Governor Cooper extends Modified Stay at Home Order amid rising case counts

96 counties now designated as “red” or “orange”; North Carolina National Guard mobilized, other efforts underway to support vaccine distribution

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen shared an update on Wednesday on North Carolina’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support the vaccination effort currently underway. 

Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay at Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to last through at least Friday, Jan. 29.

Timeline from the NC COVID-19 County Map Alert System shows how more and more counties are designated as red over time.

Secretary Cohen also issued a Secretarial Directive with stark warnings for North Carolinians to avoid indoor spaces without masks and gatherings between households. 

“We have turned the page on a new year – one that we’re hoping will bring better times. But as we know, the virus didn’t disappear at midnight on December 31,” Governor Cooper said. “In fact, in North Carolina, we have seen some of our highest case counts, percent positives, hospitalizations and ICU bed usage numbers in the past few days. No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat, and we must treat it that way.”

NCDHHS reported the state’s highest one-day number of COVID-19 cases with 10,398 new cases reported on Jan. 7. The percent of tests that are positive and hospitalizations have also been steadily increasing.

“We are in a very dangerous position. North Carolinians need to take immediate actions to save lives, slow the spread of the virus, and protect hospital capacity so that medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

NCDHHS issues Secretarial Directive with immediate actions to protect North Carolinians

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today issued a Secretarial Directive telling North Carolinians to stay home except for essential activities and avoid gathering, especially indoors, with people who do not live with you.

The directive comes as the state reports 84 counties as red in the COVID-19 County Alert System released today, meaning most of the state has critical levels of viral spread. North Carolina also has experienced record high numbers on key metrics in recent weeks, including its highest number since the start of the pandemic of cases reported each day, the percent of tests that are positive and people hospitalized with COVID-19.

“There is an alarming amount of virus everywhere in our state. We are in a very dangerous position,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Every single North Carolinian needs to take immediate action to save lives and protect themselves and each other.” 

Today’s directive outlines immediate actions North Carolinians must take to save lives, slow the spread of the virus and protect hospital capacity across North Carolina to ensure medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason.  

The directive aligns with recent recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Governor’s Executive Orders on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 County Alert System for North Carolina.

North Carolinians are directed to:

  • Only leave home for essential activities such as going to work or school, for health care purposes, to care for family members or to buy food. 
  • Avoid leaving home if you are over 65 or at high risk for developing serious illness. Use delivery services or alternative pick-up methods for food and retail.
  • Avoid gathering with people who do not live with you. 
  • Wear a mask and keep distance from people when you leave home.
  • Avoid any indoor public spaces where people are not wearing masks.
  • Stay away from crowds. Avoid places where people may gather in large numbers.

As recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to North Carolina, the directive also says that if you have gathered with people who do not live with you, assume that you became infected with the virus and get tested for COVID-19. People should also get tested if they have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

COVID-19 is highly contagious, and more than half of North Carolinians are at high risk for serious illness. Studies are also finding that some people, including those who had mild illness, experience symptoms for weeks or months following infection.

North Carolina’s statewide mask requirement and Modified Stay at Home Order are in effect.

This order requires people to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Businesses including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses, most retail stores and more, have capacity limits and are required to close by 10 p.m. In addition, all onsite alcohol consumption sales must end by 9 p.m.

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