North Carolina is not meeting the health trends required to move to the next phase of reopening, explained State Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen in Wednesday's coronavirus briefing.
Factoring in a climb in the number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and an upward trend in the "trajectory" of cases, Governor Roy Cooper announced the state will continue with Phase 2 of the reopening plan for another three weeks, until July 17. The decision is laid out in an executive order.
Right now, the data is showing that we need to hit the pause button on reopening. But if we all work together and wear face coverings, we can protect our loved ones and get our trends back in the right direction to restore our economy and beat this virus. https://t.co/iW0MuUYGQ8 pic.twitter.com/zOvvELNJmr
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) June 24, 2020
Phase 2 was initially slated to wrap up on June 26, if health indicators were deemed satisfactory by state health officials.
As of today, North Carolina has 56,174 lab-confirmed cases and 906 current COVID-19-related hospitalizations. Gov. Cooper outlined that Wednesday is the second highest day for both COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases reported.
State officials made a significant decision concerning face coverings, mandating the use of masks in North Carolina.
"People must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors, where physical distancing of 6 feet from other people who aren’t in the same household or residence isn’t possible," said Gov. Cooper.
He further outlined that masks "will be required for all employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants as well as workers in manufacturing, construction, meat processing and agriculture settings."
There will be exceptions made for those with "medical conditions," "children under 11" and in situations outside where a six-feet distance is maintained.
Law enforcement may cite businesses that do not enforce the order with customers, and individuals may be cited for trespassing. Violations of Gov. Cooper’s executive orders are punishable by misdemeanor. Dr. Cohen reinforced the mask decision saying that "the scientific evidence is compelling" regarding the use of face coverings.
WUNC's Rebecca Martinez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.