Phase 3 Extended as COVID Cases Rise Across North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, NC –  “Hope is on the horizon. This pandemic will not last forever,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper during a Tuesday news conference. 

His words of encouragement came after the announcement that the state will remain in Phase Three of the reopen plan until Dec. 4th. 

“We need to focus on bringing our numbers down,” said Cooper. 

Cooper also lowered the indoor gathering limit from 25 to 10 people. 

“The science shows that the transmission of this virus is much greater indoors. And the more people who are gathered. The easier this virus can spread,” said Cooper. 

“So as you can see, our numbers are going in the wrong direction,” explained Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris. 

She says case counts and hospitalizations are steadily rising. 

“We’ve got to be vigilant and we’ve got to continue to enforce the things that will make a difference in our communities,” said Harris. 

One more person has died in connection to the United House of Prayer outbreak. The death toll is now at nine. There are 208 confirmed cases connected to the October convocation events held at the church on Beatties Ford Road. 

Nine COVID cases are now tied to Halloween parties in the county. 

“So we do know that those types of gatherings, again, are problematic for our community,” said Harris. 

Harris says she’s concerned about Black Friday crowds and people getting together with large groups of family members during the holidays. 

She says the pandemic is not over and the possibility of moving back to tighter restrictions is very much in play. 

“I don’t think at this point that anything is off the table,” said Harris. 

There is encouraging news on the vaccine front. This week Pfizer announced their vaccine showed an 90% rate in preventing symptoms in patients. 

But Harris says the vaccine will come with challenges. It must be kept really cold, so storage could be problematic. It’s also not clear when a vaccine will be available, although Harris expects late December or early January. Harris says she also doesn’t know how much vaccine they’ll get, or how the community will respond.