Local legislators respond to Gov. Cooper’s plan to reopen NC

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 28, 2020

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — When Gov. Roy Cooper announced a three-phase plan to reopen North Carolina’s economy last week, Rep. Julia Howard said she was not going to be critical.

Howard, a Republican whose district includes Davie and part of Rowan County, said Cooper is in a tough position.

“If you do, you’ll be damned and you don’t you’ll be damned,” she said. “It’s a very, very tough place to be in.”

The first phase of Cooper’s plan would allow North Carolinians to travel to non-essential businesses. Gatherings would be limited to no more than 10 people, teleworking is encouraged, stores would need to put in measures for social distancing and people should wear a face covering. Phase two would lift the stay-at-home order and allow restaurants, bars, gyms and personal care services to open if they can follow safety protocols. Vulnerable populations would be encouraged to continue to stay at home.

The second phase is at least two to three weeks after the first phase

Phase three would increase capacity at gatherings or businesses and lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations. This phase would happen at least four to six weeks after phase two.

In order to begin lifting restrictions, the governor said, the state needs to have a decrease of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization over 14 days. Testing for the virus needs to be increased and tracing increased as well.

Regarding Cooper’s plan, Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, said he wants to see more detail in publicly released COVID-19 data. He has received feedback from constituents challenging the validity of state’s data and the methodology that the state’s response is based on.

Rep. Wayne Sasser, a Republican from Stanly County, said everyone was on the same page six weeks ago — when 1 million people were estimated to die from COVID-19 — but now they have more information about the virus and the response should be different.

“Today in North Carolina, we’ve determined that this is not a virus is extremely dangerous to children, that means killing healthy children.,” Sasser said “It doesn’t kill — not saying 100% — healthy adults. There are some vulnerable patients out there and some vulnerable groups.”

Warren said the state’s data should show deaths that occurred in a confined area, like a battleship or assisted living facility. He would also like to see the numbers of COVID-19 patients that had underlining conditions.

“It misrepresents the severity of the virus if you don’t have all the facts,” Warren said.

A select few counties don’t have any reported COVID-19 cases, Sasser said. The plan is designed for all of North Carolina, though every county is different. He doesn’t see much difference in Cooper’s phase one and right now.

He offered that vulnerable employees be given a choice: work from home or draw unemployment until there is a vaccine.

Howard responded to Reopen NC protesters, who have a rally planned for the opening of the legislative session in Raleigh today. She doesn’t agree that North Carolinians’ civil rights have been taken.

“I know people are upset and are going to protest and dance in the street,” Howard said. “For goodness sake, go out and do something good for somebody and spend your time doing something productive and try to help somebody.”

Howard said both Cooper and President Donald Trump are trying to do what they believe is right with the advice of medical professionals.

Looking ahead to the possible reemergence of the virus in the winter, Sasser said he doesn’t think there will be a bigger outbreak because of more information about COVID-19, more personal protective equipment available and an established protocol for treating the virus with specific drugs.

If there is a bigger outbreak, he said, “Then we have done ourselves an injustice by not allowing more healthy people to contract the disease and therefore hopefully be immune to it.”

He said there are a lot of healthy people who contracted COVID-19 with little or no symptoms.