A mask-wearing sign at Village Craftsmen. Photo: C. Leinbach

From our news sources

Noting a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday announced that the state will be under a “Modified Stay-At-Home Order” that will require people to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and mandates that certain businesses close by 10 p.m.

The new order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday and lasts until Jan. 8.

“The stakes are dire,” Cooper said Tuesday at a news conference. “This is truly a matter of life and death.”

According to a press release issued Tuesday, some of the businesses affected by the 10 p.m. closing mandate include restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and personal care businesses.

Those exempt from the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. stay-at-home rule include those going to work, obtaining food, medical care or social services or taking care of a family member.

In the past week, North Carolina’s case count has broken single-day records on three separate days, exceeding more than 6,000 cases per day on two of those days, according to the release. Just a month ago, cases were under 3,000 per day. In recent days, the percent of tests returning positive has increased to more than 10%. 

Although the state already has safety protocols in place, such as a statewide mask requirement, the state hopes these additional actions will slow the virus.

“Our new modified ‘Stay At Home’ order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer, especially during the holidays,” Cooper said. “It’s also a reminder that we must be vigilant the rest of the day – wearing a face mask when we are with people we don’t live with, keeping a safe distance from others and washing our hands a lot.”

Cooper said further action would be taken to slow the spread of the virus if trends do not improve.

This could require further limiting of restaurant dining, indoor entertainment or shopping and retail capacity restrictions, among other safety protocols. 

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Department of Health and Human Services secretary, provided an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map, which is showing the spread of cases.

Since Nov. 23, the number of red counties (critical community spread) has more than doubled, up to 48 red counties from 20 red counties.

There are now 34 orange counties (substantial community spread), as compared to 42 orange counties from the previous report.

With today’s report, more than 80% of the state’s counties fall into the red or orange tier. The update, here, shows where each county stands and how the system was designed.

“Your actions can keep people from getting sick, save lives, and make sure our hospitals can care for people whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19,” she said. “Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community now.”

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