Mar 31, 2020

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 31

North Carolina Governor Briefing March 31
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsNorth Carolina Governor Roy Cooper Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 31

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order to not shut off unpaid utilities for 60 days. Read the full transcript of his coronavirus press conference for North Carolina.

 

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Roy Cooper: (00:00)
Positive cases, and unfortunately, this virus has now taken the lives of eight North Carolinians. As a state, I know we are keeping their families and loved ones in our prayers. Our stay at home order is in effect now. I know it’s hard, but prevention is still the single most important thing you can do right now. Prevention. It means, maintaining physical distance from each other, washing hands, coughing into the elbow. Those simple things. They’re simple, but they can save lives including your own. It’s vitally important that everyone take this order seriously and obey it. Don’t let your guard down. Staying home slows the spread of this illness. It lets our hospitals and health care workers keep up with the demand. If we don’t slow the curve and slow the spread and flatten the curve, our medical system will be stretched beyond its capacity. You only have to turn on your TV or glance at your iPhone to see what happens when hospitals get more cases than they can handle.

Roy Cooper: (01:22)
Now I know our economy has taken a hit and so have the finances of people across North Carolina. That’s why I took action to make unemployment benefits more widely available. With the federal boost of $600 a week, it can help people and it can help them stay afloat when they’ve lost their jobs. Help for small businesses is on the way along with federal stimulus checks. But we know we will have to do more. So now, we’re taking another step to help families. Today I’ve signed an executive order to prohibit utilities from shutting off service to people who are unable to pay. This action is particularly important, since tomorrow is the first of the month, and I know that that’s a date that many families fear when they can’t make ends meet. Today’s action, orders that electric, gas, water and wastewater services, cannot be shut off for the next 60 days. Telecommunications companies that provide phone, cable and internet services, are strongly urged to follow the same rules. This order also encourages banks not to charge customers overdraft fees, late fees and other penalties. The order is in effect for 60 days and we’ll be able to re-evaluate where we are in the arc of this pandemic, to determine if protections are needed longer than that. I want to say, I appreciate companies like Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, AT&T, Spectrum, local electric co-ops and many others, for already announcing policies to prevent shutoffs. I know there are too many companies to name, but I commend them all for doing the right thing. Households are already getting help in other ways. The state of emergency I declared, outlaws price gouging. Those unemployment benefits, I mentioned earlier, will start going out this week. And at the outset of this pandemic, Supreme Court Chief Justice, Cheri Beasley, took the important step to stop newly entered evictions from moving forward.

Roy Cooper: (03:49)
I’m grateful for her Swift action and I know many families are too. In consultation with Attorney General, Josh Stein, who’s here with us today, this order strongly encourages the delay of any evictions that had already been entered. People should pay their bills, and the vast majority want to and do. But during this crisis, some just don’t have enough money. These protections will help families stay in their homes and keep vital services like electricity, water and communications going, as we stay at home. Now for some additional information, I’ve activated additional national guard personnel for state active duty. Bringing our total by the weekend, to 180. These additional guard service members, will help get supplies where they’re needed as quickly as possible and conduct engineering assessments should we need to begin building alternative hospital facilities. And as with every day, we continue to push for more medical supplies like protective gear for healthcare workers.

Roy Cooper: (05:06)
As of yesterday, North Carolina had received only 17.6% of what we’ve asked for from the strategic national supply. That’s not enough. And we’re pushing to get these orders filled any way we can. We’re searching high and low to get medical supplies from other sources and we will keep pushing until we get what we need. I continue to ask that you be mindful of families who need food and avoid over buying at the grocery store, particularly tomorrow and this week. Federal food assistance for families in need, comes in at the first of the month. That’s tomorrow, April the 1st. Food supplies remain strong, so just buy you need so that there’s enough for everyone. As we’re settling into this new rhythm of life, please know that if we all do our part, we’ll get through these times. The decisions we’re making to battle this invisible enemy have not been easy, but they’re necessary to save lives. Every time I’ve spoken from this podium, I’ve encouraged North Carolinians to look out for each other in the face of this crisis. Today, I’m honored to sign an order that does just that. Helping each other through this, is how we will achieve victory. This virus may be tearing through our state right now, but it won’t tear through the bonds we share with each other

