NC hitting mark on 2 of 4 metrics to contain coronavirus
Gov. Roy Cooper and other state leaders update the progress against the coronavirus in NC.
in Ewing to provide state support as requested. But I say again, as I did over the weekend, we cannot lose sight of the reason nonviolent protesters are in the streets. They're calling out of systemic injustices that black people in communities of color have endured for generations. We have to listen to them right now and listening to what they're saying. We can't lose sight of another backdrop behind all of this, which is Cove in 19 a cruel virus that threatens all of us but has disproportionately struck the back bike people in our state and people of color in our country, we know one reason is the gap in health care that many black North Carolinians face a systemic injustice. Another reason is that many people of color or working frontline jobs that are now labeled as a necessity when they have been all along a systemic injustice. Another is decades of blatant and subtle racism in housing practices that has left too many black Americans without a safe place to live a systemic injustice. As we fight these injustices, we also fight a pandemic. Today in North Carolina, we have 29,889 confirmed cases 716 people in the hospital and 921 people who have died yesterday. More North Carolina marked a day of mourning for the more than 100,000 Americans who we've lost two covered 19. It's a somber benchmark to combat the rising case counts and deaths were continuing to increase our testing and tracing of known infections. North Carolina now has 32 labs analyzing testing samples in our state, and there are now more than 400 verified sites that are collecting those samples. Please go to our interactive map on the Department of Health and Human Services website to find a place to get tested. We're also tracking the state's trends and indicators so that we can slow the spread of the virus. Today we have Dr Mandy Cohen, our secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, here to share an update on our key metrics, and I'll hand it over to her now. Thank you, Governor. I'm grateful for your steadfast leadership. And as we confront this challenging time for our nation, I thank you for your commitment to equity as we work to protect the health and well being of North Carolinians. We're now in our second week of phase two of easing restrictions. We have taken a cautious approach that have a zoo. We've moved into this phase and in order to keep our viral spread low, we don't want to risk overwhelming our health care system. Today, I'm going to provide an update on our key metrics. It's graph day today. Ah, and you'll see that overall are trends have been relatively stable. However, there continue to be some warning signs that we need to watch closely. The data where I'm going to go through as you'll see underscores that we need to take a cautious approach and stay vigilant as we make sure to continue to slow the spread of the virus. As a reminder, we look at a combination of trends that guide our decision making, including Cove it likes and drama cases, lab confirmed cases, positive tests as a percentage of total tests and hospitalizations. These were chosen based on public health data and White House guidance. We cannot look at any one of these metrics in isolation, and again we look at them at a whole package when doing decision making. Each of these data points also has limitations, and we outlined those on our dashboard. So let's move into the graphs. This first graph looks at the people who come into our emergency department with something called Cove It like symptoms. This metric serves as our earliest detection mechanism. Before we even get a lab test results back. Looking at the yellow line, you can see the overall trend continues to decrease. However, we saw a small uptick last week that we're going to want to continue to monitor. But overall is very good news. This metric continues to trend down. Moving on this next graph shows our laboratory confirmed tests. I draw your attention again to that yellow line, the seven day rolling average. And as you can see our day over day, new cases are increasing and notably we've seen in the past week. This increase has even accelerated slightly. In the last 10 days, we have had three days with over 1000 new cases reported on those days, I would have liked to see this trend starting toe level, but unfortunately it continues to increase. Now. This slide is the exact same data you just saw on the last graph of the lab confirmed cases. But now we're just zooming in first, slightly closer. Look, this graph shows data since May 1st and not all the way back to March, so we can see it in more detail. But again, looking at that yellow line, the seven day rolling average this metric is trending up. And if you look on our dashboard, we show this both ways back to march and from May 1st. All right, we want to look at that that those first crafts in the context of this next one, the percent of tests that are positive. It's important to interpret the positive cases metric and this graph together again. I'm drawing your attention to the yellow line, and you can see that the percentage of total tests that are positive has been level. So while we're seeing more positive cases, the percent continues to be stable. And that's good news. Our Nets Mex metric here is on day over day hospitalizations. The Yellow Line shows that North Carolina's projective hospital ation has a small increase in the last week. You see that yellow line with a starting Teoh creep up We continue tohave capacity in our health care system to take care of people if they become seriously ill, so that is good. But we would like to see this number declining, not increasing. All right, Our last graph for today is an extra bonus graph providing an update on our testing. Again, we keep talking about our testing is increasing. And if you look at this yellow