Cooper criticizes Trump's statements on coronavirus, wearing masks
Gov. Roy Cooper and state health and safety officials provide an Oct. 6, 2020, update on the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and the state's response to it.
1504 new cases reported since yesterday 1 13 people in the hospital and sadly, 3670 people who have died. We mourn with those who've lost loved ones, and we pray for strength for those fighting this disease. Today, we're pleased to announce another investment in childcare to help families and Children and our early learning teachers license facilities that are providing in person childcare from August to October, or eligible for $35 million in grants to keep kids in a safe and nurturing environment and allow their parents to go toe work or to school. The grants will help offset the significant financial strains placed on childcare to meet health and safety guidelines while serving fewer Children. Our child care programs have been on the frontlines since the start of this pandemic, keeping their doors open so other workers could keep our economy running in our public safe. A strong and safe childcare system is essential to our recovery. Education and child care have to remain a priority even as we fight this pandemic, and these funds will help childcare centers keep welcoming Children to safe and carrying places. Already, the Department of Health and Human Services has provided $80 million. Two these centers to make childcare available to more than 100,000 Children since the start of the pandemic. I really want to thank our early childhood teachers for all they do every day for young Children and our families across the state. We're also working get small businesses, financial help dealing with the effects of the pandemic. Hundreds have already applied in. The Department of Commerce expects to make the first allocations next week. At the same time, we remain concerned about how case numbers are growing across the nation and how that wrong direction might affect us here in North Carolina. We North Carolinians need to act responsibly and protect our loved ones by always wearing mask and keeping distant when we're together and it's going to take all of us working together to succeed. The time to do that is now day in and day out, the virus is seizing opportunities to spread. The most dangerous time is when people drop their guard and think this isn't serious. As we saw in Washington over the weekend, the virus is quick to spread and many times slow to leave. This virus is unpredictable and deadly serious. Just in the past month, here in North Carolina, we've lost a college student, a teacher, beloved members of a firefighting community and many others to this cruel disease are methodical approach to easing. Restrictions will work safely if we keep using proven measures, wearing a mask, waiting 6 ft apart and washing our hands often other important work in fighting viruses going on across the state. And I'm gonna ask Dr Mandy Cohen, our secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to give us an update. Dr. Cohen. Okay. Thank you, Governor. I appreciate your steadfast leadership. Your measured approach based on the science and data has put us on solid ground throughout this crisis. Thank you for working to find a balance that allows us to live with this virus, protecting the public's health and reigniting the economy. Let me begin my update with talking about our testing efforts. First, we continue to ramp up testing around the state with more than 430 free testing events planned in communities across the state in the month of October, with more added every day. Anyone who has symptoms or think they have been exposed to Cove in 19 can get tested. You don't need to have insurance. Thes testing sites are free, and you can find one at N c DHHS dot gov slash testing Place thes free testing events Add to the more than 600 testing sites across the state. Make sure you're accessing testing again. Anyone with symptoms or who thinks they could have been exposed to co vid should get a test. We also have MAWR testing coming into the state from the federal government. Yesterday, we received 200,000 rapid antigen tests and expect to receive a total of three million of these tests by the end of the year. The state will begin an initial distribution of these tests to 52 high priority counties throughout through our local health departments. These tests are designed to provide a quick result for people with symptoms similar to a rapid flu or a rapid strep tests that you might get at an urgent care or doctor's office. Thes tests will be free to the patient and will be deployed by the local health department to outbreaks in schools and farmworker camps, food processing plants, homeless shelters, first responders, colleges and universities and correctional facilities. And while testing is important, it is insufficient on its own. It's those three W's that make the biggest difference. Those are the tools we need to use every single day, every single time we leave the house so we can protect our friends and neighbors and keep virus levels low as people move around mawr, their arm or opportunities for this virus to spread. We're seeing this in our trends, which have moved in the wrong direction over the past week. Our cases have ticked up, as have the percent of tests that are positive and hospitalizations. We can turn these trends around Justus we have throughout this pandemic by relying on the science. Wearing a mass properly slows the spread, waiting 6 ft apart from other people and avoiding large crowds slows the spread. Washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water slows the spread. Doing them all together will keep us on the right track, particularly as we head into flu season. So let's do the things we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones, including getting your flu shot. The flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu and its complications. It lowers your likelihood of getting sick, and if you do catch the flu, it's likely to be milder than if you weren't vaccinated. So before I turn it back over the governor, I want to remind everyone that we're not powerless in the face of this pandemic. We can slow the spread and support North Carolina's recovery just where weight and wash and whatever your reason, get behind the mask. Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Dr Cohen. I appreciate your leadership is well. On Friday, we entered face three of easing restrictions. But this phase Onley work safely if we realized that every gathering carries the risk of spreading this disease, and we treated that way, if we're going out, let's do what works where a mass, Keep social distancing, wash your hands often and stay away from places where people aren't doing that. Precautions like the three W's help Children get back into classrooms and move our economy forward along with Secretary Cho and also with me today is emergency Management director Mike Spray Berry, Karen Magoon and Brian Tipton, our our sign language interpreters behind the scenes. Uh, Jackie and Jasmine material are our Spanish language interpreters. We also have our secretary of the Department of Public Safety, Eric Cooks, who has joined us as well. Well, now open it up for questions that you might have. And we would ask you to identify yourself and your organization, please. Our first question is from Chandler Morgan with wbtv. Hi, Governor. This is Chandler Morgan from WBTV. Thanks for taking my question. And forgive me, as I have a little context here for this 11 of our local school district has decided to put out district metrics of employees and students who have been confirmed co vid positive. Some teachers say there should be more transparency on the district reporting how maney teachers specifically test positive for the virus because arguably, teachers have more exposure and contact. My question is, do you think that school district should be transparent and provide those metrics about how many of their teachers are testing positive? I think anything that we can do to help to slow the spread is important. And I'm gonna let Dr Cohen address that particular issue. Okay, get my mask. Hi, Chandler. Thanks for that question. A couple things first, as you know, that schools are required to report to the local health department and the state, and we do aggregate that data and posted on our website in terms of transparency, that's always been important to us. But we have to remember we've always needed to balance transparency and wanting more data with personal privacy. Right? Thes schools are small than and and folks we don't want them to be bullied or targeted in any way. And so I think school district's air going tohave thio, um, work through how toe share enough information to make sure that they're protecting those that around them, making sure to talk to those who have been in direct contact and make sure that they are quarantining and getting tested. But we have to also respect, um, individual privacy. So I think that's always the balance that we're going through. But remember for folks, you can go to our website and look at the information about outbreaks in school that we, um, update every week. Thanks. Next question, please. Police follow up. Chandler Morgan wbtv. Thank you. Both for your answers, this question it relates to universities. So it's been recently reported that AP State lost one of their students to Cove in 19. And now other universities. They're making changes as well that state their protocols, such as limiting fraternity gatherings and such. So my question is, what other changes should these universities be making and the best interests of health and safety for their staff and students chat? Death was tragic at Appalachian State University, and it shows us the serious nature of this virus that can strike anyone at any time. And it should also lead us to redouble our efforts. Uh, each and every one of us should look at this morn with the family and then say, OK, I'm gonna do something about this. I'm gonna do my part to slow the spread. And if I'm not doing the three W's like I should, then I'm gonna do that, and I'm gonna use my common sense, and I'm gonna try to help slow the spread for everybody because we want to prevent deaths and we want to slow the spread of this virus. I'll let Dr Cohen address that issue as well. Hi, Chandler. As you likely know, we have guidance for institutes of higher ed universities and colleges. Um, that gives a myriad of recommendations on how to slow the spread of the virus, but it always comes back to the core principles of wearing a mask, making sure you can continue to have social distancing and washing hands. And so I know that institutions have been working hard on this, and I encourage all of them to make sure that they are being vigilant to those three W's and all of the principles within our guidelines. Thanks. Next question. Please, please. Our next question is since flown Heffernan with WRL, but hello, Governor Cooper. We all watched yesterday as President Trump removed his mask in front of the White House. How concerned were you about that? And the potential impact that that action could have on our state about the people of North Carolina and I feel a responsibility for their health and safety. It's why we work hard to inform people about scientifically proven ways to protect other people and themselves, and it's frustrating to see and hear the opposite coming out of Washington. Next question, please. Our next question is from Joedy. McCreary with CBS 17. Hi. Thank you for taking my question. This is for Dr Cullen. I wanted to ask about the technical issues that led to some of the daily case counts too