NC's Covid state of emergency to be lifted Aug. 15, Gov. Cooper announces
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the new state budget gives state health officials the flexibility they need to keep the public protected.Posted — Updated
Starting on Aug. 15, the order will be lifted.
The change comes as Cooper signed a $27.9 billion spending plan that included provisions the governor and state health officials wanted. Most states ended their states of emergency well before North Carolina, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
“Most people will not see changes in their day-to-day lives from the end of the order,” said Mary Scott Winstead, a spokesperson for Cooper. “The State of Emergency has continued to allow regulatory flexibility in the health care industry necessary for the state's response and standing orders from the State Health Director that make it easier to get tested, vaccinated and treatment for Covid-19.”
State health department shows the daily share of Covid tests that are positive surpassed 20% from June 28 to July 2, the most recent data available. The last time North Carolina saw at least five consecutive days of a positivity rate above 20% was between Dec. 28, 2021, and Feb. 2.
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore and several of his colleagues have long called on Cooper to let the directive expire. Moore even held a mock birthday celebration with cake that commemorated the two-year anniversary of Cooper’s order. The top House Republican wasn’t immediately unavailable to comment on Cooper’s decision to let the order end next month.
During a confirmation hearing last month, Cooper’s top public health official, Kody Kinsley, was asked what would be needed to bring an end to the state of emergency. He and Cooper were satisfied with language in the budget that they say gives medical providers and systems the tools they need to maintain adequate staffing levels, administer Covid-19 tests and vaccines and keep the public safe.
On Tuesday, the state health department said the newly enacted budget includes provisions that allow for standing orders from the state health director for Covid-19 testing, vaccines and treatments through the end of 2023.
The spending plan also lets NC DHHS to waive rules for health care facilities and nursing homes so they can expand bed capacity and so ambulances can continue to have one Emergency Medical Technician and one licensed driver instead of two EMTs. Additionally, the budget provides a grace period for lead and asbestos inspectors to get re-certified because the process requires an in-person course that wasn't offered during part of the pandemic.
“The State of Emergency and the executive orders that followed saved lives and were essential to the state's response throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” Winstead said.
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