RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A group of health care workers stood outside the capitol with a message of their own — reopen responsibly — as hundreds of people marched in downtown Raleigh demanding Gov. Roy Cooper end that state’s stay at home order.

Health care workers are calling for a staged rollback of social distancing practices after the state meets several criteria, saying reopening too soon could cause a surge in cases of COVID19.

“Opening up too much too soon could be counterproductive and actually make things more difficult for us,” said Tina Gordon. She is the CEO of the North Carolina Nurses Association (NCNA), representing the state’s 140,000 RNs.

NCNA supports a staged reduction in social distancing once the state achieves three goals: a drop in cases over a two week period, reliable access to testing and personal-protective equipment, and contact tracing.

Right now, Gordon said the state hasn’t reached those targets. North Carolina health officials reported 34 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, marking the deadliest day for the state since the beginning of the pandemic.

A total of 213 deaths are being attributed to COVID-19 aross 93 counties.

“The virus hasn’t gone away. We don’t have treatment that will make it go away. We don’t have vaccines that will make it go away. We have to find ways to control it,” Gordon said.

Gordon said nurses are still rationing PPEs in some parts of the state, which makes it unsafe for them to treat COVID-19 patients, but also test for the virus.

“There are nurses that don’t have what they need to take care of patients. That’s a problem. We don’t want to do anything that risks an escalation in the number of cases until we have firm control on safety, testing, and trends,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the NCNA is concerned about the economic impact and understands the frustration of business owners. She also said the stay-at-home order needs to stay in place for now.

“We are all on the same team right now,” Gordon said. “In dealing with infectious disease, hours and days can change the outcome. If we can buckle down and get through a short time period to go, it really will be significantly beneficial to the people of this state in the long run.”

The NCNA suggested guidelines for rolling back social distancing are similar to President Donald Trump’s guidelines for “Opening Up America Again.” Trump’s plan is intended to help local officials reopen their economies in a three phases approach.

Before states or local governments can begin the first phase, they must have a downward trajectory of documented cases for two weeks, and then another two weeks of decrease in cases before moving to the following phases.

Trump’s guidelines also include setting up efficient testing sites and trace contacts of COVID-19 positive cases.