RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — North Carolina Governor Cooper and the Coronavirus Task Force held a briefing on COVID-19 updates after the second-highest daily increase of cases.
North Carolina reported 758 new COVID-19 cases as the state prepares to enter a “modest” phase 2 at 5 p.m. Friday. The record for daily cases was 853 cases on Saturday, May 16.
With phase 2, restaurants can open for in-person dining at 50% capacity and will use enhanced cleaning and health screening.
“I urge all North Carolinians to take the COVID-19 restrictions and safety rules seriously. Keep gatherings to under 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors,” said Cooper. “And remember the Three Ws – wear a face covering, wait six feet apart from other people and wash your hands frequently.”
Cooper announced the “Count on Me” free online COVID-19 training program initiative. As of Friday, the governor said that over 3,500 people representing more than 1,800 businesses in N.C. have completed the training.
“Count on Me is a free online training. It’s focused on advanced cleaning, disinfection, social distancing, and hygiene practices to better protect the public and employees from exposure to COVID-19,” said Cooper.
More information can be found at CountOnMeNC.org. The site also has a list of businesses that have already completed the training.
When asked about the upcoming four day 2020 Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race, he said that NASCAR is prepared and has submitted a plan to health officials and numerous discussions have been underway. The governor said that while there will be no spectators, he expects the weekend to be a safe race weekend.
Additionally, the state continues to work with athletic associations on guidance for non-contact sports and will release information in the coming days.
Conversations with large entertainment venues are in the works but venues are still considered high-risk areas and not planned to open during phase 2. The governor said as the state moves forward, he plans to discuss options to get venues open even if at minimum operation.
Dr. Mandy Cohen said that some of the first cases reported in the state came from large event gatherings and agreed with Cooper that large gatherings still pose a great risk for passing on the virus.
Here are the latest totals for May 22:
Deaths increased by 12 since NCDHHS’ Thursday morning update, and 728 total have been reported.
Hospitalizations dipped slightly Friday with 568 currently hospitalized statewide, but hospitalizations have been trending up statewide after phase 1 was initiated on May 8.
Daily testing has soared since May 8, with more than 3,000 more tests on average per day. North Carolina is now averaging over 10,000 tests per day.
Meanwhile the number of positive tests as a percent of tests has remained around 8% since May 13, but saw a slight bump on Friday.
Here are the latest numbers for WAVY’s viewing area:
Gates: 14 cases — 1 death
Dare: 18 cases — 1 deaths
Currituck: 11 cases
Pasquotank: 95 cases — 8 deaths
Perquimans: 22 cases — 2 deaths
Hertford: 61 cases — 1 death
Bertie: 108 cases — 3 deaths
Phase two includes opening restaurants for in-person dining, and salons and pools up to 50% capacity. Gyms and fitness centers are notably excluded from the plan. State officials said the recent high increase in cases led to them leaving those businesses closed.
For more on phase 2, click here.