Public schools in North Carolina will open for in-person classes in the fall if Covid-19 metrics trend in the right direction.
State leaders say opening schools will not happen if it puts the health and safety of students and teachers at risk.
"I am concerned."
Mandy Cohen, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, says opening schools is a top priority. But the metrics right now are not going in a good direction.
In fact, says Dr. Cohen, North Carolina’s alarming rise in cases and hospitalizations caught the attention over the weekend of White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.
"On Saturday, we reported our highest number of new, laboratory-confirmed cases in one day at 1370 new cases. At the same time, our other key metrics have moved in the wrong direction. Covid-19 hospitalizations are increasing and stand at 739 statewide. The percent of tests that are positive is now among the highest in the nation."
Mandy Cohen says one of the drivers of the increase is greater movement by people two weeks after the state moved to phase two of reopening.
State officials say it’s especially important for people who have attended protests or any kind of mass gathering to get tested. Cohen also suggests that people working in high-risk jobs with lots of foot traffic – such as grocery stores or meat processing facilities get tested as soon as possible.
It’s hard to get a handle on the virus, says Cohen, in part, because of the two-week incubation period and because people can spread the virus without having any symptoms.