RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state’s Phase 2 reopening plan will be extended for five weeks. Phase 2 was expected to expire on Friday.
It's been three weeks since Cooper originally extended the Phase 2 executive order. It means gyms, bars, and entertainment venues will remain closed since they first shut their doors in March.
Cooper said since the last COVID-19 update, North Carolina has passed the "solemn benchmark" of 2,000 people who have died due to the coronavirus.
"Every single one of them represents a family in mourning and a community grieving their loss," Gov. Cooper said.
"They are more than numbers on a chart — they are North Carolinians who are missed dearly."
NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen shared the latest metrics tracking COVID-19 in North Carolina. She said it appears the state is starting to stabilize, but the rate of cases is still high.
Governor Cooper said "stable is good but decreasing is better," adding while numbers are stabilizing it doesn't mean the state can let up on COVID-19 response.
As of Wednesday, North Carolina had just under 130,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the majority of them being presumed recoveries. Cooper said he's making decisions based on the state's latest coronavirus data. The last time he extended Phase 2, state health officials were concerned about a rising number of new coronavirus cases as well as increased hospitalizations.
Cooper warned against reopening too fast.
“Other states that lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher. We will not make that mistake in North Carolina,” Cooper said.
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is declining, though remains elevated.
Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases has stabilized but remains high.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is stable but still elevated.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is beginning to level.
Here's a look at some of the differences between Phase 2 and Phase 3.
- Restaurants, hair salons, camps and public pools are allowed to reopen but with limited capacity.
- Bars, gyms and entertainment venues remain closed.
- Mass gatherings of more than 25 people in outdoor spaces are prohibited. The limit is 10 people for indoor spaces.
- Businesses that are already open would be able to increase capacity while maintaining social distancing.
- Larger groups can gather. Cooper has not defined a new maximum for mass gatherings.
- Visitation limits are still likely to be in place for vulnerable populations such as nursing homes.