Keeping track of the latest numbers related to N.C. business during COVID-19

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 5/29/20

Journalists love statistics. They help us tell stories and can sometimes be the stories themselves.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us plenty of numbers and plenty of statistics to help us talk …

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Keeping track of the latest numbers related to N.C. business during COVID-19

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Posted

Journalists love statistics. They help us tell stories and can sometimes be the stories themselves.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given us plenty of numbers and plenty of statistics to help us talk about and write about what the impact of the virus has been on North Carolina and the rest of the United States. Here are a few business bits from the last week or so to help illustrate how things have been.

ECU cutting 4 sports

Education and athletics at educational institutions are just as much a business as retail and manufacturing sometimes, and at East Carolina University, business is not where it was.

The university announced last week it was cutting men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and women’s tennis “as part of the University’s overall budget restructuring efforts and is part of a detailed analysis of ECU’s athletics financial position during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” a press release stated. The cuts will leave the Pirates with 16 sports, the minimum required to be in Division I FBS. 68 student-athletes and nine coaches are being affected by the move.

“The current athletics budget was not sustainable pre-COVID-19 and the university was working closely with athletics to decrease the annual deficit over the next year,” said ECU Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson. “With the pandemic, the deficit began to grow significantly where the impact was immediate and will affect future revenue and expenses for years to come.”

All student-athletes will retain their scholarships, but will be allowed to transfer and be eligible immediately for competition under NCAA transfer rules.

Target’s online sales up by 141 percent, Lowe’s also up

The American retailer Target saw its online sales boom by 141 percent over the last quarter, with a 282 percent jump in April alone. CNN Business reported that Target CEO Brian Cornell “said the company fulfilled more orders online during an average day in April than it did on Cyber Monday, the online shopping holiday in November.”

Lowe’s Home Improvement reported a 12.3 percent increase in its sales for the first quarter. President and CEO Marvin R. Ellison said that the performance “reflects the benefits of our retail fundamental strategy, the improvement in our execution, and the resiliency of our home improvement business model.” He added that the company saw an 80 percent increase in online sales during the quarter.

Tyson plant in Wilkesboro finds 570 employees test positive

The Tyson Foods plant in Wilkesboro had 570 workers test positive for COVID-19, meaning that more than a quarter of the facility’s workforce has contracted the virus, according to a company press release. Tyson Foods products include Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm and Ball Park, along with Tyson.

Universal testing at the plant helped identify the positive tests. The company said that “the majority” of those testing positive “did not show any symptoms and otherwise would not have been identified.”

“Our team members are essential to helping to feed the nation, and their health and safety is always our first priority,” said Kevin Taylor, Complex Manager for Wilkesboro facility, in the release. “Disclosing our testing results will help better protect our team members and help provide the wider Wilkesboro community with the information it needs to stop the spread of the virus.”

A Mountaire Farms spokesperson told the News + Record last week that the company would not be announcing the number of positive tests at the Siler City facility.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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