COVID-19 hospitalizations at statewide high amid reopening plans

Xanayra Marin-Lopez, Reporter

COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Carolina are at an all-time high while the state looks to move into Phase Two by Friday at the earliest. 

A total of 585 hospitalizations as of May 19 broke the previous high on April 21 with 551 patients. There are 19,700 laboratory confirmed cases and 700 coronavirus deaths total.  Avery County, once reporting no cases saw its first on Monday, making coronavirus present in all 100 NC counties.

“It’s another reminder that as we look forward to Phase Two, we have to practice new habits,” NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said in a press conference Tuesday. 

When asked about the high hospitalization numbers and possible reopening, Cohen said this is one of the trends taken into account when considering the next phase. 

“We saw hospitalization tick up between yesterday and today,” Cohen said. “We are watching that very closely, I wanna see what tomorrow, the rest of the week brings us in terms of that number. But when I look overall, we’ve largely been stable.”

In Phase Two, the stay-at-home order will be lifted while “at-risk” populations such as the elderly and immunocompromised are encouraged to still stay home. Restaurants, bars and places of worship will operate with people at reduced capacities. Guidelines of gatherings of less than ten people will be relaxed, allowing for an increased number of people to congregate at once.

The state would remain in Phase Two for four to six weeks before deciding  to move forward to Phase Three.

Governor Cooper said he is hopeful for Phase Two in a press conference May 18.

“We still need to look at a couple of more days of the data. We should be able to announce something this week by mid-week regarding what’s going to happen on Friday,” Cooper said.