE


As a child, Christine Roseboro Bowser easily noticed the differences between white and Black people in her town. The white people had nicer clothes and nicer homes.

Jodie Valade / WFAE



People in North Carolina are now required to wear face masks in many public places. It’s part of an executive order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper that takes effect at 5 p.m. Friday, June 26. When and where do you have to wear a mask? Can you get a ticket for not wearing one? We answer those questions and others.


Erin Keever / WFAE


One of psychologist Blair Hamel’s clients struggles with separation anxiety and hates spending time away from her parents. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Hamel said she had just gotten her accustomed to going to school and spending some time away from home.

N.C. Department of Public Safety

Gov. Roy Cooper says North Carolina will stay in its current phase of COVID-19 restrictions for three more weeks and that most residents will be required to wear face masks in public when social distancing isn't possible. 

N.C. Department of Public Safety

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to announce this week whether the state will move forward into Phase 3 of its reopening process. This comes amid a surge in coronavirus cases in North Carolina and mounting pressure from businesses and lawmakers.

Jessica Sanchez is among the estimated 14,000 North Carolina residents who are eligible for the DACA Program but haven't yet applied.
Jessica Sanchez


Jessica Sanchez is 25 years old and has lived in Charlotte for most of her life. Her parents emigrated from Mexico when she was 11 months old because she needed surgery.

“I wouldn’t move or talk at all," Sanchez said. "So my doctors in Mexico said I wasn’t going to live past three days or three months. Or live, period.”

Marchers Wednesday night remembered the people murdered five years ago at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
Michael Falero / WFAE

Hundreds of people gathered in Charlotte Wednesday evening during the third week of protests in the city.


An event called the Black Men United March and Rally was organized by local leaders including Charlotte city council member Malcolm Graham, whose sister, Cynthia Graham Hurd, was one of nine black people killed by a white supremacist five years ago during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Demonstrators pass out bags of food to homeless residents. 6/10/20
Michael Falero / WFAE

UPDATED 9:10 p.m.

On the 13th day of demonstrations in Charlotte against police violence and systemic racism, a "March and Feed" led by the Million Youth March of Charlotte and Salisbury began Wednesday night at Charlotte's Marshall Park. Later, the group joined others at the "Silence for the Silenced" vigil in Romare Bearden Park.

Cameron Parker, 19, left, and Kaden Knight, 18, organized a march in Charlotte's Freedom Park on Saturday.
Jesse Steinmetz / WFAE

Kaden Knight wanted to be a Black Panther growing up. His favorite activist is Huey P. Newton, the cofounder of the Black Panther Party. Knight recently graduated from Charlotte’s Myers Park High School.

Now Knight and his best friend Cameron Parker, who are 18 and 19 years old, respectively, are leading hundreds of Charlotteans protesting against police brutality. Young people have made up a majority of protesters flooding the city’s streets and parks over the past week and a half as they call for change in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

After marching from uptown through the Cherry Neighborhood, protesters pause at Queens Road and East Third Street. 6/6/20
Jesse Steinmetz / WFAE

Updated 12:43 a.m.

Saturday was the ninth day demonstrators have taken to the streets of Charlotte to protest systemic racism and police brutality. In the afternoon, UNC Charlotte's "March for Justice" drew together students, faculty, and campus police to march around the campus. Later Saturday in Freedom Park, about 350 people gathered to listen to activists. 

David Boraks / WFAE

Updated 11:15 p.m.

A forecast of thunderstorms Friday evening led Charlotte city leaders to cancel a planned Community Conversations meeting at the Mecklenburg County Government Center. But that didn't stop demonstrators from marching through the streets of uptown -- and to South End, for the first time -- for an eighth straight night to protest systemic racism and police brutality.

David Boraks / WFAE

Updated 7:35 a.m.

For the sixth night in a row, protesters took to the streets of Charlotte to decry systemic racism after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But for the first time since daily demonstrations began, there was a little less tension between protesters and police. 

Atrium Health
Atrium Health


Charlotte-based Atrium Health is receiving about $191 million in federal grants designed to help health care providers respond to the coronavirus, according to a data analysis by research group Good Jobs First. Critics say the hospital system doesn’t need the money.

Protesters demonstrated near Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters Saturday night.
Jesse Steinmetz / WFAE



This weekend... this week... this month... has been a lot.

Monday night marked the fourth night of protests in Charlotte as a wave of nationwide protests continue in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. Throughout the weekend, thousands of protesters have expressed a range of emotions in Charlotte.


Which is why FAQ City wants to hear from you.


Jesse Steinmetz / WFAE

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.”

Spectrum Center
Erin Keever / WFAE

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.   

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a visit to Charlotte on Thursday that he and local leaders, including Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods and North Carolina Republican Congressman Richard Hudson, had discussed the Republican National Convention and ways federal and local officials could work together to obtain “extra surge supplies” of materials needed to perform coronavirus diagnostic tests, like swabs and substances called reagents.

David Emrich / Unsplash


Why can’t bars and gyms open in the state’s modified Phase 2? How long will this second phase of reopening last? WFAE’s Lisa Worf and health reporter Claire Donnelly break it down. 


Google Maps

Restaurant dining rooms across North Carolina can reopen at reduced capacity beginning Friday at 5 p.m. under a modified Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday. Many have been closed to dine-in customers for more than two months because of the coronavirus.



North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to announce as early as Wednesday whether the state can move this weekend into Phase 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. On Monday, he said officials wanted “a couple more days” to look at the state’s coronavirus data. 


open sign
Photo by Kevin Bidwell from Pexels

Gov. Roy Cooper has begun gradually reopening North Carolina in a series of three phases. If you're not sure what to expect under each of those three phases, don't worry! You're not alone. Lots of WFAE listeners have been writing in with questions, and we're here to help.