Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a press conference Tuesday that North Carolina will move into Safer at Home Phase 2.5 beginning at 5 p.m. this Friday. Under this phase, limits on mass gatherings will …
Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing to the News + Record – you can do so by clicking here.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a press conference Tuesday that North Carolina will move into Safer at Home Phase 2.5 beginning at 5 p.m. this Friday. Under this phase, limits on mass gatherings will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoor, and the age requirement for mask wearing will now include children down to age 5.
Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment and amusement parks will remain closed while the following will be able to open: playgrounds, museums and aquariums at 50% capacity and gyms at 30%. Capacity limits at restaurants and personal care businesses — such as hair and nail salons — will stay the same. And as Cooper announced Monday, his order that requires restaurants to stop serving alcoholic beverages at 11 p.m. will remain in effect until Oct. 2.
“After a summer of hard work, we’ve seen North Carolina’s key indicators for COVID-19 remain stable, or even decrease in some cases. Our pause in Phase 2 was necessary as students returned to school and college campuses,” Cooper said, adding the opening of college campuses did result in some outbreaks and increases of cases. “We’re encouraged, but cautious. Stability isn’t victory. The forest isn’t as thick, but we’re not out of the woods.”
In North Carolina, Cooper said there are 169,425 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,111 cases reported since Monday and 953 people being hospitalized for the virus. At the time of the conference, 2,741 North Carolinians had died. In Chatham, as of Sept. 1, there were 1,494 cases of COVID-19 and 56 deaths. Across Chatham, 39% of cases were found in people aged 25-49, while 70% of the deaths were in people 75 years and older.
According to Dr. Mandy Cohen, the director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, the state experienced its highest level of community transmission cases and hospitalizations in June and July. Cohen said the trajectory of cases, positive tests as a percentage of total tests and trajectory of hospitalizations were all stable, with increased contact tracing and Personal Protective Equipment in the state. While people are getting their COVID-19 test results faster — averaging about two days — Cohen said fewer people are getting tested, and she reminded anyone with symptoms or potential exposure to get tested.
“Thanks to the hard work of North Carolinians, especially with wearing face coverings, we saw those trends stabilize and begin to move downward,” she said. “While the back-to-school season provided new opportunities for the virus to spread — and we did see outbreaks at our universities — our overall metrics show signs of stability. Your hard work is having an impact, and we must keep working together to continue this progress."
Cohen then emphasized the continued adherence to the three W’s: wear a mask, wash your hands and wait six feet apart. As the flu season approaches, she also urged North Carolinians to get their flu shots.
Under Phase 2.5, Cooper said at-risk populations are still encouraged to stay home when possible. Outdoor visits at skilled nursing homes are allowed for the first time since their lockdown in March. These visits were allowed at other long-term living facilities earlier, but skilled nursing homes typically care for the most “fragile” people, increasing the necessary caution for guidelines at those facilities.
“North Carolinians, most of you are showing you know how to fight this disease, and most of you should be proud of yourselves,” Cooper said. “Remember, every time you wear your mask or social distance, you’re helping our statewide numbers so we can ease restrictions. You’re protecting people known and unknown. You’re saving lives and you’re slowing the spread of this virus. Because of our stable numbers, today we’re ready to take a careful step forward... Let’s keep doing what we know works. Let’s stay strong, and let’s beat this virus. I know we can — and I know that we can come out stronger on the other side.”
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at email@example.com.