Cooper issues 11 pm last call for alcohol sales in NC
Gov. Roy Cooper and state health and safety officials provide a July 28, 2020, update on the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and the state's response to it.
his 1749 new cases since yesterday, 1244 people in the hospital and, sadly, 1820 people who have died our thoughts with everyone battling this virus, recovering from it, or mourning a loved one. Today, Dr Mandy Cohen, our secretary of our Department of Health and Human Services, will share an update on our key indicators and trends and where we stand in our fight against Cove in 19. So now I'll hand it over to Dr Going Great. Thank you, Governor. Today we will walk through our key metrics and you'll see that some of our metrics are showing early signs of stabilizing. These early signs are a testament to the hard work folks have been doing across the state. They show what it's possible when we all work together. Now, when we look at the states around us that haven't taken the slow approach to easing restrictions and they haven't required cloth face massive North Carolina has, it's clear that there is no one and done with this virus. It takes consistent and ongoing work to slow the spread of covert 19 our best weapons remain the three W's. Today's numbers make that abundantly clear. All right, let's dive into the data as a reminder. We use a combination of metrics we look at over a 14 day period. We look at covert like syndrome, a cases lab confirmed cases, positive tests as a percentage of total tests and hospitalizations. Some of these indicators help us understand the rate of viral transmission in the past few days, while others, like hospitalizations, tell us about transmission and what was happening a few weeks ago. All right, our first graph looks at people who come into the emergency department with cove it like symptoms. This is the most timely data we have, and it's our earliest detection mechanism, and this metric is not impacted by testing rates or other factors. So we take a look at the yellow line, and you can see over the last week that it has started to tick downward. But the previous seven days before that were upwards. So overall over the last 14 days, we'd call this leveling All right here. On our next slide, we look at laboratory confirmed test. This is another of our more timely key metrics. This first graf on cases gives you a look at the trajectory of new cases since we had our first case back to March. But let's zoom in. It's helpful to get a better sense of the current picture with a little more detail. And, as you can see, looking at the flattening of that yellow line, the number of new lab confirmed cases of coded 19 is leveling over the past 14 days. Now, in the next slide, we look at the percent of tests that are positive. Looking at the Yellow line, you can see that the percentage of total tests is trending down to around 8% from 10%. And while asked, I still want to see this number down to 5% or less, it appears headed in the right direction. The next metric is day over day hospitalizations. As you can see, the upward sloping yellow line hospitalizations continue to rise, and today is our highest day of statewide hospitalizations. As I've mentioned before, people who are going into the hospital today, we're likely infected days or weeks ago. That's why we call this a lagging indicator. This trend will take longer to stabilize and other metrics. Fortunately, we still have hospital hospital capacity here in North Carolina, and we continue to monitor this closely. Okay, so where are we today? First surveillance data ticked downward last week, and it's starting to level. It gets a yellow line. North Carolina's trajectory of lab confirmed cases is leveling, but it's still high. It gets a yellow line, but it's a positive development. North Carolina's trajectory in percent of tests returning positive, is declining, which is a good sign, but it still gets a yellow line because again, we'd still like to see this number closer to 5%. North Carolina's trajectory of hospitalizations continues to increase, but we have capacity. So again, this trend gets a yellow line. We also track are critical capabilities, our ability to respond to this pandemic, and you'll see that testing has a sideways arrow. We're doing a lot of testing, averaging about 29,000 tests per day over the last week. But as you've repeatedly heard me say, we have concerns around testing, turnaround times, supply chain issues and the need for federal support. More and more states are raising the alarm about these challenges on contact tracing. We are continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of our local health departments and meet their ongoing needs. The's Cove in 19 community team members reflect the diversity of the communities that they serve, and almost half are bilingual or PPE. Supplies are stable, so the take away from today's data is that our actions to slow the spread of this virus are having an impact. Specifically, we see a direct correlation to the start of the statewide mask requirement. At the end of June, 2 to 3 weeks after implementing this requirement, we started to see the beginning of these more stable trends. The three W's are working. I know it can be frustrating to have to wait to see these results. The actions we take today won't show up in the numbers tomorrow. Today's actions affect where we are a week from now, or two weeks or a month, and slowing the spread takes a sustained effort from all of us. But let me be clear on my final point. Seeing glimmers of potential progress does not mean we can let up. It means it's time to double down while we're stabilizing. Thes trends, air still high. Adding nearly 2000 new cases per day is still a lot of new cases, and this level of viral spread of viral spread is stretching. Our response resource is, as you saw, hospitalizations, air up testing, turnaround times are long, and we continue to need to hire more contact tracers. So the positive signs and our trends should only strengthen our resolve to keep at it with those three W's wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, waiting six feet apart and washing your hands often where weight and wash. Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Dr Cohen. It's encouraging to see our numbers are stabilizing, particularly with other states are seeing spikes, but the numbers are still too high. In order to start a downward trend, we have to double down on actions that slow the spread of the virus. Other states have had to go backward when they saw sharp increases in their case numbers that overwhelmed their hospitals. Fortunately, we've avoided that, and it's because we've mandated masks and eased restrictions carefully in modest phases. We do not want to go backwards. Staple is good, but decreasing is better. Slowing the spread of this virus requires targeted strategies that help lower the risk of transmission. To that end, and in order to drive down numbers and continue our trends moving in the right direction, we're announcing today a statewide curfew on the sale of alcohol at restaurants effective this Friday, July. The 31st restaurants must stop selling alcoholic drinks after 11 PM bars will remain closed. We've not yet open bars in North Carolina for reason. Public health experts and examples from other states show that bars and other places where people gather closely together or a high transmission setting for this virus. We want to prevent restaurants from turning into bars after hours. And we're hopeful that this new rule can help drive down cases, particularly among young people. Several local governments have already taken this step. Their orders will remain in place as long as they are as strict or or more strict, and our statewide order will go into effect anywhere that does not already have such a curfew. This will be particularly important as colleges and universities air scheduled to start bringing people from all over the country to our state. We've seen case numbers increase among younger people and prevention is critical to slowing the spread of the virus. We know this pandemic has taken a toll on people's health, but it's also impacted people's jobs and our economy. And as the end of this month approaches, I know that many families air concerned about rent and utility payments coming due. This is especially difficult now that federal unemployment benefits that were helping to cover those bills will be cut off abruptly due to inaction in Washington. I continue urging North Carolina's congressional delegation in all of Congress to put politics aside and do what's right. As this pandemic still ready, rages on the $200 a week supplement the Senate proposed is not enough, and Congress and the president need to do more. And I know that our state Legislature needs to do better when it comes to unemployment during a pandemic. Payments are too low for too short of a time, and the state Legislature also turned away legislation to create a statewide fund to help support people who are hurting because of the band Emmick. So my administration is putting in place an effort to help people with their rent and utility bills. We're putting together a plan using funding from The Cares Act, and we'll be announcing this. Scene Cove in 19 is made life difficult for families across our state, but it won't be this hard forever. Were encouraged that vaccine development is showing promise and that we can win this fight against the pandemic. For now, let's stick together and do what we know works to prevent disease spread while supporting each other. And that's how we'll make it through. Along with Secretary Cohen. With me today is our secretary of public safety. Eric Cooks, an emergency management director. Mike Spray Berry, Monica Maggie and Brian Tipton are our sign language interpreters and behind the scenes jasmine motive here and just I am a Linda's or our Spanish language. Interpreters will now take questions from the media, and if you can identify yourself and your organization, we would appreciate it, and we'll take the 1st 1 Our first question will be from Chamber Morgan with WBTV Hi, Governor, This is Chandler Morgan from WBTV Charlotte. Mecklenburg schools recently released their enrollment numbers for their full remote academy. Over 50,000 students enrolled for perspective is that remote option where its own district, you would put it up the largest district in the state. My question is for larger district like CMS to are in a county that considered a hot. But why would it state leaders encourage or asked the district to go fully remote to minimize risk of exposure? Thank you. But this is exactly why we have given districts and option to go fully remote. And many districts are taking this option. Uh, you know, you have to consider a lot of things. The first and foremost has to be the safety of our students and our staff and teachers at our school. That's the number one thing. But we also know that it is important to get our Children back in school as soon as we can safely, and part of that is going to be making sure they get his good of education is possible, and that's going to involve some remote learning. Even with our Plan B, which requires less density, there's usually going to have to be some remote learning. So we need to make that is good as we possibly can, and help equip our teachers with the tools that they need to make sure that we do this remote learning successfully, but that option is there, and many districts were taken it. Next question. Please follow up. Chandler, Morgan wbtv I got more could follow it for you. Additionally, the price President Donald Trump. He says that he will now accept his nomination. North Carolina. Has there been any communication to you and your team is This will be happening in Charlotte. And is there any worry about the draw outside visitors that could bring to the city or state? Given the progress that we thought today in Cove, in 19 case numbers, he's welcome to come. But nothing has changed about our resolve to keep health and safety first. We have not heard anything from the administration or the RNC about this. Yes, obviously, we have concerns about people coming in and about a large crowd, but will continue to