Governor Cooper announced Wednesday during a briefing that the state will stay in Phase Three for the next three weeks due to an increase of reported COVID-19 cases.
During the briefing, Cooper says he hopes with greater enforcement, numbers will be lowered.
In the past two weeks, North Carolina health officials say they have seen an increase in COVID-19 clusters from social events and other gatherings such as parties, family gatherings, weddings and funerals.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have introduced a new weekly report added to the NC COVID-19 Dashboard that provides further insight into the clusters.
The department has also released new guidance for private gatherings.
"I know people want and need to come together, particularly as we head into the holiday season. At the same time, no one wants to spread COVID-19 to their family and friends," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. "The best defense is to wear a mask every time you are with someone you don’t live with; maintain social distancing, limit any gathering to a small number of people and host it outside; and wash your hands frequently."
The COVID-19 Clusters in North Carolina report includes total cumulative reported clusters, cases and deaths broken down by type of cluster since May 22, and graphs per type of cluster showing trends over time. This report will be updated each Monday by 4 p.m.
In addition to social gatherings, the report shows an increase in September for cases associated with clusters in religious gatherings. Other findings include cases associated with clusters in meat and poultry processing plants decreasing since early May and clusters in college and university settings peaking in late August.
NCDHHS defines clusters of COVID-19 in non-congregate living settings as:
- A minimum of 5 cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period
- Plausible epidemiologic linkage between cases, meaning cases are present in the same general setting during the same time period without a more likely source of exposure for identified cases (e.g., household or close contact to a confirmed case in another setting)
Health officials have reinforced the need for all North Carolinians to practice the 3 W’s: Wear, Wait, and Wash.