Governor issues statewide order for people to stay home

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This morning, Swain County residents were trying to absorb the fact the county commissioners issued a stay at home order. This afternoon, that message was strengthened when Governor Roy Cooper, during the briefing from the NC Emergency Management Team, issued the same order for the entire state.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 763 cases throughout 68 counties in North Carolina.

“As expected, our numbers continue to increase rapidly,” Cooper began. “This is a highly contagious virus that’s deadly for some. To continue our aggressive battle to slow the spread of COVID-19, today I’ve signed a stay at home order for the entire state of North Carolina.”

The order begins at 5 p.m. on Monday, but the state’s residents are urged to begin as soon as they can. Violations are a Class 2 misdemeanor.

“This order directs you to stay home unless you need to leave for essentials food medicine outdoor exercise or to help someone or go to work,” he said.

The order identifies essential businesses, similar to other orders, and to emphasize people should stay home unless they need to be out in public for a specific essential need.

The order also bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs people to use social distancing or physical distancing-six feet apart.

“These are tough directives, but I need you to take them seriously,” the Governor said.

North Carolina is now considered to have widespread transmission, Cooper said.

The best tool to slow the spread is to keep physical distance.

The governor also briefly discussed that the state expanded its unemployment benefits, as has the federal government to help those impacted by the closures. There have been more than 200,000 unemployment claims filed in North Carolina.

“We will not forget those who have lost their livelihood in this crisis,” Cooper said.

The reason the actions are being taken to spread the virus are in part to help give the healthcare system more time to prepare for an increase in patients and that they have the personal protective equipment needed to keep themselves safer, according to Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

“Please everyone, heed this order and make sure you stay safe and you look after your friends and family and let’s all of us do our part here in North Carolina,” Cooper said to close the briefing.