Cooper: COVID-19 will still be in NC, ‘but won’t disrupt us’

The governor and state health leaders detailed N.C.’s new response to the pandemic.
Gov. Roy Cooper has a news conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
Gov. Roy Cooper has a news conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday.(PBSNC)
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 6:29 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2022 at 12:26 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) – Gov. Roy Cooper said it’s time for North Carolina to “chart a new course” in the fight against COVID-19.

During a Thursday news conference, Cooper lamented on what the state and the rest of the world have been through over the past two years.

“Personally, I expected many challenges as governor, but a global pandemic was not one of them,” he said.

The governor struck an upbeat tone, saying North Carolinians can look ahead “with the belief that the worst is behind us.”

“In the last two years, we wrote a history of hardship and resilience, challenges and victories, setbacks and successes. We enter the next phase of individual responsibility, preparedness and prosperity,” Cooper said. “It’s time to chart a new course. The virus will still be with us, but won’t disrupt us.”

His remarks came as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decline.

As of Wednesday, the state’s COVID-19 daily percent-positivity rate was 2.6%, a stark contrast from the 37.8 percent positive rate several weeks ago.

Officials also reported 799 are hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday. That’s the lowest number of coronvarius-related hospitalizations the state has seen since last July.

In his remarks, Cooper remembered the more than 23,000 North Carolinians who have lost their lives “to this cruel virus and their families still hurt today.”

Despite the state’s improving metrics, there were questions about the spread of the omicron subvariant BA.2.

Related: Omicron sub-variant BA.2 spreading across U.S. as COVID cases rise in parts of Europe and China

Kody Kinsley, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said that subvariant is driving an increased spread in parts of Europe. He noted it will have to be watched to see when it might be dominant in N.C., noting that the trend is usually four to six weeks behind Europe.

According to Kinsley, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard will move to a weekly update starting March 23 and the summary page will feature the following metrics:

  • Wastewater surveillance
  • COVID-like illnesses coming to the hospital
  • Hospital admissions for COVID-19
  • Case trends
  • Those who have received boosters
  • Prevalence of variants
  • CDC community-level spread

The state’s core four areas of focus moving forward will be empowering individuals, maintaining health service capacity, collaborating with local partners and prioritizing equity.

Thursday’s remarks followed 69 members of the House Republican caucus signing a letter calling on Cooper to rescind the governor’s state of emergency order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, initiated in March of 2020.

Most recently, the governor refused to rescind the order due to allowing health care agencies continued access to emergency funds from state and federal pools they otherwise wouldn’t get.

Cooper said Thursday the state of emergency would remain in effect.

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