“What we’re seeing now is this virus is everywhere.”
NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen warned Tuesday that the state is heading in the wrong direction once again in its battle against the coronavirus.
Cases are up, hospitalizations are up, and the state’s positive test rate is at 7.1%.
Unlike in August when the rise in cases was easily tied to the return of college students, Dr. Cohen says this increase cannot be linked to any one age group, any one place or activity.
“Sadly, it only takes a few settings where folks drop their guard for virus to spread quickly,” explained Cohen.
On Tuesday, representatives from North Carolina’s hospitality industry joined Cohen to stress the need to follow the state guidelines to protect the economy and avoid the state from taking a step backwards.
“Without question, North Carolina’s hospitality industry has taken a devastating blow from this pandemic,” said Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the NC Restaurant & Lodging Association.”I encourage all business owners and guests to do their part, to help keep our employees and guests safe, and to help keep North Carolina’s restaurants open in the months ahead.”
Minges estimates 130,000 workers in the industry remain sidelined as the economy continues to falter.
Minges believes one step in rebuilding consumer confidence during the pandemic is for more restaurants to take part in the Count On Me NC campaign, adhering to additional training and safety procedures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Andy Ellen, president of the NC Retail Merchants Association, says responsible business owners have added plexiglass barriers, hand sanitizer and are requiring their employees to wear masks.
The precautions by merchants are necessary moving forward for these brick-and-mortar retailers to build back the business they enjoyed pre-pandemic.
“Right now many businesses are struggling just to survive. They need a strong shopping season and cannot afford to let our state slip backwards in how we handle COVID,” Ellen said.
State and public health officials will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the coming days to determine if restrictions should be eased or tightened when Governor Cooper’s current executive order expires Oct. 23.
On Tuesday, North Carolina recorded 1,734 additional cases of COVID-19 and 1,103 people hospitalized.
“We need to do all we can to turn these trends around. We do not want to have to go backwards,” said Sec. Cohen.