RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper signed a new executive order on Friday that extends North Carolina’s state of emergency declaration through July 30.
Executive Order 220 keeps in place the requirement to wear a mask in places like hospitals and schools.
Cooper said the emergency declaration is also needed to access federal funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are seeing tremendous improvement with fewer cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and safety restrictions, but this is no time to hang up a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner in our fight against the pandemic,” Cooper said. “We are laser-focused on getting more shots in arms, boosting our economy, and protecting unvaccinated people from the virus and this Executive Order is essential for those efforts.”
The state of emergency declaration also extends:
- State Evictions Prohibitions
- Face covering requirements in certain settings such as public transportation, schools, health care, and childcare facilities, in accordance with CDC guidance
- Unemployment Insurance flexibility
The governor said the state of emergency also allows the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to increase the number of people authorized to administer vaccines and COVID-19 tests.
“It’s an important way to get this pandemic behind us,” Cooper said.
Republicans wrote a letter to Cooper about how he will determine when the emergency will end, which Cooper has not outlined.
“The state of emergency is allowing us to draw down federal funds, allowing us to waive state and local regulations, and be able to get these vaccines to people faster,” he told reporters Thursday. “It’s an important way to get this pandemic behind us.”
South Carolina’s Republican governor ended their state of emergency this week while Virginia’s Democratic governor will end theirs at the end of June.
North Carolina Republican Senate leader Phil Berger said he thinks it should be left up to owners of various facilities to decide whether a mask mandate is needed, saying the governor should no longer require masks in any setting.
“We’ve had enough large events and a long enough period of time from those events both in North Carolina and other places and not seen the kind of bump that folks seem to have been concerned about from a superspreader event,” he said. “I don’t see that there’s a continuing need for there to be an executive order that mandates masks at any place in the state of North Carolina.”