By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on December 8, 2020
Declaring that COVID-19 “is upon us with a rapid viciousness that we haven’t seen before,” Governor Roy Cooper announced today that starting on Friday, the state will be under a “Modified Stay-At-Home Order” that will require people to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and mandates that a number of businesses close by 10 p.m.
A Dec. 8 release from Cooper’s office identifies some of the businesses affected by the 10 p.m. closing mandate, including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and personal care businesses. Those exempt from the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. stay-at-home rule include those obtaining food, medical care, social services or taking care of a family member. The new order goes into effect Dec. 11 at 5 p.m.
While stopping short of enacting more sweeping measures to battle the spread of COVID-19, Cooper stated at the Dec. 8 briefing: “Let me be clear. We will do more if our trends don’t improve.”
Before announcing the new order, the briefing by Cooper and NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen was designed to hammer home the extent of the dramatic spread of the virus in North Carolina in recent weeks.
To that end, Cohen noted that the state had only reached a record-high 3,000 daily cases for the first time on Nov. 11. Now, the daily count has already exceeded 6,000 new cases twice.
Running through key trends with the virus, Cohen said the number of people showing up in emergency rooms with COVID-like symptoms is now “at its highest level since the pandemic began.” The daily percentage of positive tests out of all tests administered, now hovering at around 10%, is the “highest rate since early in the pandemic when testing levels were much lower,” she said.
Cohen also said that the state is now experiencing a record number of COVID-related hospitalizations and people hospitalized in ICUs. “Hospitals are feeling the strain,” she added.
Pointing to the state ‘s new color-coded County Alert maps, Cohen added that 82 of the state’s 100 counties are now in the orange zone (meaning substantial spread of the virus) or the red zone (critical community spread) — a significant increase over two weeks earlier.
In offering Christmas advice, Cohen asked North Carolinians to “please avoid traveling and gathering this holiday season.”
“If you must,” she continued, individuals should be tested before they travel, wear masks at all times, make gatherings as small as possible and keep events outdoors, if possible.
Moving to a far more positive aspect of the war on COVID, Cohen also explained that the earliest, limited doses of the new COVID vaccine could arrive in the state as early as next week. She reiterated that the first vaccinations would be administered to health care workers who work directly with COVID patients, and then to staff and residents at long-term care facilities.
Cohen also explained that people will require two doses of the vaccine spaced several weeks apart, with Cooper stating that, “We’re not looking at [the vaccine] to have a major impact on viral spread in the near future.”