According to the latest data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, individuals under the age of 50 make up 67% of COVID-19 cases but only 5% of COVID-19 deaths. Plus, statewide metrics continue to worsen.
Gov. Roy Cooper said he plans to release information about the next phase of reopening early next week. As North Carolina’s COVID-19 trends continue to increase, Cooper is considering making facial coverings mandatory.
Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina faces its first real wave of the virus. The state hit a new record number of cases on June 12 and has one of the highest percent of positive COVID-19 cases in the country.
New guidance from the state outlines requirements and recommendations for K-12 schools to safely reopen this fall. Plus, North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics are making national news — and not in a good way.
Carolina Public Press and other news media organizations filed a lawsuit May 28 to obtain public records relating to state’s tracking and handling of COVID-19 crisis.
As of May 25, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, there are zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hot Springs. However, the town is still following statewide protocols to help flatten the curve of coronavirus infections, and businesses such as Laughing Heart Lodge have borne the impacts.
Restaurants, pools and personal care services — including salons and barber shops — will be allowed to open at 50% capacity, while child care facilities, day camps and overnight camps can open with “enhanced cleaning and screening requirements.”
The two bills signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper on May 4, both unanimously passed by the General Assembly, together designate nearly $1.6 billion for the state’s COVID-19 response and grant flexibility in many areas of regulation.
“My whole world seems to be closing,” says Danny Bernstein, an Asheville-based outdoors writer who regularly leads hikes for the Carolina Mountain Club and Friends of the Smokies. “Staying 6 feet apart is easy on the trail. But how can we have outdoor activity if almost every piece of public land is closed?”
Even as people resume small gatherings, they will be expected to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet and follow public health guidance on sanitation and masks. The county’s cap on wedding and funeral attendance remains at 10 people, less than the state limit of 50.
Cancer therapies, joint replacements and other elective procedures that had been postponed due to the initial COVID-19 response will be the first to return. Since North Carolina’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was announced on March 3, the Mission system has treated just over 20 inpatients for the disease.
“It’s important to get our economy moving forward. We’re helping with unemployment payments, stimulus money and the businesses that continue to be open,” Gov. Roy Cooper said at an April 23 press conference. “But I won’t risk the health of our people or our hospitals. And easing these restrictions now would do that.”
“Consider the consequences if we move to open things up too early or too fast: We risk losing all the gains and advantages our proactive and aggressive measures have afforded us,” said Fletcher Tove, the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator. “If we get rid of our parachute too early, we’ll go into another free fall.”
While specific conditions would be decided “on a case-by-case basis,” said N.C. Secretary of Public Safety Erik Hooks, prisoners could be tracked using home confinement or electronic monitors to ensure they were adhering to their sentences. He noted that juvenile offenders were also being diverted from detention facilities to community-based programs whenever possible.
The new executive order, effective 5 p.m. on Monday, April 13, limits shoppers to 20% of a store’s permitted fire capacity or five customers per 1,000 square feet. High-volume locations such as checkouts must mark six-foot spaces to ensure social distancing in customer lines, and all stores must conduct “frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas.”
“Our current best estimate is that if, after April 29, we immediately return to the rates of viral transmission occurring prior to widespread social distancing, stress on hospitals to cope with rising demand from COVID-19 patients could begin as soon as Memorial Day,” says the report, prepared by a team of North Carolina scientists.
Although multiple trucks of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile have been delivered to other parts of North Carolina by the National Guard over the past week, according to state Director of Emergency Management Mike Sprayberry, county officials say they aren’t aware of any such deliveries to local health care workers.
“Buncombe County is going to take actions that best safeguard the public health for Buncombe County residents,” said Fletcher Tove, the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator. He confirmed that the county’s more stringent rules would remain in place through at least the morning of Thursday, April 9.
At a March 27 press conference, Gov. Roy Cooper announced a stay-at-home order, effective throughout North Carolina at 5 p.m. Monday, March 30, that will stay in effect until Wednesday, April 29 — nearly three weeks longer than the duration of Buncombe County’s recently enacted mandate.
The new order, which will take effect at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, orders “all individuals anywhere in Buncombe County to stay at home,” with limited exceptions for essential activities, through 6 a.m. Thursday, April 9.
At a March 24 press conference, Fletcher Tove, Buncombe County’s emergency preparedness coordinator, said public health staff were finalizing a new supplemental state of emergency declaration that would mandate a “stay home, stay safe” approach to fighting the spread of the disease.