Dec 8, 2020

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript December 8

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript December 8
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsNorth Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript December 8

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper held a press conference on coronavirus on December 8. He announced a modified stay at home order, insisting people stay home between 10pm and 5am. Read the full transcript of the news briefing here.

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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Press one to ask a question.

Roy Cooper: (02:23)
Well, good afternoon everybody. And thank you for joining today’s update on COVID-19 in North Carolina. As of today, we have had 404,032 cases. 4,670 new cases reported since yesterday, 2,373 people in the hospital, a new record high, and sadly 5,605 people who’ve died. We continue to mourn with those who’ve lost loved ones. I know this can be especially hard during the holiday season.

Roy Cooper: (02:56)
As cases across the country continue to rise, we’ve seen rapid increases in our key metrics here in North Carolina. Our case counts have broken single day records on three separate days in just the last week. And the percent of tests returning positive has increased to more than 10%. A month ago, we were deeply concerned to see daily case counts go above 3000. Now we’re shocked that the number has doubled with some daily counts at more than 6,000.

Roy Cooper: (03:28)
The County Alert System shows a large increase in orange and red counties. The most concerning designation, signifying substantial and critical spread respectively. Dr. Mandy Cohen, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will talk in a minute about that. I know that news of effective and safe vaccines has given us all hope, but fact scenes aren’t here yet. We have to act now to save lives, safeguard our hospital capacity, and preserve our economy. Today, the state will announce additional action to combat COVID-19. But first, I’d like to ask Dr. Cohen to share an update on our trends and our County Alert System. Dr. Cohen.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (04:24)
Thank you, governor. I’m going to jump right into the data. As a reminder, we look at a combination of trend metrics, COVID-like syndromic cases, new cases, positive tests as a percentage of the total tests and hospitalizations. On our first graph, we look at people who’ve come into the emergency department with COVID-like symptoms. This is our earliest detection mechanism. And you can see, when looking at that yellow line, that trend has increased sharply. It is at its highest level since the pandemic began.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (04:58)
Next, we’ll look at new cases. This first graph shows you the trajectory of new cases each day since we had our first case back in March. And you can see the yellow line has a very sharp increase. We are also experience our highest daily numbers of reported cases since the start of the pandemic. And if we narrow in on this next graph on the trajectory of cases since early October through today, you can see a clear picture that our cases are trending up significantly.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (05:28)
And as the governor said, we had more than 6,000 cases reported in a single day twice in the past week. Less than in a month ago in November 11th, we had a record day of 3,000 cases. Now we more than doubled that number on Saturday and then, again, on Sunday. To give some perspective, we had more cases in a single day than the entire population of governor Cooper’s hometown of Nashville in Nash County.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (05:57)
Next, we look at the percent of tests that are positive. This graph also goes back to the beginning of October. And looking at the yellow line, our percent of tests that are positive has significantly increased over the past 14 days. It’s been above 10% the last week. And again, these are our highest rates since early in the pandemic when our testing levels are much, much lower.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (06:21)
On the next graph, we look at day over day hospitalizations. This graph also starts in early October, and you can see looking at that yellow line, this trend also continues to increase significantly. We are setting records, both for the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 and the number of people in the intensive care units. We are seeing increases across the state. Hospitals are feeling the strain.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (06:48)
Okay. Here’s where we are. Our surveillance data has increased. It gets a red X. North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is up. It gets a red X. North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing. This also gets a red X. And North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing. Hospitals,, again are feeling the strain and this is worrisome, but today we are able to manage capacity right now at this point. So for today, this still gets a yellow line.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (07:23)
Now that we’ve taken a look at our statewide metrics, let’s see what’s happening more locally. Given our statewide trend, it’s no surprise that our County alert map presents a sobering picture. And as a reminder, we use a combination of three metrics to categories counties, case rates per 100,000 people over 14 days, percent of tests that are positive, and then a third composite hospital impact score.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (07:50)
Using these metrics, we then categorize counties into three color tiers to describe their level of viral spread and healthcare impact. Red represents critical. Orange, substantial. Yellow, significant here is the updated County Alert Map. Now, almost half of our counties are red. In our last report, just two weeks ago, we had 20 counties in the red. We now have 48 counties in the red at critical levels of viral spread. In addition, there are another 34 counties that are now orange, with substantial levels of viral spread. That means over 80% of counties in North Carolina are red and orange with the remaining 18 in yellow is still having significant viral spread. If you are in a red or orange county, you should limit going out to essential activities. You should avoid people that you don’t live with.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (08:53)
On this next slide, you can see how quickly things have escalated. That first map at the top is from just three weeks ago. There was a lot more yellow then. And remember, yellow still means significant viral spread. As you can see from the map on the bottom, our state now is mostly red and orange. And this paints a dramatic picture of where we are. These numbers likely do not yet even reflect the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (09:28)
I’m very worried. This is a global pandemic. This virus is highly contagious and dangerous, but we can slow it down. Do not wait until it is you or your loved one who is sick with COVID to wear a mask, wait six feet apart and wash your hands often. Do not wait until it’s you or your loved one alone in a hospital bed, struggling against this virus. Do not wait until it’s your family that loses someone to COVID-19. Act now. Do those three Ws now. Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community right now.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (10:07)
Your actions can keep people from getting sick, saving lives, and making sure our hospitals can care for people, whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19. As you think about the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holiday, we have a tough ask. Please avoid traveling and gathering this holiday season. If you absolutely must, it’s essential you get tested ahead of time, wear a mask all the time, keep it small and keep it outdoors.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (10:38)
This pandemic will not last forever. We are so close to having a vaccine. The first people in Britain began getting COVID-19 shots yesterday. And this week, the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing data. And we could have vaccine in North Carolina as early as next week, for those who care for patients with COVID-19 and those working and living in longterm care. As supplies increase, we’ll reach more people. We will get there. Until then, it’s up to every North Carolina and to step up and protect each other. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (11:18)
Thanks so much, Dr. Cohen. As you can see, North Carolina’s trends are alarming. As Dr. Cohen said, more than 80% of our counties are in the orange and red categories. The virus is upon us with a rapid viciousness like we haven’t seen before. Even though we’re all frustrated and wary of the fight, is more important than ever to take this virus seriously. So today, I’m announcing new action to slow the spread. Effective Friday, December the 11th, North Carolina will enter into a modified stay at home order. This order will require people to stay at home between the hours of 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM.

