NC health officials say timing in COVID-19 case surge can be linked to reopening

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina health officials say a rise in COVID-19 cases can be linked to the state’s reopening.

Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen, says the increase in cases isn’t only due to more people being tested, but viral spread in communities.

“That timing is very much linked to the last two to three weeks. It is very much linked to when we started reopening. I think we knew that when you reopen and you move around more, the virus is going to move around as well,” Cohen said Friday.

As the regulations start to roll back, more families are venturing back out and many say they are taking precautions.

“We haven’t been out much. This is the first time we’ve been here in three months I think,” said Chris Duncan at the NC State Farmer’s Market Friday.

Duncan and Morgan Campbell said they were initially unsure if they’d feel safe in the market, or if other people would be wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

“When we came here we decided if there was too big of a crowd we weren’t going to stay. When we got here we were glad to see everyone was pretty spread out,” said Duncan.

Mom of two, Erica Morse, has taken her sons to the Farmer’s Market a few times since reopening began.

Morse says she feels more comfortable outside in public at the market but says she’s avoided taking her children to the park during the pandemic.

“There is a small amount of concern,” said Morse. “I guess we would weigh that concern based on the space of the area. Is it open or enclosed? How many people are allowed?”

Other shoppers, like Francis King, said they feel totally confident being back in public

“I wish it would all open up,” said King. “This stuff doesn’t bother me. If I’m going to get it, I’m going to get it.”

However, Campbell said she is “highly concerned” about the potential for a surge in cases, and plans to continue practicing social distancing, and wearing a mask in public.

“Especially this upcoming winter too if people becoming too lax. I’m scared there’ll be another spike,” she said.

This week North Carolina reported its highest number of hospitalizations for a day during the pandemic.

“We are really playing with fire as we begin to loosen some of these regulations. We’re urging everyone to practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently,” said Dr. Dennis Taylor, president of North Carolina Nurses Association.

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