• 61°

Governor says virus threat remains as stay-at-home order eased

By GARY D. ROBERTSON

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — COVID-19 remains a “lethal threat” to North Carolina residents who don’t take it seriously, Gov. Roy Cooper said on Friday as rules he issued so more businesses can open and the public enjoy more of the outdoors take effect.

Cooper offered sobering comments to citizens even while defending his decision this week to initiate Friday afternoon the first part of his three-phase plan to ease restrictions that began in March. He said it’s still preferable to stay at home, but urged social distancing and wearing of face masks in public.

“Phase one is a careful modest step to reigniting our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” Cooper said at a media briefing in which he told stories about some North Carolina residents among more than 525 that have died after catching the virus. He mentioned Durham County sheriff’s Officer Alexander Pettiway and longtime Cleveland County restaurant owner Janice Greene among others.

“Each number represents the death of a real person,” Cooper said. “COVID-19 is a lethal threat, it is a cruel virus, causing grave harm in sometimes otherwise healthy people, separating people from their loved ones at the darkest of hours.”

Still, the Democratic governor and state health department Secretary Mandy Cohen said case data, testing, tracing and supply trends support easing the order. More than 13,850 people have tested positive in the state, Cohen’s office said, and more than 500 people remain hospitalized.

Now most businesses can open as long as they limit customer occupancy, usually to 50% of what the fire code allows. Patrons must remain at least 6 feet apart and customers and workers are encouraged to wear masks. All but one state park will be open starting Saturday, and despite a 10-person limit on mass assemblies, church services can be held outdoors if worshippers remain apart.

Restaurants are still barred from offering dine-in options, while barber shops, gyms and movie theaters will remain closed. Those could be reopened, at least partially, in two weeks should statistics continue to improve. Business groups, some Republican politicians and conservative activists want the state’s reopening accelerated.

Residents in nursing homes now account for about half of the state’s coronavirus-related deaths, with 11 such facilities reporting 10 or more deaths, according to Department of Health and Human Services data updated Friday. The Pruitt Health-Carolina Point home in Orange County has the most reported deaths at 20.
A fifth state prisoner diagnosed with COVID-19 — and the third at Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro — has now died, according to the Department of Public Safety.

A coalition of union leaders and worker activists wrote to Cooper and other state leaders asking them to do more to protect the workers at meat and poultry processing plants. Nearly 1,100 virus cases have been now been confirmed in 22 outbreaks at plants in 14 counties, DHHS said Friday. The department has declined to release the names of the plants, citing in part a health confidentiality law. Officials at Smithfield, Mountaire Farms and Butterball have confirmed positive cases at North Carolina plants.

Line workers are employed in close working conditions and often lack enough personal protective gear, according to speakers at a Friday news conference organized by the coalition. They fear going to work or staying at home and risk losing their jobs, the coalition’s letter said.

Cohen said Friday that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection have provided her agency additional personnel to ensure plants are following safety guidelines.
___
Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

Comments

Crime

Concord man charged with woman’s murder in drive-by shooting

Ask Us

Ask Us: Have city, county elected officials received COVID-19 vaccine?

Local

City gives away nearly 100 trees during ‘We Dig Salisbury’ event

Local

Political Notebook: Bitzer expects most ‘Trump-like’ candidate to be favorite in state’s Senate race

Crime

Blotter: Concord man arrested in Rowan for indecent liberties with children

Coronavirus

Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

Nation/World

Police: FedEx shooter legally bought guns used in shooting

News

Hester Ford, oldest living American, dies at 115 … or 116?

Local

Size of pipeline spill again underestimated in North Carolina

BREAKING NEWS

Kannapolis Police searching for suspect who fled scene of homicide

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park

Lifestyle

History is a great teacher: Farming has helped shape Rowan County

Business

‘A safe place for them’: Timeless Wigs and Marvelous Things celebrates fifth anniversary

China Grove

County will hear request for more tree houses, hobbit-style homes in China Grove

Coronavirus

Livingstone College partners with Health Department to administer 500 Pfizer vaccinations

Education

‘Elite and it shows’: Staff at Partners in Learning at Novant celebrate news of national accreditation

Business

Biz Roundup: Food Lion earns Energy Star award for 20th consecutive year

Columns

Ester Marsh: What body type are you?

Nation/World

The queen says goodbye to Philip, continues her reign alone

Nation/World

Worldwide COVID-19 death toll tops a staggering 3 million

Nation/World

US, China agree to cooperate on climate crisis with urgency

Nation/World

Sikh community calls for gun reforms after FedEx shooting