On July 14, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that phase 2 of the COVID-19 reopening plan will be extended for three more weeks. This decision was made in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths in North Carolina over the last few months. While Gov. Cooper believes that halting the reopening plan by staying in phase 2 is the best response to our current situation, I respectfully disagree. North Carolina needs to go back to stay-at-home orders in order to flatten the curve and keep our state safe.
When Gov. Cooper first announced his three-phase reopening plan, he outlined several guidelines to determine whether our state was ready to enter the next phase of reopening or not. He said that state restrictions will not be lifted until there is a sustained decrease or stabilization in the amount of positive COVID-19 tests and reported COVID-19 symptoms, as well as hospitalizations due to COVID-19 over a 14-day period.
Not only has this not happened, but the amount of positive COVID-19 tests and deaths have rapidly increased over the last 14 days. The increase in COVID-19 cases proves that our state’s health is not improving or stabilizing, but rather declining. Phase 2 of the COVID-19 reopening plan is obviously not keeping our state safe, and according to Gov. Cooper’s own guidelines, this means our state should take a step backwards in the reopening plan and restart the stay-at-home orders.
Under the current regulations of phase 2, North Carolina is ranked 12 out of all 50 states for having the most COVID-19 cases. Since January, North Carolina has had 102,861 positive COVID-19 cases. 13% of those cases were identified within the past 7 days. This positive trend of COVID-19 diagnoses shows that our current regulations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 are not working, so instead of staying in phase 2 for another three weeks, our governor should have put our state under stay-at home-orders.
Some people question whether going back on stay-at-home orders will help to decrease the amount of positive COVID-19 tests. The truth is, we don’t fully know. However, we do know that various degrees of lockdown have helped other countries in Europe make a remarkable recovery and have significantly decreased the amount of COVID-19 cases they are experiencing. Stay-at-home orders have helped these countries get an edge on COVID-19, which allows us to logically conclude that it will do the same for North Carolina.
Whether you are a fan of stay-at-home orders or not, the current upward trend in COVID-19 cases shows that our current system of regulations are too relaxed and are not keeping our state safe.
It is important to look at one reason why Gov. Cooper made the decision he did. Reverting back to stay-at-home orders would hurt the local economy and put local businesses in danger of bankruptcy because it would force them to shut back down. Places like hair salons and our local restaurants would be forced to close their doors and their staff would be forced to find another way to pay their bills. By staying in Phase 2, Gov. Cooper is protecting North Carolina businesses, but at what cost?
There are currently 1,137 people in the hospital in North Carolina because of COVID-19. On July 14, North Carolina hit its record high for single-day fatalities—an increase of 42 deaths accumulating into the 1,552 deaths recorded on July 15. The previous record had been reached just eight days before this. Not only are a record number of people dying in our home state because of the lax regulations of Phase 2, but the amount of people dying each day in order to keep local businesses open is continuing to increase.
While it is undeniable that the lockdown will be hard on local businesses, if North Carolina goes back on stay-at-home order then the negative effects on local businesses will be short lived. In addition, the stay-at-home orders will flatten the curve and reduce the amount of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina. This would help the business rebound and thrive once the stay-at-home orders are over. As a result, the stricter statewide response is the best option for North Carolina citizens in the long run.