By Governor Roy Cooper
Over the past few weeks, COVID-19 has completely changed our way of life. My top priority as your Governor is keeping the people of our state healthy and protected from this virus.
Unfortunately, we already have thousands of people with known positive tests contract the disease and more than 100 people have died as a result. Our prayers are with the many people battling the virus and with the families of those who were not able to survive it.
Last month, I issued a Stay at Home Order for the state to minimize the certain devastation this pandemic will cause. As we continue to beat back this virus, I need some help from you.
We’re continuing to learn new things about this virus and its devastating and disproportionate effects on communities of color. Too often, a crisis like this shines a light on discrimination and disparities that have been with us all along.
Our state public health experts are well aware of these unacceptable inequities and are working hard to make things better. That means helping to prevent and treat underlying health conditions like hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes that allow the COVID virus to cause greater harm in communities of color. That means continuing to fight for Medicaid expansion and closing the coverage gap and more.
Because there is no vaccination and the virus can be contracted without physical contact right now, I need you to stay at home. Staying home is the most powerful weapon you have to keep you and your family safe and it’s the tool that will ultimately allow us to defeat this virus.
This means staying at home unless you absolutely need to leave for work and keeping 6 feet of distance from other people if you are out for essentials like groceries or medicine.
We know that many of you will have to leave home if you are doctors, nurses, or heroic service industry workers risking your lives to feed our families and staff essential businesses. We are thankful for you and have put in place rules to keep your workplaces as safe as possible.
We also know that missing in-person church services and being apart from friends and loved ones during this time is extremely difficult. But staying home will save lives. As strange as it was, I participated in my church’s Easter service virtually with my family. I believe God was present there and at every home.
Staying home and keeping social distance prevents a spike in cases that could overwhelm our medical system and ultimately spread throughout your family. We need your family healthy and we need our hospitals to be available for people who become very ill.
I want to remind you that social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. This is the time to be kind to one another and check in with our families and neighbors by voice call, video, social media or text.
If you feel the stress and need to talk to someone, the Emotional Support Help Line at 866-342-6892 is toll-free, day or night.
Also dial 2-1-1 anytime so you and your family can find resources near you. You can also text COVIDNC to 898211 to get general updates about action our state is taking to fight COVID-19. I’m grateful for the non-profits, churches, schools and other community groups that have stepped up to help people in need right now.
While I’m asking you to stay at home, I’m doing everything in my power to ease the burden. I’ve ordered many service providers across the state to stop the disconnection of residential utilities and expand internet access. I’ve made unemployment insurance more widely available, and we’re getting help to small businesses.
My team and I are committed to slowing the spread, making sure healthcare is there for our communities and fighting for the resources we need to get through this crisis.
North Carolinians are strong, and we are resilient. While we have not faced a challenge like this virus in our lifetime, we have overcome other major disasters. Thank you for what you’re doing to keep your community safe. I am confident that if we all do our part, our friends, neighbors and our entire state will come out of this stronger on the other side.