North Carolina to remain in Phase 2 until at least Aug. 7

RALEIGH — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday the state will remain in phase two of the pandemic reopening plan for at least another three weeks, extending the current order that expires Friday.

[RELATED COVERAGE: Cooper picks Plan B, NC K-12 students to have mix of online, in-person classes]

Cooper said preventing a spike in cases that other states have had is critical to reopening schools, which means gyms, museums and playgrounds will also remained closed until at least Aug. 7.

“Our virus trends are not spiking like some other states,” Cooper said. “We have hospital capacity and our percent positive is still high but it’s steady. However, our numbers are still troubling, and they could jump higher in the blink of an eye.”

[PAST COVERAGE: Mask mandate in effect Friday; Phase 2 restrictions extended in NC]

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, at least 1,109 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 with 91% of hospitals reporting, a record-high for the state. It is the ninth time a new record for hospitalizations has been set this month.

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Additionally, North Carolina reported 1,956 new COVID-19 cases and 23,623 more tests, with 11% of tests returning positive -- the highest rate since mid-June.

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The NCDHHS also reported at least 42 more deaths from severe complications due to COVID-19, the largest daily increase in deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.