Governor Roy Cooper reiterated the importance of the North Carolina home stay order as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus on Monday.
The spread of the virus is accelerating but at a “much slower rate” due to the rules of social distancing, Cooper said at a press conference. Cooper made the remarks as critics urged him to relax the restrictions that resulted in the closure of many businesses during the pandemic.
“What we do works,” said Cooper. “We save lives. Our biggest enemy is complacency. “
Cooper said he wanted people to stay at home until April. He also said, however, that he was working on a possible loosening of the restrictions, but that this should be done in a way that balances the recovery without overwhelming hospitals.
The governor also said that epidemiologists model the spread of the virus in the state and that these models show that the decrees work.
State Department of Health and Human Services Sec. Mandy Cohen said that social distancing “is our most powerful weapon against COVID-19”.
The Cooper administration also announced on Monday a new effort to reduce the prison population during the pandemic. Public Safety Secretary Eric Hooks said authorities are examining 500 detainees who have not committed violent crimes and who may be released to serve their sentences in the community.
“In an effort to ensure the safety of the personnel and people in our care, the Department of Public Safety has taken many measures in the past few weeks to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in institutions,” said Hooks.
Stay at home until April
Cooper said that what would happen over the next two weeks would determine the executive orders and restrictions that may be needed in May. He did not say whether he would extend the home stay.
A group called ReopenNC criticizes Cooper’s orders and wants the restrictions removed so that businesses can reopen, the News & Observer reported previously. But Cooper said on Monday that the “wholesale lifting” of these orders would be a “disaster”.
“Some people want us to completely remove these restrictions,” said Cooper. “It would be a disaster. The figures are very clear on these interventions we have entered: the limits of social gatherings, leaving school. limitations on bars and restaurants. This stuff works. “
President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that it was up to him and the federal government, not the governors, to decide on the reopening. Cooper said the governors are making “hard calls to protect the public” and “have this public health emergency authority” to issue residence orders.
“I would not see them (the Trump administration) deviating from what they have been doing from the very beginning (which is to give advice and let governors make decisions about their own state,” said Cooper .
As of Monday morning, North Carolina had 4,816 confirmed cases, 313 hospitalized, 86 deaths from the coronavirus, said Cooper.
The governor said he knew staying at home is not sustainable in the long term, “but there is overwhelming evidence that right now staying at home is saving lives.” He said that people really need to stay at home as much as possible for the next two weeks.
The pursuit of social separation recommended
Because the coronavirus will always be there until there is a vaccination, “when the restrictions are lifted, there will have to be continued social distancing. “
Cooper said he knew North Carolina’s economy needed to be revived, and the better the state could do the rest of April to flatten the curve, so “we can loosen the restrictions in May.”
Cooper’s announcement came as his statewide order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday setting new rules for retail stores and nursing homes.
Retail stores that are still open must limit their number of customers to no more than 20% of their maximum capacity at any given time, reported the News & Observer previously. Stores also need to clean more frequently and apply a social distance of six feet when paying or on other lines.
Cooper’s order also requires that qualified nursing facilities close off common areas, require employees to wear face masks and test residents and employees daily.
The state is facing an outbreak of COVID-19 in nursing homes, including two deaths reported on Monday at a facility in Franklin County. County Durham also announced three epidemic nursing homes on Monday.
Cooper previously issued a stay at home order from March 30 to April 29 and closed schools until May 15. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited and those who go out in public must maintain a social distance of 6 feet.
Cooper’s statewide home order followed some local orders, including Wake County and Durham, which had started a few days earlier. Cooper said residents should follow the strictest order. Since then, some cities and counties have issued night curfews.
The Cooper order came into force on the same day as the Virginia orders, which have a Democratic governor, and the Maryland orders, which have a Republican governor. The governors of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have been slower to put restrictions in place.
Cooper, a Democrat, and the Republicans-led General Assembly, have already started discussing COVID-19 legislation, including tax breaks, when the legislature returns to Raleigh for its short session on April 28. House committees on COVID-19 have met for weeks to draft a bill to consider passing it when the House and the Senate return. The logistics are still being worked out on how to get 170 legislators to vote safely.
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This is a developing story and will be updated.
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