low a couple of times over the past week. Um, can you sort of explain what issues were? And what do you guys doing to do to prevent There's going forward. Hi, Jody. Thanks for the question. Yes, we have had some technical issues and in ingesting some data where we got incomplete files, um, I'll spare you all of the technical details, but essentially, we We received a file that gummed up the works. We wrote to extract that file and then sort of re download everything. So while we were delayed in reporting a full, uh, counting of our cases on Sunday, we did report the those additional cases in our Monday case count. I think it's why we don't look at any one day of reporting. And when we're looking at trends, we look at seven day rolling averages. We look at this over a period of time because when the tests come in, could be at at different times And that's what happened with this, uh, this case this past week. Thanks. Next question. Please. Please. Our next question is from dawn Bond with the News and Observer by stone Bond with the end in a mixture taking my precious wanted to find out Is there an exact threshold for the data? Was transferring in a wrong direction this week for, um changing the phase restrictions And if that separate, also from potential, um, school restrictions and plants changes and then also the reaction from the bars under phase three. They said it's pointless. Why can't they reopen under the exact same parameters? His restaurant if, well, we're concerned about the direction that the trends have begun to take. Just this past week, we've seen an increase in our percentage positive. We've also seen an increase in our hospitalizations and admissions to the hospital. So this is very concerning. We try to make sure that we look at this over a two week periods of time and so we don't We don't want to get too focused on it. But when you look at what's happening and you see what's happening across the country and know that we're getting into the fallen winter you remain concerned about. People really need to double down and practice the three W's in order to slow the spread. We put restrictions in place in order to reduce mass gatherings, particularly inside in places where we've seen spreading events across the country. And this is why those restrictions are in place and are important. The harder we all work to slow the spread of the virus, the faster that restrictions can be eased. Uh, well, do whatever it takes in order to protect the health and safety of North Carolinians. Dr. Cohen, would you wanna add to that? Hi, Don. The only thing I'd add is and I think you said it in the nature of your question, we look at metrics as well as the safety protocols, right? Those are both important as we're thinking about high risk settings. Eso we There is no, um, exact metric or one metric we look at four metrics. We look at trends over time as the governor said, but we also have to look at the safety protocols in place. Specifically is I think about schools. That is why, no matter what plan a school district chooses that they need to be wearing masks that they need to have social distinct, that they have to do hand washing. It comes back to those three W's so the protocols are important. Those safety protocols, as well as looking at, are trends and metrics. Thanks. Next question. Please follow up. Don Bond News and Observer. Hi, Thanks for taking the follow up. Well, you said that it's frustrating that the opposite is coming out of Washington. So what do you do then? When there's inconsistent messaging from leaders and off topic? Really, to D. C. Do you still support California? Yes, I do, Uh, and yes, it's frustrating to see what's coming out of Washington, particularly as it relates toe this virus and what you need to do in order to protect other people and to protect yourself when you have gatherings where people are not wearing mask. When people are not social distancing, you can see what happens when those things occur. Even with testing going on, it's really not safe toe have those larger gatherings with people so close together and most people not wearing masks. So that's just the wrong signal to be sending when We know that it iss scientifically proven that we can slow the spread and save lives if we practice the three W's and use our common sense. And I'm so looking forward to when we can have public health issues away from this election and taken out of the context of this election because we all need to come together as a state and as a country to defeat this virus. This thing is not over. And we have a potential, particularly this fall and winter for things to get worse. We want to boost our economy. We want to get our Children back into the classroom. And you don't do that by pretending that the pandemic doesn't exist and you don't do it by acting like it's not gonna hurt anybody. When in actuality, we know that it has killed over 3600 North Carolinians in over 210 0 Americans. So we all need to work together. And I look forward to that day. Next question, please. Our next question is from Katie Peralta with Charlotte Agenda. Hi, this is Katie Peralta with the Charlotte agenda. Um, quick question about, um, the point about our numbers going in the wrong direction over the past week. Um, I guess this is for Dr Cohen. Do you attribute that, Teoh? The fact that we have moved into phase three and their loser restrictions on businesses And, um, you know, stadiums can hold more people now. Um, and if so, are there any regrets about moving into phase three at this time? Thanks for that question, Katie. So phase three just started Friday evening. We started to see some of those those trends at the end of the week in the beginning of this week, which which again, from a time cycle of this virus is is too soon to say it's related to phase three. What we're seeing generally is a rising cases across the