Apr 3, 2020
NC Governor Roy Cooper COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 3
Governor Cooper: (00:00)
… Equipment that we receive. I have activated a number of members from the National Guard to help us with the unloading and checking of these supplies and to help us speedily get to the place that we need them to get.
Governor Cooper: (00:16)
I’m going to call on Director Sprayberry, might be able to answer your question more specifically about our requests than what we’re seeing on quality out there. Director Sprayberry.
Director Sprayberry: (00:30)
Thank you, governor and thank you for the question. We have received three shipments from the strategic national stockpile, as I’ve mentioned before. I’ve not received any report that any of that equipment is dry rotted so that’s something that we can take it under advisement and go back and check, but at this time nobody’s come to me and made that complaint.
Director Sprayberry: (00:53)
Regarding ventilators, what we have done is we have ordered ventilators. We expect to have some ventilators coming in next week but we also have a significant number of ventilators on hand, so that’s kind of where we are with the ventilator process. Thank you, sir.
Governor Cooper: (01:13)
Next question please.
Speaker 3: (01:17)
Next question is from… The next question from the Daily Reflector.
Hi, this is Bobby from the Daily Reflector. I’m sorry. I actually put my hand up for the last press conference and didn’t get answered so maybe this is left over from that.
My question then was really dealing with a large number of crowds that we’ve had at some big box retailers here and I wondered if there were reports similar to that in other parts of the state.
Governor Cooper: (02:00)
We have a lot of people taking this stay at home order seriously but there’s still too many people who aren’t taking it seriously.
Governor Cooper: (02:11)
We are urging employers, people who have retail stores, to make sure that the people, your customers and your employees, are at an appropriate social distance and that you limit the number of people in your store if you can’t do that. This is critically important and we want people to think about if they really need to go to the store or not.
Governor Cooper: (02:45)
We’re going to be looking over the weekend at more modeling data concerning North Carolina. How much movement is going on and both employers, employees and customers need to realize that these interventions that we put in place can be tightened even more if necessary.
Governor Cooper: (03:11)
We’re asking employers and these big box stores to limit the number of people who are in the store to make sure that people are separated, to make sure their employees are separated as well, so that they do not spread this virus. Thanks.
Speaker 5: (03:41)
Hi, governor. You mentioned that you are encouraging manufacturers to shift the production lines to create gloves, masks, kinds of personal protective equipment.
Speaker 5: (03:51)
Are there specific companies here in North Carolina that have agreed to do that and it’s so are you able to tell us about that?
Speaker 5: (03:58)
My other question is, are there first responders here in North Carolina and if you have numbers who have tested positive for the Coronavirus?
Governor Cooper: (04:07)
As to the first question, we have met with manufacturers in North Carolina who have agreed to change their production lines to make personal protective equipment. We don’t want to reveal the names of those manufacturers just yet. We want to make sure that North Carolina can participate and receive items that they produce and as soon as we can make those names public we will.
Governor Cooper: (04:39)
I have a lot of confidence in the ingenuity of North Carolina manufacturers. North Carolina has been a manufacturing center for decades and many of them want to step up and to do what’s right here, so we’re hoping to announce that soon.
Governor Cooper: (04:58)
As to first responders, do we have any information on that? I don’t think we have any information on first responders who have tested positive but we will try to get that information for you.
Governor Cooper: (05:13)
Next question please.
Speaker 6: (05:30)
Governor, I want to go back to the congregate housing issue for a minute and specifically housing for homeless populations in North Carolina. Some of the charities had to start moving people out of their traditional shelters and into hotels. Any sort of state or federal aid that might be available in the coming days or weeks to assist with those efforts. Any sort of supplemental housing you might be looking at specifically for those type of operations and then finally any advice generally you would have to those types of operations?
Governor Cooper: (06:04)
Thank you. As you know, I’ve issued a stay at home order. There’s some people who don’t have a home and it’s more important than ever that we make sure that homeless people have shelter and that we can prevent the spread of the virus there.
Governor Cooper: (06:24)
If people who are homeless are congregating together and the virus begins to spread, then we know we have a very difficult situation on our hands. I just got off the phone today with a number of the mayors of some of our larger cities in North Carolina and this is a prime topic. Many of them have been working hard on the homeless issue anyway but has become more acute now because of the threat of this virus.
Governor Cooper: (06:57)
Some cities have already stepped up to provide hotels and other places for our homeless population. We are working to make sure that some of the federal money that is coming down that’s coming to state and local governments in North Carolina can be used for this purpose.
Governor Cooper: (07:17)
The money states that it has to be used for a COVID-19 purpose but here you have the threat of the homeless population and the fact that many of them are grouped together, you have the threat of significant infection in this population, so we want to make sure that they are protected and we’re now in talks with the Department of Treasury that’s going to be making some decisions regarding what states and local governments can use this federal money for. That would be one of the many COVID-19 related issues we would like to see covered.
Governor Cooper: (07:57)
I appreciate already the local governments and the non-profits and the people of faith who are stepping up and trying to help people who do not have a home right now and it’s important for us to provide that help. Thanks.
Governor Cooper: (08:15)
Next question please.
Speaker 7: (08:25)
Hello, Governor Cooper. My question regards local tourism developments authorities. I’m curious if you and your executive function have considered waiving some of the restrictions that require those authorities to spend their funds specifically on tourism promotion and address local needs in economies that have been battered by COVID-19.
