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RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper introduced a new COVID-19 county alert system during a news conference on Tuesday.

You can see the alert map here.

The alert system shows viral hotspots in North Carolina to let residents know where the highest amounts of community spread are located.

Counties of concern are designated as red, orange or yellow.

“Right now, North Carolina’s metrics are increasing not surging,” Cooper said. “But a surge can happen quickly.

Three specific metrics are used to determine if a county should be labeled red, orange or yellow:

  • Case rate
  • Percent positive
  • Hospital impact

“These are from the same set of metrics we use every week to give an update on how North Carolina is doing with COVID-19,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the system will also include additional recommendations for individuals, businesses, community organizations and public officials on actions they should take.

North Carolina currently remains in Phase 3.

Under Phase 3:

  • Restrictions for vulnerable populations will be lessened with encouragement to continue practicing social distancing
  • Rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and congregate care settings will continue.
  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators. 
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, like arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less. 
  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Bars may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less. 
  • Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only. 
  • The limits on mass gatherings will be reduced to 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. 
  • The 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars will be extended.

Timeline of NC coronavirus restrictions

NC entered first entered Phase 1 on Friday, May 8.

In phase 1:

  • Most businesses could reopen
  • Retail businesses reopened at 50% capacity with frequent cleaning and social distancing
  • Parks and trails were encouraged to reopen
  • Certain businesses (gyms, salons, bars, theaters, etc.) remain closed
  • Restaurants continued to be take out and delivery only
  • Gatherings were still limited to 10 people, but gatherings with friends outdoors were allowed
  • Employers were still encouraged to telework when possible
  • Childcare centers that followed strict cleaning requirements opened for working parents or those looking for work
  • Worship services of more than 10 people were allowed outdoors if socially distanced

North Carolina entered Phase 2 of reopening on Friday, May 22.

The state-wide stay-at-home order went into effect on March 30. It was initially to be in effect for 30 days, but was extended until May 8, at which point the state entered Phase 1.

During a news conference on Aug. 5, Cooper said North Carolina will stay in Phase 2 for five weeks.

Under Phase 2:

  • Gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
  • Retail stores that are cleaning and social distancing are open at 50% capacity
  • Salons are open at 50% capacity
  • Working from home is encouraged
  • Bars and nightclubs are closed
  • Gyms are closed
  • Movie theaters are closed
  • Bowling alleys are closed
  • Indoor music venues and skating rinks are closed
  • Museums are closed
  • Arenas and stadiums are closed
  • Pools are open with restrictions
  • Long-term care visitation is not allowed

In North Carolina, about 1,501 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus as of 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

3,228 new cases were reported on Monday.

Saturday marked the highest amount of new cases with 3,885 new cases reported.

“This is not the milestone we want to be hitting, particularly as we head into holidays where people want to come together,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. “I am asking North Carolinians to do what they do best, look out for each other. Wear a mask. Wait six feet apart. Wash your hands often. We’ve had more time to learn about this devastating virus and study after study shows that these three simple actions can help keep our family, friends and neighbors from getting sick.”

The cumulative number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina is at least 317,495 and 4,852 people have died. 301,998 are molecular positive cases, and 15,497 are antigen-positive cases.

There have been 4,682,064 coronavirus tests completed. NCDHHS reports that 8.6% of those tests have been positive.

5,533 hospital beds are currently available and staffed, and 15,352 are in use. Others are either unstaffed or unreported.

As of Monday, Nov. 16, there have been 276,132 people in North Carolina who have recovered (note: this number is updated every Monday afternoon).