WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina will remain in Phase 3 for the next three weeks due to worsening COVID-19 trends across the state, Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Wednesday.
Phase 3 was originally set to expire on Friday, but will now be extended until 5 p.m., Nov. 13.
“Because several of our trends are moving in the wrong direction, North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 3 for the next 3 weeks,” Cooper said during a news conference Wednesday. "We hope that greater enforcement, strong community leadership and more people doing the right things can lower these numbers.
“It’s critical that we take this time to focus on the basics — wear a mask, wash your hands, wait six feet apart from other people. These are the habits that helped lower our numbers over the summer, and they are still our best tools.”
Earlier Wednesday, it was announced that due to the state’s COVID-19 trends continue to move in the wrong direction, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the N.C. Department of Public Safety sent a letter to county and municipal leaders in three dozen counties asking them for help slowing the spread of the virus.
In the letter, state officials also encouraged local leaders to consider actions that would help improve compliance with executive orders.
New Hanover County was among the 36 counties that received a copy of the letter. State officials say those counties met the following metrics:
- The county has had 300 or more new cases in the last 14 days and has been identified by the White House Task Force as a county of concern
- The rate of cases is greater than 50 cases per 10,000 people
- Or the county is one of the three most populous in the state.
In the last 14 days, New Hanover County health officials have reported 430 new cases of COVID-19.
“The incredible work of our local partners has allowed North Carolina to avoid the first and second waves of rapid spikes in COVID-19 positives that devastated so many other states. To protect our communities, we must continue working together in this fight against COVID-19,” wrote NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen and NCDPS Secretary Erik A. Hooks.
In addition to encouraging residents to continue to practice the 3Ws, state officials outlined actions that local governments could take to help enforce compliance with COVID-19 executive orders. Some of the examples mentioned in the letter include:
- Adopting an ordinance that imposes a civil penalty for violating its provisions.
- Issuing a local Emergency Proclamation setting higher standards to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Supporting the local health director to issue and enforce an Imminent Hazard Abatement Order against entities whose actions, including failure to comply with the governor’s executive order, present an imminent hazard to your community.
In addition to New Hanover County, letters were sent to the following counties: Alamance, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chowan, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Davidson, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gaston, Graham, Greene, Guilford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Moore, Nash, Onslow, Pitt, Randolph, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Scotland, Union, Wake, Watauga and Wayne.