By Nathan Ham
North Carolinians are another day closer to the currently scheduled end of Governor Roy Cooper’s Stay-At-Home Executive Order. As it stands right now, the order will end on Wednesday, April 29.
The biggest questions still remain unanswered. Will the stay-at-home order be extended? Will businesses that are currently closed be able to reopen? After speaking with Rep. Ray Russell and listening to Gov. Cooper’s most recent media briefing, both of those questions still remain up in the air.
According to Gov. Cooper in last Friday’s COVID-19 coronavirus briefing, North Carolina has been able to increase its testing by 88 percent over the last two weeks, a major improvement from where testing was throughout the month of March.
N.C. Representative Ray Russell provided an outline as to what the governor and health experts will be looking for as many people are anxious to see businesses reopening. In addition to an increased testing capacity, the state is also looking at an increased ability to trace those who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The state will be analyzing key trends, namely hoping to see the number of new cases and the number of deaths dropping while seeing a trend in the availability of medical supplies and testing supplies trending up.
“When those three pieces are in place, we can start the process of relaxing the stay at home rules,” said Rep. Russell.
Russell cautioned that regardless of when the stay-at home-order is lifted, things will not suddenly be right back to normal.
“There is no one in a position of responsible government asking for a hard reopen, and besides that, it wouldn’t work anyway. People are not going to go out until they feel safe going out,” Russell said. “If we tried to open up everything suddenly, Watauga County folks are not going to show up at stores and suddenly start shopping again. If we lure thousands of tourists back here and they import cases from other locations, we can overrun our hospital.”
With nine days remaining until the possible end of the stay-at-home order, Gov. Cooper will continue updating the citizens of the state through his televised and live-streamed news briefings on COVID-19. People should keep social distancing and hopefully, the state economy will be open sometime soon.
“We can’t stay doing what we are doing now forever, so the question is what is the responsible way to open things back up and not create a new surge (of cases) that kill a lot of people. There’s no doubt in my mind that we have saved lots of lives in North Carolina by doing what we’re doing,” Russell said.