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Cooper: Limit gatherings to 10 people to slow virus’ spread

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North Carolina’s indoor mass gathering limit will be reduced to 10 people in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 as Thanksgiving approaches, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday. 

The state will also remain in Phase 3 of Cooper’s economic reopening plan. 

Tuesday’s executive order, which reduces gathering limits from 25 people indoors to 10 people indoors, will go into effect Friday and remain in place until Dec. 4. 

“This reduction in our indoor gathering limit aims to slow the spread and bring down our numbers,” Cooper said. “It also sends a serious signal to families, friends and neighbors across our state. Success in slowing the spread will help our businesses.” 

More people are expected to gather indoors as the weather gets  colder. State officials say science shows that indoor gatherings increase COVID-19 transmission risks, and Cooper’s executive order seeks to limit indoor gatherings that could rapidly spread the virus. 

“Our trends have avoided spikes, but they remain stubbornly high,” Cooper said during a Tuesday press conference. “That is troubling. Other states have experienced spikes that have jumped quickly on them and their hospitals, causing more sickness and death. To avoid that, we need to focus on bringing our numbers down.” 

The order doesn’t change business occupancy limits specified in previous executive orders. 

CASES ARE INCREASING

Over the past 14 days, North Carolina’s trajectory of COVID-19 cases is increasing, state health secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said. She said the proportion of positive tests is hovering around 7% of all tests completed and is remaining level. State health officials say that proportion should be 5% or lower. 

North Carolina’s hospitalization rate is level but high. Both Cohen and Cooper said it’s vital to wear a mask anytime people gather with others outside their immediate household. 

“Let’s keep our friends, family and loved ones safe this holiday season,” Cohen said. “If you are going to travel or get together, plan ahead to reduce the risk to your family and friends. Remember, it’s not how well you know someone when it comes to wearing a mask. If they don’t live with you, get behind the mask.“

STATEWIDE FIGURES

Tuesday’s figures show 2,582 more people were diagnosed with the virus in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The newly confirmed COVID-19 case count increased by more than 1,000 cases from the day prior. 

The state’s overall COVID-19 tally stood at 297,442. Hospitalizations increased, with 1,230 people in North Carolina hospitals due to COVID-19. 

The state’s death toll stood at 4,660 on Tuesday. 

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