RALEIGH — Restaurants in North Carolina were restricted to selling alcoholic beverages to no later than 11 p.m. starting Friday, July 31, Governor Roy Cooper announced in a media briefing on COVID-19 on July 28. State law usually allows sales until 2 a.m.

Executive Order No. 153 outlines the decision and be found by clicking to https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO-153-Restricting-Late-Night-Service-of-Alcoholic-Beverages.pdf.

The governor cited a tendency in later hours for restaurants to function more as bars, with less of a tendency to observe protocols such as social distancing, also noting that the move is necessary as case numbers have risen among young people.

“We’re hoping this new rule can drive down cases – particularly in young people,” Cooper said.

The governor’s office released a statement on Tuesday, July 28, regarding the curfew on alcohol sales.

“With actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 beginning to have impact, Governor Roy Cooper is doubling down on prevention measures with Executive Order 153 stopping the sale of alcoholic drinks in restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries at 11 p.m. North Carolina bars that are currently closed will remain closed,” the statement reads in part.

“Slowing the spread of this virus requires targeted strategies that help lower the risk of transmission,’ Cooper said. “This will be particularly important as colleges and universities are scheduled to start, bringing people all over the country to our state. We have seen case numbers increase among younger people, and prevention is critical to slowing the spread of the virus.”

This newest executive order does not apply to grocery stores, convenience stores or other entities permitted to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption, and local governments that have implemented orders that end alcohol sales before 11 p.m. or that apply to other entities remain in effect.

As of August 4, the state has more than 126,532 lab-confirmed cases; with 1,057 people hospitalized and 1,982 people who have died.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen provided an update on COVID-19 trends in the state during a recent media briefing, noting that there has been some stabilization in some areas, including trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases, trajectory of cases, trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests and trajectory of hospitalizations. She added that state hospitals still possess adequate bed capacity, but that additional time is necessary to evaluate data.

“Slowing the spread takes a sustained effort from all of us,” Cohen stated. “Seeing glimmers of progress does not mean we can let up. It means it’s time to double down. While we’re stabilizing, these trends are still high. Adding nearly 2,000 cases per day is a lot of new cases, and this level of viral spread is stretching our response resources… The positive signs in our trends should only strengthen our resolve to keep at it with those three W’s of wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, waiting six feet apart, and washing your hands often.”

Local and area statistics

Toe River Health District reported seven additional cases of COVID-19 in Avery County in a press release on Monday evening, Aug. 3, increasing the total of confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in the county to 99 total, with 68 have recovered and 31 active.

Yancey County had two new positive cases on Aug. 3, which puts the county at 101 positive cases, with 93 having recovered and seven cases active, with one death. Mitchell County added four cases as of August 3, leaving the county with 116 positive cases, with 100 having recovered, 14 active cases and two deaths.

“Public health staff is working to complete the investigations and they are contacting close contacts to contain the spread of disease. To protect individual privacy, no further information about the cases will be released,” an Aug. 3 release from TRHD stated. “The Yancey, Mitchell and Avery County Health Departments will keep the public informed by announcing any additional cases that may arise through our local media partners.”

Nationwide, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine reports more than 18.2 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with a total of 4,713,500 in the U.S. as of Tuesday morning, Aug. 4, with 155,402 reported deaths nationwide and more than 1,513,446 individuals across the country reported as having recovered from the virus.

The N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health, reporting hospitals and commercial labs report 1,837,410 completed tests as of noon on August 4, according to N.C. DHHS. The estimate of people presumed to have recovered from the virus as of August 3 is 105,093 statewide, with the estimate provided each Monday by NCDHHS. NCDHHS estimates a median time to recovery of 14 days from the date of specimen collection for non-fatal COVID-19 cases who were not hospitalized, or if hospitalization status is unknown. The estimated median recovery time is 28 days from the date of specimen collection for hospitalized non-fatal COVID-19 cases.

In neighboring counties, Watauga County has reported 261 positive tests among residents, Caldwell County has 1,138 positive tests as of August 4 with nine deaths, while Wilkes County has 736 reported cases and 10 deaths, according to NCDHHS. Ashe County has 120 cases and one death, and the department reports McDowell County with 609 cases and nine deaths. Burke County reports 1,562 cases and 26 deaths attributed to the virus, according to NCDHHS.

In Tennessee, Johnson County reports 172 cases, while Carter County reports 427 cases and five deaths as of August 4, according to statistics from the Tennessee Department of Health.

Statewide, Mecklenburg County has reported the most cases with 21,015. Wake County is reporting 11,235 cases and Durham County reports 5,909 cases, according to August 4 NCDHHS statistics. A total of 35 of North Carolina’s 100 counties report at least 1,000 COVID-19 cases.

The reported testing numbers could be incomplete due to differences in reporting from health departments and other agencies. Sources include Toe River Health District, AppHealthCare, NCDHHS, Caldwell County Health Department and Tennessee Department of Health.

Updated news and information on the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s response can be found by clicking to covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

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