RALEIGH — As state health officials say they believe North Carolina is beginning to experience a leveling off of new COVID-19 cases, Gov. Roy Cooper on April 13 said that leaders are examining how the state could begin to modify some executive orders.

“We continue to see the spread of the virus accelerate through North Carolina, but at a much slower pace because of people following my executive orders on social distancing,” Cooper said at a press briefing. “What we are doing is working. We are saving lives.”

That day, Monday, April 13, was the deadliest single day so far in the state’s battle with the virus, with 20 deaths reported, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

Asked about the spike in deaths at the April 13 press briefing, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said that looking at other states and countries where the virus has already peaked, it is not uncommon to see the rate of new cases decrease before the rate of deaths declines.

As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, 5,092 state residents have tested positive for the virus, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported at 11 a.m. April 14 that 418 people were hospitalized with the virus — up from the 313 people reportedly hospitalized the day before.

NCDHHS has emphasized that not all people with symptoms of COVID-19 are being tested, and the numbers reported by county and state health departments do not represent the total number of people infected throughout the state.

Cooper noted that his executive order to stay at home except for essential business or activities expires at the end of the month, and that new orders will need to be enacted at that time. He encouraged North Carolinians to “work very hard” to heed restrictions and health guidance over the next two weeks.

“Epidemiologists have been running models on North Carolina’s caseload and our hospitals’ ability to care for those who are sick,” Cooper said April 13. “These models show consistently that our executive orders work and that wholesale lifting of the orders would be a catastrophe.”

As of April 14, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, an independent global health research center, was projecting that peak resource use will occur in North Carolina on April 17, and it is projecting that April 13 could have been the day with the most deaths. However, the institute’s projections assume full social distancing through May 2020.

“We are all looking toward a time when we can loosen these restrictions, and it will come,” Cooper said. “We have a team examining how North Carolina can emerge with the right practices in place to keep us healthy and strong, and ready to jumpstart our economy. We are considering the most effective ways to modify executive orders to help boost the economy while continuing to prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.”

Nationwide, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine reported 589,048 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 5:15 p.m. April 14, with 25,163 reported deaths and 45,079 reported to have recovered from the virus.

Watauga County had eight positive tests among residents, plus a traveler who tested positive who is self-isolating in the county, according to AppHealthCare, the district health department for Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties.

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