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With COVID-19 numbers decreasing in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday eased some restrictions.

Cooper lifted the Modified Stay at Home Order, the nighttime curfew, requiring people to stay at home and businesses to close to the public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The new order is effective Friday at 5 p.m. and will expire at 5 p.m. March 26.

The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoors.

The curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption will be moved from a 9 p.m. stop to 11 p.m. Some businesses, including bars and amusement parks, will now be open for patrons indoors as they adhere to new occupancy restrictions.

The mandatory face mask order is still in effect and Cooper and Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen stressed that social distancing and hand washing is still in effect.

Cohen said the key metrics show the COVID-19 virus decreasing in the number of new cases, positive cases and hospitalizations.

The number of North Carolina counties coded as “Red” (“critical community spread” of the virus) has been more than halved and now stands at 27, down from 67 “Red” counties on Feb. 4. There are now 40 “Orange” counties (“substantial community spread”) compared to 33 on Feb. 4. Another big change is that the number of “Yellow” counties (significant community spread, though the lowest) is now up to 33 from only 6 counties on Feb. 4.

Hyde County dropped down on the new County Alert map, moving from Red to Yellow. The percentage of positive test results for Hyde County is given as 7% in the past two weeks.

As of Feb. 19, Hyde County Health reported the following case numbers for Hyde: 633 total cases, nine active cases, 616 recoveries and eight deaths.

However, the new variants, which are more contagious, are a wild card, Cohen said.

“If we see more viral spread (in the next few weeks), we’ll assess as we go along,” she said.

Thursday was the first day teachers and other education personnel are eligible for the vaccine.

“But our supply is still limited,” she said.

She said North Carolina has been getting 3% of the total amount of vaccines available, or 35,000 to 65,000 doses.

The state has administered more than 2 million vaccines which means that 1 million North Carolinians have received two doses.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is decreasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is decreasing.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is decreasing.

To read Executive Order No. 195.

To read Frequently Asked Questions.

To view the slides from Wednesday’s briefing.

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