Saturday, November 26, 2022

Gov. Cooper extends stay-at-home order to May 8, lays out phased plan to reopen

It looks like things in North Carolina won’t be going back to normal anytime soon. Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state’s stay-at-home order has been extended until May 8 during a press conference this afternoon. Cooper and Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, voiced benchmark goals that they hope the state will hit before reopening.

“I know people in our state are eager to move forward, and we will get there,” Cooper said. “We won’t go back to living the way we did in January or February anytime soon.”

About 388 new cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina have been reported since yesterday. It was the second-highest day-over-day number of cases that has been reported. There have been more than 7,761 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state and 275 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s coronavirus resource center.

“What we’re largely doing now is leveling [the number of cases] and increasing slightly. What we want to see is a decrease. We are not seeing that yet.” Cohen said.

Although new cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina have continued to increase, the growth has slowed, according to Cohen. There has not been a downward trajectory over the last 14 days. Hospitalizations due to the virus have flattened, but have not yet declined. Currently, the state has less than 30 days of personal protective equipment, specifically gowns and N95 masks. Cohen said in addition to increasing the PPE supply, the state wants to increase daily testing from 2,500-3,000 people per day to 5,000-7,000, bolster the number of workers who conduct contract tracing from 250 to 500 and deploy digital-tracing technology.

Cooper laid out the state’s plan for reopening gradually over the coming months, breaking down into three weeks-long phases. He declined to give a specific date for the beginning of Phase 1.

Phase 1:

  • The stay-at-home order will stay in place, but it will be modified to allow more reasons to leave home, including commercial activities at any business allowed to be open, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops and other kinds of retailers. The businesses will be expected to practice social distancing, increase cleaning and screen employees for virus symptoms.
  • Gatherings will be limited to 10 people or less.
  • Parks will be allowed to open, and face masks will continued to be recommended in public spaces.
  • Restrictions for nursing homes and other congregate living settings will remain in place.
  • Businesses will be encouraged to continue teleworking.

Phase 2 (at least 2-3 weeks after Phase 1):

  • The stay-at-home will be lifted.
  • Limited number of restaurants, bars and other businesses will be allowed to open.
  • Houses of worship and entertainment venues can open at reduced capacity.
  • Restrictions for nursing homes and other congregate living settings will remain in place.
  • Public playgrounds will open.
  • Increased number of people will be allowed to gather.

Phase 3 (at least 4-6 weeks after Phase 2):

  • People will be encouraged to practice social distancing, but increased capacity at restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and houses of worship will be allowed.
  • People will be able to gather in larger groups.
  • Restrictions for nursing homes and other congregate living settings will remain in place.

Cooper said he will make an announcement regarding the status of North Carolina schools tomorrow.

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