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Cooper issues stay-at-home directive

RALEIGH – The rapidly growing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths statewide has prompted a new directive from Governor Roy Cooper.

On Tuesday, Cooper announced a modified stay-at-home order. He said effective Friday, Dec. 11, citizens need to be inside their homes between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am unless their jobs demand otherwise.

The order will remain in place until at least Jan. 8.

Cooper ordered retail business – particularly bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, and personal care establishments – to close nightly at 10 pm. His new Executive Order also ends the sale of alcohol at bars and restaurants at 9 pm nightly in an effort to deter large indoor gatherings.

Travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel, and social services; or to take care of a family member is exempted from the order.

“Our [virus] numbers are doubling,” Cooper said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “We’re experiencing increases in key metrics, to include number of cases per day and hospitalizations.

“We’re seeing significant spread of the virus,” the Governor added, alluding to the number of counties increasing their alert levels [Hertford and Gates among those now in the “red alert” category, joining Bertie who was listed there two weeks ago.]. “Our trends are going upwards and that is alarming. This virus is vicious.”

Cooper reminded citizens that a statewide mask mandate remains in effect, but he felt more was needed to curb the current tidal wave of new cases and hospitalizations.

“We aim to limit gatherings and keep people at home where they are safer,” Cooper stressed. “Our top priority is saving lives and keeping our healthcare system from being overrun. Let’s do our part to reduce their burden.”

The governor encouraged smaller gatherings, and to move them outside if applicable. He even suggested for families/friends to meet online.

He also encouraged local government entities to enact ordinances to take action / impose fines for those not following the rules.

“We will do more if our trends do not improve,” Cooper warned, adding that could require further limiting of restaurant dining, indoor entertainment or shopping and retail capacity restrictions, among other safety protocols.

He expressed pleasure in the news that the state will soon receive the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines, but suggested that citizens need not to let their guard down in the face of this highly contagious virus.

“Promising vaccines are close, but they’re not here yet and we must act now to save lives. Wear a mask, even around the ones you live,” the Governor suggested.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, joined the Governor at Tuesday’s press conference.

“We’re seeing the highest number of new cases daily, more than 6,000 new cases daily twice in the last week alone,” she said. “The percent of positive tests has significantly increased over the past 14 days. The number of patients hospitalized due to this virus is growing, now over 2,250. Our hospitals across the state are feeling the strain.”

And to make matters worse, Cohen said the number of cases are expected to rise on the heels of the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We have yet to see the full impact of Thanksgiving gatherings,” she noted. “I do expect our numbers to go up this week. The actions by the Governor are what we need to slow the spread of this virus.

“I’m very worried; this virus is contagious and dangerous. Please avoid traveling and gathering this holiday season. Step up and protect each other,” Dr. Cohen concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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