NC to ‘pause’ in Phase 3 of re-opening

By on October 21, 2020

Current COVID cases surpass summer numbers

With the number of recent new cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina now surpassing previous highs reported back in July, Governor Roy Cooper announced on Oct. 21 that the state will remain “paused” in its current Phase Three of re-opening.

Gov. Roy Cooper

“Because several of our trends are moving in the wrong direction, North Carolina will remain paused in Phase Three for the next three weeks,” Cooper said at an afternoon press briefing. Phase Three, which went into effect on Oct. 2, did allow some businesses, ranging from outdoor bars to movie theaters to outdoor amusement parks, to re-open at limited capacity.

With North Carolina passing some sobering milestones on Oct. 21 — the number of total cases surpassed the 250,000 mark and the number of deaths exceeded 4,000 — NC Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen reviewed some of the current trends and key metrics in the state.

Pointing out that the number of new cases reported on Oct. 15 (2,532) and Oct. 16 (2,684) were the highest single-day numbers since the outbreak began, Cohen said, “We have now surpassed the previous peak” of new cases that occurred in July. With over 1,200 currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, Cohen noted that “that trend is increasing” as well.

The percentage of positive COVID-19 tests out of all tests administered is not as high as it was this summer when it hovered at around 9%. But after dropping to around 5% earlier this month, it has jumped to more than 7% in the past few days.

Cohen explained that the current COVID-19 uptick in the state cannot be attributed to a particular setting or super-spreader event. In the last two weeks, she said, the virus has spread in smaller “social gatherings” and “religious gatherings,” adding that currently, “the virus is everywhere in North Carolina.”

Cohen also acknowledged that the fall season — with colder weather moving more people inside — is creating the conditions in which “the virus likes to spread.” As they do at every such briefing, Cohen and Cooper repeatedly stated that the keys to stopping the spread of the virus are the so-called “Three W’s,” which include wearing a face covering, social distancing (“wait 6 feet apart”) and washing hands frequently and thoroughly.

Alluding to the fact that such measures as wearing a face covering have become a politically polarizing issue during the pandemic, Cooper added that, “Hopefully, getting past this election will help us come together on this thing.”

Dare County

Update: Dare County reported 6 new cases of COVID-19 on Oct. 21, bringing the total number of cases reported since the outset of the pandemic to 656. Five of the individuals are residents of Dare County and one is a non-resident. All five residents are isolating in Dare County while the one non-resident has been transferred to her home county. Of the 371 cases to date involving Dare County residents, 323 are listed as recovered and there are currently 44 active cases, including two people who are hospitalized, There have been three COVID-related deaths.


Statewide NC coronavirus numbers – Oct. 21

See Today’s COVID-19 Update for NC interactive charts

  • Total reported NC cases – 250,592
  • New cases reported today – 1,842
  • Reported NC deaths – 4,032
  • Currently hospitalized – 1,219
  • Suspected COVID-19 cases hospitalized in past 24 hours – 308 (up 70 since yesterday)
  • Confirmed COVID-19 case hospitalized in past 24 hours – 169 (up 49 since yesterday)
  • Adults in ICU with COVID-19 – 337 (up 9 since yesterday)
  • Patients presumed to be recovered – 218,541   
  • Reported cases in Dare, Currituck and Hyde Counties – 1,045 (Dare 650, Currituck 220, Hyde 175)
  • Completed tests – 3,683,243
  • Daily percent positive tests – 7.4%

Note: Every morning, the NC Department of Health and Human Services posts updates the 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.


Link to COVID-19 North Carolina Dashboard


  • Tom

    8 million cases is a pandemic. Why is it that 39-56 million cases of the flu not a pandemic? Clearly, by the numbers, the flu is many times more contagious.
    Stop the politics.

    Thursday, Oct 22 @ 10:56 am
  • Jon

    Tom, in a year the flu infects 56 million, that is clearly a pandemic. The 2009 H1N1 infected an estimated 61 million Americans and killed about 12,000. That was termed a pandemic at the time. You can read about that here:

    It’s important to note that current COVID-19 figures of 8 million are not estimated on the same basis as the annual flu count, those on based on test results and clinical evidence in the case of probable case counts. Estimated COVID-19 figures based on random antibody testing thus far would be 20-30 million Americans infected, most with no symptoms. So far about 200,000 have died, and the infection is still spreading.

    So, we had an estimated death rate of 2009 H1N1 of 0.02%, and have an estimated COVID-19 death rate of 0.6-1.0%.

    Thus, the flu is neither more contagious nor more deadly. Also, six months after H1N1 was termed a pandemic, there was a vaccine available.

    Thursday, Oct 22 @ 5:05 pm