May 20, 2020

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Press Conference Transcript May 20: NC Entering Phase 2 of Reopening

Roy Cooper NC Press Conference May 20
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsNorth Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Press Conference Transcript May 20: NC Entering Phase 2 of Reopening

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper held a press conference Wednesday, May 20 on coronavirus. He announced that Phase 2 of North Carolina’s reopening will start Friday. Read the full details of the establishments opening.

 

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Governor Roy Cooper: (05:50)
Good afternoon everyone. And thank you for joining today’s update on COVID-19 in North Carolina. As of today, our state has 20, 015 confirmed cases, 554 people in the hospital and sadly 699 deaths. This virus is still a serious threat to our state, but North Carolinians have made changes and sacrifices in their daily lives. And that has helped to flatten the curve here. That means hospitals and the medical system can serve sick patients effectively for all kinds of illnesses, including COVID-19. Last month we laid out a phased approach to easing restrictions in our state that relied on data, science and facts. Two weeks ago, we announced that we were entering phase one. Today, we’re announcing another gradual and cautious step while still keeping important health and safety measures in place.

Governor Roy Cooper: (06:57)
We’ve been closely watching and reporting the North Carolina data on a daily basis, but it’s important to watch the trend lines over a 14 day period, to determine if our metrics are increasing, decreasing or stable over time. Today Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services will walk through the status of our key indicators. And I’ll ask her to come do that now, Dr. Cohen.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (07:29)
Thank you, Governor. I’m grateful for your commitment to ensuring our state moves forward responsively based on science and data. Your leadership and the collective efforts of North Carolinians have prepared us to move into phase two at the end of the week. I’ll go through the graphs and you’ll see that overall, the trends have been stable, but the data also shows us that we need to be cautious and stay vigilant to continue to slow the spread of the virus. As a reminder, we look at a combination of trends that guide our decision making, including looking at COVID-like syndromic cases, lab confirmed cases, positive test, as a percentage of total tests and hospitalizations. These indicators were chosen based on public health data, as well as white house guidance. We can not look at any one of these metrics in isolation, we really need to see them as a whole package when making decisions and each of these data has limitations. On this first graph, we look at people who have come to the emergency department with COVID-like symptoms. This metric serves as an early detection mechanism. I want to draw your attention to the yellow line and you’ll see towards the right it is decreasing. And this is good news. When we look at laboratory confirmed test and you look at the yellow line, you will see that they are increasing. And although today we had a lower daily new case count with [422 00:09:05] new cases. Last weekend, we saw our highest single day increase with 853 new cases in one day. This indicator needs to be interpreted in the context of the additional testing we are doing across the state. We know that as we do more testing, we expect this indicator to rise, but this increase in case count also shows us that the virus is here in our communities across the state.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (09:37)
I would have liked to see this trend starting to level, but it has not yet done that. Now on this next slide, we look at the percent of tests that are positive and it’s important to interpret the last graph you just saw and this graph together. I want to draw your attention again to that yellow line. And you can see that the percentage of total tests that are positive has been decreasing and is starting to level. So while we’re seeing more positive cases, day over day, as we saw in the previous graph with the increasing testing, the percent positive continues to look very good. On our next slide here, this is our metric of day over day hospitalizations. This yellow line shows that North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level. We have the capacity to meet increasing demands, if more people become seriously ill, that’s also really good.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (10:35)
If you notice to the right hand side of that graph, those last few bars show a slight uptick in the past few days. We want to continue to monitor this trend closely, but overall, we are stable on hospitalizations. Finally, a bonus graph again today, providing an update on where we are with testing. Again, looking at the yellow line, you can see that this trend is up, good news. In the past week, we’ve made significant progress expanding testing ranging from between 8,000 to over 12,000 tests a day. This is really good progress. All right, so here’s where we are today. Our surveillance data shows a decline green, check. North Carolina’s trajectory of laboratory confirmed cases continues to increase, that gets a red X.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (11:26)
This rise can be expected as we are doing more testing, but it also signals that we need to take a cautious approach to phase two. North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive has been decreasing and starting to level which is good news, this gets a green check. North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level, and we have hospital capacity so that is very good, also gets a green check. In terms of our other capabilities we continue to see great improvements. As I just mentioned, we’re doing a lot more testing.

