The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday June 29th

Cooper extends Phase 2 until Sept. 11 as UNC students move back to campus

<p>Gov. Roy Cooper visited Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Nov. 19 2019 to announce that Well Dot, Inc, a health technology company will base its new operations center in the town and create 400 jobs.</p>
Buy Photos Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday that NC's public schools would continue remote instruction through the end of the school year, following an announcement that he would be extending the state's stay-at-home order through May 8.

Gov. Roy Cooper extended Phase 2 of North Carolina's COVID-19 restrictions until Sept. 11, he announced in a Wednesday news briefing. 

Phase 2 limits restaurants, salons and retail stores to be open at 50 percent capacity, limits indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people, and requires that bars, gyms and entertainment venues remain closed. 

Cooper said at the briefing that one of the reasons he is extending Phase 2 is because of the reopening of schools across the state, including colleges. 

"In-person learning has benefits, but it means challenges for our state, especially as our higher education campuses draw students from around the country and the world," he said. 

UNC classes begin Monday, and local officials have already expressed concerns as students are starting to move back to campus. 

The Orange County Health Department sent a letter to UNC officials July 29, recommending that the University restrict on-campus housing to at-risk students and begin the first five weeks of the semester with online learning. 

A Wednesday letter from Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair Penny Rich, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle and Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver was addressed to University officials with additional requests. 

These requests included that the University work with the Orange County Health Department to ensure sufficient resources are available to provide testing and community contact tracing to all students and staff who have been exposed to COVID-19, and update the 2020 Roadmap Community Standards to clearly establish expectations and safety protocols. 

Orange County is currently under a safer-at-home recommendation that differs from the state by requiring restaurant, personal care, grooming, tattoo and retail employees to wear a face covering while on duty. 

The county's recommendation limits tables at restaurants to no more than six people and restricts sales of on-site alcohol consumption after 10 p.m. and before 7 a.m. 

Cooper said although COVID-19 numbers in the state are stabilizing, health experts have said that reopening the state too quickly could cause a devastating increases in cases, sickness and death. 

As of today, the state has had 129,288 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,050 deaths, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 

"Other states that have lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher," he said. "We won't make that mistake in North Carolina." 

@sonjarao | @DTHCityState 

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