The Stay At Home Order in North Carolina is now extended through May 8th. State officials say it’s clear the restrictions are working to flatten the curve and slow the spread of Covid-19. They also lay out the plan for gradually reopening the state.
The extension of the Stay At Home Order means restaurants and bars, hair and nail salons, movie theaters and other entertainment venues must remain closed. However, Governor Roy Cooper says that after May 8th, if officials see the main benchmarks trending in the right direction, reopening will unfold in three phases.
"The Stay At Home Order in Phase 1 will remain in place, but it will be modified to allow more reasons to leave home including commercial activities at any business allowed to be open – such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, bookstores, and other kinds of retailers. That will open more opportunities to go out safely without the restriction of only going out for needed supplies."
Parks will also re-open – as long as people don’t gather in groups of more than ten.
Phase 2, planned for two to three weeks later, will allow bars and restaurants to open at reduced capacity and more people to gather.
Phase 3, four to six weeks later, allows increased capacity at bars and restaurants, larger gatherings and the opening of entertainment venues.
But all this is contingent, says Governor Cooper on the data.
"If our infections spike or our benchmark trends start to move in the wrong direction, we may have to move back to previous phase in order to protect public health."
Strict requirements will remain in place for nursing homes and other congregate living facilities. The Governor says there will be an announcement Friday afternoon about plans for reopening North Carolina schools.
In order to begin lifting restrictions, Secretary Mandy Cohen of the Department of Health and Human Services laid out the key metrics that will guide decision-making:
- Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
- Currently, North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing over the last 14 days.
- Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
- Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases over the last 14 days cases is still increasing, although at a slower rate.
- Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
- Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive over the last 14 days is increasing at a slow rate.
- Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
- Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations over the last 14 days is largely level with a slight trend upward.
In addition to these metrics, the state will continue building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These include:
- Increase in Laboratory Testing
- Currently, North Carolina is testing approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people per day and is working to increase to at least 5,000 to 7,000 per day.
- Increase in Tracing Capability
- Currently, North Carolina has approximately 250 people doing contact tracing across its local health departments and is working to double this workforce to 500.
- Availability of Personal Protective Equipment
- The state is working to ensure there are adequate supplies to fulfill requests for critical PPE for at least 30 days. This includes face shields, gloves, gowns, N95 masks, and surgical and procedural masks. Currently the state has less than 30 days supply of gowns and N95 masks. Availability of PPE is calculated based on the average number of requests for the last 14 days compared to the supply that the state has on hand.