Roy Cooper: (06:51)
Today, I am joined with… By Dr. Mandy Cohen, who is our Secretary of our Department of Health and Human Services. Yesterday was our National Doctors’ Day. I thanked our doctors and nurses and healthcare workers for their service. I did not have a chance to thank the one doctor in particular though, and that’s Dr. Cohen. She deserves a big thank you for all of her efforts. With me today, I also have Mike Sprayberry, our Director of Emergency Management, Erik Hooks our Secretary of our Department of Public Safety and Attorney General Josh Stein. American sign language is provided by Monica McGee and Lee Williamson. And behind the scenes, Spanish language interpretation is provided by Jackie Metavir and Jasmine Metavir. So now, I will recognize Dr. Mandy Cohen for a few remarks. Dr. Cohen.

Dr. Cohen: (07:58)
Thank you governor. So, I’ll start with just a few rundown of the numbers. As of this morning, we had 1,498 cases in North Carolina, and that’s in 77 counties. The median age of those testing positive for COVID-19 is 47, again, that’s of all the people testing positive. Currently, there are 157 people who are hospitalized. As the governor mentioned, we’ve already had eight deaths. We’ve had more than 23,000 tests that have been completed across the state. From labs that have reported their negative tests, not all do though, so that we know is the low end, 23,000. We have also more than 8,000 tests continue to be pending. The samples have been collected and we will get those results soon. In terms of hospital beds, we have over 17,000 hospital beds in the state and 7, 000 of those are empty, so about 40% empty. And these numbers are based on about 84% of hospitals reporting and does not include additional surge beds that we’re working through.

Dr. Cohen: (09:11)
We’re working with our hospitals right now on a plan about what their maximum surge capacity is going to be. We continue to work through those plans and we’ll be sharing those numbers as we report back as we work with them to increase their capacity. On the intensive care unit bed front, we have more than 3000 beds in the state. 793 or 25% of them, are empty. Again, this is not yet include our surge capacity that we’re building towards and includes about 84% of hospitals reporting. As you can see, we’re trying to share more data today and in the days going forward. This data is now being loaded on our website, ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus. So later today, you’re going to be able to get information that the governor mentioned on supply requests, more information on the number of cases per day and over time, and on hospitalizations across the state and by region.

Dr. Cohen: (10:13)
So, continue to look back to our website as we add additional data points this week and throughout the… Our response effort. Our goal really is, transparency. We continue to find the right balance between expediency and accuracy. And if someone could find a few more hours in the day, that would help us too. So lots of information for you out there. In addition, yesterday, our state epidemiologist, Dr. Zack Moore, held a press briefing to talk about how we’ll be employing a robust surveillance system to understand COVID-19 in our state. While testing continues to be an important component, now that we have widespread community transmission, we know testing only provides a limited picture of what’s going on.

Dr. Cohen: (11:06)
So we are building on our evidence based system to track flu, to get a more comprehensive picture of COVID-19. And while there’s a lot we continue to learn about COVID-19, we’re not walking blindly. We can look to other countries and states to understand the impact of the disease and how to slow the spread. We have time tested validated tools to monitor impact here in North Carolina, and we have a powerful weapon against the virus, social distancing. And of course, we have a governor willing to take bold action to keep us safe. Thank you for all you’re doing to save lives by staying home. And again, thanks to the many doctors, nurses and other clinicians, who are doing the hard work every day to care for our friends and family. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (12:04)
Thank you, Dr. Cohen. We’ll now hear from our director of emergency management, Mike Sprayberry. Mike.

Mike Sprayberry: (12:13)
Thank you governor. Today is day 22 of the State Emergency Operations Center activation for the COVID-19 response. 58 counties have their local emergency operations centers activated. 97 counties in the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians have declared local states of emergency. Yesterday we began receiving our third allocation of supplies from the strategic national stockpile. This shipment from the Federal government includes more personal protective equipment like masks, glove, gowns, and shields. Those supplies are being quickly turned around and sent out to medical providers and first responders across the state through our eight healthcare coalitions. While the supplies from the national stockpile are extremely helpful, we still need more. Our logistics and sourcing teams continue to work aggressively every day to locate more personal protective equipment. Our orders so far total about 95.8 million and the teams are continuing to find and buy. As you heard the governor say, more National Guard personnel are being activated to help with movement and distribution of supplies and also with assessing buildings for use as overflow medical facilities. These additional warehouse and transportation crews and engineers will be on duty by this weekend. They will also provide cargo trucks and Humvees to help with supply distribution.

