Gov. Roy Cooper said changes in key COVID-19 measurements indicate that North Carolina will likely be ready to enter Phase 1 of his reopening plan in the coming week.
The first phase of Cooper's three-part plan to reopen the state calls for the stay-at-home order to remain in place, but allows people to leave their homes for commercial activity with some restrictions and guidance in place, such as social distancing and cleaning protocols.
In a Thursday press briefing, Cooper said stabilization in four recovery metrics, including hospitalizations, lab-confirmed cases, positive tests as a percentage of total tests and COVID-like syndromic cases, will be necessary before the state is ready for Phase 1.
"There are some potential warning signs again," Cooper said. "That being said, North Carolinians have made tremendous sacrifices, and it's working."
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said these metrics indicate that social distancing is working to stop coronavirus’ spread.
"We continue to see that North Carolina is doing well," Cohen said. "We have flattened the curve."
According to the state Department of Health and Human Services, there are 10,509 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus in N.C. today. Although there has been an increase in positive tests over the past 14 days, Cohen said this is partially due to an overall increase in testing capabilities.
"We want to increase testing," Cohen said. "We know there's more COVID-19 out there, so we know we'll pick up more cases."
Though numbers of positive tests and COVID-like cases have increased, Cohen said, these increases are balanced by a decrease in the proportion of positive tests and a leveling-off in daily coronavirus hospitalizations.