NC May 20 COVID-19 update: North Carolina to move to phase 2 Friday; cases pass 20,000


RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY/WNCN) — Gov. Roy Cooper and his COVID-19 response team announced Wednesday they are preparing to move the state into Phase 2 of reopening at the end of the week.

Phase 2 will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, Cooper said.

While Phase 2 is expected to begin, data shows the state needs to stay cautious. Phase 2 will lift the stay-at-home order, but shift to a “safer-at-home” guidance.

“Phase 2 is another careful step forward. Since we announced Phase 1, the state’s overall key indicators remain stable. However, the increases in COVID-19 cases signal a need to take a more modest step forward in Phase 2 than originally envisioned,” Cooper said.

Teleworking and staying at home are still encouraged. Washing your hands, wearing a face covering, and staying 6 feet apart are also strongly encouraged.

“Just because you can go places, doesn’t mean you always should,” Cooper said.

Restaurants, swimming pools, and overnight and day camps can reopen at 50-percent capacity. Barbershops and salons can also reopen at 50-percent capacity with certain conditions.

“These businesses will have face cover and cleaning requirements while also reducing the number of people in the waiting areas,” Cooper said. 

No more than 10 people can be indoors, and no more than 25 people outdoors, at conference centers, amphitheaters, beaches, etc.

Some places will stay closed, including bars, nightclubs, gyms and indoor fitness facilities. Indoor entertainment venues like museums and bowling alleys — as well as playgrounds — will also stay closed.

Public health recommendations are provided for worship services to practice enhanced social distancing and other cleaning and hygiene practices.

Phase 2 will last until at least June 26.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, addressed key metrics on Wednesday that the state has been monitoring.

She said most trends are stable, but North Carolina needs to remain cautious.

“We recognize that those day-over-day counts are increasing slightly. We want to keep our eye on it which is why we want to take a more modest step forward to phase 2 than we were originally contemplating,” Cohen said. “We have to do things like the 3 Ws — wearing a face covering, waiting 6 feet apart and washing hands, but if we all work together, I know we’ll be able to keep the virus low here in our state.”

Health officials cited several metrics as indicators for being able to move to phase 2, including:

  • An increase in testing, contact tracing and personal protective equipment
  • Mostly-stable hospitalizations from COVID-19
  • A downward trend in COVID-like symptoms in the state’s emergency departments

North Carolina is reporting 422 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to more than 20,000.

11 new deaths, 10,122 new tests and a decrease in those currently hospitalized were also reported.

It comes a day after North Carolina reported 677 new COVID-19 cases and 30 new deaths, along with a large jump of 74 hospitalizations — its highest increase since April.

Wednesday’s update also brought a look to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ website, with additional and more detailed graphs.

Since spiking at a record 853 cases on Saturday, May 16, cases have been trending down since then. Hospitalizations are slightly up but remain fairly steady.

On Monday, NCDHHS said 11,637 have recovered from coronavirus.

Deaths per day, a new graph added by NCDHHS on Wednesday, shows the average number of deaths per day in the state has been trending down. NCDHHS has reported 11 new deaths since its last update on Tuesday, but the graph for Wednesday only shows 1, likely due to lag in reporting.

Positive tests have also been trending down, with an average just above 6 percent.


Here’s the latest for WAVY’s viewing area, with numbers in parentheses indicating increases from Wednesday May 13:

Gates: 14 cases (13 new cases)

Dare: 18 cases, 1 death (1 new case)

Currituck: 11 cases (2 new cases)

Pasquotank: 90 cases, 7 deaths (9 new cases and 2 new deaths)

Perquimans: 22 cases, 2 deaths (3 new cases)

Hertford: 60 cases, 1 death (11 new cases)

Bertie: 98 cases, 3 deaths (26 new cases)

Chowan: 14 cases (2 new cases)

Camden: 3 (1 new case)

For more information from NCDHHS, click here.

Watch the full press conference below:

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