‘We are in a dire situation’: Gov. Cooper asks North Carolinians to help slow spread of COVID-19, offers vaccination update

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper encouraged North Carolinians on Tuesday to do all they can to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and provided an update on vaccination efforts in NC.

“The state is continuing to see a steady increase in vaccination rates, which we expect to continue,” Cooper said during a news conference. “NCDHHS is working with several local communities to stand up large-scale vaccination events in the coming days that can help get these doses out efficiently into our communities.”

The governor also spoke against the violence in Washington last Wednesday and urged people to follow COVID safety protocols.

“The truth is that this disease is spreading fast. We are in a dire situation. The truth is, in order to save lives, people need to follow the safety protocols we have in place,” Cooper said. “Words matter. People listen to leaders and often follow their calls and imitate their actions. As the death toll from this pandemic continues to increase, our leaders must listen to science, focus on the facts, and tell the truth with their words and the examples that they set.”

Cooper said that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with 14 health systems, local health departments and community centers in 13 different counties, and they expect to distribute 45,000 vaccines.

“NCDHHS and North Carolina Emergency Management have identified hundreds of state employees who can be deployed to assist with vaccine distribution in communities across the state. We are encouraging other locals to ask the state for help,” Cooper said. “The vaccine supply is severely limited, but the goal is to distribute as quickly as possible all the vaccines given to North Carolina by the federal government and be ready for much more. People are working night and day to make that happen.”

The next step in North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination plan is to get vaccines to North Carolinians ages 75 and older.

Referred to as Phase 1b, this next step will begin at each county’s discretion once they have finished Phase 1a, which includes vaccinating healthcare workers working with COVID-19 patients, healthcare workers administering the vaccine and long-term care staff and residents.

Phase 1b is divided into three groups so that people may be vaccinated as supplies become available.

The first group in Phase 1b will include anyone 75 years old and older regardless of health status or living situation. Phase 1b Group 2 will include health care workers and frontline essential workers ages 50 and older. Finally, Phase 1b Group 3 will include health care workers and frontline essential workers of any age.

More information is available online at yourspotyourshot.nc.gov.

In November, NC health officials launched a COVID-19 alert map for North Carolina.

You can see the alert map here.

Timeline of NC coronavirus restrictions

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.

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.

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

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.

In North Carolina, about 3,940 people are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus as of 11:40 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

On Jan. 9, 2021, North Carolina reported its highest one-day number of COVID-19 cases with 11,581 new cases reported, exceeding the state’s previous highest day, 10,398, set on Jan. 7.

6,851 cases were reported on Tuesday.

The cumulative number of coronavirus cases in North Carolina is at least 635,975, and 7,638 people have died. 577,872 are molecular positive cases, and 58,103 are antigen-positive cases.

NCDHHS says that 14.7% of daily coronavirus tests conducted since the last report have been positive. To calculate daily percent positive NCDHHS only uses molecular test results from laboratories that report both positives and negatives through electronic laboratory reporting in NC COVID.

There have been a total of 7,669,546 coronavirus tests completed.

4,979 hospital beds are currently available and staffed, and 15,989 are in use. Others are either unstaffed or unreported.

As of Monday, Jan. 11, there have been 521,475 people in North Carolina who have recovered (note: this number is updated every Monday afternoon).

“We begin 2021 in our most dangerous position in this pandemic. We have critically high rates of spread in much of our state,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “I encourage you to avoid getting together indoors with anyone who doesn’t live with you. If you plan to see other people, keep it outside and very small. Wear a mask the whole time. We must do all that we can to protect one another.”

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