RALEIGH — N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said on Tuesday, April 21, that announcements regarding the state’s executive orders and public school closures would be made later this week.
Cooper’s executive order to stay at home — except to go out for an essential job, food, medicine, outdoor exercise or to help someone — went into effect March 30 and expires at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29. Executive Order 120 has closed public schools statewide through May 15.
The governor told reporters calling into a press briefing that more specific details about the plan going forward will be announced this week, including a target capacity for increased testing and tracing, which state leaders have said is necessary before the state can begin to lift restrictions. He said a public health team is looking at what is needed to make sure children are safe at school.
“This week we plan to lay out the trends that we need to meet along with testing and tracing capacity in order for us to be able to ease restrictions,” Cooper said.
He said the state currently does not meet the criteria outlined by the Trump Administration’s guidelines for reopening, including a downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period.
Cooper said his team is working on recommendations for allocating the first phase of federal relief funding provided by the federal government, focusing on immediate public health and safety, schools and other government services and small businesses.
“General Assembly leaders and I agree that we need to make more funding available for small business owners,” Cooper said. “And we’ll do that by providing funding to the Rapid Recovery Program through the Golden LEAF Foundation, which is up and running and can act quickly to get funding to people.”
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 6,951 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state as of 10:35 a.m. Tuesday, April 21, but the Raleigh News & Observer reported that the number had reached 7,099 cases as of 5:15 p.m.
The numbers reported by the newspaper, which is compiling the numbers of cases announced by counties throughout the day, vary from the daily reports provided by NCDHHS.
The News & Observer reported that 235 people had died with the virus as of 5:15 p.m. April 21.
NCDHHS reported that 427 people were hospitalized with the virus as of 10:35 a.m. Tuesday, up from 373 on Monday. In the information updated daily on its website, NCDHHS has not been providing an updated count of persons statewide who have recovered from the virus.
Nationwide, 788,920 people had tested positive with the virus, with 42,458 deaths linked to the virus and 73,533 people who had reportedly recovered from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine as of 12:15 p.m. on April 21.
NCDHHS reported on April 21 that 83,331 tests for COVID-19 had been conducted statewide by the State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial labs. As of April 21, AppHealthCare, the health department for Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties, reported that to date, it had collected a total of 79 tests and outside agencies had collected 202 tests in Watauga County.
Eight county residents and one traveler have tested positive for the virus in Watauga, according to AppHealthCare. The most recent confirmed case was announced on April 13 and was said to be a county resident who was isolating outside of the state. Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare health director, said on April 7 that most of the confirmed COVID-19 patients in Watauga County had improved and were out of their isolation period or nearly out of their isolation period at that time.
Caldwell County leads surrounding counties in numbers of confirmed cases with 23 as of April 21, while Wilkes has reported five cases and one death, Ashe has reported four cases and Avery has reported no positive tests, according to the News & Observer. In Tennessee, Johnson County has two confirmed cases and Carter County has five confirmed cases, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.