North Carolina has been under a statewide stay-at-home order since March 30th. It may seem longer, but it has only been one month. On April 23rd, Governor Roy Cooper extended the order through Friday May 8th. At a briefing Thursday (April 30th) he and North Carolina Dept. of Health & Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen expressed optimism about plans for a three-phase 'reopening' of North Carolina, removing restrictions on businesses gradually.
While Cooper, Cohen and Emergency Services Director Mike Sprayberry were speaking, a protest was underway outside the state capitol by a group wanting restrictions ended now.
A similar group, calling itself ReOpen Lincoln County, held a protest Saturday (May 2nd) on the south side of the Lincoln County Courthouse. The Facebook announcement of the event, which organizers called a "community assembly," said that 'appropriate social distancing' would be maintained, but in truth, there was no apparent effort to keep any more than arm's length separation among those who attended. None that we saw were wearing a mask (one of the precautions suggested to keep from spreading the disease). Several brought their children.
Of course, the scene was similar (except with larger crowds) at the Burton Farms store down Main Street, at Walmart, at Lowe's and at Ingles. Less than 10% of all those we saw 'out and about' on Saturday were wearing masks or exercising any kind of extra caution. Employees at Walmart & Ingles wore masks--required by their companies--but not most customers.
Three of Lincoln County's five Commissioners attended the protest. Two spoke. Commissioner Anita McCall said of Cooper's order, "no one person should have this much authority. This emergency order was created for natural disasters; it was never meant to be used this way...and you can look for bills up and coming to change it--real fast!"
McCall told the group, "we will not wait for a vaccine. Governor Cooper needs to remove his order now. We can't wait through phases.
"The North Carolina Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of assembly; this has been taken away from us."
Commission Chairman Carrol Mitchem also spoke. Commissioner Bud Cesena attended but did not speak.
Meanwhile, the NCDHHS reported 586 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, the largest single day increase since the virus began. The state has now had 11,509 confirmed cases. The report also says there have been 420 deaths, 21 more than what was reported Friday.
One reason the number of cases has increased is because of more testing. Dr. Cohen said Thursday that the state is tracking the percentage of new tests that are positive, since that is a better indicator. That percentage had declined to just 7% on Friday.
Lincoln County's latest report on Friday showed 28 confirmed cases. Of those, 21 have now recovered. There are still seven known active cases and two people are awaiting their test results. The 761 tests in Lincoln County have produced 731 negative results.
As of Friday, Gaston County had 22 active cases. 128 people there had recovered. The county had three deaths.
Cleveland County had two known COVID-19 deaths and 47 confirmed positive tests.
Catawba County has had one death, 60 positive tests and 38 recovered.
The United States' death toll was 67,248 including 1,495 new deaths. Worldwide 244,417 people are known to have died from COVID-19, although health officials say the actual number is likely much higher since some were never tested and presumed to have died from other illnesses. The COVID-19 deaths, they say, are confirmed by tests and/or medical examiners.