• 39°

Op-ed: Help is on the way. But first we have to dig deep

By Governor Roy Cooper

When I announced North Carolina had its first known COVID case on March 3rd, most of us didn’t expect to be living like this in December. Instead of preparing for beloved holiday traditions, we’re making virtual gathering plans and mourning the loss of more than 290,000 Americans from COVID-19.

As tough as this is, especially at the holidays, the sacrifices we’re making now will ensure that our loved ones can gather again at next year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas tables.

Our COVID-19 numbers are dire, and we need North Carolinians to take this virus seriously. A month ago, daily case counts above 3,000 were troubling. Recently, we’ve had several days with more than 6,000 new daily cases. Hospitals and health care workers are feeling the strain. More than 80% of North Carolina counties have been designated as red or orange, meaning their community spread is way too high.

Until vaccines are widely available, we have a few tools that we know can keep people safe while also boosting our economy — wearing our masks, staying socially distant and keeping any gatherings small and outdoors, or better yet, online.

We have put in place a new, modified Stay at Home Order that requires people to be home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. This builds on strong safety protocols like the mask requirement and capacity limits we already have in place, and we will continue watching our trends to see if more is needed.

We don’t want to implement tighter restrictions. Too many small businesses and families are struggling to make ends meet as it is. They need significantly more financial support from the federal government, and I’ve repeatedly urged Congress and the President to pass a stimulus package that helps families and businesses before 2020 ends.

But our top priority will always be saving lives. We’ll do what’s necessary to protect North Carolinians and make sure anyone who needs a hospital or ICU bed gets one, whether it’s to treat COVID or a heart attack.

Advances in vaccine technology and concentrated efforts by our scientists have given us hope that new vaccines will get us to the other side of this pandemic.

North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services has been working hard for months to develop a vaccine distribution plan so we can hit the ground running once vaccines arrive. Quantities will be limited at first, but trusted hospitals and health care providers will be ready to vaccinate priority populations — those who are at-risk of exposure like health care workers and North Carolinians at risk of severe illness.

I have confidence in this process and plan to roll up my sleeve when it’s my turn to get the vaccine.

But for now, we have to work together and tap into the resiliency that defines our state. Whether it’s helping our neighbors rebuild after a hurricane or coming together to support our loved ones who are most vulnerable to this virus, North Carolinians are best at looking out for each other when times are tough.

That spirit is still in us, no matter how tired or frustrated we are. Dig deep and don’t let weariness win. Together we will beat this thing.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

News

Marc Basnight Bridge to close for 30 minutes Monday for survey scan

Lifestyles

First official Coast Guard Half Marathon announced

Lifestyles

Dare County after-school teacher Shelawn Burton named NC School Hero

Currituck

Currituck County sees downward trend in COVID cases, upward for community growth

News

North Carolina man ‘ecstatic’ to win $1 million prize on scratch-off ticket

News

Columbia wastewater report available for review

Schools

Tyrrell Elementary School award winners named

News

Southern Shores Planning Board continues work on code updates

Crime

North Carolina man receives 30 years in federal prison for drug charges

Crime

Defendant sentenced to 72 months imprisonment for trafficking methamphetamine

News

Dare County to purchase Mako’s for future EMS station

News

Dare County Regional Airport gets funding for land acquisition

News

Halifax County man wins $110,000 Cash 5 jackpot

Lifestyles

Dare County Parks and Recreation facility reopenings announced

Lifestyles

Red Cross blood drive schedule set for March

News

Debt report says North Carolina government has more borrowing capacity

Crime

Former Marine gets prison time for smuggling guns to Haiti

News

Government offers plan to release more endangered red wolves

Lifestyles

Polar Plunge benefits Special Olympics

News

NC Senate approves bill allowing concealed handguns at more churches

Crime

Cooper announces reward for information on Wilson County murders

News

More federal coronavirus relief funds debated by NC House

News

Public meeting addresses Avon beach nourishment

Lifestyles

Outer Banks Community Foundation honors 2020 champions, elects 2021 board