In the coronavirus emergency team briefing this afternoon, NC Gov. Roy Cooper extended the statewide stay at home order until Friday, May 8.
In opening, he said while it’s important to keep the economy moving, he doesn’t want to risk the health of North Carolinians or hospitals by easing restrictions too soon.
Flattening the curve
Dr. Mandy Cohen, NC Secretary of Health and Human Services, went on to discuss the testing, tracing and trends that will be used to determine how the state is doing against coronavirus and when restrictions can be lifted.
It’s worth noting that fewer people are getting sick at the same time and rate of acceleration has slowed. On the number of confirmed cases, she said the state is now largely seeing a leveling and slight increase.
“What we want to see is a decline in the trajectory; we do not see that yet,” she said.
The number of tests being conducted is up, and she said the state wants to see that average of 5,000-7,000 tests per day continue.
The number of people hospitalized has largely leveled to about 400.
Another goal is to see tracing increase, and the state plans to double those employees doing that work.
There is also a need for more personal protective equipment specifically of N95 masks and gowns, with a goal being to have a 30-day supply.
Restrictions to lift in 3 phases
Gov. Cooper then a three stage plan for reopening the state. He said whether that will begin on May 9 will depend on the data.
Phase 1 would include retail shops and parks reopening. People would be encouraged to still wear face coverings and telework. Gatherings would continue to be restricted to 10 or less.
Phase 2, estimated to be 2-3 weeks after phase 1, would be when the stay at home order would be lifted, although vulnerable populations would be encouraged to stay home. Restaurants and bars could begin opening for dining but at a reduced capacity. Additionally, the number of people who can gather will increase.
Phase 3, estimated to begin 4-6 weeks after phase 2, would include loosening the guidelines for vulnerable populations and an increase in the capacity for gatherings for worship, dining and entertainment.
Through all three phases, nursing homes and congregate facilities would still be under the current restrictions.
He did warn, however, that the regulations would continue to be based on data and the phases could end up reverting if need be.
“If our infections spike or benchmarks move in the wrong direction we may have to move back to a previous phase as we are doing now we will continue to use the best science and data to make those decisions,” he said.
People are eager to move forward, and the state will get there, he said. He thanked everyone for taking the virus seriously and abiding by the stay at home order.
He acknowledged that that until there is more widespread testing and a vaccine, people in North Carolina will have to continue to be careful to stop the spread of the virus.
“We need a vaccine, and we need more ways like antibody tests to determine our immunity, but if we continue to protect ourselves we can rebuild the damage this has done to our state,” Cooper said.
The Governor said plans regarding public schools would be discussed in tomorrow’s briefing.