North Carolina will be under a statewide curfew starting Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday.
With more than 80% of the counties in North Carolina facing critical or substantial viral community spread of COVID-19, Cooper signed an executive order that places the state under a modified stay-at-home order for a month.
“We already have strong safety protocols and capacity limitations in place – including a statewide mask requirement. With this additional action beginning Friday, we hope to get these numbers down,” Cooper said during a news conference Tuesday. “Our new modified stay-at-home order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer, especially during the holidays.”
Cooper's executive order requires North Carolinians to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. from Friday through Jan. 8, with exceptions for travel, food, medical care, gas, social services or to care for other family members.
The order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and personal care businesses to close at 10 p.m. All outdoor gatherings must end by the 10 p.m. curfew, and businesses will not be allowed to serve or sell alcohol between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The state already is under an executive order that requires North Carolinians to wear a face covering indoors when nonhousehold members are present regardless of physical distance. Those who violate that order could face a Class 2 misdemeanor and a fine up to $1,000.
Cooper said he has encouraged local governments to pass ordinances that would implement fines and other penalties for businesses and people who disobey the rules.
“We aren't putting these orders out there in order to get anybody in trouble,” Cooper said. “We're putting it out there to save lives, 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.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has reported 404,032 cases of COVID-19 since March, with 4,670 reported Monday. NCDHHS' report show 2,373 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. In the past week, cases have surpassed single-day records on three separate days, including crossing more than 6,000 cases a day on two of those days, NCDHHS officials said.
Officials said a vaccine should be on its way soon. The state plans to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine within 24 hours to 48 hours of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, said Mandy Cohen, NCDHHS secretary.
The FDA confirmed Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine's safety and effectiveness Tuesday. The agency will review Pfizer's application for emergency approval Thursday. FDA officials also plan to meet Dec. 17 to review Moderna's emergency approval application for its COVID-19 vaccine.
Cohen said the vaccines would be shipped to 11 storage sites statewide until the federal government approves the distribution. The first supply would be sent to about 50 of the state's 100 hospitals. Health care workers and long-term care residents have been identified as the initial recipients for the first phase.
“So we know that first week of shipment will not even touch all of our hospitals,” Cohen said. “We are working with those 50, 60 hospitals to make sure they're ready on day one when they do get the vaccine to start the vaccination process.”
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