Dr. Cohen: (12:03)
Great improvements. As I just mentioned, we’re doing a lot more testing and we have posted lists of testing sites on our website that we’ll be updating on an ongoing basis. As of today, there are over 300 sites listed across North Carolina, but there’s more to do. We’re working with counties as well as partners from the private sector to continue to expand access to testing across the whole state. Our work in contact tracing is advancing and the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative has hired 152 new tracers. We’re also being very intentional that the tracers who are hired reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. We have now posted on our website the demographics of those contact tracers hired to date. These staff will help support our very strong local health department folks who are experts at contact tracing.

Dr. Cohen: (12:53)
So based on what we’re seeing in our testing, tracing and trends, we are moving to phase two, but we need to move in a more cautious way. Our rising case counts indicate that we need to take a more modest step than we would have originally planned. We need to be incredibly vigilant to slow the spread of the virus. I want to include by noting that our team launched an updated COVID-19 dashboard on the DHHS website today. The interactive dashboard provides an overview of the metrics I just covered as well as the other capabilities that the state is following to inform our decisions to responsively ease measures that slow the spread of the virus.

Dr. Cohen: (13:39)
The updated dashboard includes an enhanced North Carolina map sections on COVID like illness surveillance, cases, testing, hospitalization, contact tracing, PPE, and congregate living settings. Keeping our trends stable still depends on your actions, what you do to protect your loved ones and your neighbors. Remember people can have COVID-19 and not have any symptoms. If we don’t practice the three Ws wear wait and wash, we can unknowingly expose people to the virus. When we wear a face covering, wait six feet apart and wash our hands often we show our families, friends and neighbors that we care about them. So remember wear, wait and wash. Thank you, governor.

Governor Roy Cooper: (14:33)
Thank you, Dr. Cohen, and appreciate your leadership. And we’re grateful that you have put these numbers together and it’s something that the people of North Carolina can see for themselves. So, because this data shows that we can, North Carolina will move into a safer at home phase two on Friday, May 22nd at 5:00 PM. Phase two is another careful step forward. Since we announced phase one, the state’s overall key indicators remain stable. However, the increases in the COVID-19 cases signal a need to take a more modest step forward in phase two than originally envisioned. While I am lifting the stay at home order, we are shifting to a safer at home recommendation. And that’s especially important for vulnerable people who are at risk for more severe illness. Teleworking when possible is also highly recommended, safer at home means just what it says, just because you can go more places doesn’t mean you always should.

Governor Roy Cooper: (15:51)
Now some businesses and places will remain closed in phase two, including bars, nightclubs, gyms and indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, bowling alleys and museums and public playgrounds. This is because the potential spread of COVID-19 can be significant there. The mass gathering limits in phase two will be no more than 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. And this applies to event venues, conference centers, stadiums, and sports arenas, amphitheaters and groups at parks or beaches. When people gather together, one person can be the spark to spread the virus to many. Now certain businesses will be able to open at limited capacity with other requirements. Restaurants can reopen for dine-in customers at mostly a 50% capacity with distancing and cleaning requirements. Personal care businesses like salons and barbers can also reopen at 50% capacity. These businesses will have face covering and cleaning requirements while also reducing the number of people in the waiting areas.

