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North Carolina could being Phase 2 reopening by regions

As testing increases, North Carolina saw its largest, single day increase in new coronavirus cases on Saturday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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.

Officials need to decide if the state is ready to enter Phase 2 of the governor's 3-step plan to lessen coronavirus restrictions. Phase 1, which is currently in effect, is currently scheduled to expire Friday.

With approximately 275 coronavirus testing sites across the state testing more people, the state saw its largest, single day jump in new coronavirus cases between Friday and Saturday, according to North Carolina Director of Health and Human Services Director Mandy Cohen. On Saturday, coronavirus tests yielded 853 new cases.  Cohen described that number as "concerning" but in-context explained the percent of patients testing positive remained stable around 7 percent over the past week.

Governor Roy Cooper has a variety of options he could choose to implement: a continuation of Phase 1 or progression into Phase 2. At the beginning of reopening, the governor also reserved the right to reinstate previous restrictions if coronavirus conditions worsen.

By mid-week, Cooper is expected to announce his decision.

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

"We want to be able to move through these phases to boost our economy and getting people doing more things in a safe way," Cooper said. "You do that by testing, tracing, and isolating people."

One new reopening option on the table: Regionalized reopening.

States like New York, have decided to reopen in localized phases: allowing more rural areas of upstate New York to lessen restrictions ahead of coronavirus hotspot areas like New York City or Long Island.

While Governor Cooper says his team is currently planning statewide phases, North Carolina officials are also discussing the possibility of regionalized reopening.

Across North Carolina, data shows cases concentrated in populated areas. For example, Mecklenburg County has reported a total of 2,652 cases and Durham has reported 1,009 cases. 

From Friday to Saturday, Mecklenburg County reported 123 new cases of COVID-19. The average number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has decreased over the last 14 days, according to county statistics. The county's percentage of positive test results is the same as the state average: 7 percent.

As the state continues to reopen, Dr. Cohen emphasized the 3 W's: Where, Wait, and Wash.

"Simple things that will allow us to make progress through the phases of easing restrictions," she said Monday. 

Cooper reminded residents to be safe and respect others, especially restaurant and grocery store workers.

"Show your appreciation for these workers," Cooper said while asking the public to wear masks when in public.

If you cannot watch the video below, click here to watch it on YouTube.

Key Facts:

  • Cases in North Carolina: 19,023 with 661 deaths. From Sunday to Monday the state reported 511 new cases. From Saturday to Sunday, the state reported 530 new cases. 
  • Cases in South Carolina: 8,816 with 385 deaths. From Saturday to Sunday, confirmed cases increased by 163, with 5 additional deaths. From Friday to Saturday, confirmed cases increased by 276, with no additional deaths. 
  • Cases in Mecklenburg County: 2,589 with 64 deaths. That's up 27 new cases, zero new deaths from Saturday. From Friday to Saturday, Mecklenburg County reported 123 new cases of COVID-19. The average number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has decreased over the last 14 days, according to county statistics. An average of 7% of people tested have returned a positive result, which is down slightly over the last two weeks. 
  • How to file for unemployment in North Carolina
  • North Carolina stay home remains in effect: Phase 1 began May 8. 
  • South Carolina State of Emergency expiration: May 11

Governor Cooper is holding a news conference Monday, May 18 as the state is reporting more than 19,000 positive cases. According to data from NCDHHS, the number of tested positive cases has held steady at 7%.

Credit: WCNC

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