1.6K New Cases As NC COVID-19 Death Tally Passes 1,300

Deb Belt

CHARLOTTE, NC — North Carolina confirmed 1,605 new coronavirus cases and one death from COVID-19 illness, state public health officials said Sunday. In total, the state has suffered 1,322 deaths due to the respiratory disease.

The state reported 62,142 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in labs around the state, according to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. To date, 871,095 tests have been completed.

Hospitalizations have remained stable at roughly 890 coronavirus patients in the past week; on Sunday 890 COVID-19 patients were reported. Since Thursday the state's COVID-19 death count rose by 32, for a total of 1,322 lives lost to the virus.

Hospital capacity remains available throughout the state, with three out of every four hospital beds occupied. That's according to a DHHS survey of about 90 percent of the state's hospitals, which showed 25 percent of inpatient hospital beds were available Sunday. Intensive care unit beds also showed 25 percent remaining available. Ventilator readiness was the same as Thursday with 26 percent of the state's supply reportedly in use.

On Wednesday Gov. Roy Cooper announced a slow down of reopening the state and a new mandate requiring face coverings in public. Cooper called off the state progressing into the phase — Phase 3 — of reopening for at least three weeks. Phase 2 was originally set to expire Friday, June 26. The extension of Phase 2 will last until at least July 17.

"This is not where we planned to be, or wanted to be," he said at a news conference, calling the numbers "a stark warning."

Under the new mandate, face coverings will be required in public spaces, both indoor and outdoor, when socially distancing is difficult. The mandate also extends to employees and customers of retail businesses and restaurants. Workers in construction, meat processing, manufacturing and agricultural settings will also be required to wear face coverings.

There are some exceptions to the mandate. Those exempt are children under 11, those with medical conditions, people at home and those exercising outside, he said.

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An informal survey of Patch 1,160 readers last week found that a majority support the use of face coverings as a collective means to slow the spread of coronavirus in North Carolina, and that mask use — or the lack thereof — is affecting personal decisions about where to spend money and how to socialize.

As of Thursday, 10 percent of all tests in North Carolina were positive. The World Health Organization recommends that governments have a percent positive rate of 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days before reopening.

Globally, more than 10.06 million people have been infected by COVID-19, and more than 499,000 people have died, Johns Hopkins University reported Sunday. In the United States, more than 2.5 million people have been infected and just over 125,000 people have died from COVID-19.

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This article originally appeared on the Charlotte Patch