RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY/WNCN) — North Carolina hit a big round number on Wednesday: 10 million tests processed, nearly one for each of the 10.4 million people who live in the state.
Additionally, Gov. Roy Cooper held a briefing where he announced that since the metrics continue to trend in a positive direction, several areas will have eased restrictions from the modified stay-at-home order beginning Friday.
“After alarmingly high numbers throughout the winter holidays, North Carolina’s trends have declined and stabilized. Hospitalizations have dropped to their lowest point since before Thanksgiving. The percent of tests returning positive continues to decline. This is encouraging,” Cooper said.
“Given the significant and sustained improvement in our COVID-19 metrics, today I am announcing that we will ease, but not lift, restrictions in several areas with a new executive order that will go into effect this Friday, February 26,” he continued.
“The only restriction we will lift is the ‘modified stay-at-home order.’ That means no more curfew starting Friday, and more opportunities to gather, shop, and attend events if done safely.”
The new executive order that set to go in effect Friday, Feb. 26, says:
- The mandatory mask mandate is still in effect.
- Many businesses and venues will be able to stay at or expand to 50% occupancy while still maintaining health and safety protocols.
- Gyms, museums, aquariums, barbers, pools, outdoor amusement parks, retail establishments, restaurants, breweries, and wineries may now open at 50% capacity with health and safety protocols. The time for ending on-site service of alcohol will be moved to 11 p.m.
- Some businesses that were limited to operating outdoors at 30% capacity will still have that percentage but will no longer have a 100-person cap. That includes sports fields and venues, stadiums, outdoor bars, outdoor amusement parks, and other outdoor businesses.
- The new EO will also allow some indoor businesses to open at 30% capacity with a cap of 250 people. These businesses include bars and taverns, indoor amusement parks, movie theaters, indoor sports arenas, and others.
- An exception for larger indoor arenas with a capacity of more than 5,000 people will allow up to 15% capacity if more safety protocols are followed. Most college and professional indoor sports like basketball and hockey can have fans at 15% capacity with certain protocols.
- Bars and taverns will be allowed to open indoors for the first time since near the beginning of the pandemic. Capacity indoors is 30% and officials will enforce this limit. Like restaurants and other venues, alcohol sales must stop at 11 p.m.
- Finally, in other circumstances not outlined above, the mass gathering limit will be increased to 25 indoors and 50 outdoors.
“We’re still far from the end of this pandemic, especially with the vaccine in short supply, millions still to be vaccinated, and new variants in the mix. That means we have to keep doing the things we know work – practicing social distancing, washing our hands, wearing our masks,” Cooper continued.
The current stay-at-home order is set to expire on Sunday.
BELOW: Watch the full briefing.
“As more people gather together, it will be more important than ever to social distance,” said Cooper. “These proven safety protocols are vital as this virus is still here and infecting people every day.”
Cooper and NCDHHS Dr. Mandy Cohen say that the state will continue to monitor the daily metrics and trends and adjust restrictions as necessary.
“We know these variants are here in our state and are more contagious, so keep wearing a mask, waiting 6 feet apart, and washing your hands,” said Cohen.
As for the daily metrics, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting 3,346 new cases on Wednesday — more than double Tuesday’s update of 1,514.
The number has caused the state’s seven-day rolling average to go up for the first time in two weeks.
Another 109 deaths were reported to the state on Wednesday, pushing the total past the 11,000 mark to 11,074. It’s the most deaths reported on a single day since Feb. 11 (113) and the first time in a week with 100 or more.
Hospitalization numbers continue to fall, with the 1,530 patients marking the fewest since Nov. 18. This is the eighth straight day in which the hospital numbers went down.
The percent positive remains relatively stable at 6 percent, based on testing from Monday. Tuesday’s number was revised upward to 6.8 percent, making it the highest since Feb. 15, and Wednesday marks seven straight days below 7 percent.
As of Monday, Feb. 22, nearly 795,521 patients are presumed to have recovered from the virus.
- Total cases: 849,630
- Newly reported cases: 3,346
- Completed tests: 10,030,177
- Total hospitalizations: 1,530
- Total deaths: 11,074
- Daily percent positive: 6.0%
- Bertie: 1,617 cases – 41 deaths
- Camden: 570 cases – 5 deaths
- Chowan: 1,348 cases – 22 deaths
- Currituck: 1,354 cases – 15 deaths
- Dare: 1,839 cases – 8 deaths
- Gates: 665 cases – 12 deaths
- Hertford: 1,937 cases – 60 deaths
- Pasquotank: 3,034 cases – 77 deaths
- Perquimans: 884 cases – 8 deaths
For more information from NCDHHS, click here.