By Nyamekye Daniel
(The Center Square) – There was swift backlash to Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision June 24 to keep the state in the current phase of COVID-19 restrictions for three more weeks.
Citing a rise in cases, Cooper announced he would not be lifting any of the Phase 2 restrictions meant to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“North Carolina is relying on the data and the science to lift restrictions responsibly, and right now, our increasing numbers show we need to hit the pause button while we work to stabilize our trends,” Cooper said during a news briefing. “We need to all work together so we can protect our families and neighbors, restore our economy, and get people back to work and our children back to school.”
With trends in the outbreak steadily increasing, Cooper fears the state’s hospitals could end up overburdened.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said June 24 that the percent of positive tests and the number of lab-confirmed cases, hospitalizations and emergency room visits for COVID-19-like symptoms have stayed on an incline for 14 days.
As of June 24, 906 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, NCDHHS reported, 300 more than the same time last month.
Cooper received support at the news conference from the North Carolina Nurses Association and Atrium Health.
“A major spike in cases would be catastrophic to the system, and without your cooperation, nurses and our fellow health care providers will have a harder time caring for sick patients for weeks and months to come,” said Dennis Taylor, president of the North Carolina Nurses Association.
Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, wasn’t as supportive as Taylor.
“In Roy Cooper’s North Carolina, the governor can walk with a group of protesters with no mask on, but you can’t take your son or daughter to a playground,” Berger said in a statement. “Rioters can break windows and set fires with impunity, but you can’t exercise on an elliptical machine. We’re assured that masses of mask-less people gathered together in the streets caused no rise in cases, yet we’re now all required to wear masks because the danger is too great.
“The inconsistencies and hypocrisy continue to eat away at the trust in and credibility of this administration.”
The North Carolina Bar and Tavern Association filed a lawsuit against Cooper on June 4 on behalf of 185 private bar owners, demanding they get the same treatment as restaurants and other businesses that were allowed to reopen. The is case still pending.
The association contends patrons who are at restaurant bars could follow social distance requirements better if they had more places to drink.
“The governor’s decision is effectively signing a death warrant for 1,063 bars across North Carolina while offering zero relief to the small-business owners or their employees,” said Zack Medford, the association president.