RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper announced he will extend the statewide curfew by three weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in North Carolina.
The modified Stay-at-Home Order requires people to be home between 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. with some exceptions.
The North Carolina National Guard is preparing to help to try to speed up the state’s slow rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine as well. Data from the CDC shows North Carolina is among the slowest to give shots to people, having administered about a quarter of the doses distributed to the state.
The guard is establishing six-member mobile immunizations strike teams, of which two are medics who can help with vaccinations while the rest of the team helps with logistics, uploading data and administrative tasks identified by hospitals and health departments.
“We’ve been planning this for a pretty good while,” said Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt, Adjutant General of the NC National Guard. “Those teams are very flexible. They’re highly mobile. So, depending on what the situation is, they can ramp up or ramp down. And, they can go anywhere in the state based on the state’s needs.”
The Guard has identified about 50 personnel to work on this initially and is working to vaccinate those members on a voluntary basis over the next week.
“These things have been planned ahead of time and now we are providing the assistance to the different health departments and facilities that need the help,” said Cooper.
Cooper said the statewide mask mandate, closure of indoor bars and limits on mass gatherings and retail establishment capacity remain in place as well.
“Simply put, don’t go places indoors where people aren’t wearing masks,” he said.
Cooper said the latest numbers concerning the virus in the state paint a “dark and difficult picture.”
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said three of four of North Carolina’s key metrics are moving in the wrong direction.
“We now have 84 counties at critical level for viral spread,” Cohen said.
Cohen issued a secretarial directive that says North Carolinians are urged against leaving home for any reason other than work, school, exercise, health care needs or groceries.
Details of directive:
- Only leave home for essential activities such as going to work or school, for health care purposes, to care for family members or to buy food.
- Avoid leaving home if you are over 65 or at high risk for developing serious illness. Use delivery services or alternative pick-up methods for food and retail.
- Avoid gathering with people who do not live with you.
- Wear a mask and keep distance from people when you leave home.
- Avoid any indoor public spaces where people are not wearing masks.
- Stay away from crowds. Avoid places where people may gather in large numbers.
The directive is not enforceable.
“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve known that this isn’t about a police officer showing up at your home. This is about us taking the individual responsibility to slow the spread of this virus. And, I think this secretarial order lays out in very stark detail immediate actions that folks can take,” said Cohen.
“There is an alarming amount of virus everywhere in our state. We are in a very dangerous position,” said Cohen. “Every single North Carolinian needs to take immediate action to save lives and protect themselves and each other.”
Both Cooper and Cohen said they were concerned about reports of those declining the vaccine when it was their turn to receive it.
“However, as more people get vaccinated without any serious safety concerns, we believe that many of those who are hesitant will gain confidence,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s comments come as the number of deaths attributed to the virus topped 7,000 on Wednesday. The state’s daily percent positive rate also set a new record on Wednesday at 17.8 percent.
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