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'Our metrics have moved in the wrong direction' | COVID-19 is getting worse in North Carolina

Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state's coronavirus hospitalizations have increased and the percent positive test results are among the worst in the nation.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper is asking anyone who's been out in crowds to get tested for COVID-19 as the state hits an all-time high for hospitalizations.

"We are seeing more viral spread, and these numbers are concerning," Gov. Cooper said. "If you have been in any kind of crowd, please go get tested. When you’re around people, wear your masks and try to keep six feet away from others. Especially if you are a leader, set a good example." 

A spokesperson for Governor Cooper said he will be getting tested for COVID-19 as well, since he was briefly out talking to protesters.

Dr. Mandy Cohen said as North Carolina is seeing higher numbers of coronavirus cases, the chance of someone getting the virus increases. 

"Our metrics have moved in the wrong direction," Dr. Cohen said. "COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing and stand at 739 statewide." 

According to Dr. Cohen, North Carolina's percent of positive cases is now among the highest in the nation. 

"I am concerned," Dr. Cohen said. 

Gov. Cooper said slowing the spread of coronavirus is especially important as the state works towards re-opening public schools. 

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"It was a tough call because we know the hardship caused not only to students and teachers but to families as well," Cooper said."Schools are vital to learning, physical fitness and social interaction. For many students, it’s a place for healthy meals, safe environments, stability and routine."

K-12 public schools in North Carolina have been closed for in-person instruction for nearly 3 months now. 

NC DHHS released new health guidelines to safely re-open public schools during the news conference on Monday. 

The StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) lays out a comprehensive set of baseline health practices that public schools should follow to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19 for students, staff, and families. In addition to specific requirements, the Toolkit recommends practices that schools should implement to minimize the spread of COVID-19 while allowing in-person teaching to resume. 

Governor Roy Cooper, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson, State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, and NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen shared the guidance Monday. 

“Getting children back to school to learn is a high priority, but they must be able to do so in the safest way possible,” said Governor Cooper. “Every child, family and public school educator in North Carolina deserves strong protection to lower the risk of virus spread.”

NC DHHS has also announced that child protective services and adult protective services workers are designated as first responders.

According to NCDHHS, this classification will help these critical workers access Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed while working in situations that require face-to-face contact with adults, children, and families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Face-to-face contact is often essential for child protective services and adult protective services work,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “This designation will help these emergency workers have the tools they need to stay safe while continuing to serve vulnerable children, adults, and families.

Child protective services and adult protective services are essential to protecting children and adults who are suspected or who have been found to be abused, neglected or exploited. These essential workers need access to complete information to effectively access child and adult safety and well-being. In many cases, the firsthand observation needed to obtain this information requires face-to-face contact with children, adults, and families.

The new designation for child protective services and adult protective services workers is in addition to other measures intended to limit face-to-face contacts to the extent possible or conduct visits virtually.

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