Mike Sprayberry: (13:46)
Our efforts to recruit, register, and screen disaster medical volunteers including retired doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are ongoing. Nearly 1200 people have registered and more than 600 are now approved and at work. If you are a retired or former medical professional who would like to volunteer, you can register online at terms.ncem.org. I say again, terms, T-E-R-M-S.ncem.org. I also want to remind all North Carolinians to call 911 only in the event of a true emergency. 911 centers are extremely busy at this time. Please do not call 911 to report instances where you think social distancing is not being observed. If we all do our best to stay home and maintain social distancing, these calls will not be necessary.

Mike Sprayberry: (14:43)
North Carolina 211 continues to help hundreds of people each day who have needs related to the coronavirus. Obtaining food is an issue for many families right now and 211 can help with food resources. To help families access food, North Carolina is temporarily increasing benefits for Food and Nutrition Services recipients during this pandemic. All current FNS recipients will get the maximum amount for their household size in March and April. You can get more important information by dialing 211 or by texting COVIDNC to 898211. I say again, 898211, to receive regular text updates. Nearly 60,000 people are now receiving text. While you’re staying at home, remember to complete your 2020 census form. Tomorrow is National Census Day and you can participate at home with your family and children.

Mike Sprayberry: (15:40)
It only takes about 10 minutes to complete the online form at my2020census.gov. I say again, my2020census.gov. Make sure your household is accurately counted in the census. It’s important in so many ways to ensure your community and our state gets the right federal resources over the next decade. Thank you for your support of the state emergency response team. Your personal actions to stay home, stay distance, and stop the spread will help save lives. With your help, we’ll all get through this together. Thank you governor.

Roy Cooper: (16:18)
Thank you director Sprayberry and all of the people over at the Emergency Operation Center who are here with us today and working 24/7 and all of the people at the Department of Public Safety headed by secretary Erik Hooks who is with us. I now want to recognize our attorney general of North Carolina, Josh Stein.

Josh Stein: (16:39)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon. I want to begin by thanking people all across North Carolina for everyone’s hard work in guiding us through this unprecedented crisis. Today the governor has taken a number of important actions to preserve the public’s health, appropriately so. But this crisis is not only taking a physical toll on our wellbeing, but it is taking an economic toll on our wellbeing as well. This past Sunday alone, more than 20,000 North Carolinians filed for unemployment. In just the last two weeks, this insidious virus has forced North Carolina businesses to lay off more than 300,000 people. Just think about that number. It is massive. It is orders of magnitude greater than any two week period during the great recession. These are the people who service at restaurants. They fly us on airplanes and greet us at hotels. They produce and sell our clothing. They manufacture the products and machines we use every day. They do these things and so much more. They are our neighbors and they need our help. Today’s executive order is about taking strong action to provide needed relief to these North Carolinians. People who are struggling financially through no fault of their own. With this executive order, we are prohibiting utilities from shutting off services, charging late fees and charging reconnection fees.

Josh Stein: (18:17)
We are encouraging landlords to work with their tenants, not evict them. We are encouraging banks and mortgage servicers to be flexible with homeowners and other borrowers. And we’re encouraging telecommunications providers to keep their customers connected in these trying times. I thank the governor for issuing this executive order to provide some much needed breathing room for people who are doing their best to scramble to make ends meet, but this relief isn’t just compassionate and appropriate. It will help protect all North Carolinians. Now is no time for people to be without water to wash their hands or forced and crowded into temporary living quarters. We need to slow the spread of this virus and this order will help us do that.

Josh Stein: (19:10)
The industry is affected by today’s order, power, water, natural gas, banking, and telecommunications are critical infrastructure. I want to recognize that many businesses in these sectors have already been doing right by their customers during the crisis. Duke Energy has pledged to keep service on for customers even if they can’t pay. More than 550 telecom companies have pledged to keep Americans connected. Many North Carolina banks are deferring payments, modifying loans, waiving fees and penalties and pausing foreclosures. All of these efforts underscore North Carolinians’ commitment to each other. Not withstanding these positive steps, government action is necessary to bring uniformity and clarity on these issues so we can better protect the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who are now financially struggling because of this unprecedented economic crisis.

