Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday the state will move into Phase 2 of his administration’s economic reopening plan this week, easing some COVID-19 business restrictions and gatherings.
While Phase 2 will go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, the safer-at-home order will be more cautious than originally planned. This particular order will run through June 26.
After two weeks in Phase 1, the state’s overall key indicators remain stable, but the continued increases in daily case counts signal a need to take a more “modest step forward in Phase 2 than originally envisioned,” state health officials said Wednesday.
“North Carolina is using the data to guide our decisions about when to lift COVID-19 restrictions and overall, our key indicators remain stable,” Cooper said during Wednesday’s news conference. “Safer-At-Home Phase 2 is another careful step forward, and we have to continue taking this virus seriously to prevent a dangerous spike in infections.”
WHAT SAFER-AT-HOME PHASE 2 MEANS
Certain businesses will be able to open at limited capacity with other requirements and recommendations including the following:
• Restaurants at 50% dine-in capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements.
• Personal care businesses, including salons and barbers, at 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements. Personal care employees will be required to wear face coverings.
• Pools at 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements.
• Child care facilities, day camps and overnight camps will be open with enhanced cleaning and screening requirements.
• Retail businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 at 50% capacity will continue at that level.
• Teleworking is still urged when possible.
• No more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in most circumstances, which applies to event venues, conference centers, stadiums and sports arenas, amphitheaters and groups at parks or beaches.
• Public health recommendations are provided for worship services to practice enhanced social distancing and other cleaning and hygiene practices, according to the governor’s office.
WHAT REMAINS CLOSED DURING PHASE 2
• Night clubs.
• Gyms and indoor fitness facilities.
• Indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys.
North Carolina is evaluating a combination of data from several categories that shows the state is stable but still has a daily increase in new laboratory-confirmed case counts.
“From the beginning, North Carolinians have joined together to confront this crisis,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s health secretary. “We need to rely upon one another to practice the three Ws as we begin leaving our homes more. When we wear a face covering, wait 6 feet apart and wash our hands often, we are showing we care for our loved ones and neighbors.”
The state looks at a combination of metrics over the preceding 14 days to determine how and whether to ease restrictions. That includes COVID-like syndromic cases, lab-confirmed cases, positive tests as a percentage of total tests and hospitalizations.
State health officials said Wednesday that the syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing, but the state’s trajectory of laboratory-confirmed cases is increasing.
The state’s trajectory in percentage of tests returning positive has been decreasing and is starting to level, state officials said Wednesday. The state’s hospitalizations rate is level, too.
North Carolina has more than doubled its daily testing rate with more than 8,000 tests completed on average daily, state officials said.
WILSON COUNTY CASES
Wilson County reported seven new positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday.
Of the county’s 261 total COVID-19 cases, 62% of patients have recovered from the virus, which is an increase from Tuesday. About 35% of those cases are still active, with 82 people isolated at home and nine people hospitalized.
Statewide, there have been 20,122 laboratory-confirmed cases. Nearly 280,000 tests have been completed since the beginning of the pandemic. The state’s death toll stood at 702, and 554 people are currently hospitalized.