Citing the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus, Gov. Roy Cooper announced today that a modified stay-at-home order goiees into place Friday at 5 p.m.
Businesses will be required to close at 10 p.m., and Cooper instructed that all residents should be home from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. In addition, all on-premises alcohol sales will end at 9 p.m.
“We will do more if there is no improvement,” Cooper warned.
The order requires everyone to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and takes effect Friday, December 11 and will be in place until at least Jan. 8, 2021.
“We already have strong safety protocols and capacity limitations in place – including a statewide mask requirement. With this additional action beginning Friday, we hope to get these numbers down,” Governor Cooper said. “Our new modified Stay At Home order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer, especially during the holidays. It’s also a reminder that we must be vigilant the rest of the day – wearing a face mask when we are with people we don’t live with, keeping a safe distance from others and washing our hands a lot.”
Columbus County has seen 74 of the state’s 5,605 deaths from COVID-19. Statewide, more than 404,000 total cases were documented as of this morning, with more than 4,000 new cases today.
When the state recorded 3,000 cases a day in November, Cooper said, officials were concerned.
“With three days over 6,000 new cases a day this weekend,” he said, “we were shocked.”
The order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and more to close at 10 p.m. The only exemptions are travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services; or to take care of a family member.
“This stay at home order just tells people they need to be at home,” Cooper said. “You still need to be careful the rest of the time, but you need to be home between 10 at night and five in the morning. It shows how important it is not to be at these gatherings where the virus can be spread.”
Face masks are already required by the executive order anywhere outside one’s own home, Cooper said.
North Carolina’s COVID rate has doubled in recent weeks, Secretary of Health and Human Services Director Mandy Cohen said. She noted that the state’s color-coded alert calendar had ten counties (including Columbus) in the red critical spread category when it was introduced Nov. 17. As of Saturday, 48 counties were listed as critical, with 34 in the orange or substantial spread category. Eighteen counties remain in the yellow category, with the lowest spread.
“Hospitals are beginning to feel the strain,” Cohen said. “We can slow this spread, but we have to do our part. We need to be sure there is room in our hospitals for someone suffering from a heart attack, a car wreck or COVID-19.”
Eleven hospitals across the state, including Bladen Memorial, will receive the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, likely next week, Cohen said. Plans are being finalized for all 100 hospitals in the state to receive sufficient quantities of the vaccines for front line medical workers and the most vulnerable. CVS and Walgreen’s pharmacies are also gearing up to provide vaccinations to longterm care patients.
Neither Cooper and Cohen directly answered questions forth press about enforcement of mask mandates and the new stay at home orders. They did renew calls for local law agencies to enforce the executive orders.
The new executive order goes into effect Friday. Cooper also warned that additional sanctions, including stricter stay-at-home orders, could be in the future.
“This is about saving lives,” he said.