Josh Stein: (20:14)
In addition to partnering with the governor on today’s executive order, I want to mention a few other actions that my office has taken in recent days. We are working hard to raise awareness of scams and fraud related to the virus, particularly those using robocalls. Because while the vast majority of folks in North Carolina are rising to the occasion to help others, there are a few heartless criminals trying to exploit people’s fears. We are gathering complaints about price gouging, and as of today, we’ve received 755 and we are reviewing each one. We’ve already sent out a number of investigative demands to sellers for more information and we will take legal action to hold accountable anyone who is ripping people off.

Josh Stein: (21:03)
Because of people’s financial duress, we have stopped collections activities on behalf of the state and we’ve urged the US Department of Education to provide loan relief to people who were unable to pay back their student loans right now. And finally, today we released internet safety resources and other resources for parents whose children are spending much more time online at home. My colleagues at the Department of Justice and I will continue to do everything we can to protect people amid this crisis. This time is unlike no other. A number of our neighbors are sick and a few have died. Many more live in fear of this virus and thousands, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are out of work as a result of it.

Josh Stein: (21:55)
For North Carolina to get through this, every business, every church, mosque, and temple, every civic organization, every government agency, every person has a critical role to play. As your North Carolina attorney general, I remain committed to working alongside each one of you to help us get to the other side of this crisis, and we will together. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (22:26)
Thank you for your good work, General Stein, and thank you for the help in getting this order in place. We now want to take questions from reporters. Please press one to ask a question and we will get through as many of those as we can. So if we can have the first question please.

Speaker 1: (22:50)
Question comes…

Speaker 2: (22:56)
Hi, this is a question for Governor Cooper. Governor, a lot of people are filing unemployment claims but are having a difficult time getting through. Is there anything being done to alleviate those problems?

Roy Cooper: (23:08)
Yes, the Employment Security Commission has put in a new server to help with internet and filing online. We’ve also contracted an additional call center to help with the number of calls that have been received. Remember that we’re taking a system that had been used to about 3000 claims per week and now have put almost 300,000 on them in a number of days over the last two weeks. So every one of those claims is important. Every one of the people who have filed and requested help has lost a job. And I’ll tell you, people over there are working-

Roy Cooper: (24:03)
… So hard to try to make sure we get those benefits out. Benefits are going out this week, the first checks. Because of the demand on the call center, we’re asking people to go online and do it as much as possible. I know that there’s been some concerns about username and passwords that they would have to call into the call center, but they’re working very hard to make sure we get this money out to people, and particularly when we get the federal money coming, in the additional $600 per week, it will really help these families who’ve been put out of a job because of this pandemic ,and they are working very hard to make sure that this happens. Next question, please.

Speaker 3: (24:54)
Yes. Hey governor, I just wanted to … I was going to after you ask about unemployment, but since that was basically answered by you, I did want to see the number of calls that have been coming into the 211 call center, since a lot of our local agencies have been getting people calling in to 911 and other places that they shouldn’t be calling. So the number of calls that y’all are getting, and just the types of questions people are asking.

Roy Cooper: (25:23)
Yes. Our 211 is in an important resource for people to be able to call, and we want to make sure they call 211 for resources and not 911, which is an emergency. Director Sprayberry would you want to talk about that issue, as to how many calls that we’ve gotten?

Director Sprayberry: (25:44)
Thank you. And so thank you for that governor and thank you for the question. We have at this time received … We’ve got 60,000 people that have signed up for the texts and we’re getting lots of calls every day. Hundreds. So we do ask people to call 211 rather than call 911. 911, as the governor said, is for emergencies only, and 211 are for questions about the types of support that you can get, and not only for COVID-19 but for anything, searching for food supplies or or supplies for children, anything like that. So call 211 for questions and you can get … They can resource you and send you to the right programs. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (26:34)
If we could have our next question please, and we would ask people to identify yourself when you ask the question please.

