RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Health officials on Gov. Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 task force said Friday that the state’s COVID-19 metrics are stabilizing just as a new restriction on alcohol sales takes effect.
The task force, which is comprised of heads of state agencies and representatives from the private sector, met Friday by phone conference.
“It’s been a hard battle for a number of months,” said Gov. Cooper (D). “Our trends that Dr. Cohen goes over with the public at least once a week they are starting to stabilize.”
Cooper recently extended phase two of the state’s reopening once again, with an executive order that’s scheduled to end August 7.
He did not indicate that he would act to open additional sectors of the economy at that point. Various businesses such as bars, movie theaters, and gyms remain closed in phase two.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is running against Cooper this year for governor, has filed a lawsuit against him. A judge scheduled a hearing in that case for Tuesday, August 4.
This week, Gov. Cooper announced a statewide curfew on alcohol sales requiring businesses to stop selling alcohol at 11 p.m. beginning Friday. He said he’s concerned about restaurants that are operating similar to bars late at night, especially as college students plan to return to school soon.
Dr. Betsy Tilson, state health director, said following the increase in COVID-19 cases as the state reopened, North Carolina is now seeing its key metrics stabilize though they are high. That includes the number of positive tests each as well as the percent of those tests that are positive.
“What we are finding is we are having more and more widespread community transmission, so community transmission that we can’t identify the actual setting. We can’t identify the actual outbreak,” she said.
She noted the state is continuing to see long turnaround times on COVID-19 tests, which has been an issue across the country as demand for tests has surged and strained resources to conduct those tests.
Cooper said the state’s mandate on wearing masks also has contributed to the stabilization of COVID-19 cases.
“The science on this is clear on this, and now it’s time to double down,” he said. “I think it’s evidence that our go-slow approach in making sure that we’re emphasizing prevention is making a real difference.”
UNC system interim president Dr. Bill Roper, whose last day on the job is Friday, talked about plans for students to return to colleges and universities. He acknowledged the skepticism and concerns some community members have raised about thousands of people returning to school. Roper said the schools are trying to create a “culture of compliance.”
Since the last task force meeting, emergency management Director Mike Sprayberry, said the state has leased a warehouse in Mocksville “to consolidate PPE operations for receiving and distribution.” He said the state is trying to stockpile that equipment for any potential surge that may still come.
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