Roy Cooper: (12:03)
Stay at home between the hours of 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM. It means just what it says, people are to stay at home between those hours. Businesses including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses, and most retail stores and more will be required to close by 10:00 PM. In addition, all on-site alcohol consumption sales must end by 9:00 PM. We already have strong safety protocols and capacity limitations in place, including a statewide mask mandate.

Roy Cooper: (12:38)
With this additional action beginning Friday we hope to get these numbers down. Our new modified stay-at-home order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer, especially during the holidays. It’s also a reminder that we must be vigilant the rest of the day, wearing a face mask when we’re with people we don’t live with, keeping a safe distance from others and washing our hands a lot.

Roy Cooper: (13:09)
And let me be clear, we will do more if our trends do not improve. That means additional actions involving indoor restaurant dining, entertainment facilities or shopping and retail capacity. None of us wants that, and in fact, all of these small businesses need substantially more federal help and Congress and the president need to do that now. However, our top priority is and must be saving lives and keeping our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

Roy Cooper: (13:47)
For some people saving lives is more than just an idea, it’s their life’s work. I want to take a moment to thank our frontline healthcare workers. The doctors, nurses, specialists, aides, technicians, custodians, and more who are making tremendous sacrifices right now to treat our growing number of COVID patients. Despite excruciating physical and emotional stress they keep going to work to care for those who need it. Let’s all show that we really care for these heroes by doing our part so we can reduce their burden.

Roy Cooper: (14:27)
When this pandemic came to North Carolina in March I know many people didn’t expect to be living this way in December. This year has been tiring and frustrating and painful. With the holidays here, many of us feel it more deeply but the stakes are dire. This is truly a matter of life and death. We’ve lost more than 280,000 Americans in this pandemic. And while promising vaccines are so close, they can’t help us yet. Only all of us working together can do that. Wear a mask even with people you know and trust it helps protect your loved ones and you. Make your gathering smaller, move it outside or better yet move it online. Stay home when you can, and under this order be sure you do so by 10:00 PM.

