North Carolina will be in Phase 2 of reopening for five more weeks, and local health experts said there is still no clear indication of when the state could move into Phase 3.
“We would hope that we could move in our phases even before a (COVID-19) vaccine comes into effect,” Gov. Roy Cooper said during a news conference last week.,
Health officials, including Mission Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Hathaway, said if we’re going to move forward we need better numbers.
“I think we need a far fewer number of cases before we can open up more actively from a safe health point of view,” Hathaway said. “The crystal ball is cloudy. I don’t have the Ouija board to figure out exactly what that number is.”
The most recent numbers from the state confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina at almost 137,000 with more than 1,100 people hospitalized and more than 2,170 deaths.
Hathaway said numbers have been slightly declining in the last week but that’s not enough.
“It’s a combination of things. It’s the number of hospitalizations. It’s the number of new cases per day, which should be declining over a 14-day period at a minimum,” he said.
Hathaway said reopening schools is another thing health officials are looking at.
“I do believe that we will potentially see a slight rise in the number of cases anytime that there’s more mobility in our community,” Hathaway said, adding that people shouldn’t be surprised by that.
He said they will be looking to see if it can be managed.
Staying in Phase 2 keeps places like bars and gyms closed. They’ve been that way for nearly five months now.
“I first say my heartfelt sympathies and empathies to those business owners,” Hathaway said.
Hathaway said we could see a vaccine being produced early next year.
“We have five or six vaccines which are now around the globe in Phase 3 trials,” Hathaway said.
He said until there's widespread community immunity, people need to be patient.
“I believe that in order for us to run quickly and achieve results we must do it by walking slowly to begin with,” Hathaway said.
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