line, you can see that continues to trend up. Since entering Phase two, we continue to accelerate. Our testing in this past week have averaged over 10,000 tests per day. Okay, so here's where we are today. Our surveillance data. That earliest indicator is showing a decline. That's very good news. So green check. North Carolina's trajectory of lab confirmed cases continues to increase. It gets a Red X. And while this rises in part due to increased testing, the sustained increase also shows that we're just having mawr viral spread in our communities. North Carolina's trajectory of percent of tests return, returning positive remains level, and that's good news. So it gets a green check, and North Carolina's trajectory of hospitalization has increased slightly since entering phase two. I've given this metric a yellow a yellow line. We have hospital hospital capacity, so that's good. But we're trending up slightly. So we're gonna keep monitoring this closely for any regional patterns that we might see in terms of other key capabilities were seeing great improvements, as the governor mentioned. We now have over 400 testing sites verified and listed on our website, including new locations from CVS and Fast Med. We just put out A and R F Q. Looking to partner with businesses that are minority owned and on employ a diverse workforce to continue to expand. Testing were prioritizing new testing locations that reach historically marginalized populations that have been hardest hit by Cove in 19 are working. Contact. Tracing is also advancing, with more than 200 new hires that reflect the diversity of the communities they'll serve. This all tells us that we need to remain vigilant interactions to keep viral spread low. Everyone needs to do their part. What you do to protect your loved ones and your neighbors matters. Remember, people can have cove in 19 and not have any symptoms. Practice your three W's wear weight and wash so you don't unknowingly expose people to the virus. When we wear a face covering, wait six feet apart and wash your hands. Often we show our family, friends and neighbors that we care about them. So remember to wear weight and wash. With that, I'll turn it back over to you, Governor. Thank you. Thank you, Dr Cohen, for keeping us updated on the science and the data and the fax. And as you can see, there are improvement in some areas while there is work to do and others we know this virus has been a blow to our economy, too. And as we work to get, our business is growing again. We're still recruiting Mawr. Good paying jobs for North Carolina. Just in the past two weeks, we've announced over 1000 new jobs in both urban and rural communities across our state, and we'll continue to bring and keep good jobs here in North Carolina. Even as we battle this virus and protect the health of North Carolinians. That was the weather warms and more people, more people are getting out. They're running, reopening or in some cases, repairing their businesses. They were out demonstrating and making their voices heard they're out working in their every day, jobs, feeding us, caring for us, delivering goods and mail, protecting us, rescuing us and they're getting out of house mawr and just trying to have some fun as we do all these things. North Carolinians must remember that this virus is still circulating and it is still deadly. People are able to do more, and that's good, but it must be done safely and following the three W's, as Dr Cohen says, wear a face covering wash your hands, wait six feet apart from other people. It is difficult. Is it ISS? We must not let complacency or frustration or any of these activities that we're engaged in break down our defenses against this virus. We can keep this up if we stay focused and we keep taking care of each other today with me, along with Dr Cho, and I have our secretary of public safety, Eric Hooks, and our emergency management director, Mike Spray. Berry, Brian Tipton and Connie Joe Hutchinson are our sign language interpreters and Jackie and Jasmine Motive. Here are our Spanish language interpreters. Well, now open it up for questions, and if you can state your name and the name of your organization. We would appreciate it. Thank you. We'll take first question. Our first question will be from Dawn Bond with the news and observer guys just on bonded. And I know I have two questions. One is about the weekend and, you know, the Council of State this morning. Lieutenant Governor asked about why not having the guard out on Saturday night, and I know that the city requested it for Sunday. Um, do you think the city mayor and police forces handled the response? Adamson really is. He should. And on a different matter, the bar bill is on your death to find her veto on wanted to see if you can tell us about your plans for that of, um, whether or not you think that should you'll find thank you these air difficult decisions that local officials are trying to make right now, it's important that people have the opportunity to protest and to say what they're thinking. There is a lot of pain in communities right now. At the same time, I know our local officials do not want these protests to get violent, and many of the organizer's of these protests very much want these protests to stay peaceful, and that's important. We have stepped up to provide assistance to communities. All accord across North Carolina that they need the support they need. And that has come in the form of the state highway Patrol, alcohol law enforcement, the State Bureau of Investigation, the National Guard, which does all kinds of things for our communities. And in fact, we have a number of them activated during this pandemic, and those resources have been provided upon request. And as we go into the week ahead, those sources will continue to be provided eyes for the legislation that I have in front of me. You just heard the the presentation by Dr Cohen and looking at our indicators and are trends, and