CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina will continue in Phase 3 coronavirus reopening restrictions, Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday citing recent COVID-19 data trends.
On Wednesday, the state reported 1,842 new cases and with a positivity rate of 7.4%, which over the past two weeks has averaged at 6.2%. There are currently 1,219 people hospitalized with the coronavirus in North Carolina.
The governor's Phase 3 executive order, which began October 2, allowed bars, theaters and entertainment venues to open at reduced capacity for the first time. The order was set to expire this expire this on Friday and has now been extended until at least Friday, November 13.
On Wednesday, North Carolina Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Dr. Mandy Cohen said new cases are on the rise partially because of new coronavirus clusters, including those at religious gatherings and private gatherings in homes.
A cluster is defined as five or more cases in the same location.
She notes there is guidance for people who want to participate in these activities, including wearing a masking, meeting outside, spacing outside, and keeping gatherings small.
Last week, North Carolina twice broke the state record for the most number of new coronavirus cases in a single day. 2,684 new cases were reported that Friday.
RELATED: 'We told you it was fragile' | After weeks of stability, Mecklenburg COVID-19 metrics follow suit with rising state trends
Like dozens of states, North Carolina is experiencing a resurgence of viral spread, which health officials link to cooler weather, more gatherings, and greater lapses in COVID-safe protocol as people deal with pandemic fatigue.
NCDHHS has issued guidance for fall-related events to help organizers and consumers minimize the risk for COVID-19 transmission. Even in small groups of close friends or extended family, it is critical that all North Carolinians wear a face-covering whenever they are in close contact with anyone outside their immediate household.
The department is encouraging people to download and use SlowCOVIDNC, the official exposure notification app for North Carolina which alerts users when they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.