North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday that it had recorded 1,107 new coronavirus infections, the state's highest one-day spike since the outbreak began. Gerry Broome/AP hide captiontoggle caption Gerry Broome/AP
North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday that it had recorded 1,107 new coronavirus infections, the state's highest one-day spike since the outbreak began.Gerry Broome/AP
North Carolina has reported its highest one-day spike in new COVID-19 cases, a development that comes a day after the state entered its second phase of reopening.
"This is a notable and concerning increase," said the department's secretary, Mandy Cohen, in a statement. "As we head into a holiday weekend, please practice the three Ws – wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands frequently. When it comes to our health, we need to work together to protect our families, friends and neighbors."
The spike in new cases underscores the challenge that states across the U.S. are facing as they weigh when to ease restrictions designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
North Carolina had spent two weeks in Phase 1 of its reopening before entering the second phase on Friday. Phase 2 lifted the state's stay-at-home order and allowed certain businesses to restart or expand operations in a limited capacity.
In announcing the easing of restrictions, authorities noted that although "overall key indicators remain stable," there remained "continued increases in daily case counts." A statement accompanying Gov. Roy Cooper's executive order, issued on Wednesday, said reopening would be a more modest endeavor than initially envisioned.
"North Carolina is using the data to guide our decisions about when to lift COVID-19 restrictions, and overall our key indicators remain stable," Cooper, a Democrat, said. "Safer At Home Phase 2 is another careful step forward, and we have to continue taking this virus seriously to prevent a dangerous spike in infections."
The executive order allows businesses such as restaurants, salons and barbershops to be open at 50% capacity with social distancing and cleaning requirements in place. Bars, gyms and movie theaters are to remain closed.
The order also caps gatherings at 25 people for outdoor venues, while indoor events are limited to 10.
The announcement came as many parts of the U.S. have seen a general decline in new infections and as other areas — such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. — are reporting plateaus.
As of Saturday, North Carolina has reported at least 22,725 coronavirus infections.