keep health and safety number one in this process. Next question. Our next question is from Lynn Bonner with the News and Observer. Hi. Thank you very much for taking my question. Governor Group of wondering why you decided to start the alcohol curfew now why? You chose 11 p.m. and if you are have seen anything that convinces you that such a curfew was effective. So, uh, I'll let Dr Cohen address this in a minute, but we know that the bar scene has been a place where we have seen increased transmission. This has been happening in other states. I saw the governor of Texas who said if there's anything that he could change, he would not have opened the bars. And we've seen number Spike in Texas. We're getting some reports about some restaurants that essentially turn into bars late at night, where people are less socially distant in less sitting at tables and mawr, milling around and mawr up around the bar. So what we want to do now that we are have become stable with our numbers. We want to drive those numbers down, and this is one of the ways that we believe will be effective in driving those numbers down. If we discourage that bar type scene in a restaurant, 11 oclock was was chosen because we know some restaurants begin serving dinner to people at nine and 9 30 we just wanted to make sure that the restaurant part of the evening would be over and discourage the bar scene after 11 o'clock, Dr. Cohen, would you want to say something on that Highland? The only thing I would add is that I think these actions continue to show how we are trying to use our data to do targeted interventions that will slow the spread of the virus. A couple of the things that we're seeing one is that and you could see this on our dashboard is that that more of our cases are in folks who are younger. That 18 to 40 age group is where we're seeing more viral spread. And as a governor mentioned, we know within the next number of weeks we're going to see university and other college students return to campus. And so I think, using a data driven approach to say, we we knew that we did not want to open bars. We do not want restaurants to turn into bars. We do not want to have settings. Where there that where there's increasing viral spread. I think you see us using our data to try to be very targeted to keep that virus level low, to continue the progress that we are seeing as as our numbers start to stabilize. Thanks. Next question, please. Our next question is from Richard Craver with the Winston Salem Journal. Hello, Governor. This is Richard Crabber with the Winston Salem Journal. I wanted to follow up on, I guess, the last week or so involving on a full that benefits. And you're imagining that you've been encouraging the state Legislature. Teoh, Try toe, raise the weekly Mount or the weekly number of benefit weeks. And is there any consideration about calling a special session between now and September 2nd toward that goal, if we felt that we could get some positive movement from the Legislature, that's certainly a potential. We know, though, that, uh, the state Senate proposed an increase in the state benefit which the State House did not take. And that didn't end up being in the final budget. And there was no consideration given to extending the benefits. Now that we see that this virus is still raging across the country, Now that we see that peoples are gonna be out of work for a longer period of time, I hope two things will happen. Number one that Congress will agree on additional supplemental money. It would be good if it would be the $600. It looks like it might be somewhere in between that, but that supplemental money is particularly important in North Carolina because our state Legislature has provided some of the smallest benefits in the country for the shortest period of time. So we need Number one Congress to help with that supplement and number two. When the Legislature comes back, we need to relook at North Carolina's unemployment insurance, particularly in light of this virus and what it is doing to families across our state. And we also know that when people received these unemployment payments, that money goes into the economy to pay bills, utility bills, rent food, those kinds of things on it will also help our economy. Next question, please follow up. Richard Craver, Winston Salem Journal governor, is also going to ask, given that the state barbs, So much money. I was 2.8 million or something in that you want a billionaire in 2008 to 2011 to help with the great recession. Who's there? Any consideration about borrowing money game from US Labour Treasure Department was not even a consideration. I don't think that were in need of having to borrow that money. Now I think right now the trust fund is sufficient, so that's not something that we would consider right now. Next question please. Our next question is from Andrea Blanford with ABC 11. Hi Governor, It's Andrea Blanford with ABC 11. We heard from a group of Duke researchers last week concerned that lack of adherence to mask wearing and public could translate to lack of acceptance of a covert vaccine when it's developed. And he concerned from you on building the public's trust in the vaccine and it. So what's your strategy to build that trust? Thanks. I think it's absolutely critical that we build public trust for not only the vaccine against Cove in 19 but other vaccinations that are so important in keeping people and our entire population healthy. It's sort of like wearing a mask that you're getting a vaccine not only protect yourself, but to protect other people is well, and it's why we have these requirements for Children to have vaccines before going in school. I think it's going to be important for state leaders to stand up for doctors and others. Talk about the importance of getting these vaccines in order to keep the population healthy. And I'll let Dr Cohen address that, too. Hi, Andrea. Really important question. And I think trust is so important as we've been thinking about our response effort overall, one of the ways in which we hope that we are building trust with everyone is to be very transparent, particularly