Governor Roy Cooper: (17:20)
Swimming pools will be able to open at 50% capacity and overnight and day camps can open with safety rules. Childcare facilities remain open and are now able to enroll all children. I want to thank our childcare centers that have been open. They’ve been taking enhanced precautions and they’ve been providing a critical service. As with previous orders, these restrictions are a floor. Local governments may enact more strict rules if health officials and local leaders believe it’s in their best interest and in the best interest of the health of their communities. Now this next phase can help us boost our economy and that’s important, but we can only help our economy when people have confidence in their own safety, which is why it’s important to ease restrictions carefully and use data like Dr. Cohen was talking about in deciding when to do it. Now, I know this virus has upended life for many North Carolinians, especially those who’ve lost their incomes. And I’ve directed the division of employment security to improve the efficiency and customer service of the unemployment benefits process

Governor Roy Cooper: (18:43)
In safer at home phase two, the three Ws are even more important. Wash your hands frequently, wait six feet apart from other people and wear a face covering. Remember the face covering is more about protecting other people from your germs in case you have the virus and just don’t know it yet. A face covering signifies strength and compassion for others. Wearing one means that you actually care about other people’s health. And I’m proud every day here at the emergency operations center when I see our brave national guard soldiers and tough Marine Mike Sprayberry using them. Finally, I’d ask us all to be patient and understanding of the frontline heroes who running cash registers, driving delivery routes and helping customers, especially those businesses that’ll just be opening this weekend. Not every restaurant and salon will be able to open Friday evening and some may choose not to open at all. Show them the courtesy of patients as they weigh how to best serve their customers and to stay safe, we owe that to them.

Governor Roy Cooper: (19:59)
And let’s keep looking out for our neighbors, thanking our frontline workers, getting some fresh air when we can and working together to defeat this virus. With me today is Dr. Cohen, our secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Our secretary of Public Safety, Eric Hooks is with us along with director of Emergency Management, Mike Sprayberry. Karen Magoon and Nicole Fox are our sign language interpreters and behind the scenes, Jackie and Jasmine Metivier are our Spanish language interpreter. So we’re going to take questions from the media and if you could identify yourself and your organization when you call in and we’ll take the first one.

Speaker 3: (20:49)
Our first question will be from Colleen Quigley, WNCN.

Colleen Quigley: (20:55)
Good afternoon, Governor Cooper and everyone, thanks for taking my question. It’s in regards to local law enforcement leaders in passing, they wouldn’t enforce parts of your executive orders. What is going to be your message going forward when asking people to keep their businesses, their bar, their restaurant, their salons at 50%, how are you going to make sure that’s enforced?

Governor Roy Cooper: (21:16)
Most of law enforcement across the state is doing what they should do and are enforcing the law. And they’re doing it in a good way. They’re telling people about the order. They’re taking complaints from people, and they’re going to see people who may be in violation of the order. And most North Carolinians are doing their best to follow the orders and doing their best to keep their families and their neighbors safe from this virus. I believe that most of the law enforcement in North Carolina want to keep people healthy. And I think many of them will welcome this cautious move into phase two.

Governor Roy Cooper: (21:55)
One of the things I’ve heard from a lot of people is that we need to get our restaurants open and our personal care salons, people getting haircut, those kinds of things, that’s going to happen now and it’s going to be done in a safe way. So we hope that everybody can stick together, look out for each other, and that most people will follow these orders and will do what they need to do to wash their hands and wear a cloth face covering and wait six feet apart from other people. We still got some work to do in slowing the spread of this virus. And we need to all stick together to try to do it. Thanks. Next question, please.

Rose Hoban: (22:38)
Rose Hoban, North Carolina Health News. Hi governor. So according to several websites that do aggregation, North Carolina still is not meeting the benchmarks set by the White House and other places to open up further. What is it that makes you folks feel confident that you can go forward without seeing an uptick in cases?

Governor Roy Cooper: (23:09)
Well, we know that there are more COVID-19 cases that are being reported. Part of the reason for that is we’re doing a lot more testing. And in addition, we have a steady number and a decreasing number of percentage of positive cases. So we don’t like that number going up and that’s one of the reasons why we scale back phase two a little bit. But I don’t think we agree with the assertion that we’re not following that guidance and I’ll let Dr. Cohen address that.

