North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he’s curbing alcohol sales hours at restaurants starting later this week in another effort to stem COVID-19.
Cooper announced on Tuesday that starting Friday, eateries, distilleries and breweries will have to cut off sales at 11 p.m. instead of 2 a.m.
Health officials said they’re concerned more young people are contracting the virus and want to discourage late-night gatherings where social distancing isn’t happening. The order doesn’t apply to grocery or convenience stores, and bars remain closed.
Enforcement in Charlotte
The order on restricting alcohol sales at 11 p.m. in Charlotte is more strict. That particular order went into effect last Thursday and police have already started enforcing it.
Officers paid a visit to 21 different establishments over the weekend. Most of the time police provided a warning. Seoul Food, Hoppin, Nikko Sushi and 1501 were reminded they can’t have customers onsite eating and drinking after 11 p.m.
CMPD cited a nightclub, El Centenario on North Tryon Street, for violating the governor’s order. Some Mecklenburg County commissioners want police to keep the pressure on and ramp up enforcement.
“We know we can do more in our community because they are doing it in other communities,” said Commissioner Susan Harden, D-District 5.
Commissioners are asking staff members for a plan on how they can increase enforcement of not only the business restrictions but also mask-wearing. CMPD leaders said the alcohol ordinance is cut and dry, which makes their lives easier -- but making people mask up is a harder sell.
“Particularly in this climate, the last thing we want to do is have officers in our community stopping people, making them wear their masks, or in neighborhoods enforcing social norms,” Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said.
There are a few differences in the orders between Charlotte and North Carolina. In Charlotte, eating onsite is banned after 11 p.m. The order also bans shared touch games and eating and drinking in bar areas.
Leaders in Huntersville and Cornelius initially did not want to take part in the county ban, but now they will have to follow the state rules. They said they did not have an issue with over-crowded restaurants so they did not adopt the county’s ban.
Below are Cooper’s full remarks from Tuesday:
“As of today, we have more than 116,000 lab-confirmed cases; 1,749 new cases since yesterday; 1,244 people in the hospital; and, sadly, 1,820 people who have died. Our thoughts are with everyone battling this virus, recovering from it or mourning a loved one. It’s encouraging to see our numbers are stabilizing, particularly when other states are seeing spikes. But the numbers are still too high. In order to start a downward trend, we have to double down on actions that slow the spread of the virus.
“Other states have had to go backward when they saw sharp increases in their case numbers that overwhelmed hospitals. Fortunately, we’ve avoided that. And it’s because we have mandated masks and eased restrictions carefully, in modest phases. We do not want to go backward. Stable is good, but decreasing is better. Slowing the spread of this virus requires targeted strategies that help lower the risk of transmission.
“To drive down numbers and continue our trends moving in the right direction, we’re announcing today a statewide curfew on the sale of alcohol at restaurants. Effective this Friday, July 31, restaurants must stop selling alcoholic drinks after 11 p.m. Bars will remain closed.
“Public health experts and examples from other states show that bars and other places where people gather closely together are a high-transmission setting. We want to prevent restaurants from turning into bars after hours. We’re hopeful that this new rule can help drive down cases. Several local governments have already taken this step. Their orders will remain in place, as long as they are as strict or more strict, and our statewide order will go into effect anywhere that does not already have such a curfew already.
“This will be particularly important as colleges and universities are scheduled to start, bringing people all over the country to our state. We’ve seen case numbers increase among younger people, and prevention is critical to slowing the spread of the virus.”
The executive order lines up very closely with Mecklenburg County’s restrictions, which started last weekend at 11 p.m. Restaurants that sell alcohol can only do takeout and delivery after 11 p.m., and people cannot sit or stand in the bar area. Police told Channel 9 they haven’t had a single complaint so far.
“As the end of this month approaches, I know many families are concerned about rent and utility payments coming due. This is especially difficult now that federal unemployment benefits that were helping to cover those bills will be cut off abruptly due to inaction in Washington. I continue urging North Carolina’s congressional delegation and all of Congress to put politics aside and do what is right as this pandemic still rages on. The $200 a week supplement the Senate proposed is not enough and Congress and the President need to do more.
“Our state legislature needs to do better when it comes to unemployment during a pandemic. Payments are too low for too short of a time. The state legislature also turned away legislation to create a statewide fund to help support people who are hurting because of this pandemic. My administration is putting in place an effort to help people with their rent and utility bills. We’re putting together a plan using funding from the CARES Act, and we will be announcing this soon.
“COVID-19 has made life difficult for families across our state, but it won’t be this hard forever. We are encouraged that vaccine development is showing promise and that we can win this fight against the pandemic. For now, let’s stick together and do what we know works to prevent disease spread while supporting each other. And that is how we will make it through.”