Chandler: (26:48)
Hi governor, this is Chandler from WDCD in Charlotte. South Carolina has about half the population of North Carolina, but South Carolina’s rate of illness is quite a bit higher than North Carolina. So are you concerned about the impact of South Carolina’s inaction in all of this?

Roy Cooper: (27:06)
Well, we’re concerned not only with North Carolina but surrounding states, because we know that people travel pretty freely with state lines. I would encourage every governor in the country to put in interventions that will help slow the spread of this virus. I think it would be important too, for us to have a stronger national strategy on this, because this clearly is affecting every part of our country. It’s going to affect every part of North Carolina. What I know is that interventions are working to slow the spread and we’ll keep monitoring this. We’ll keep encouraging people, because these interventions are only as good as the people who will do it, and that’s why I’m going to continue to encourage people every single day to stay at home as much as possible. When you have to be out, make sure that you’re exercising social distancing.

Roy Cooper: (28:14)
I’ve talked to Governor McMaster on a couple of occasions. I know they’re doing some things down in North Carolina too, to try and to slow the spread, and each governor has to make those on … Their own decisions about this, but clearly we need strong interventions here so that we can suppress the spread of this virus and keep our medical facilities and our hospitals from being overwhelmed. If we could have our next question please.

Amy Cutler: (28:52)
Hi, Amy Cutler here from CBS 17. My question regards essential businesses. I’m wondering, I’ve noticed computer stores, car mechanics, those kinds of businesses remain open. I’m wondering what went into the designation of making a business essential, and what you would say to folks who say the designation’s too broad?

Roy Cooper: (29:17)
One of the things that this order does is encourage all businesses to engage in social distancing with their employees and their customers. We went through the department of Homeland Security to look to see what they had classified as essential businesses, and we also looked at and worked with our business community to add some others. We want people to be safe at work, and when they’re not at work we want them to be home unless they’re doing some kind of essential activity. We believe that this order will help slow down the spread of the transmission. We can always do more, and as we see the number of cases that end up coming to our hospitals and we see how our medical facilities are being challenged, we can look at additional steps that we could potentially take.

Roy Cooper: (30:20)
We also are working now to look to to what we’re going to be doing four weeks, six weeks, and even months during this process. We know this virus is going to be with us a while and we know we’re going to have to establish a new normal, and I want … I know that North Carolinians wanting to get back to a normal life, but for right now we’ve got to make sure that our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, and we ask everyone to stay at home, and when you go to work for your business, make sure you as employers take steps to protect your employees and your customers as well. If we can have our next question please.

Jason Dobro: (31:14)
Hi. Thank you for allowing the question. This is, again, Jason Dobro, North Carolina Public Radio. My question is just a numerical one. I know you gave the numbers of how many confirmed cases there are, but I wonder what the state’s estimates are of how many people across North Carolina are actually infected, and clearly there’s a margin of error, so if you have maybe a low end and a high end estimate, I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (31:35)
When you have communities spread like we have in many parts of North Carolina, and we know that there are a lot more people infected with this virus than have actually shown up and are positive testing, but I’ll let Dr. Cohen address this to see what she might say about that.

Dr. Cohen: (31:58)
Thank you for the question. Yes, we recognize that there’s more for us to understand about the virus. As I mentioned earlier, our state epidemiologist, Dr. Zack Moore, shared with folks just yesterday about how the state is going to be approaching understanding this virus more completely. We’re going to use a variety of evidence-based surveillance tools. It means understanding what folks might have in terms of other symptoms, and testing folks at different points. We do want to get a good understanding of what’s going on with the virus. We’re using the mechanism in which we track the flu, and we’re modifying that to now track COVID-19. It will give us a more complete picture going forward. Again, as we learn more, it will allow us to tailor our interventions to make sure that we are slowing the spread of the virus, and as the governor said, so that we don’t overwhelm our medical system, but we are definitely working hard to understand the virus using evidence-based surveillance techniques based off of what we do in flu as we go forward.

Roy Cooper: (33:10)
If we could have our next question, please.

Elizabeth Ann Brown: (33:20)
Hello governor, this is Elizabeth Ann Brown from the Asheville Citizen Times newspaper. We’re seeing, piggy backing off of your previous question, a number of businesses interpreting the definition of, quote unquote, essential businesses very loosely. An example is Michael’s art supply store arguing they’re essential because they provide art supplies to teachers. Are business is allowed to decide whether they are essential or is there anyone in the government who has [inaudible 00:33:44] take these down.

