By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on March 23, 2020
At his March 23 COVID-19 briefing, Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state’s K-12 public schools will remain closed for in-person instruction until at least May 15, substantially extending the previous closure of two weeks that had been announced on March 14.
“We arrived at the May 15 date by looking at the CDC public health guidance,” he said.
In addition to extending the school closure, Cooper announced that in an effort to achieve additional social distancing, he was ordering the closure of such businesses as movie theaters, hair and nail salons, barbershops and massage therapists as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25. The governor stressed that grocery stories and restaurants providing delivery or take-out service would be allowed to remain open.
In another cautionary note, Cooper said that state was “strongly urg[ing] those who are in the high-risk category to stay at home as much as possible.” Despite that, in answer to a reporter’s question, he also stated that, “Right now, we are not issuing a stay at home order, but this situation is always evolving.” In an op-ed released on March 24, the CEO of Vidant Health and the Dean of the Brody Medical School at East Carolina University had called for North Carolina to join other states and communities that had issued a “shelter in place” order.
Addressing the school closing issue, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said that, “Last week, it became very clear that [the pandemic] was going to be a multi-month” event. But he urged parents and students at home to seriously engage in the online learning curriculum being offered by the public schools, asserting, “We should not treat this as a long break.”
Officials at the briefing also provided an update on the number of COVID-19 cases in the state, which currently stands at 297 cases spread throughout 45 counties. To date, there have been no deaths attributed to the virus, but Cooper did indicate state officials are aware of 11 hospitalizations.