Wake County extended its stay-at-home order through April 30, officials announced Thursday. 

The county’s initial order, in place since March 29, was set to expire today. The latest mandate allows restaurants and other businesses to continue to operate for delivery and curbside pick-up. Businesses deemed “essential” such as grocery stores and pharmacies are allowed to remain open as long as they follow the governor’s latest order on social distancing measures, which include limiting the number of shoppers that can enter a store at once and placing six-foot markers at check-out lines. 

As of Thursday, the county has documented more than 500 confirmed cases of coronavirus. One person, an 81-year-old man, has died of complications from the virus. 

At least two outbreaks have been reported at healthcare facilities in the county. 

The good news: the county has seen the doubling rate of cases slow considerably since March, when the number of cases doubled every three-and-a-half days. Now, officials report the number of confirmed cases doubles every eight days.

“While we’re making good progress to flatten the COVID-19 curve in our community, we haven’t hit our peak caseload yet, so it’s too early to lift our stay-at-home restrictions,” said Greg Ford, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “However, we understand how challenging this is–particularly for businesses–which is why this extension includes provisions to help the local economy while enabling us to save lives.” 

The order also asks businesses to regularly screen employees for symptoms of the virus, including fever, and send workers home if they are showing symptoms. 

One new component of the order is that religious organizations are now allowed to hold “drive-in” services. 

“We know that in challenging times, religious and spiritual support is one way that people find strength and comfort,” said Ford. “While these services are accessible online, we have extended the ability to allow drive-in services if churches and places of worship are able to follow certain social-distancing parameters.”

Read the full mandate here. 

Contact Raleigh editor Leigh Tauss at ltauss@indyweek.com.

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