it's not time yet to enter into Phase three, and I have concerns, as I mentioned earlier, about the Legislature doing this and not leaving the flexibility to be able to deal with this virus if we have a surge on our hospitals, and we hope that that doesn't happen. But I'm continuing to review the legislation and we'll make a decision and let you know about it when we do. Thank you. Next question, please. Our next question is from Michael Highland's TVs 17. Hi, Governor. I want to ask about the letter that you sent to the RNC today. A few minutes before you started speaking the gentleman of the RNC's that they are going to go forward with visiting other states and cities that are interested in hosting the convention. At this point, if they want to go forward with a full scale convention to believe that they should go ahead and move it to another state and if they do, given the contracts that are in place, what impacts with that house? Thank you. Well, first, uh, the city of Charlotte and the state of North Carolina offered toe have the RNC in Charlotte and I was a supporter of that. When this pandemic hit. We began having discussions with the RNC about a scale down convention, particularly when we did not know what where the situation with the virus was going to be in in August. What from my conversations with the president and with the RNC. Over the last week, the discussions about a scaled down convention have stopped, and now they have demanded a full 19,000 person crowd at the inside arena in Charlotte. We've continued to say We want to talk with you about a scaled down convention, but we cannot guarantee you that at the end of August you can have a full arena. I hope they will continue to talk with us about a scaled down convention were ready to discuss that. And we're still waiting for answers to our health questions about how they would take steps to protect people about social distancing and face mask, and we have not her response from that. So we cannot guarantee them that in August they can have a full arena. But we want to continue discussions about a scaled down convention in Charlotte Banks. Next question, please. Joe Bruno, WSOC Bruno from Channel nine. I'm picking backing off of Michael's question, since you're not able to provide that guarantee. Are you okay with the president and the RNC taking the convention somewhere that will, I'm concerned about anywhere in our country where you would have that many people in one place. As I mentioned to the president in my conversation with him Friday night, I commended him for not holding those crowded rat rallies that he likes to hold. He's not held them since March, and that's a positive thing in the reason for that is the concern of the health and safety of people who might come to these kinds of rallies. So I would hope that they would talk to Charlotte about a scaled down convention. I think that's the prudent thing to do. That's the thing that protects the health and safety of North Carolinians and anywhere they would go. You really don't know exactly where Covert 19 is going to be in that particular place at the end of August. So it's prudent, just like any of these other organizations that are talking to us about holding events or opening things months down the road, that you have to have a plan in place that is scaled down and that provides for protections for the health and safety of people. And I would hope still that that's something they would do. Next question please. Rebecca Martinez, W UNC, A little governor can hear me. Yes, OK. Oh, thank you very much. I'm I'm hoping this Rebeca Martinez from W u N c. I was hoping to ask a question of Dr Colin about testing levels in the, uh, the way that Kobe Justin was carried out. I understand that there are antibody tests as well as actual active infection tests being done, and I'm just wondering if they're both figure into the overall count on. And if so, are you concerned that this is going to be skewing, uh, actual infection rates on the way that the virus has responded? Teoh. Right now, our tests that were reporting or diagnostic tests there is a way that anybody tests might be used as they become more reliables. We go along, but I'll let Dr Go and address them. Thanks for the question. As a governor mentioned, we are only including diagnostic tests again. That means testing for someone who might have active infection. So we do not include antibody tests in the numbers I was reporting today or in our totals. So that is something we would collect separately. We do not do that yet at this point, because again, we're not yet at the point to understand. How does antibody testing even fit into the larger picture of how we're responding to Cove in 19 So the the lab reporting that we do is diagnostic testing only. And that is what we are are reporting on our dashboards and what I reported today. Thank you. Next question, please. Brian Anderson with The Associated Press. How you guys? Can you hear me? OK, I can't Thank you so much for taking the time. I appreciate it. Brian Anderson here with The Associated Press. I wanted to ask ah, two parter for you. And I'm just curious. Specifically, the RNC basically says that you're dragging your feet on giving any sort of guidance on how to move forward to conduct the convention. And you're saying that they're not interested in having that conversation. And you're talking with Trump personally? Last Friday. Did you have any sort of back and forth on how to safely conduct the convention in Charlotte? Um, also, I I just wanted to know. Do you have all the PP you need? Is there anything you guys don't have from the federal government that you need right now? Thanks for that question. First, the guidance is pretty clear from the CDC and the White House Corona Virus Task Force, and we're asking the RNC to follow that guidance. But just as we did with NASCAR and Justus, we're doing with other, like Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Hornets