Roy Cooper: (15:24)
North Carolinians are strong and resilient and more than that, we look out for each other especially when tough times demand it. Dig deep and keep tapping into that North Carolina spirit to keep each other safe. If we do that I know that we’ll get through this and be stronger on the other side. Also with me today is Department of Emergency Management Chief of Staff, Will Ray, Commissioner of Prisons, Todd Ishee, and our Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, Erik Hooks. Lee Williamson and Brian Tipton are our sign language interpreters and behind the scenes, Yasmin Metivier and Ron Vasquez are our Spanish language interpreters. We’ll now take questions from the media and if you can identify yourself and your organization, we would appreciate it. We’ll take the first question.

Speaker 2: (16:25)
Our first question is from Aaron Thomas, with WRAL.

Aaron Thomas: (16:30)
Hi Governor Cooper, this is Aaron Thomas with WRAL, I hope all is well. Had a question particularly about the countdown to the COVID vaccines, the question is kind of twofold. One, are North Carolinians advised to take it and also what’s being done to dispel the trust of… or the mistrust rather of vaccination, particularly with black and brown communities?

Roy Cooper: (16:52)
We are encouraging people to take this vaccine when it is their turn. Experts from around the world are examining this data carefully to make sure that these vaccines are safe and effective. The preliminary data shows that they are. People may have some concerns about it but the risk of getting COVID and what might happen after that is so much greater. Vaccines have done so much to protect people from many different diseases and COVID is another one that we look forward to getting out in the population and getting it to people as quickly as possible. Dr. Cohen, would you like to add anything? Okay. Next question, please?

Speaker 2: (17:43)
Our next question is from Allison Smith, with FOX8.

Allison Smith: (17:49)
Hi, governor. Scenes surrounding… Basically stated as local enforcement to ramp up or handle people not following the restrictions that are in place, I know in the city of Greensboro, they just got fined, they just got closures. But they had said that they want complaint they don’t want to have to do closures though we have heard from people, we have seen pictures of people clearly not complying. I guess as we see the hospitalizations go up, as we see the cases up, when is enough enough and when do we really crack down and say, “If you are not following along and not doing what you’re supposed to there are going to be repercussions?”

Roy Cooper: (18:28)
Well, first, a lot of people are complying with these orders and are acting responsibly. You always have those who do not and some of those do it flagrantly. We are encouraging local governments to use their personnel and to pass ordinances that would allow for fines and other restrictions if businesses and people continue to disobey the rules. It’s so important for us to come together on this. We aren’t putting these orders out there in order to get anybody in trouble, we’re putting out there to save lives.

Roy Cooper: (19:10)
And people need to realize that these things are scientifically-proven to help slow the spread of the virus and we need to get it done. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with our local partners, our Department of Health and Human Services has stepped up to take action. Our ABC Board and law enforcement has stepped up to take action, and we need to continue to do that to make sure that people comply. Next question, please?

Speaker 2: (19:41)
Our next question is from Laura Lee, with Carolina Public Press.

Laura Lee: (19:47)
Good afternoon, governor, it’s Laura Lee from Carolina Public Press. As it pertains to the vaccine we saw a report yesterday of 11 hospitals that would initially receive the doses of vaccine and I’m wondering how and when other health care providers particularly those in rural areas will receive the vaccine. And also there’ve been recorded reports of shortages, the White House has disputed this of course. There have been reports of shortages and I’m wondering if you anticipate that North Carolina will be affected by that reported shortage?

Roy Cooper: (20:20)
We have worked very hard to put what I believe will be an effective vaccine distribution plan in place. And people are going to be working hard to get the vaccines to people in order of the prioritization as quickly as possible. But I’ll let Dr. Cohen address those other issues in the question.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (20:47)
Hi, Laura. As far as the 11 hospitals, we do have 11 sites that are going to be our early ship sites, those were 11 sites that had the capacity to do the kind of storage with ultra-cold freezers that we needed for the initial Pfizer vaccine. So we had 11 sites, they’re going to get shipped that vaccine and then hold it, hold it until the FDA authorizes it and the CDC’s Advisory Committee gives us the okay. Within 24 to 48 hours we believe we will get the vaccine directly shipped from the federal government and Pfizer to about 50 or 60 of our hospitals. So 11 we’ll have it pre-positioned but the rest of those 50 or 60 hospitals will get it as soon as we get that okay from the federal government, then the federal government and Pfizer will ship it directly to those 50 somewhat hospitals.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (21:44)
As you know we have more than 100 hospitals here in North Carolina so we know that first week of shipment will not even touch all of our hospitals. We are working with those 56, 60 hospitals to make sure they’re ready on day one when they do get the vaccine to start the vaccination process. We’ve been training on our IT systems making sure that they are getting all of their processes in place and know how to store and to do the vaccinations themselves. So we are getting ready and planning, but the supplies are limited at first and so we are going to work with the allocations that the federal government gives us. We hope by the second week we may even have two different types of vaccine both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine here in North Carolina by week two, that will certainly increase our supply.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (22:33)
But again, still going to be limited. So right at first it’s really going to be just to our hospitals for healthcare workers who are working directly with COVID patients, either clinical staff or the cleaning and environmental staff who work directly with COVID patients or in COVID units. We’re also going to be working with Walgreens and CVS to begin vaccinations in all of our long-term care facilities, both the residents and the staff. Those are going to be the first folks because again, Laura, as you mentioned in your question there is going to be a limited supply at first and so that is where the vaccine will go as we start. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (23:14)
Next question, please?

