Gov. Cooper praises progress, urges caution
Phase Two of the COVID-19 lockdown will continue for five weeks in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press conference today.
Cooper said the state has shown some signs of stability, but “stability is fragile.
“We do not want to make the same mistakes of opening too rapidly,” Cooper said. “We have seen what has happened in other states, when hospitals were overwhelmed by new cases caused by reopening too soon.”
Cooper touted that schools, colleges and universities are reopening, although with many changes due to the pandemic.
“Remote learning is now much more common,” he said. “Classrooms will have fewer students, masks are required, and social distancing will be enforced. But schools are reopening.”
Cooper said the shift to remote learning has shown a “significant decrease” in the line of infections.
“We want to have a good line of sight on the trends,” Dept. of Health and Human Services secretary Mandy Cohen said.
Cooper said the controversial alcohol curfew has contributed to the stabilization rate, since “restaurants were turning into bars, and bars are an area where the virus spreads.”
Cohen said officials will continue to monitor viral spread data to make a decision of further reopenings in five weeks.
Cooper said the five week extension was suggested by virus experts, as long as mandatory mask usage and other rules stay in place.
“We know that’s having a positive effect,” he said.
“Our cases are still too high,” she said. “Our resources are still being tested, whether it’s testing or hospital resources…we have seen those numbers going in the right direction, and want to encourage people to remain on the same path.”
The governor also said that if businesses defy the closing orders, “then we will use local law enforcement and the Alcohol Law Enforcement to enforce the orders. We’ve done it before.”
Cooper said retailers have done a better job than bars and other businesses in enforcing the mask rules. He also said that DHHS has contacted businesses that were known not to be in compliance. Cooper emphasized that local law enforcement and where possible, ALE officers are being used to strictly enforce the mask mandate.
Cooper said he hopes the state will be able to reopen before a vaccine is completed.
“If people will do the things they are supposed to do,” he said, “we hope we would be able to do that.”
Cooper said he had toured the areas struck by Hurricane Isaias earlier Wednesday, and saw “a glimmer of hope which we have gotten familiar with.
“Whether it’s a hurricane or a pandemic, we know the difficult times will not last forever,” he said.