that want to be holding live events. We're asking to review a plan that is specific to what they want to do. And we would like to see a plan from the RNC on the different events that they're gonna have and exactly what kind of steps that they are going to take. What kind of social distancing there they're gonna put in place? Are they going to require facemask? Uh, how are they going to handle people that if they run test, let somebody in a meeting, How they gonna handle that person who test positive? We want to help with that. But we also want them to talk about a scaled down convention. And when they say that you have to guarantee us 19,000 people in the Spectrum Centre from the RNC convict for the RNC Condition Convention, that's not something that we can guarantee. We would like to continue discussions with them on a scale down convention, but that hasn't happened. And in my discussions with the president, I did talk about wanting to scale down the convention and commended him for not holding those big rallies during this time of the pandemic. But he said that he wanted to have a full arena. Justus, the RNC is is saying, Right now we're continuing to make significant improvements in the amount of personal protective equipment that we're able to get and distribute. I'm really proud of a lot of North Carolina textile manufacturers who have changed their product line to start producing mass in gowns and other personal protective equipment. That's so important. No, we don't yet have enough because we want to spread it out to a lot of people. It's very important that this PPE of the available across the board, but we're continuing to make significant progress. Dr. Cohen talked about that a little bit, and you can get it. Get more specific information on our website. Thanks. Next. Next question, please. Christy O Connor. Wbtv Chris Theory there. I don't I don't hear anything. We'll try Katie Peralta with Charlotte agenda, But agenda, uh, sorry to come back to the RNC here, but I just wanted to assess, you know, based on your conversations over the last few days, with the RNC based on the trends that we're seeing in North Carolina currently, how would you assess the likelihood that Charlotte hosts the RNC at all in August? Well, we would think that if we could come up with a plan for a scaled down convention, that it would be much more likely. We think it is unlikely that we would be to the point at the end of August to be able to have a jam packed 19,000 person convention in the spectrum arena. So the likelihood of it being in Charlotte depends upon the RNC's willingness. Teoh discuss with us a scaled down convention, which we would like to do. Thanks. Uh next question. Andrea Blanford, ABC, 11 governor. It's answering up Lanford with baby feel oven. Ah, follow up quickly to the RNC. What is the number of attendees that you would be more willing to allow in Charlotte at the end of August? And also were you on the teleconference with President Trump yesterday, where he referred to most of the nation's governors at week on? What is your response to the president? As far as how you feel, North Carolina has responded to the violence that broke out here over the weekend. Thanks. Thanks. Um, we don't have a specific number. It would depend upon their plan. And what they want to do is to the number of people that were becoming remember. It's not just one event in the convention center on the nominating night. There are a lot of other events that are occurring, and tens of thousands of people would be coming to Charlotte. So there are a lot of logistics that have to be worked out, and I know that there has been a lot of work that has gone into it by a lot of people. But in order to be able to have a scale down convention, we need to talk about that now and begin that process, so we would look forward to hearing from them on that. But if they're going to continue with this guarantee, that that's going to be their decision. As to the comments yesterday, I will say that in that Bible that he was holding in front of the church is Jesus. A sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew, and in that sermon, he said, Blessed are the peacemakers. I think it takes leaders of strength to be peacemakers. And right now we need leaders of strength who can hear everybody and who can be peacemakers in this state and in this country. Because our state and our country need healing. We have a lot going on and a lot of frustration, and we need strength moving us forward, trying to bring us together. Thanks. Next question. Kate Martin, Carolina Public Press. Good afternoon, Governor. This is Kate Martin with Carolina Public Press. Today. I spoke with a spokeswoman at a small, um, a small western north Carolina county. She told me that they have nine contact tracers and they're bringing in more people help their very bitty how maney contact tracers will be enough for North Carolina in the coming weeks and months. I'm wondering if someone could give me an estimate. 1000 2000 5000. Thank you. Our new coalition is just hired 250 to add to those who are already in our local health departments across the state. But I'll let Dr Cho and talk about that more specifically. Hi, Kate. Thanks so much. Eso we as we know that We're getting more new cases every day. We are trying to assess What is that ultimate workload here of positive cases? It's It is a moving target, cause as you know, if we can keep the virus level low, we wont have as many new positives and thus less to contact trace from that. Um so we are trying to do and understand how many people we ultimately will need. But I think it starts back with our own actions of keeping the virus level spread low. And I just want to remind everyone of that. But we want to be prepared, and that is the work that we're doing. So not only are we hiring new folks, but we have asked all of our local health departments to say who Where do you have folks who may