Dr. Cohen: (23:49)
Thank you, governor. That’s exactly correct. If you look at the White House guidance, it says that we want to see a decrease in our overall surveillance trends, as I went through today, we see that decline. It also says it wants to see either a-

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (24:03)
We see that decline. It also says it wants to see either a decrease in your day-over-day case count or your percent positive of your total tests being positive. So, we are declining on that second. And so the white house said either or actually in their guidance. So, we meet that criteria, and the third was making sure that we have that capacity in our healthcare system and that we are not doing any level of crisis care, which we are not. So, we believe we’re meeting those metrics. However, as the governor said, we recognize that those day over day counts are increasing slightly. We want to keep our eye on it, which is why we want to take a more modest step forward into phase two than we were originally contemplating. I think that’s the appropriate measured approach here. It’s true to the data and the science, which says largely our metrics are being met.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (24:55)
We are stable. We are meeting the White House criteria. However, we have to recognize this in the context of North Carolina and how we have experienced the virus. I think you know that we never experienced a surge or a spike in cases. And when you don’t have a spike, that means you don’t see a decline. What we have done successfully is to flatten the curve, which means fewer people get sick at the same time, and that’s been very good. That’s what we want to continue to do and that’s what I think this modest next step forward in phase two will allow us. Now, we have to do things like the three Ws: wearing a face covering, waiting six feet apart, and washing hands, but if we all work together, I know that we’ll be able to keep the level of virus low here in our state. Thank you.

Governor Roy Cooper: (25:47)
Thank you. Next question.

Speaker 4: (25:51)
Elizabeth Anne Brown, Asheville Citizen Times.

Elizabeth Anne Brown: (25:56)
Hello, Dr. Cohen, and Governor Cooper. This is Elizabeth Anne from the Asheville Citizen Times newspaper. Given what we understand about the trajectory of most COVID-19 cases, it can take 2 to 14 days for symptoms to manifest if they manifest at all after infection, another several days for people to seek medical care and testing, and then another couple or up to five days for those samples to process. How can we know confidently what the impacts of phase one were before we move into phase two, even though this is a modest step with that kind of delay in seeing the data from infections that occurred during that time?

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (26:32)
Great. Thanks for that question. I’ll jump in here. It’s Mandy Cohen. So, we continue to look at the data and not only have we been looking at it for the past 14 days in phase one, as you know, we’ve been looking at these trends and been very transparent with those trends for a long period of time. What we would say is that we contemplated a two-week period for this phase one, because we wanted to make sure we saw a first step forward while we still had the stay-at-home to remain stable. I think that’s what you’ve seen in our metrics today. We were still in that stay-at-home phase in phase one, and so we had a longer period of time under phase one to look at our metrics and make sure that we were stable.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (27:17)
This is the time where we’re taking the next step forward, as the governor said, lifting the stay-at-home order, opening some of the additional businesses, and we want to continue to watch that. That is why this order will be longer than two weeks. It will go through, I believe, five weeks, so that we can see a longer period of time for these trends as we’ve taken this next step forward. Thank you.

Governor Roy Cooper: (27:42)
Thank you. Next question, please.

Speaker 4: (27:45)
Dawn Vaughan, News and Observer.

Dawn Vaughan: (27:49)
Hi, it’s Dawn Vaughan with N and O. Thanks for taking our questions. I have a two-part related question. There’s a proposed bill in the general assembly today that they were discussing that would allow 50% capacity seating inside the restaurant, like in the order. They’d have that separate from additional outdoor seating capacity. So, why not allow that, where the inside and outside capacity amounts are different? Then, with the restrictions at restaurants about social distancing and cleaning, how is that going to be regulated or is it only going to be complaint-driven?