Speaker 2: (23:17)
We have a follow-up, Laura Lee, Carolina Public Press.

Laura Lee: (23:22)
Thank you for that. I’m just wondering, we’ve seen in other states freezer use in storage facilities, institutions outside of hospitals for example, Smithfield. And we’ve seen in North Carolina freezer space used at universities. I’m just wondering if there is the possibility or maybe even the plan of using freezer space in non-hospital settings to keep these vaccines cold?

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (23:49)
Laura, thanks for that question. The company Pfizer that has manufactured this vaccine has also created the ability for us to have dry ice in order to keep those vaccines at the proper storage temperature. So we…

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (24:03)
Those vaccines at the proper storage temperature. So we believe with the cold storage that we have now, as well as the dry ice available through the Pfizer process, that we will have the type of ultra-cold storage. Certainly we are looking at other places if we might need to tap into them, but because the supplies are limited at first, and we are targeting it to our healthcare settings, we went to make sure that we could have our healthcare settings be the ones that are receiving those first vaccines that require that ultra-cold storage. Thanks.

Roy Cooper: (24:39)
Next question, please.

Speaker 3: (24:41)
Our next question is from Dawn Vaughn with the News and Observer.

Dawn Vaughn: (24:45)
Hi, Dawn Vaughn with the News and Observer. I want to ask about the timeframe of the curfew from 10 to seven. I mean, what happens in that time period that leads to viral spread? Is it more about alcohol consumption as a factor in those businesses? And then, would this order, reading it through really quickly, goes until January 8th, which I guess is four weeks. How does our vaccine distribution timeline factor into the restrictions timeline?

Roy Cooper: (25:14)
I think it’s pretty clear that the later in the evening you go, the larger some of these gatherings can be at some of these businesses. People become more uninhibited and people get closer together and can be more opportunities to spread the virus. And what we’re trying to do is to chip away at those times to slow the spread of the virus by trying to avoid these indoor gatherings that we see. And this stay at home order after 10 tells people they just really need to go home. They don’t need to be gathering in other people’s homes. They don’t need to be gathering at other places or any of these retail establishments. They need to be home because they’re safer at home and you’re slowing down the spread of the virus.

Roy Cooper: (26:07)
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM at night during the day. You need to be careful during the day. You need to wear the mask and keep social distancing. And we have the mask mandate that’s in place all of the time. And we have gathering limits and capacity protocols for all of these retail establishments. And we want employers in our construction and manufacturing to do the things they need to do to protect their employees there.

Roy Cooper: (26:38)
So it’s happening all the time, but this attempt, this modified stay at home order is to try to cut out some of those times and to send a signal to everybody how important it is to not be at these gatherings and to protect yourself when you’re around other people who you don’t live with. Next question, please.

Speaker 3: (27:01)
You have a follow-up, Dawn Vaughan News and Observer.

Dawn Vaughn: (27:08)
Thanks for a follow-up. Yeah. About the vaccine timeline and if we have maybe a certain number of people beyond that first wave or two that are vaccinated that’ll change what the restrictions are. And then, you just mentioned private gatherings, as far as people going home. Is this going to still just be up to the local law enforcement to enforce?

Roy Cooper: (27:29)
It’s up to local law enforcement, but a number of local governments are adopting ordinances, and they have other employees that they can use to enforce those ordinances. And we are encouraging that. Like I say, we’re not instituting these orders to get people in trouble. We’re trying to provide these important guidelines to tell people what they need to do in order to slow the spread of this virus, is what we’ve got to do.

