‘We can’t stay home forever,’ Cooper explores path to new normal


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper said the state needs to make progress in three areas – testing, tracing and trends – before things can begin to change to a new normal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This virus is going to be with us until there is a vaccine, which may be a year or more away. As we ease restrictions, we are going to enter a new normal,” Cooper said.

“We can’t stay home forever.”

The governor said the efforts of North Carolinians are working.

“And that means we have saved lives. The stay-at-home orders are working, but we know our current situation is not sustainable in the long run. I know people are wondering, where do we go from here?” Cooper said.

Cooper said the progress with testing, tracing and trends will determine how North Carolina moves forward.

“Our new normal relies on an increase in testing capabilities to isolate and track new cases. This means having the lab capacity and supplies to do more diagnostic testing as well as reliable antibody testing that can tell us who has had the virus,” Cooper said.

Improving tracing means increasing the effort to identify those who have been in contact with a COVID-19 case.

Cooper said we need to see COVID-19 trends move in the right direction.

COVID-19 related deaths in NC

As of Wednesday, the number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations were all still trending upwards.

There are a total of 5,123 known cases, 117 deaths and 431 hospitalizations.

“A new normal can get us back to work, back to school and back to play, but in a new way for a while. Experts tell us it’d be dangerous to lift restrictions all at once. We have to monitor for troubling signs of a spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals and risk live,” Cooper said.

The governor’s stay-at-home order is still set to expire April 30 but Cooper said there have been ongoing talks about the status of that deadline.

“As we adjust, I know that North Carolinians will continue to look out for one another as we work together to recover our economy and beat this virus. And we will beat this virus,” Cooper said.

COVID-19 timeline

  • March 3: NCDHHS announces state’s first COVID-19 case
  • March 10: Gov. Roy Cooper declares State of Emergency
  • March 11: World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic
  • March 13: President Donald Trump declares a National Emergency
  • March 14: Cooper issues Executive Order 117 closing K-12 public schools until at least March 30 and banning gatherings of more than 100 people
  • March 16: NCDHHS recommends no mass gatherings for more than 50 people
  • March 17: Cooper issues Executive Order 118 limiting operations of restaurants and bars, and broadening unemployment insurance benefits
  • March 23: Cooper issues Executive Order 120 which closes public K-12 schools through May 15 and orders businesses such as barbershops and salons to close.
  • March 25: North Carolina reports its first coronavirus-related deaths
  • March 29: Trump extends social distancing orders through the end of April
  • March 31: Cooper signs Executive Order 124 which prohibits utilities from disconnecting people who are unable to pay during the pandemic.
  • April 7: Cooper will sign executive orders limiting customers in retailers and offers child care assistance to certain workers
  • April 14: Coronavirus-related deaths top 100 in North Carolina
  • April 24: Cooper extends stay-at-home order to May 8
  • May 5: Cooper announces Phase One of reopening will being May 8

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