COVID-19 cases are continuing to surge in North Carolina, stressing hospital systems, and a coalition of the state’s nurses say without heightened restrictions, things will only get worse.

The North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA) penned an open letter to Governor Roy Cooper on Friday asking that the state enact more restrictions to curtail the spread of the virus.

“Nurses need help. Other healthcare workers need help. The patients flooding our facilities need help,” the NCNA letter states.

Nurses fear that without additional measures, the hospital system risks getting overwhelmed amid staffing shortages and record-breaking COVID case numbers. As of Friday, the state has reported more than 600,000 cases of the virus, with a staggering 10,028 new cases reported since yesterday. There are currently nearly 4,000 people in the hospital fighting the virus, and 7,328 people have died.

“If North Carolina does not take drastic action, we will face a crisis that none of us want to consider, including being overworked, understaffed, and unable to properly care for our fellow citizens,” the letter states. 

While mandates limiting gatherings and requiring face masks are good, it’s not enough, the nurses say, as many people remain uncompliant. 

“We encourage and support any forthcoming executive orders that strengthen current restrictions and can meaningfully impact the behavior of our fellow citizens,” the letter goes on to say. “Meanwhile, we hope to see a dramatic increase in the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible.

“This is not a political request. This is a public health request,” NCNA continued. “For the sake of our fellow North Carolinians and our colleagues fighting on the front lines, we must implement evidence-based recommendations that can help curb the pandemic and help the state begin the process of recovery,”

During a press conference Friday, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said people should abide by the modified stay-at-home order and not leave home except to go to work, school, or grocery shopping. 

The recent increase in cases, Cohen said, is directly linked to holiday gatherings and folks socializing indoors without wearing masks. 

“The way this virus spreads, it’s called exponential growth, meaning once you start to increase you actually accelerate the growth of that increase,” Cohen said. “That is what we are seeing.”


Governor Cooper’s press secretary, Dory MacMillan, told the INDY via email that the “office appreciates the input from nurses who have worked bravely and tirelessly on the front lines of this pandemic.”

“Strong safety precautions are in effect right now including one of the strongest mask mandates in the country, a limited stay at home order, indoor bar closures, mass gathering limits and retail capacity reductions,” MacMillan wrote. “We are working hard to see that they are enforced by local governments and law enforcement. Even so, all options are on the table and will be guided by data and science to protect the health and safety of North Carolinians.”

Read the full NCNA letter below: 

NC Nurses call on Governor Cooper to strengthen restrictions by Leigh Tauss on Scribd

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