Roy Cooper: (33:47)
Well first, if you are a business that can conduct social distancing for your employees and for your customers and you could put that plan in place, then you can be open. The Department of Revenue makes the decisions about whether businesses qualify or not, and people can file or businesses can file their request to be designated as such. We can have this debate over what businesses ought to be open and what shouldn’t be. One thing we knew is that businesses that attracted a large number of people for a long period of time, like restaurants and bars and bingo parlors, and businesses where there was close contact with customers over an extended period of time, we knew that these were places where the virus was being transmitted. We’ve seen that in other countries and when we reduced the number of people in a mass gatherings to 10, we took a big step. With this order to tell people to stay home, we took a big step too.

Roy Cooper: (35:07)
We also understand that this has had a significant economic impact on many of our families, and that goes into figuring what businesses are supposed to be closed and which aren’t. And as this process goes along, we can continue to look at this order to see what changes need to be made. I think what’s really important now, though, is that people work hard on their social and physical distancing here, and they work hard to stay at home as much as they can, and employers, when those employees get to work, make sure that you are protecting them and the customers that you come in contact with. Can we have our next question, please?

Colin Browder: (36:00)
Hi governor. It’s Colin Browder with WRL TV here..

Cullen Browder: (36:03)
..in Raleigh. We talked about the unprecedented number of unemployment claims and what the state is doing. Can you say how many checks will go out this week? How many claims have been processed? And what do you specifically say to those people who’ve struggled just to get through to filing?

Roy Cooper: (36:24)
For your last question first, we want you to know that we care about your claim and that people are working diligently to handle this onslaught of claims that they have really never seen before, to make sure they get paid as promptly as possible. Because in talking to the leadership over there, each person there knows that we’re talking about a family who has someone without a job and that bills are coming due and that help is needed. And I think there’s a real feeling over there that they want to overcome this mountain of claims, and literally a mountain of claims that they have received, unlike any they’ve ever seen before. And they’re working to amass more people to handle this and to get their rhythm.

Roy Cooper: (37:17)
That being said, we have been told by them that checks will go out this week as to how many there will be, I will ask them to provide that information to you, along with how many claims have been processed. It’s important for us to get that information out to you. I know they’re working hard. They’ve heard from me quite a bit that we got to get this money out to people. We also know that when this federal money comes in and we get the federal guidance, we want that to be added to people’s checks as quickly as possible. So we’re pushing, pushing, pushing, and we want to get this money out to people, because the families need it and our economy needs it right now. And we’ll try to get those specific numbers to you by the end of the day, Cullen. Thanks. Next question please.

Andrea Lanford: (38:18)
Hi Governor, it’s Andrea Lanford from ABC 11. You just mentioned earlier how we know the virus will be with us for a while. So just curious, when will the state make the decision on whether students, teachers, families should expect to finish out the school year at home? Or are you still considering that they may actually be able to return to school by May 15th? Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (38:44)
There are a lot of unknowns with this virus. We do know that until there is a vaccination, that it’s going to be with us for a while because people are not immune to this. So when I talked earlier about the new normal, we’re going to have to figure out how to live with this virus in the population for a long period of time. What we’re doing right now with school being out and businesses being closed and a stay-at-home order, we’re trying to spread out this curve and we’re trying to avoid our hospitals being overwhelmed with people. And you’ve seen it on TV, you’ve seen it in New York and in other countries. We just don’t want that for North Carolina. We don’t want to lose lives. We know it’s going to happen, but every life we can save I think is important.

Roy Cooper: (39:39)
So we’re going to continue this as we analyze the data, as we get more input from people who are looking at how this virus spreads all over the world, then we will be making decisions about school. We left it at May 15th for going … It would be actually May 18th, because the last day I’ve had for closed is a Friday, May the 15th. So it would be May 18th when they went back to school. That was the earliest period that we thought this could happen. And certainly we are not taking that date off the table yet, returning to school. Like I said, when we first announced this, that I’m not ready to give up on the school year.

