RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday issued a modified Stay at Home order that begins Friday and would run nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. through Jan. 8. The decision was made due to the rising cases of COVID-19 across the state.
“Our trends are alarming,” Cooper said. “More than 80% of our counties are in the orange and red categories. The virus is upon us with a rapid viciousness we haven’t seen before. Even though we’re all frustrated and weary of the fight, it’s more important than ever to take this virus seriously.”
A new statewide map released Tuesday shows nearly half the state at a critical level for the number of COVID-19 cases. That includes Onslow County, which announced Tuesday morning that the county reported a 11.2% positivity rate while the state reported a 9.7% positivity rate.
Cooper said the order also means restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and most retail stores will be required to close by 10 p.m. All alcohol consumption will end by 9 p.m.
“We already have strong safety protocols and capacity limitations in place – including a statewide mask mandate,” Cooper said. “With this additional action beginning Friday, we hope to get these numbers down. This Order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they’re safer.
“The modified Stay at Home Order is also a reminder that we must be vigilant the rest of the day – wearing a face mask when we are with people we don’t live with, keeping a safe distance from others and washing our hands a lot.
“We’ll do more if our trends don’t improve. That could mean additional actions involving indoor restaurant dining, entertainment facilities or retail capacity. None of us want that. All these small businesses need more federal help. Congress and the President need to do that now.”
For the sixth day in a row and 11 of the last 12 days, North Carolina has hit new highs in current COVID-related hospitalizations. Data posted on Tuesday from the state Department of Health and Human Services shows nearly 2,400 people are hospitalized due to coronavirus. This represents a doubling of hospitalizations over the last month.
Cases, the percentage of tests coming coming back positive and deaths are also sharply rising.
On Sunday, the state reported a single-day increase of more than 6,400 coronavirus cases, the highest daily uptick since the start of the pandemic. In seven of the last eight days, the share of tests coming back positive reached double digits. The positivity rate previously eclipsed 10% in April.
On Wednesday, the state reported a daily increase of 82 COVID-related deaths, which represents the highest daily count to date.
Since the pandemic hit North Carolina in March, more than 400,000 people have tested positive for the virus and 5,600 people have died.
“I’m very worried. This is a global pandemic,” said Mandy Cohen, North Carolina’s top public health official. “This virus is highly contagious and dangerous, but we can slow it down. Do not wait until it is you or your loved one who is sick with COVID to wear mask.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.