Roy Cooper: (27:54)
As for the vaccines, we’re not looking at them having a major effect on viral spread in the near future here. We’re only going to have a few doses at the beginning, and I might let Dr. Cohen address that.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (28:14)
Thank you, governor. That’s exactly right. And I want to remind folks that with both vaccines that are under review by the Food and Drug Administration, they require two doses. So even when we say we’re getting a first dose of 85,000 doses and we move into a second week, it’s not going to be until 21 or 28 days later that the first folks get their second dose. So we have a lot of work ahead of us to make sure that folks get not just one but two vaccines before they are protected from COVID. So that does not impact our timelines at this point, in terms of thinking about restrictions. But we certainly want everyone to make sure that they’re thinking about wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart, and washing their hands all the time, no matter what time of day it is. Thanks.

Roy Cooper: (29:04)
Next question, please.

Speaker 3: (29:08)
Our next question is from Amber Lake with WITN.

Amber Lake: (29:13)
Hi, governor. This is Amber Lake with WITN News in Greenville. My question is, a lot of people look at the hospitalizations and the available beds as the figure to be concerned about. But just last night, Vidant Health’s CEO here in Greenville pointed out that it’s the employees as well that we need to be concerned with, and that the virus is sidelining so many. And basically just saying that the employees are tired. Can you comment on that?

Roy Cooper: (29:39)
It’s one of the reasons I wanted to lift up healthcare workers in my comments today, because many of them are tired and frustrated because they are on the front line. And when they see people who would violate the rules and who don’t seem to care about this virus being transmitted from one person to the other, that frustrates them as well. So I’m encouraging everybody, for us to pull together, not only to slow the spread of this virus, but to help out the healthcare workers who are on the frontline.

Roy Cooper: (30:13)
And when you talk about bed capacity, it is just as much, if not more, making sure that hospitals have the personnel to take care of the people. They may have additional bed capacity that they may not be able to put patients there because they may not have enough workers available to do it. So hospitals right now, I will say that Dr. Cohen and the team and I frequently talk to hospital CEOs across North Carolina, keeping in constant contact with them. They’re making hard decisions right now about whether they surge, whether they start cutting back on procedures that are not emergency procedures, they’re elective procedures.

Roy Cooper: (31:01)
And they are making those hard decisions to make sure that they have the capacity, both in the bed space and with personnel to deal with increased cases, because we know we are continuing to see an increase in the viral spread, and that’s why this executive order is important. And that’s why I am urging North Carolinians to pull together on this and to try to help these healthcare workers and to try to slow the spread of this virus. Would you want to add anything to that doc? Okay, next question, please.

Speaker 3: (31:38)
Our next question is from Maureen O’Boyle with WBTV.

Maureen O’Boyle: (31:43)
Good afternoon, governor. This is Maureen O’Boyle from WBTV. We were talking about the vaccine coming, the first wave. A question some people are asking is, people who have already tested positive for COVID-19, should they be anticipating that they too should be getting the vaccine? Or should they just say I’m going to be at the end of the line? What will it be? Will people who’ve had COVID-19 be encouraged as well to get the vaccine?

Roy Cooper: (32:13)
Well, first, I don’t think we know for sure yet the kind of immunity that someone has after they have had COVID-19 and how long that immunity would last. But I’m going to ask Dr. Cohen to specifically address your question about vaccines.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (32:33)
Hi, Maureen. Great question. The governor was exactly right, is that we don’t yet have all of that information. We’re going to see how the FDA, their external advisory board, as well as the CDCs advisory board, how they make their final assessment of the data and how they’re going to make recommendations for those who have already had COVID. So, stay tuned. We will certainly be digging into that.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (32:54)
It may be that they aren’t able to make a judgment on at this point, but we hope that they’ll continue to look at the data. Again, some of these trials continue to go on so they can collect more data so we can better understand how folks who have had COVID need to interact with a vaccine or not. My assumption is that we are going to be asking everyone to get a vaccine, whether or not you had COVID. But again, we’re going to wait for that final word from the FDA, as well as the CDC advisory bodies. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (33:27)
Thank you. Next question.

Speaker 3: (33:31)
We have a follow-up. Maureen O’Boyle, WBTV.

