RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina will remain in Phase 2 of reopening for five more weeks, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday.
“In keeping with our dimmer switch approach with schools opening, and in order to push for decreasing numbers which will keep people healthier and boost our economy, North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for five weeks,” Cooper said in a news conference Wednesday. “Experts believe our mandatory mask order stabilized our numbers. And just last week, we added a curfew on alcohol sales to keep restaurants from turning into bars, which are high-transmission areas.
“Our success at returning thousands of students, teachers, and staff safely to classrooms this month depends on us doing what works. Most North Carolinians are doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 – wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart and washing hands often.
“These simple strategies are more important than ever. It’s time to double down on them. The more people who do this, the better our health and economy will be.”
The current executive order signed in July that kept the state in its “Safer at Home” Phase 2 plan for an additional three weeks is set to expire at 5 p.m. Friday.
Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said that the decision to extend Phase 2 for five weeks as opposed to two or three weeks was tied to public schools reopening this month.
“We know that school openings are going to happen over a number of weeks over the course of August,” Cohen said. “We want to be able to have a good line of sight after those openings to make sure that we understand which way our trends are heading—are they still continuing to be stable, going downward or go upward.”
During the news conference, Cohen said that some of the state’s numbers had leveled:
- The syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is declining, though remains elevated.
- The trajectory of lab-confirmed cases has stabilized but remains high.
- The trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is stable but still elevated.
- The trajectory of hospitalizations is beginning to level.