Governor Roy Cooper: (28:22)
Well, first, we’ve been working closely with the Restaurant Association and a number of individual restaurants in how they operate. I’ll tell you this, there is a strong desire by the restaurants that they want to do this right because they know that safety precautions will be good for business. So, what we’ve done is to put this 50% capacity across the board in the restaurant. Outside seating is not prohibited. We’re making sure that they’re social distancing in the restaurant, and I think that we’re going to see people be able to go in and to feel safe about doing this. I haven’t seen the legislation, Dr. Cohen, would you want to address any of that? I haven’t seen the legislation, but I know that this is something that the restaurant association feels comfortable with what we have done with this executive order today. We must take a cautious approach to make sure this works the right way, to make sure we continue to keep our curve flat, and that we don’t encourage spread of this virus. I think where we are right now is a good place for us to be. Thanks. Next question.

Speaker 4: (29:42)
Elizabeth Johnson, The Daily Reflector.

Elizabeth Johnson: (29:50)
Hi, governor. I was wondering. So, considering the current levels of testing and the time it takes for results to come back, how long will it take for us to know whether or not loosening restrictions is safe or too dangerous?

Governor Roy Cooper: (30:06)
We look at trends over time and Dr. Cohen just went over the trends that we are watching. We like to look at it at 14-day intervals because there can be a real spike or a real drop in cases, and sometimes that’s because of the decentralized reporting system that we have in North Carolina. I’m very proud of the Emergency Operations Center and the Coronavirus taskforce team. Dr. Tilson, Dr. Cohen, Mike Sprayberry, they’ve all worked very hard to get the reporting in from these private labs, from the universities, from medical centers, and sometimes that information doesn’t come in when it’s supposed to. So, it’s important for us to look not just at a daily spike or a drop, but at a 14-day trend. Here, during this phase two, we’ll have a number of weeks to look at the data, to see where we are.

Governor Roy Cooper: (31:05)
We’ll look at all of these trends together, and hopefully, we can move into phase three, but do it safely. That’s going to be our guiding star here is making sure that we protect the safety and health of North Carolinians. I think this step we’re taking today is going to boost our economy. Lifting the stay-at-home order will be a positive thing, but we want people to remember that you are safer at home, that you do need to protect yourself and others, and you need to be careful about what you do. I think North Carolinians all pulling together, we can keep these numbers in the right place and continue to move forward with this. Thanks. Next question, please.

Speaker 4: (31:49)
Brie Handgraaf, The Wilson Times.

Brie Handgraaf: (31:56)
Thank you, governor. This is Brie with the Wilson Times. My question is regard to buffets specifically. The guidance for the buffets is more considered recommendations. So, things like staff cleaning for customers, why are those recommendations as opposed to requirements?

Governor Roy Cooper: (32:18)
Well, in this order, there are a number of requirements, but there are also recommendations as well. And I’m going to let Dr. Cohen answer that.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (32:29)
Thank you, governor. Yes, we worked, as the governor mentioned, with the restaurant association to put together quite a comprehensive list of recommendations. There are certain things that we wanted to codify in the executive order to make sure that we were setting a floor, a minimum, that everyone needed to follow, but we have additional guidance and worked with the restaurant association very closely on that. It involved everything from how they screen employees and potentially to things like buffets. So, we tried to capture all of that in our recommendations. It’s our expectation that folks will follow those recommendations. Again, because it was developed in that collaborative way. Again, the executive order sets the floor for the minimum amount of requirements, but it is our expectation that those recommendations are followed. A lot of work went into putting those together to make sure that folks could operate in the safest way possible. Thank you.

Governor Roy Cooper: (33:30)
I think all of these businesses will be more successful if they show to the public that they are being safe. I think that will be good business for them to take these safety precautions. Next question, please.

Speaker 4: (33:46)
Gary Robertson, Associated Press.

Gary Robertson: (33:50)
Hi governor, it’s Gary Robertson with AP. Could you just give us an update on what the order says related to religious entities, religious services? Obviously, the judge’s ruling over the weekend. Are they exempt, first of all, from this order? Are you still encouraging social distancing?