Governor Cooper: (08:51)
Those decisions on that kind of tax money that is collected are made by the local governments but also have to be enacted or changed by the legislature and I’ll tell you, we are in a different time right now. The world is turned upside down for many families in our state and we’re living in a situation that is unprecedented. So I think we’re going to have to be very innovative about how we govern and how we responsibly use taxpayer money that people are paying.
Governor Cooper: (09:28)
So I think that all options are on the table here regarding how we’re going to best respond to this COVID-19 response, to look at our tax revenue, to understand that because of the hard hit our economy is taking, that probably all of our areas of tax revenue are going to be decreased. So we have to be careful at all times about how tax money’s invested but now particularly we’re going to have to make some hard choices.
Governor Cooper: (09:58)
That can just be one of the areas that we can be looking at to make sure that we’re investing in things that help us, number one, reduce the spread of this virus. Number two, help people who are sick from the virus. And number three, help cushion the blow to the economy that we’ve experienced because of this.
Governor Cooper: (10:20)
Thanks for that question and could we have the next one, please?
Speaker 8: (10:31)
Hi. We’re expecting an announcement from the president at one point today. Would he discussed changing the guidelines when it comes to wearing masks or face protection out in public, do you suggest that people cover their mouths or noses with something like a scarf, when out in public as a way to slow the spread?
Governor Cooper: (10:52)
The very best way to slow the spread is to not be in gatherings of people and to keep a physical distance. If you do that, then that is the very best thing that you can do to protect yourself.
Governor Cooper: (11:08)
The studies are mixed on wearing a mask. The first thing I would tell you is that we want our frontline healthcare providers and people who are dealing directly with the public to be first in line to get masks and other protective equipment and as you’ve heard from this press conference today, that is in short supply. But I know Doctor Cohen and Doctor Tilson, our State Health Director, have been in conversations with the CDC and others about this and I’m going to let Doctor Cohen address the issue of masks in public.
Doctor Cohen: (11:45)
Thank you, governor. I think that’s exactly right with wanting to make sure masks are first prioritized to our healthcare workers, first and foremost. But then as we think about whether masks are appropriate for those of us who are maybe just going out to the grocery stores or the pharmacy, and again, our best way to slow the spread of the virus is to be staying home.
Doctor Cohen: (12:07)
But for those who are thinking about wearing mask, I think that can be one component of protecting folks from the spread of the virus. Again, the mask has to be used appropriately and you want to always be doing the tried and true things of washing your hands. We worry when people wear masks, they think that that is a one size fits all for protecting themselves and our community but the tried and true things that work are washing your hands, wiping down those surfaces and of course keeping social distance. Thanks.
Governor Cooper: (12:45)
Thank you for that question. Next question please.
Speaker 9: (12:54)
Hey, Governor Cooper. I wanted to ask first, how many state employees are working from home versus how many have to still go into the buildings and also why North Carolina is not getting the full supply request when other states are getting more. Thanks.
Governor Cooper: (13:13)
Well first our state agencies, all of them, have been directed to make sure that any employee that can work and provide tele-work from home, that they do work from home and many of our state agencies are doing this and have increased the work at home as we’ve been able to get devices to people and connect them to work. As for the exact number of people I would have to get that for you.
Governor Cooper: (13:41)
As for the requests that we’ve received from the strategic national stockpile, I don’t think any state would tell you that they have everything they need right now. In fact, most states are on the open market realizing that the federal government just simply doesn’t have it to give to them right now.
Governor Cooper: (14:04)
The federal government has given us their version of their priorities and they’re putting their equipment and supplies in the places that are feeling the most acute need right now but we know in North Carolina from our modeling that that kind of situation is coming toward us and the thing that we can do to stop it is to stay at home and to do our physical distancing and hopefully we don’t have the kind of surge that New York did, but it is possible that some places in North Carolina could see that very thing.
Governor Cooper: (14:43)
We are fighting for as much supplies and material is as we can get. I’ll let Director Sprayberry if you’ve got anything to add to that.
Director Sprayberry: (14:58)
The governor’s on target. I don’t think that you’ll find a state out there that’s going to tell you that they received all of the personal protective equipment that they require in order to stand up an adequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everybody was expecting more from the strategic national stockpile. We know that’s depleted now. Globally, nationally, statewide, and locally, we’re all competing now to try to get those types of medical supplies and resources. So that’s where we are and again, I don’t think that you’ll find a state that will tell you that they have everything that they need. Thank you.
Governor Cooper: (15:38)
Thank you for that. Next question please.
Kate Martin: (15:50)
Hi, thank you for taking my question. My name is Kate Martin with Carolina Public Press. This is for Mr. Taylor regarding the applications for unemployment.
Kate Martin: (15:58)
How long does it take to process the applications given the amount of people who are in line to be processed and what percentage of those that are already reviewed have actually been approved?
Mr. Taylor: (16:11)
Thank you for the question. So right now we are advising everyone that has filed a claim with employment security through our online system and has identified COVID as the reason for separation, do not expect a payment on that until two weeks after they filed that claim.
Mr. Taylor: (16:35)
So far as of this morning, we have paid a little over 41,000 individuals, a little over $10 million. That represents the number of claims that were filed up through Friday, Friday the 20th I believe it was, following the governor’s announcement.
Mr. Taylor: (16:58)
We are starting to get these monies out. These monies will continue to go out at larger amounts starting next week as we saw the increase of claims that were being filed the week following.
Mr. Taylor: (17:16)
Was there another part to that question I missed?
Governor Cooper: (17:18)
We want to thank you all for coming. We want to thank you for staying at home this weekend and through the next week. Know that your state government is working around the clock to try to protect North Carolina from this virus and we need everyone to do their part. Thanks so much.