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Why Indoor Worship Services Riskier For Virus Transmission Than Shopping

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RLH / WHQR
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Shoppers at Lidl in Wilmington, May 2020

By May 12th, North Carolina was four days into Phase 1 of the reopening process.  Governor Roy Cooper says he’s encouraged by the initial numbers, but those pushing for earlier relaxation of restrictions are up against Cooper’s reliance on what he calls “data, facts and science.”

"The virus is likely to be with us for a while."

Moving to Phase 2 before May 22nd is not in the cards, says Governor Cooper, since it will take a minimum of 14 days to see whether the metrics are still going in the right direction. 

In the meantime, ramping up testing is a critical part of easing restrictions. 

Secretary Mandy Cohen of the Department of Health and Human Services says the activities officials chose to green light in Phase 1 involve less chance of transmission.  Anything outside – but even shopping, says Cohen, is far less risky than indoor worship services. 

"The things that are the highest risk are things that are indoors and sitting down.  And the reasons are several.  One, when you’re indoors, you don’t have same air circulation.  You have more surfaces that you touch -- door knobs, pews, etc.  Also, when you’re sitting down, it is that contact – it is more than 10 minutes within 6 feet – that is when the virus is most transmitted."

The Governor also announced that several North Carolina manufacturers have shifted their production lines from products as diverse as trade show displays and military camouflage netting to personal protective equipment such as isolation gowns and face shields.