with what is going on in North Carolina. It's why our dashboard is full of data and we continue to put more data on. There is why we continue to have these press conferences and be available. Um, it's why we're trying to spend a lot of time putting out all sorts of material, but it can't just come from us. I think the governor is exactly right. This has to be a partnership amongst many ah folks across the state leaders and very different sectors who can stand together to say, um that that the response to this effort is important, whether it's wearing a face covering or getting a vaccine. Thanks. Next question. Please follow up. Andrea Blanford, ABC, 11. One more thing Governor President Trump was in Morris bill to see the progress of vaccine developments here just yesterday. Did you support that visit? Do you plan to meet with Vice president Mike Pence when he's in town tomorrow? Is there any reason he did? Not with the president yesterday. Thank you. We're very proud of what's happening in biotechnology and life science and medicine in North Carolina. I think this is one of the best, if not the best hubs in the world for research. You look a rendez severe, that therapeutic. You look at the vaccine. That's research that's going on on all kinds of Corona viruses in North Carolina and the clinical trials that are being held here. So we're always glad to have our nation's leaders come to North Carolina and be a part of it. I was just on the phone with Vice President Pence and other governors, along with Dr Berks and Dr Fauci, talking about the the recommendations of the federal Corona Virus Task Force. I don't know specifically whether I will talk with Vice President Pence tomorrow or not, but we certainly always welcome them to come to our state and we hope that they will provide MAWR federal help for us, particularly in the testing area. Thanks. Next question, please. Our next question is from Gary Robertson with The Associated Press. Little Governor Gary Robertson, the You know where to go. You talked a little bit about these, this help for people dealing with evictions or potentially late unpaid utility bills just to make clear euro. Technically, you're allowing that executive order that had had told utilities not to turn off people's utilities. Um, that was to expire tomorrow. Will that expire? And could you talk about what you envision? This cares money would do would be designed to primarily help customers. Would it help local governments or both? Thanks. Thank you. Yes, the The order will expire. And we have been encouraging customers and utilities as well as landlords and renters to try to work out payment plans and discouraging strongly the shut off utilities or evictions. And the idea of this cares act money would be to make direct payments to utility companies in order to make sure that uh power was not cut off or make payments directly to land or to make landlords to make sure that renters were not affected. Some real concerns have been with city owned municipal utilities have had a significant number of people who have not paid and they're on the financial line. So this is, ah, a particular interest to them to be able to try to make sure that we keep the power on for these people, but also to make sure that their utilities can remain viable. Thanks. Next question, please. Our next question is from Rebecca Martinez with Double UNC the governor at Rebecca from W u N c. I am calling all right, I appreciate your time. I was hoping that you could tell me about, uh, is it time to provided, um, for public schools with regards to open in the fall? Um, doesn't actually keep all schools closed like they did in the spring. So I'm wondering how that could apply to private schools. Um, Vice Parts of intense is visiting Apex, a private school there on even though Wake County public schools starting with remote instructions because concerned for parents and teachers back over 19 should all private schools be following what local districts were doing? We certainly encourage private schools to take significant steps to protect their staff and their students and I'm sure that there has been consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services. Would you want to comment on that, Dr Cohen? Sure, thanks for that question. And while our guidance is specific to the K 12 publics and charter schools, we certainly encourage all the private schools to take a look at all of those guidance. And remember that where we wanted to go forward was the maximum amount of safety precautions for students and faculty. Um and so that meant that we wanted to have everyone where face coverings from K through 12 um, staff and and teachers as well, as well as staying six feet apart and making sure that folks are washing their hands doing screening procedures as they as they enter schools. Now, I know many of the private schools are implementing Ah, these plans. Some are using a combination of remote instruction and these altered safety plans in place on, and we encourage them to continue to look at our at our guidance and to take and heed the warnings of and concern that we have about viral spread in our state. Thank you. Next question. Please. Please. Our next question this during Kate Martin with Carolina Public Press. But afternoon, Governor, this is Kate Martin with Carolina Public Press. Thank you for taking my question. I'm kind of glancing over your executive order, and, um, it looks like and please correct me if I'm wrong. But if if there's like an offsite event, like a wedding or a party of some kind that they're not allowed, they can't cater any drinks after 11. Between 11 and seven AM Basically, what are the punishments? If a bar or a company that has a liquor license violates your order, could they have their liquor license taken away? I'm interested in any more details you can provide. Thank you. Yes. Are a Ellie alcohol? Law enforcement in our ABC Commission is empowered under this executive order to enforce the law. And in fact, there have been some bars that have tried to open in violation of the previous executive order in a. Ellie has stepped in to say to them, Hey, if