Dawn Vaughn: (33:34)
Dr. Cohen, if I could ask you, please? Could you speak to those people … We’re seeing the age groups of 20 to early 50s to be the largest group of people who are testing positive. Can you speak to those people specifically about their role in being in places where we are seeing community spread? What do you want to say directly to those people out there who don’t seem to be following social distancing, gathering capacity numbers, and they are being a part of this community spread?

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (34:07)
Yeah. Maureen, thanks for that question. Really important that we have to understand we’re all in this together, no matter our age, no matter where we live in this state or in this country. We all impact each other. Let me give you a very concrete example. Someone who’s 32 may feel like they’re not at high risk, but their good friend works at a long-term care center, they work at a nursing home, and they’re they’re gathering together. And then maybe they don’t feel like they have a risk, but then they’ve passed it on to their friend who also feels well, goes into work, and unfortunately spreads that virus to some of our most medically frail in a nursing home. That’s how this virus works. You can spread it when you don’t know you have it. And even if you are at lower risk for severe disease, you can give it to someone who then comes into contact with someone who could have severe disease.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (34:59)
So unfortunately this virus doesn’t show its head when we need it to. You can spread this virus when you don’t know you have it, which is exactly why we talk about masks, masks, masks. Masks prevent you from spreading the virus to others who can give it to then again anyone they come into contact with who could unfortunately get sick and die.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (35:20)
And what we’re seeing in our numbers that we’ve shared over and over today is that more and more people are going into the hospital. They’re going to the hospital very ill. And unfortunately, because we are trying to keep this virus level low, they are alone in those hospital beds. Our frontline healthcare workers are with them day in and day out caring for these folks. And that’s who we’re doing this for to make sure it’s not your loved one alone in a hospital bed. We need to act right now. Thanks.

Roy Cooper: (35:54)
Next question, please.

Speaker 3: (35:57)
Our next question is from Andrea Blanford with ABC 11.

Andrea Blanford: (36:02)
Hi, governor. It’s Andrea.

Speaker 4: (36:03)
… ABC 11.

Andrea Blanford: (36:03)
Hi Governor, it’s Andrea Blanford with ABC 11. You’ve said multiple times over the last few weeks that it is the informal social gatherings among families and communities leading to the viral spread in the clusters. So how will closing a restaurant or business earlier stop these in-home gatherings, especially during the day? And how do you keep people from getting together? Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (36:28)
Well, the informal gatherings are not the only place that spreading of the virus occurs. It’s whenever people are together indoors, particularly as the weather gets colder, in places where they gather, places like restaurants, where you have to take off your mask to eat. Those are places where the virus can be spread. One of the reasons why we are entering this modified stay at home order is because we don’t want people to go over and visit or gather together outside of their homes or in another person’s home during this time, because we are seeing more viral spread. And this is just sending a message to the people of North Carolina that we have to be more careful. We have to do more to help those front line healthcare workers, to prevent more people from dying alone in a hospital bed, in order to be able to slow the spread of this virus. Next question, please.

Speaker 4: (37:31)
Our next question is from Michael Highland with CBS 17.

Michael Highland: (37:36)
Hi Governor, this is Michael Highland from CBS 17. Want to ask regarding the curfew, in other states that have tried this already, is there any clear evidence to show that this is indeed effective? And might this have the unintended impact of driving people into homes when other places will be closed?

Roy Cooper: (37:54)
We’ve seen this work in Massachusetts and Ohio with some success. It’s hard to measure at this point because we’re right in the middle of all of this and a lot of other factors are coming into play. But whenever you reduce the times that people are together indoors, you are making a difference. And I think a lot of people want to do the right thing. I think most North Carolinians want to do the right thing. And if we’re saying it’s really important for you to be home after 10:00 and not to be gathering in other places, I think a lot of North Carolinians will do that. And it’s one of the reasons we wanted to get this out there today. We have other things that we can do. We have more tools that we can use to fight the spread of this virus. But we think right now if we do this and people abide by it, then it’ll make a positive difference. Next question, please.

Speaker 4: (39:00)
You have a follow-up, Michael Highland, CBS 17.

Michael Highland: (39:06)
Hi, this may be a question for Dr. Cohen, but with the numbers we saw over the weekend where we had more than 6,000 new cases reported each day, are we able to attribute that to Thanksgiving yet? If we’re seeing numbers at that point and you’re saying we’re still not seeing the full impact of gatherings from Thanksgiving, how much higher are you anticipating the cases going in the next week or two?

