By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on August 5, 2020
Stating that “stable is good, but decreasing is better,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said today that the state will remain “paused” in its current “Safer at Home” Phase Two of reopening for five more weeks.
The current “Safer-at-Home” response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been in effect since May 22, and its extension means that businesses such as bars and gyms are still officially prohibited from operating.
During his 4 p.m. briefing on Aug. 5, Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary (NCDHHS) Mandy Cohen alluded to what Cohen described as “glimmers of hope” in the trajectory of the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
But referring to the start of some public school in-person learning as well as the return of students to college campuses this month, Cooper cautioned that those openings mean that “people will move around more and so will the virus…we know there will be a lot of movement and some spreading of the virus…One of the things we don’t want to do is to go backward.”
In response to a reporter’s question, the governor said that the decision to keep the current phase of restrictions in effect for five more weeks was based on a desire to have time to see what happens during the school re-openings.
In recent days, there has been some improving news about the trajectory of COVID-19 in North Carolina — most notably, a decrease in the number of new cases reported each day — leading Cohen to say at the briefing that “we see subtle signs of progress.”
In reviewing key COVID-19 trends, Cohen said the trend measuring those who visit emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms is “declining, but is still “high above its baseline.” In terms of new lab reported cases, the NCDHHS Secretary stated that, “We are starting to stabilize, but the rate of these cases is still high.”
Positive COVID-19 tests as a percentage of all tests administered is still hovering between 7% and 8%, Cohen added, which is substantially above the desired goal of 5% positivity. And the number of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are “beginning to flatten,” according to Cohen.
During the Q&A session with reporters following his remarks, Cooper was asked whether he thought North Carolina would be able to further ease restrictions and move into a Phase Three of re-opening before a vaccine becomes widely available.
“I hope that we will,” he responded, without venturing further, “because there are ways to control the spread of this virus.”