Roy Cooper: (40:23)
North Carolina is a state that values education. And we kept our schools open during the great depression, even though the money wasn’t really there. The state found a way to keep our schools open because we know that’s the ladder of opportunity. And I know that a lot of teachers and teacher assistants and bus drivers and cafeteria workers are all working now to try to provide remote learning to students and try to make sure that they continue to get nutritious meals. So we’re trying to make the best of this time that we’re out.

Roy Cooper: (40:57)
But we’ll be making a decision at some point in the process when we analyze the entire situation and get information from our public health officials as to what we’re going to do about this May 15th date. I want to go back, but we want to make sure that it’s safe for our children and that it’s safe for us. As we approach this new normal in North Carolina, what that’s going to look like. And right now we just don’t know yet. Can we have the next question please?

Anne Blythe: (41:40)
Hi Governor, it’s Anne Blythe. I was wondering, it sounds like Mike Sprayberry started talking about looking for alternate hospitals. And I didn’t know whether you had designated any sites yet.

Roy Cooper: (41:54)
So right now, we’ve engaged the US Army Corps of Engineers. We’ve activated some members of the National Guard who are experts in engineering. And we are scouting, not only just scouting but we’re analyzing locations for facilities that could provide additional hospital beds. A lot of things that you have to think about when you set up an additional hospital. You have to think about where it’s near. So we want to have different sites designated across North Carolina so that it could be near any particular place that’s seeing a surge and we’re running out of hospital beds. So we need several places identified.

Roy Cooper: (42:40)
And when you do turn that key to have that hospital ready to go, we’re going to need personnel to be able to man that hospital. And we’re going to be able to have to have equipment. They’re working on the logistics of that right now. And what I have directed emergency management under the leadership of Mike Sprayberry and Dr. Cohen, I told them I want to be ready to turn the key whenever we need to in any part of North Carolina.

Roy Cooper: (43:11)
And so we’re in the process of looking at all of those potentials, from arenas to hospitals that have been open before but are now closed. And we will be ready to designate those in time, because we’re looking at this data as it comes in. We were going to be able to tell you how many hospital beds are available, how many ICU beds are available, and we’re going to be able to see real time where we may need help. And we want to be ready to do the turnkey and to open these things up. And I don’t know if Dr. Cohen, or Director Sprayberry would want to add anything that I’ve said to that? Okay. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (43:54)
Next question please.

Mark: (44:03)
Hi governor Mark with WBT. You have talked at length about hospitals being stretched and looking high and low for supplies. The state requested that hospitals and surgery centers put off a lot of elective surgeries. But the state decided not to include abortion clinics in that. Could you talk a little bit about the thinking on that? Was that a medical decision or more of a political decision?

Roy Cooper: (44:28)
The decisions that we make here are medical. And what we wanted to do was to make sure we reduce the amount of operations and procedures that were going on in hospitals, to be able to make sure that the beds were available. But that’s a healthcare decision that we made in North Carolina. And I think it’s one that’s important for our entire state.

Roy Cooper: (44:58)
Next question, please.

Morgan Francis: (45:07)
Hi, Governor. It’s Morgan Francis from WJZY in Charlotte. This question is actually for Attorney General Josh Stein. You talked about releasing internet safety resources for kids spending more time at home. And I was curious if you’ve had any complaints when it comes to the platform Zoom? Or if he’s had any conversations with Zoom regarding its data privacy and security practices?

AG Josh Stein: (45:30)
Morgan, thank you for the question. We want parents to have the tools available to them so that they can best protect their kids. They need to know about what security tools are available to them on the devices they have at home or through the internet service provider they use. We also want them to have regular conversations with their children. The far and away, the best source of protection for a child on the internet is the child themselves having the right information and the right encouragement from their parents. So we strongly want parents to talk with their children.

AG Josh Stein: (46:08)
As it relates to Zoom, we have not gotten any specific complaints to my knowledge, as it relates to their technology. It’s obviously a burgeoning program, one that I frankly have used myself. And if there are issues out there with it, we would welcome hearing from folks that we can take a look at it. Thank you, Morgan.

Roy Cooper: (46:30)
Thanks everybody for the questions today. We’re going to get back at it. We’ll be back in touch with all of you tomorrow. Please, everybody, stay at home as much as you can and stay safe. Thanks very much.