Also today, NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen gave an update on North Carolina’s data trends. Cohen explained that while North Carolina’s numbers appear to be stabilizing, officials need more time to watch the data and current levels of cases and hospitalizations remain high.
“Seeing glimmers of potential progress does not mean we can let up -- it means it’s time to double down,” said Cohen. “The positive signs in our trends should only strengthen our resolve to keep at it with those 3 Ws – wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands often.”
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is starting to level.
Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is leveling, but is still high.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is declining, but still above 5 percent.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing, but the state still has hospital capacity.
In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:
- North Carolina averaged 29,000 tests per day last week. However, concerns remain about testing turnaround times, supply chain issues , and the need for federal support.
- North Carolina continues hiring contact tracers to bolster the efforts of our local health departments.
Personal Protective Equipment
- Our personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.
NC sees another record-high for virus hospitalizations; percent positive slightly down
The number of people in North Carolina hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 75 from Monday to Tuesday, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
The numbers show 1,244 people hospitalized -- more than any other day since the virus began in the state in March.
Another 1,749 people tested positive for the virus.
The state reports 7% of the tests came back positive on July 27. That continues the slight decrease in percent positives that the state has seen in the past two weeks.
Another 30 people reportedly died from the virus, increasing the death toll in North Carolina to 1,820.
>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.
Note: The numbers we show you every day mean everything in how our community recovers from coronavirus -- both in terms of healthcare and the economy -- but they don’t mean much without the proper context and as much transparency as possible.
New cases vary day by day based on a lot of factors. That can include how long it takes to get results back, so a new case reported today can really be several days old.
The other big metric we watch is the percent of positive cases. This is data we can only get from the state because it’s not as simple as factoring a percent of new cases each day from the number of tests. That’s because test results take days and come from a variety of places.
WHAT ABOUT CLOSER TO HOME?
As of Tuesday morning, there were 19,439 cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) with 194 deaths due to COVID-19 reported among Mecklenburg County residents. Data from Sunday, July 26 are presented below.
As of July 26, 2020, there were 19,036 cases and 188 deaths due to COVID-19 among county residents reported to Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH).
Highlights about the epidemiology of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County as of July 26, 2020 include:
- About 3 in 4 reported cases were adults ages 20 to 59 years old.
- About 3 in 10 reported cases are Hispanic – most of whom are younger adults. The high number of reported cases among young Hispanics over the last several weeks remains a significant concern. As previously noted, some factors influencing this trend include:
- Targeted testing occurring in neighborhoods with lower access to care, some of which have larger Hispanic populations;
- Higher proportions of Hispanics working in essential jobs that make social distancing difficult;
- Significant household spread among large families; and
- Pre-existing disparities in other social and economic determinants of health, like poverty.
MCPH continues to expand outreach to Hispanic members of our community, including increased dissemination of the outreach toolkit in Spanish for community partners, setting up targeted outreach to Hispanic-owned and -serving businesses, and partnering with local organizations and media outlets to spread key prevention messages.
- About 1 in 20 reported cases were hospitalized due to their COVID-19 infection. While everyone is at risk for severe COVID-19 complications, reported cases who were older adults (≥ 60 years) were more likely to be hospitalized compared to younger individuals.
- Nearly half of cases have met CDC criteria to be released from isolation.
- During the past week, an average of 197 individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infections were hospitalized at acute care facilities in Mecklenburg County. Overall this represents an increase over the last 14 days. These data are based on daily census counts from acute care facilities in Mecklenburg County reporting to MCPH.
- During the past week, an average of 10.1 percent of individuals who were tested were positive for COVID-19. This represents a slight decrease over the last 14 days. These data only include tests conducted by Atrium Health, Novant Health, and CVS Health when available. Reporting of negative results to MCPH is not required or covered by communicable disease reporting laws. MCPH will include results from other providers and laboratories as accurate, consistent and timely reporting mechanisms are established.
- One hundred-eighty-eight deaths due to COVID-19 occurred among reported cases.
- Almost all deaths were among older adults (≥ 60 years), 3 deaths occurred in adults ages 20 to 39 and 24 deaths were adults ages 40 to 59.
- All deaths, except three, occurred among adults with underlying chronic illnesses.
- More than half were non-Hispanic Whites. The disparity in COVID-19 deaths among non-Hispanic Whites is related to differences in race/ethnicity of residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities actively experiencing an outbreak.
- More than half of deaths were connected to active outbreaks at long-term care (LTC) facilities.
- Based on publicly available mobility tracking data, social distancing slightly increased then slightly decreased in Mecklenburg County over the last 14 days. Overall, this represents a fairly stable trend over the last 14 days.
Cox Media Group