be working on other types of public health activities? How can we pull them in to this contact tracing effort? So we're working on that right now, not just a higher new, but also to redeploy folks within those local health departments. We're doing training right now and where we are want to assess. Once we trained up this cohort we've hired the new and then we want to assess. Are we doing all the contacts that we need to in 24 hours from seeing the positive? If we're not, we need to scale up. So I don't have a precise number, but that's the work we're trying to do. But I think it all goes back to us making sure that we're keeping the virus spread low because the more virus spread, that means more positives. More people that need to be contacted. So again, I think if we all do our part the wear weight wash, Um and we were doing all that we can to keep the virus level low. We won't have Teoh ramp up that that capacity. Um, and I think we have plenty of that capacity right now, but we are going to plan to make sure we have what we need to make sure that North Carolina is able to respond to this crisis. Thanks. Thank you. Next question, please. We'll try Christy O Connor with wbtv again. Kristie, are you on the line? I am. Can you hear me? And here you Oh, good. I was just wanting to clarify to move into phase three. Are you waiting for all four of the metrics? Toe? Have a green check mark before that can happen. I'm gonna let Darko and talk about that more specifically, but not necessarily the The thing is is that each one of these indicators is not perfect in and of itself. And you have to look at a combination of all of them in order to make decisions about which way to G. O and we. We recommend listening to our health care experts who were looking at all these trends. But I'll let Dr Cohen speak to that. Thanks so much. I think the governor is exactly right. There is no one metric that if we have a green check or a red X that's going to determine whether or not we can move forward, we have to look at this in combination and ultimately, we want to step back and understand we want to be saving lives. We do not want this virus to spread so much that we overwhelm our health care systems. We are in a much better place than we were back in March. In order to be able to respond, we have more capacity in our system. We have MAWR protective equipment to be able to respond. We have more testing, we have more tracing. Those are all good things for us to be able to respond. So as we look at not just those capabilities, but then we look at how those metrics layer on top of it. We're not expecting perfection. This virus is going to be with us. So it's a matter of how can we live with this virus here in our communities and do our part to keep that virus level low? That's why, as were easing restrictions, were doing it in a measured way to make sure that we don't see a spike of virus somewhere in the state or across our whole state. Because if we were to see a spike of virus, we could overwhelm our health care system pretty rapidly. And that's not something we want to do because we need our health care system there not just to respond to Cove in 19 but to all of the health care needs of our state, whether that's ah car accident or a heart attack. So we're very protective of making sure we have enough health care capacity to be able to handle Cove in 19 and all the other things that we need for our state. So that's what we are continuing to watch. It's why was we looked at the hospitalizations and we saw that tick up. We gave it a yellow line. We see an increase of people getting seriously ill from Cove in 19 and that is not a good thing. But on the other side, we do have the capacity to be able to respond right now. So again we'll look at those measures in combination. We want to do our part to keep virus level low. We do not want to overwhelm our health care system as we go here, and that's why we want to take these modest steps forward. See, how are trends? React, Teoh, Easing those restrictions. If we're we are able to stay stable overall, we can continue to make progress forward. Thank you. Next question, please. Our final question today will be from Rick Curl with the Daily Record. Hello. Governments were curled with the daily record. Um, there's been some criticisms levied by people on the street. I'm not talking about it necessarily me by citizens. We're concerned that people protesting are getting special treatment because, you know, because of whatever reason that are not that they're not subject to the 25 Rule 25 person rule and that, uh, there's basically no, there's been some pandering to my guess would be a for lack of a better phrase, and I apologize for using that term. But, you know, there are some people that are saying that your throwing a double standard out there and how would you react to that? Well, Justus, we did with the reopen protests over the decisions made on the pandemic. In our executive order, we allow for First Amendment protests to be exempted from the executive order on mass gatherings. Those protests occurred earlier, uh, well in May and they continue to occur, and people had a right to do that, and people were gathered together and exceeding the mass gathering. And that's happening now with the protests that we've been having lately. What I say is this is that it's important for people to have the right to protest and on our executive order, we have allowed for those First Amendment freedoms. But at the same time, we want people to be careful. We want people to understand that whatever activity that they're doing, that this virus is still here. This virus is still killing people. And that social distancing wearing a mask, washing your hands are all critically important to slow the spread of the virus. And we have people wherever they are, whatever they were doing to continue to remember those thank you all for being with us today and I will be back later on this week.