Roy Cooper: (39:28)
What they will tell you is we’re just beginning to see the Thanksgiving impact, but I’ll let Dr. Cohen address that more specifically.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (39:35)
Yes, thanks, Michael. When I consulted with our epidemiology team, they were unfortunately sharing that we have yet to see the impact fully of Thanksgiving gatherings. Because if you think about it, if someone went to Thanksgiving, they were feeling pretty well, because hopefully if they were feeling sick, they would have stayed home. These are folks that went to Thanksgiving, were feeling well, but then came down with COVID in the next number of days. And they were likely the ones that may have spread it to other family or friends over Thanksgiving. So what we saw last week in our numbers I think was likely those who went to Thanksgiving already sick.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (40:16)
So what I expect to see this week is people who now are going to be coming back COVID positive because they were with those who were unfortunately sick at Thanksgiving. So I do expect our numbers to go up over the course of this week. It’s exactly why we are taking the actions we are today. We need to work exceptionally hard to get our numbers back down. Having 6,000 new cases in one day is really, really worrisome and we have a lot of work to do. And I think the actions the Governor is taking today is exactly what we need at this moment to try to slow the spread of this virus. And so we all need to work together on that.

Roy Cooper: (40:57)
Next question, please.

Speaker 4: (41:00)
Our next question is from Brian Anderson with the Associated Press.

Brian Anderson: (41:05)
Hi Governor, hi Dr. Cohen, Brian Anderson here with the AP. Thanks for the question. I was just curious, I’m looking through the language of the order. Are any businesses entirely shut down or any capacity limits reduced? And also, can you just explain whether Target and Walmart, which close at 11:00 but do have groceries available, are going to be allowed to stay open past 10:00, or whether the 10:00 PM deadline is imposed on them as well?

Roy Cooper: (41:33)
None of the capacity limits have been reduced. Most retail establishments will have to close at 10:00 unless you are selling groceries, food, pharmacy, or fuel. There is a moving back of the time for alcohol sales. Last on-site consumption alcohol sales have to be at 9:00 PM. And no other businesses, this does not affect construction and manufacturing if they happen to have a third shift. People can still go to and from work during this period of time. Next question, please.

Speaker 4: (42:18)
Our next question is from Alex Shabad with WCNC.

Alex Shabad: (42:23)
Hey Governor and Dr. Cohen. There were some positive developments with the Pfizer vaccine today about its efficacy and safety. And I’m just curious if you, Governor, and you, Health Secretary Cohen, have any plans to take the vaccine, and if so, when?

Roy Cooper: (42:39)
I plan to roll up my sleeve and take this vaccine as soon as it is my turn. You can go to the DHHS website and see the plan. We’re doing front line healthcare workers first and then long-term care facilities, and then people with two or more chronic conditions. There is a schematic of how we’re doing it, but I encourage people to do it. And as soon as it’s my turn I will roll up my sleeve and do it, and I know that Dr. Cohen will as well. Next question, please.

Speaker 4: (43:15)
Our final question today is from Will Michaels with WUNC.

Will Michaels: (43:21)
Hi Governor, Will Michaels at WUNC. You touched on this a bit, but I wanted to talk about a report out today from researchers at Duke and UNC saying that while there are regional differences, that as a state hospitals are about six weeks away from being at capacity if the current trends continue. Hospitals have said they’re ready to take action if necessary, like limiting elective procedures. But at the state level, what red flags are you looking for? And at what point would you implement stricter measures to prevent hospitals from reaching capacity?

Roy Cooper: (43:56)
I appreciate that, and we’re grateful for this report from Duke and UNC. And we’d been getting information from this group all along, very early in the pandemic and now lately. And so I have looked at that, Dr. Cohen and the team has looked at that. One of the reasons why we are taking action today, because we know that hospital capacity is threatened here. And we can do things to prevent that. The study, I think, showed what would happen if we aren’t doing anything else. And so we are doing that something else today to try to affect this trajectory. I think it’s really important for us to continue to work with our hospitals so that they can have the beds that are necessary, the ICU beds, the ventilators, and the staff to do the job. Next question, please.

Roy Cooper: (44:52)
Okay, thanks. We appreciate all of you being with us today. This order takes effect Friday. Please do everything you can to keep you and your family and your friends and others you’re in contact with safe. Thank you.