state. There's no one hotspot. There's no thing that I could tell you right now as opposed to back in August, where we said, you know, look, this is really being driven by what we're seeing in viral spread across our university in college settings. So what I would say and remind everyone is that as we move around more as there's mawr opportunities as we've eased restrictions for the virus to move we have to double down on the efforts related to the three W's. We can keep this virus at bay and continue to ease restrictions if we all work together to follow those guidelines of wearing a mask and staying socially distant. And I want to reiterate what the governor said is that please, you know, make good choices for yourself in terms of wearing a mask and avoiding large gatherings. Just because things have eased restrictions doesn't mean it's going to be right for every person and every family. Make sure you're thinking about your own personal health. Um, as you make choices about, um, uh, settings that you're going to want to be in. But I think it comes back to us all. Doing the three W's together can allow us to make sure that those trends stay a stable is possible as we ease restrictions. Thanks. Next question, please. Our next question is from sharing vans beaten with spectrum news. Good afternoon, Governor Sharon Van Zweden from Spectrum News. Um, my question is, uh, coming up to the election. You said in the last news conference that you planned to probably vote early for the people who go to the polls this year. Can you elaborate on any of the things that will be happening in those centers to protect people? Will they be sprayed down? Will there be wiped? Will people be provided with a mask if they don't have one? And so on? Yes, All of those things you just said are true. The Elections Board. It's working hard with local elections boards to make sure that everything is sanitized, that all the personal protective equipment is being provided for people so people can feel safe in voting. They're gonna work to make people associate, make people socially distant. They're gonna work to keep, make sure people wear masks. And so we certainly are encouraging people to go vote in person if you can and go vote early because if you do wait till Election day, there's a better chance for there to be longer lines and a longer wait. You also have an opportunity to vote absentee and you can do that either by mail or you can do that by voting and then bringing it to the elections board. And all of that can be found on the State Board of Elections website and that that board is committed to making sure that the elections are safe and secure. And I think early voting starts on October 15th. That belief? Next question, please. We've follow up sharing vans. Meat Inspector news. Yes, Another question for you, Governor. Ah, lot of people have been listening to your call and sending in absentee ballots. And so far, data shows that absentee ballots from minority voters or being rejected at a higher rate do you know why that is? And is there anything that state of border elections or others across the state can do to close that gap? You know, it's concerning when there is a chance that somebody's vote doesn't count. I think the state Board of Elections is committing committed to making sure that every legal vote counts, I think because the absentee ballot process requires a witness and requires a signature in a certain place. If the ballot is not filled out correctly and it is not properly witnessed, then the State Board of Elections is not gonna have it submitted, regardless of who it ISS. So I think it's important that people get the message out about the things that you need to do in order to vote absentee. The fact that you do need a witness. The fact that you do need somebody, uh you do need Thio sign it in the right place and their places on the state Board of Elections website. And there are other people who can provide information about how to teach people how to do it or to show people how to do it. And I think that's certainly important. We want every legal vote to count, and I think the State Board of Elections is gonna work hard to make sure that happens. Next question, please. Our final question today is from Preston London with the Port City daily. Hey, Governor and Secretary coming. Hope you're both doing well. This question, I believe, is mostly for Secretary Cohen. Can you please speak about, um, the department's role in oversight on university campuses and New Hanover County? We have UNC system institution that has been managing his case counts but has had flashes of outbreaks, and I understand that the state health department has recently tried to set up a meeting with them. Can you talk about what sorts of guidance you're providing? U N c W and, um, your perception of the State of affairs at U. N. C W. Well, thanks for that question. We've been working hard with all of our institutes of higher ed our university settings, college settings, public and private. We put out extensive guidance. We have calls if we see that they are having an increase in cases were immediately on the phone with them to make sure that they have the resources they need. We've deployed testing events. We make sure that they have, um, face coverings and the supplies that they need. Um, so if we want this to be a collaborative process, um, I know the U. N. C system is helping as well as the individual university. So it's been a collaborative process. We do have written guidance and protocols that we talked about earlier in the this press conference. But our team is taking a very active role in making sure that we are able to assist the local health departments and the universities and anything they might need to respond to those to those outbreaks. Thanks. Thank you, everybody for joining us today. Stay safe out there. Thank you. Mhm. Yeah,