Governor Roy Cooper: (34:12)
Worship services are exempt from this order, however, we are still encouraging social distancing and we have put forth a list of recommendations for people who are in meetings and in worship services, which we think are important. I hope that congregations and leaders throughout North Carolina will think twice about what they’re doing, will look at these recommendations, and follow them for the health and safety of their members. I believe that most of them will. Most all of the major denominations have been doing online services. There are a number of churches that have been doing outside services and drive-in services. You hear about the ones that aren’t, but the vast, vast majority of these congregations across North Carolina are doing the right things to protect their members. I think that they’ll keep on doing that and keep on following our guidance. We have published that, I think, today. Haven’t we, Mandy? So, we have published that and you can look at it to see what the guidance is for worship services throughout the state. Thanks. Next question.

Speaker 4: (35:34)
Rebecca Martinez, WUNC.

Rebecca Martinez: (35:39)
Hello, governor. It’s Rebecca from WUNC. The [inaudible 00:35:43] Foundation has identified vulnerable communities for the spread of COVID and recommends prioritizing low prevalence and high vulnerability places like Greenville instead of hotspots, which might also have more infrastructure and less vulnerability. I’m wondering if you can share more about how contact tracers are being-

Alma McCarty: (36:03)
… I’m wondering if you can share more about how contract tracers are being deployed and how they’re being prioritized.

Governor Roy Cooper: (36:08)
We know it’s so important to provide additional help to these vulnerable communities, because we are seeing an increase in infection rates in communities of color. And the organization that’s putting together the contact tracers are selecting people from all kinds of communities. Because it’s important to have good relationships, to be able to trace people, and to be able to get them isolated to protect populations. And I know Dr. Cohen has been working a lot on that with her testing and tracing teams. So I’m going to let her talk about some specifics.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (36:53)
Sure. Thank you, Governor. The only thing I’d add is to remind folks that in North Carolina we’re very lucky in that our Public Health Departments, there are 85 across our state, have long done this work of doing contact tracing. We already had 250 folks already deployed across our state to various communities who have been doing this work. We’re hoping to even up that further with having even more local public health staff to be able to do this work. And in addition, as the Governor mentioned, our collaborative has also been doing hiring and doing hiring in a way to make sure that we are bringing on folks who are from the communities that we know are most impacted by this virus.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (37:32)
We are taking our time to make sure we get that right. I’m very proud of our team and our Diversity Inclusion Council working closely with our vendors to make sure that that is at the forefront of what we are doing so that we can make sure that the communities not only get the services they need in terms of contact tracing, but it’s a trusted source of that service. So, that’s very important to our work. Thank you.

Governor Roy Cooper: (38:00)
Thanks. Next question please.

Speaker 5: (38:04)
Alma McCarty, WFMY.

Alma McCarty: (38:08)
Hi there. This is Alma McCarty with WFMY News 2. Thanks for taking my call. Kind of a two part question. So how did you guys determine which types of businesses would remain closed in Phase 2? And, do you have a reopening timeline for businesses like gyms and bars that may have been originally set to open in Phase 2, but now will not be?

Governor Roy Cooper: (38:32)
There are places that the likely spread of the virus can occur, and these were places that were closed to start with. I think that we are in a good place by making a cautious move here. And we want to look at this timeline and to look at our numbers over five weeks. We are concerned about the increasing number of COVID cases that we see in North Carolina. And so we’ve made the decision to move forward in this way, which we think is positive as a cautious move. But we know that in many of these places that are indoors, and people close to each other, and touching items that spread of the virus can likely occur. So we’re making a cautious move with this Phase 2. Anything you want to add, Dr. Cohen? Okay. Thanks. Next question please.

Speaker 5: (39:34)
Ashley Talley, WRAL.

Ashley Talley: (39:39)
Hi, Governor. I was wondering as we look forward, if you all have plans for Phase 3? If that’s the Phase, if there will be other Phases if necessary? And if you have any timeline or expectation on when the whole state could reopen?

