North Carolina Stay-At-Home Order Extended To May 8th

Apr 23, 2020

North Carolina’s statewide stay-at-home order will be extended for an additional week to May 8th.  Governor Roy Cooper on Thursday outlined a phased approach to re-opening the state should benchmarks be met on testing, contact tracing, and a downward trend of new cases of COVID-19.  Watch the briefing here

Cooper’s original stay-at-home order expired next week at the end of April.  Speaking at a press conference Thursday afternoon in Raleigh, Cooper said there have been improvements in the trends of new cases and the state’s capacity for testing and contact tracing.  But he added they have not improved to the level that the stay-at-home order can be lifted.  All residents are mandated to stay at home until May 8th unless they are conducting essential business - such as grocery shopping, picking up medicine, or traveling to work at an essential business.

As for the benchmarks that need to be met to lift the stay-at-home order, state health & human services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen outlined specific goals (from a press release from the governor's office) -

  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing over the last 14 days. 
  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases over the last 14 days cases is still increasing, although at a slower rate.
  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive over the last 14 days is increasing at a slow rate. 
  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations over the last 14 days is largely level with a slight trend upward. 
  • Increase in Laboratory Testing
  • Currently, North Carolina is testing approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people per day and is working to increase to at least 5,000 to 7,000 per day.
  • Increase in Tracing Capability
  • Currently, North Carolina has approximately 250 people doing contact tracing across its local health departments and is working to double this workforce to 500. 
  • Availability of Personal Protective Equipment 
  • The state is working to ensure there are adequate supplies to fulfill requests for critical PPE for at least 30 days. This includes face shields, gloves, gowns, N95 masks, and surgical and procedural masks. Currently the state has less than 30 days supply of gowns and N95 masks. Availability of PPE is calculated based on the average number of requests for the last 14 days compared to the supply that the state has on hand.

Cohen says there are parts of the state that do have that much PPE, but others are lacking.  In particular, there’s still a shortage of gowns and N95 masks in certain areas.

Once those benchmarks are met, then the phased re-opening of North Carolina can begin according to the governor.  In Phase One, the stay at home order would be modified to allow people to leave for more ‘commercial activity’, which would include opening stores like clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book stores, and houseware stores.  Parks closed due to the pandemic could also reopen, but gatherings would still be limited to 10 people.  Current restrictions on visitors to nursing and congregant living facilities would continue.

Phase 1 would last a minimum of 2 weeks.  If the benchmarks continue to improve, then Phase 2 would begin.  The stay at home order would be lifted, though vulnerable populations would be strongly encouraged to remain home.  Restaurants, bars, fitness centers, personal care services, and churches could open but with reduced capacity.  The limit on the number of people at public gatherings could also be eased.

Phase 2 would last a minimum of 4 weeks.  If benchmarks continue to improve, then restrictions on vulnerable populations would lessen, while capacity could be increased at bars, restaurants, churches, and entertainment venues.  ‘Rigorous’ restrictions would continue at nursing and congregant living facilities in both Phase 2 and 3.

Full rundown on the phases from a press release from the governor's office below - 

In Phase 1:

  • Modify the Stay At Home order allow travel not currently defined as essential allowing people to leave home for commercial activity at any business that is allowed to be open, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops, houseware stores and other retailers. 
  • Ensure that any open stores implement appropriate employee and consumer social distancing, enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols, symptom screening of employees, accommodations for vulnerable workers, and provide education to employees and workers to combat misinformation 
  • Continue to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people
  • Reopen parks that have been closed subject to the same gathering limitation. Outdoor exercise will continue to be encouraged. 
  • Continue to recommend face coverings in public spaces when 6 feet of distancing isn’t possible
  • Encourage employers to continue teleworking policies
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 
  • Local emergency orders with more restrictive measures may remain in place. 

Phase 2

At least 2-3 weeks after Phase 1

  • Lift Stay At Home order with strong encouragement for vulnerable populations to continue staying at home to stay safe
  • Allow limited opening of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, personal care services, and other businesses that can follow safety protocols including the potential need to reduce capacity
  • Allow gathering at places such as houses of worship and entertainment venues at reduced capacity
  • Increase in number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Open public playgrounds
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 

Phase 3

At least 4-6 weeks after Phase 2

  • Lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing physical distancing and minimizing exposure to settings where distancing isn’t possible
  • Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worships, and entertainment venues
  • Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 

The governor says an announcement on public schools in North Carolina will come on Friday.  Currently, they are closed until May 15th.  It’s expected the governor will announce schools will stay closed for the rest of the school year.