North Carolina reported its largest-single day spike in coronavirus cases this weekend and officials are closely monitoring trends to determine if its safe to enter the second phase reopening the economy this weekend.
“We’ll ease restrictions and move to Phase 2 only if we’re headed in the right direction with our data,” said Governor Roy Cooper Monday.
As of Monday, the state has reported 19,203 confirmed cases of the virus and 661 deaths. About 500 people are currently hospitalized with the virus.
The state saw the biggest jump in cases Saturday, with 853 new cases reported. This is, in part, because the state has ramped up testing for the virus—adding 275 testing sites (link) and conducting about 7,500 screenings a day.
Still, Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen called this weekend’s jump in cases, “concerning and a reminder about how quickly this virus can spread.”
Officials are hoping to see the overall number of cases and hospitalizations decrease or level off before the state can fully reopen. The latest data shows North Carolina isn’t there yet.
While the percentage of people testing positive for the virus seems to be leveling off at about 7 percent, the number of positive cases continues to creep up, with a slight uptick in hospitalization over the weekend.
Governor Cooper’s three-part plan to reopen the state could enter into the second phase this weekend, with restaurants permitted to allow dine-in customers on a restricted basis.
Public health experts and private sector partners are continuing to monitor the state’s data to see if North Carolina can continue lifting restrictions on businesses. Cooper said to expect an official announcement about phase two later this week.
“We hope that we can move forward into Phase 2. We know it’s important to cushion the blow to the economy,” Cooper said. “But public health and safety is number one.”
Contact Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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