NORTH CAROLINA — As Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to make a decision on the status of phase two reopening, he vetoed a state house bill that would have allowed gyms, fitness centers and other exercise facilities to reopen.
“Tying the hands of public health officials in times of pandemic is dangerous, especially when case counts and hospitalizations are rising,” said Cooper in a statement on HB 594. “State and local officials must be able to take swift action during the COVID-19 emergency to prevent a surge of patients from overwhelming hospitals and endangering the lives of North Carolinians.”
North Carolina moved into phase two of reopening on May 22. That phase is effective through June 26 unless canceled or changed. Cooper indicated he will announce the next steps this week. That includes considering a face mask requirement.
On Sunday, 1,412 additional cases of the coronavirus were reported, according to the latest North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services data. The highest daily increases of cases were 1,768 on June 12 and 1,652 on June 20. To date, there are 52,801 cumulative cases and 1,220 deaths.
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Mecklenburg County leads the state with 8,752 cases, followed by Wake County with 3,884 cases, Durham County with 3,196, Forsyth County with 2,524 and Guilford County with 2,402.
Hospitalizations have been on the rise in June, but there was a decline in the last day. There are 845 current COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide, down from 883 Saturday. According to a NCDHHS survey with 74 percent of hospitals reporting, 78 percent of intensive care unit beds are in use by all hospital patients, and 29 percent of ventilators are in use.
As of Sunday, labs have completed 745,775 tests, a daily increase of 14,434 tests. The positive rate of reported tests on Saturday was 10 percent.
The World Health Organization recommends that governments have a percent positive rate of 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days before reopening. On Sunday, North Carolina was one of 22 states and territories identified as having a higher-than-recommended positivity rate and in need of increased COVID-19 testing capacity, Johns Hopkins University said. With an average positive rate of 7.28 percent, North Carolina has the 10th highest positive rate in the U.S., behind Georgia and ahead of Tennessee.