Governor Roy Cooper: (39:58)
Most businesses are open now and I think that’s important to point out, we’ve eliminated the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. And so we’re down to a few businesses that we know that spread of the virus can likely occur. We’re working very hard with constituent communities to figure out a plan. For example, we want very much to be able to start school in August, and there are a lot of plans being made about how that will be done. We know that a lot of sporting teams, and concerts, arenas want to be able to open. And we’re talking to them about the kinds of plans that we would put in place in order to allow them to open, but also to keep people safe. And we’ll continue to look at our numbers all along. So Phase 3 would be more businesses being able to be open and more increases the limits, well, you would have fewer limits on each of these businesses.

Governor Roy Cooper: (41:10)
We’re working with the business community, and health experts, looking at what other States are doing, listening to the CDC, and keeping an eye on these trends and indicators that we put forward. It’s hard to predict what things are going to be like a month from now. That’s why we’re looking at the science, and the data, and the facts to guide us in our decision making. So we look forward to, hopefully, getting through Phase 2 and being able to do Phase 3, where we’d be able to open more businesses and have more opportunities for people. But we think that this Phase 2 is a good boost to our economy while at the same time working to keep people safe. Thanks. Next question, please.

Speaker 5: (42:01)
Our final question today will be from Kate Martin, Carolina Public Press.

Kate Martin: (42:09)
Good afternoon, Governor and Secretary Cohen. Thank you for taking my question. This is Kate Martin with Carolina Public Press. How are the supplies for tests doing, including for swabs and reagents? Do the hospitals have adequate supplies of reagent and other materials to take tests of their patients rather than outsourcing them to corporate labs? And is there consistent access across all parts of the state and health providers? Finally, please tell us what type of restaurant you and your family intend to visit for dine-in service and when do you intend to go?

Governor Roy Cooper: (42:39)
We’re getting better on having more testing supplies every day and more opportunities for different kinds of tests. We know that testing and contact tracing are the key elements for us to be able to continue to move forward here. And I’ll let Dr. Cohen and maybe Mike Sprayberry to come up and talk about where we are on our supply chain. But, that is continuing to improve.

Governor Roy Cooper: (43:08)
Hadn’t decided which restaurant that we’ll go to. My life has either been at the executive residence, or here at the Emergency Operations Center. I’ve eaten a lot of pizza, so it probably would not be a pizza joint. But that’s still to-be-decided. Dr. Cohen, would you want to talk about supplies?

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (43:29)
Thank you. Thanks Kate for the question. So what I would say is we still need to do more improvement on supply chain overall. I think things have gotten a lot better and we’re in a much better spot than we had been in the past. What we have heard from some of our hospital laboratories is that some of their private vendors are not coming through in terms of reagents and such. We actually raised that to some leaders at the Federal level just yesterday, to make sure that they were aware of some of the supply chain issues.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (43:59)
At least at the State lab and in our commercial lab, the supply chains have been improving. We’ve been working with the Federal Government to have swabs and such come to North Carolina. We have only seen a fraction of that. I think 20% of what we had hoped would come from the Federal Government has been here to date. But, that means we have done sourcing on our own to make sure that we have the needed supplies so that we can have that for North Carolina.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (44:28)
And, I’d say we have work to do. I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made, as I mentioned earlier, but I think we definitely want to see even more testing. And then we have to sustain that testing. So we will continue to do that work with our partners, elevating issues to the Federal Government and to others to make sure that we are continuing to improve that supply chain to make sure we get what we need here for folks in North Carolina. Thank you, so much.

Governor Roy Cooper: (44:58)
Thank you for tuning in today. Thank you all for your patience and hard work. You can go to the Department of Health and Human Services website to read the order itself. You can also look at the Frequently Asked Questions documents. Stay safe everybody. Thank you, so much. [inaudible 00:45:29]