you if you're open, if you're violating the rules and you can lose your license so that those law enforcement officials will be ready to enforce this law course, we hope that everyone abides by. Next question, please. Our next question is from David Mills Lindbergh with business North Carolina, the governor of this state down in Charlotte. What do your projections showing the unemployment rate? It's going to be at the end of the year, in our state and on the weekly benefit. What do you think it should be? We wanted to be obviously as low as possible, and it did drop significantly to 7.6 just a couple of weeks ago. We know, however, that this pandemic is continuing to ravage across our country and that it's going to, in effect, people's jobs. We also know, though, that people are finding opportunity in crisis, and we're seeing more jobs being created in the healthcare arena. We have continued recruiting jobs to North Carolina. We just announced a a massive job creation in Charlotte, with 17 moving there. So we know that they're going to continue to be jobs created. And that just means we've gotta invest in education from cradle to career to make sure that people have the training. The workforce is still going to matter in trying to drive down our unemployment rate. So we wanted is low as possible. We do know, however, that it is a challenge right now for a lot of people to go into the workforce and the work outside of the home, either for physical health problems or because their job has has been cut. But we're gonna continue to work on that issue for sure. Next question. Police follow up. David milled Enberg Bigness North Carolina. Yeah, on the average weekly benefit, I think it's somewhere in the to 75 to 3 50 range in North Carolina. What do you think it should be? Thank you for years. Public service? Sure. Well, the I think the Senate proposed it up to 400. It needs to be a little higher than that, though. When you when you look at what it cost people just to live and how difficult it is to provide for a family, then I think these benefits should be higher. And I think 12 weeks is too short of a time. And it's gonna be critically important that we have a federal supplement to go with North Carolina's benefit because it is one of the lowest in the country. So that federal supplement is going toe mean a whole lot. And we can do things for working North Carolinians to, like expand Medicaid, which will help all of the businesses out there with their health insurance premiums. Vice President Pence did that when he was governor of Indiana. We've seen a lot of states across the country in a bipartisan way. Expand Medicaid, and it looks like in the middle of a pandemic this is something that we ought to be doing. Thanks. Next question. Police. A final question today will be from Roto. Been with North Carolina Health News. I sent it. Ah. Hi, Governor. High Secretary, Um, I'm curious about in last week everything. Secretary Cohen said that, you know, um, about partners, Uh, between some testing sites and some labs and curious. Why are some labs able to turn around test quicker than others? Hi, Rose. Thanks for that question. So a lot of this has to do with pre existing relationships that certain health care and to tease that do the sample collection that do the nasal swabs or nasal pharyngeal swabs and where they're traditionally are used to sending their labs. They have relationship with our large commercial lab partners as they should. Um, we have a very, uh, you know, a number of of commercial lab partners, whether it's lab core or Quest or Mayko. And so they go to the relationships that they know, but their arm or ah, labs out there they are smaller labs. They don't have quite the throughput. So we are doing a facilitating of some matchmaking, if you will, to some of these health care entities that are collecting the samples to say if if lab core is backed up, our quest is backed up and you used to send their Here's some other options you want to consider as you go forward. And so hopefully, as we diversify the the number of labs that we use, we can bring the turnaround time down for everybody on. And I think we're looking at other mechanisms that we can work on to do. Ah, improvements in turnaround times, including looking at other modalities, such as antigen testing and pooling and others sorts of mechanisms. Thank you. We have a follow up from Rose Hope in North Carolina. Health news. Um, thank you for taking my file up. I was wondering where we are on testing and skilled nursing facilities. Um, you know, have we completed testing of all of the staff and residents, and, um So where are we with that? I'm I'm I'm guessing. Perhaps record for a berry has something. You know, something about that? I'll start. So, um, on the testing in our skilled nursing facilities, As you know, for a very long time, if there was even one case we did testing of all staff and residents in the those skilled nursing facilities, we went a step further to say we want to do proactive testing of staff in all of our nursing homes. We completed that very quickly in all of our state nursing homes. And then we partnered with CVS, um, Omnicare for the state to facilitate not only the logistics, but if necessary, the payment for that testing. And we are working through all of our skilled nursing facilities. I want to say we're about 70% complete with that, um, and more happening every day. And by the end of this week, I believe will be nearly complete, maybe into the first of next week. Before that testing is complete. And then from from there. We want to make sure that we have ongoing testing in place for staff and I think testing is important. But remember only one tool in terms of our overall strategy to make sure that we are keeping those in our long term care facilities safe and that their healthy. So we have it. We have a coordinated plan on how to do that. You can look at it on our website and download it a number of steps from prevention to testing to oversight and as well as helping them with workforce issues. Thank you. Thanks everybody for joining us and remember the three W's.