N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that cases across the state continue to rise, with 80% of counties appearing in the red and orange zones, according to the Covid County Alert Map; it’s doubled from 40% just a month ago.
Because of the increase, the governor will enact a modified stay-at-home order to go into effect Friday, Dec. 11, 5 p.m. The public will be required to stay at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily until Jan. 8. As such, businesses, including restaurants, bars, salons, retail shops, and entertainment venues, will be required to close at 10 p.m. (though restaurants will be able to offer delivery and takeout past 10 p.m.). Onsite alcohol consumption sales must stop at 9 p.m. as well.
Executive Order 181 does not affect grocery stores, pharmacies, fuel stations or other essential businesses, nor does it affect people who have to be out between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. as essential workers. Capacity limits on gatherings have not been reduced further.
Cooper attributed the rise in cases to relaxed social gatherings among families and friends.
“This aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer,” Cooper said.
The governor also encouraged every North Carolinian to continue wearing a mask, especially when not around household members, washing hands and remaining 6 feet apart while working and running daily errands. This includes wearing masks even near closest relatives and friends, he specified.
“We must be vigilant,” Cooper said, pointing to hope arriving in the form of the Pfizer vaccine as early as next week.
Ten hospitals in the state will receive 85,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as the facilities have the ultra-cold capacity required to store the vaccines. Once approved by the FDA and CDC, the shipment will be dispersed to 50 or 60 hospitals across the state to begin administering.
“But vaccines aren’t here yet,” Cooper reminded. “We have to act now to save lives and save our economy.”
The governor called record-breaking daily counts in new Covid-19 cases over the weekend alarming. Saturday and Sunday both had numbers rise to their highest since March, over 6,000 each day, indicating critical spread.
“The virus is upon us with a rapid viciousness like we haven’t seen before,” he said.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of North Carolina Health and Human Services, went over the metrics the state bases its protocols on. Most every category was in the red, including Covid-like syndromic cases, new cases and positive tests.
“Our percent of positive tests have significantly increased over the last 14 days,” Cohen said. “We had more cases in a single day than the entire population of Governor Cooper’s home town, Nashville, in Nash County.”
Cohen confirmed the state is just beginning to see the Thanksgiving holiday impact, but has yet to fully experience its height. She noted anticipation of numbers going up more over the course of this week and said the actions from the governor are needed.
“We will do more if things don’t improve,” Cooper added, referring to further restrictions on indoor dining and shopping. “No one wants that. All those businesses need more federal help, and Congress and the president need to do that now. But our top priority is saving lives and keeping our healthcare system from being overworked.”
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