The Ocracoke Variety Store is practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: C. Leinbach

From our news sources

RALEIGH—If trends in COVID-19 cases continue as they have in the last few days, Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday the state next week might be able to move into phase 1 reopening next week.

Cooper and NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, in a COVID-19 press conference, said the numbers show North Carolina is moving in the right direction, but it’s still not definitive.

“Fewer people are getting sicker at the same time, but in the last several days we’ve seen an uptick in new cases,” Cohen said. “The overall picture is mixed.”

In fact, 561 new cases were reported today, she said, representing the single biggest one-day jump since the pandemic started.

As of today, North Carolina has 10,509 lab-confirmed cases, 546 people in the hospital, and 378 deaths due to COVID-19, Cohen said.

She said state officials remain “optimistic” that the trends will continue moving in the right direction by May 8, which is when the state’s stay-at-home order expires. Hyde County’s stay-at-home order expires on May 22.

“North Carolinians have made tremendous sacrifices and it is making a difference,” Cooper said. “We remain hopeful that the trends will be stable enough to move into Phase 1 next week. We need everyone to continue following the Stay At Home order right now so that we can move to the next phases of easing restrictions. Complacency could risk lives and undo these plans.”

Some of the trends are favorable, Cooper said, but he stressed vigilance.

“We need keep up the actions that will slow the spread of the virus,” he said. “The good news is that we know we can do this. If we stay home now to protect our loved ones and our communities, we can put ourselves on a path to begin easing restrictions and moving forward as planned.”

Cohen explained where North Carolina stands on the following key metrics:

  • 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 level over past 14 days but has been on an uptick over the past seven 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.
  • 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 decreasing.
  • 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.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:

Increase in Laboratory Testing: North Carolina has surpassed 4,000 tests for the last 6 of 9 days with 6,000 tests reported yesterday.

Increase in Tracing Capability: NC DHHS announced the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative, a new partnership with Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) and the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) to double the state’s current contact tracing capabilities. The Collaborative has started recruiting for these positions.

Availability of Personal Protective Equipment: The state has a 30-day supply of most personal protective equipment, except for gowns and N95 masks.

Click here to see the graphics from Thursday’s press conference.