Gov. Roy Cooper extends stay-at-home order, announces phased reopening of state

Jackie Park, Reporter

Gov. Roy Cooper announced in a press conference Thursday that North Carolina’s stay-at-home order is extended through May 8.

“I will not risk the health of our people or our hospitals, and easing these restrictions now would do that,” Cooper said.

Cooper said North Carolina is on the right track to lift restrictions, but needs to see more consistent trends.

“I know people want their lives and their livelihoods back… but first, we need to hit certain metrics,” Cooper said.

Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said the state is looking at four metrics to determine whether or not stay-at-home is still needed:

  • COVID-like syndromic cases over 14 days
  • Lab-confirmed cases over 14 days
  • Positive tests as a percentage of total tests over 14 days
  • Hospitalizations over 14 days

Cohen shared graphics that show the state is declining in the first category; however, a decrease is not apparent in the other three.

The conference also brought guidelines for a three-part phased reopening of the state’s economy after the order ends.

In the first phase, the state’s stay-at-home order is still in place, but residents are able to leave their homes for “commercial activity,” which is not limited to essentials. Teleworking is still encouraged in this phase and individuals are encouraged to continue wearing face coverings.

Phase two will come after two to three weeks of phase one see a lift in the stay-at-home order, but encourages “at-risk” citizens to stay home. During this time, restaurants, bars and places of worship may operate with reduced capacities.

Phase three will come four to six weeks after phase two and increase capacities for restaurants, bars, places of worship and entertainment venues. This phase will also see an increase in number of people allowed at gatherings.

Cooper said that if the state begins to see metrics backtrack, residents could see restrictions placed again and a movement backward in phases.

“North Carolinians are tough. We’ve been through trying times. And I know that we will tap that resiliency to look out for each other, encourage each other and support each other as we beat this virus. And we will beat this virus,” Cooper said.