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‘Safer At Home’ Phase 2 Begins Friday

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a recent media briefing on COVID-19. Photo: NC Department of Public Safety

The state will move into a “Safer At Home” second phase of lifting COVID-19 restrictions starting at 5 p.m. Friday that will be in place until at least 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, Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced 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,” said Cooper. “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.”

Executive Order No. 141 limits gatherings to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors under most circumstances. These limits apply to event venues, conference centers, stadiums, sports arenas, amphitheaters, and groups at parks or beaches. Night clubs, gyms, indoor fitness facilities indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, and bowling alleys will remain closed.

“From the beginning, North Carolinians have joined together to confront this crisis. 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 six feet apart, and wash our hands often, we are showing we care for our loved ones and neighbors,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen.

Also under the executive order, restaurants, personal care businesses such as salons and pools can open at 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements. Employees of personal care businesses will be required to wear face coverings. Retail businesses allowed to open in Phase 1 at 50% capacity will continue at that level.

Childcare facilities, day camps and overnight camps can open with enhanced cleaning and screening requirements.  Public health recommendations are provided for worship services to practice enhanced social distancing and other cleaning and hygiene practices.

Based on the metrics laid out in April by Cooper and Cohen, North Carolina is evaluating a combination of the data that shows the state is stable but still has increasing daily new lab confirmed case counts.

Over the past 14 days, the state’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing and the trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is increasing, the percent of tests returning positive has been decreasing and is starting to level and hospitalization is level over 14 days.

In addition, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:

  • North Carolina has more than doubled the daily testing rate with more than 8,000 tests completed daily on average. More than 300 testing sites across North Carolina are posted on the DHHS testing information website.
  • The Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative has already hired more than 150 new contact tracers adding to the 250 already working at local health departments.
  • Supply chains continue to improve for personal protective equipment.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.