By WECT Staff | October 15, 2020 at 1:42 PM EDT – Updated October 15 at 7:39 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – Governor Roy Cooper on Thursday stressed that North Carolina residents should be “even more vigilant” after the state saw the highest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic back in March.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reported 2,532 new cases on Thursday, which is a record. The previous high was reported on July 18 with 2,486 cases.
“Recently, like much of the country and other parts of the world, we’ve seen higher numbers. It will be important to continue watching these numbers over a 14-day period. But one thing is clear – we must be even more vigilant in our effort to prevent the spread of this virus,” Cooper said during a news briefing Thursday afternoon.
“Complacency will cost lives and hurt our economy, and it’s up to every one of us to continue wearing masks, social distancing and using good judgment.”
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the NCDHHS, said the upward trend in cases, percent of tests that are positive, and day-over-day hospitalizations can’t be attributed to any one place, age group, or activity.
“This increase is concerning, particularly as we head into flu season,” Cohen said, noting that smaller hospitals are already feeling the strain of increased hospitalizations.
“This isn’t where we want to be and, frankly, it’s frustrating,” she added. “We have the tools to slow the spread and protect one another. The science is clear on masks, they work. They slow the spread if everyone is working together to wear them.”
With regards to the uptick in numbers possibly delaying further reopening plans or even moving the state backwards, Cooper said his administration will look at the data through a 14-day window before making any decisions on safeguards.
“We hope by working together, we can try and drive these numbers down. We have done this before. We have pulled together more and were able to drive the numbers down,” Cooper said. “We will look at the metrics and determine what might need to be done next to control the spread of [the virus].”
Cohen said if the state was forced to move backwards, they would target activities with the highest risk of spreading the virus.
“So that’s what we would concentrate on. Just like we would use a dimmer switch and thought about easing of restrictions, we would look at those high risk activities,” Cohen said. “I want to emphasize that we can get these trends under control. We know how to prevent the spread of the virus. We don’t have to go backwards.”
Cooper also announced a new $117 million program, NC HOPE, that began Thursday and is aimed at helping residents who are having trouble paying rent and utilities due to COVID-19.
Those that need help, can go to nc211.org/hope to be screened for eligibility and complete the application process.
Applicants who cannot access the online application can also call 2-1-1 and speak with a program representative, who will assist the caller through the application on the phone. Callers can reach 2-1-1 Monday-Friday between 7 am and 6 pm.
This program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
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