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North Carolina health leader hopeful state will enter Phase 2 Friday

"We're going to keep watching our numbers. Right now we see them largely stable."
Credit: WCNC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With case count and trends for COVID-19 largely stable across North Carolina, Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, says she is hopeful the state can enter Phase 2 of easing restrictions this week.

"We're going to keep watching our numbers," Dr. Cohen said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.  "Right now we see them largely stable. They're not perfect, but they are largely stable in terms of our ability to respond to this virus."

The Phase 1 executive order went into effect May 8 and expires on Friday, May 22 at 5 p.m.  

As of Tuesday morning there were a total of 19,445 total lab confirmed cases with 682 deaths.  The state reported 422 new cases Tuesday, down from 511 new cases on Monday.  

There was a slight increase in hospitalizations Tuesday at 585.

"I want to see what tomorrow, the rest of the week bring us in terms of that number. But when I look overall, we’ve largely been stable.  We’ve been in the 500s generally," Cohen said.

5/20/20 UPDATE: North Carolina to enter Phase 2 reopening Friday

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is expected to make a decision by mid-week on whether the state's reopening initiative enters Phase 2 this week.

Cohen explained that salons in North Carolina were not allowed to reopen in Phase 1 because of the close necessary to perform the services.

"In a salon situation you can't be six feet apart,"  Cohen said.  " You just can't deliver those services and be cutting someone's hair and be six feet away."

Cohen did say salons would be included in Phase 2 of easing restrictions.

"As we move into Phase 2, which we hope to do at the end of this week, salons would be part of that. But there are going to be additional restrictions on that to keep the visiting of salon to be as safe as possible." 

WCNC Charlotte anchor and reporter Vanessa Ruffes asked Cohen how she felt about a Lincoln County restaurant opening for in-person dining, which violates Gov. Cooper's executive order.

"We are contemplating moving forward with opening restaurants just at the end of this week. So we'd ask folks to just hang in there with us as we look at our numbers, make sure that we're stable," Cohen said. 

Here's what Phase 2 means in North Carolina:

  • Lift Stay At Home order with strong encouragement for vulnerable populations to continue staying at home to stay safe
  • Allow limited opening of restaurants, 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
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 
  • Plans to originally reopen bars, gyms, and playgrounds at the start of Phase 2 have been postponed, Governor Roy Cooper announced on May 20.

    5/20/20 UPDATE: North Carolina to enter Phase 2 reopening Friday

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