RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Protesters were back in downtown Raleigh for the fourth straight Tuesday, urging Gov. Roy Cooper to “reopen” the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cooper is expected to lay out more details about moving forward into “Phase One” of the reopening plan later today.
It was a much different atmosphere downtown today than last week. The crowd was much smaller and organizers said they had no plans to march or drive around today and that they would only be gathering in a parking lot near the legislature.
In the last few weeks, five people, including ReOpen NC leader Ashley Smith, have been arrested at the protests.
Another organizer quit after the first round of arrests a couple of weeks ago.
This week, the group said they had owners of small businesses and people who lost their jobs in attendance to share their stories and talk about the impacts the state’s stay-at-home order has had on them.
“We are here today to talk about our broken hearts and to share in each other’s sorrow because for many of us this is the end of our way of life as we have known it,” said Smith.
About a block away from the ReOpen NC protest, a group of medical professionals stood outside the North Carolina Legislative Building and showed their support for the governor’s decisions and cautioned against reopening the state too soon.
“Everybody that I know wants to get back to normalcy. But, at the end of the day, we have to balance the pros and the cons. And, I think life is more important than livelihood,” said Lisa Matthews who traveled from Winston-Salem to stand in support of the state’s COVID-19 response.
North Carolina saw another 22 deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours and state health officials reported at least 408 new cases.
There have been at least 12,256 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state at least 452 deaths. Nearly 540 people are currently hospitalized across North Carolina due to the coronavirus.
Cooper will talk about the reopening process at a press conference this evening. You can watch it live here.