Cooper: Election has been a focus but our work in fighting COVID continues
Posted November 5, 2020 6:58 a.m. EST
Updated November 5, 2020 6:39 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic for nine months now, and cases have continued to mount.
Steadily, the state's 7-day rolling average of coronavirus cases has inched upward. On Thursday, the state reported another 2,859 new cases, the second-highest daily total since the pandemic began. The seven-day rolling average topped 2,300 new cases per day.
The surge in cases across North Carolina is only a snapshot of what's happening across the country. New confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the country set a record on Wednesday, giving America a glimpse into what lies ahead for the next president.
Daily, new confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases have increased by 45% over the past two weeks. More than 86,000 coronavirus cases are reported on average each day in the United States, and nearly 900 people die from coronavirus on average daily.
On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper addressed the public about rising coronavirus cases in North Carolina.
"The state moved into Phase 3 of coronavirus restrictions at the beginning of October -- which meant movie theaters, reception halls and bars with outdoor seating were allowed to reopen. But since moving into Phase 3, there has only been a spike in cases," he said.
While Cooper said he didn't want to move North Carolina back to a different phase of reopening, he noted "data will guide our decisions." Cooper added that "we can get control of this virus if people come come together, wear a mask and social distance."
"I'm concerned that our numbers will trend even higher as people gather for the holidays," said Dr. Mandy Cohen, state secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. "If you do decide to host a holiday gathering -- we can't eliminate risk, but we can minimize it."
Cohen suggested clustering family members from the same household at the same table, cleaning and disinfecting common surfaces and wearing a mask at all times except for when eating.
She added that anyone considering traveling for the holidays should get a coronavirus screening test beforehand.
"It is by no means perfect. It can catch some people who have the virus but aren't showing symptoms," explained Cohen. "Think about getting a test before traveling or getting together. If you test negative -- you're not clear, [you] still need to wear a mask. "
Contact tracing shows that the majority of cases are connected through close contact where people are not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing, said Dr. Emily Sickbert-Bennett, the director of infection prevention at the University of North Carolina Medical Center.
Additional guidance on how to safely celebrate Thanksgiving and other upcoming holiday gatherings is expected next week.
Cooper also allowed elementary schools to reopen, and middle and high schools to open campus under a hybrid learning model. Districts can choose if they want to reopen or stay in online learning for the remainder of this school year.