By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on September 1, 2020
The data behind Governor Roy Cooper’s easing of some COVID-19 restrictions in North Carolina, shows key trends that are stabilizing or, in some cases, declining. But they don’t have state officials chalking the pandemic up in the win column yet.
“Stability isn’t victory,” Cooper noted pointedly at his Sept. 1 briefing announcing the move to a “Safer-at-Home” Phase 2.5 of opening.
Under the easing of restrictions announced today, the limits on mass indoor gatherings will increase from 10 to 25 and will move up from 25 to 50 people outdoors. Playgrounds may now open. Museums and aquariums can open at 50% capacity. And gyms and other indoor exercise facilities are now allowed to operate at 30% capacity.
However, some businesses will continue to remain closed, such as bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment venues and amusement parks. And on Aug. 31, Cooper signed an Executive Order maintaining the ban against restaurants selling alcohol after 11 p.m. until Oct. 2
The move to ease some restrictions and move out of the “Safer-at-Home” Phase 2 that the state had been observing since May 22 was telegraphed by a statement issued by the governor’s press office the day before. But the measures announced today, gradual and moderate, reflected what Cooper called “our state’s dimmer switch approach to easing some restrictions.” And it will no doubt leave some businesses disappointed, if not angry.
For her part, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen walked through the key metrics that helped guide the Sept. 1 announcement.
The number of people presenting at emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms, effectively and early warning system for tracking the virus, has “been declining for over a month,” Cohen said.
As for the actual number of reported COVID-19 cases, Cohen noted that “our cases are stabilizing over the past fourteen days, but our new cases are [still] at a level too high.” (On the day of the Sept 1 announcement, North Carolina reported 2,111 new cases, the highest daily total since late July.)
Another key measure, the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests out of all tests administered, has remained stable at about 7%, Cohen said, noting, however, that the state would like to bring that number down to 5%.
And turning to the number of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina, the secretary said that the numbers have been “declining” since a July peak, but are “still elevated.”
Cohen did explain that these generally improving numbers come even with some significant outbreaks on college campuses in recent weeks. And in discussing the broader picture of COVID-19 in the state, she offered a kind of understated upbeat assessment.
“We saw these trends stabilize and begin to move downward,” Cohen explained. “Our overall metrics show signs of stability.”
What’s new today: More than 2,000 new cases reported today.
Note: Every morning, the NC Department of Health and Human Services posts updates o number of reported cases of coronavirus. That number reflects positive results from all tests, including the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all hospital and commercial labs. There may be other reports, from the media and elsewhere, that will include different numbers during a given day, but this is an effective way of tracking numbers from the same source on a day-to-day basis.
SOURCE: NC DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Link to Covid 19 North Carolina Dashboard