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RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper announced Nov. 10 that North Carolina’s indoor mass gathering limit will be lowered to 10 people in an effort to drive down North Carolina’s key COVID-19 metrics. Executive Order 176 went into effect on Friday, Nov. 13, and will be in place through Friday, Dec. 4.

“This reduction in our indoor gathering limit aims to slow the spread and bring down our numbers,” Cooper said. “It also sends a serious signal to families, friends and neighbors across our state. Success in slowing the spread will help our businesses.”

As the weather gets colder, more people will be gathering indoors. Science has shown that indoor gatherings increase risk of transmission of COVID-19, and this Executive Order seeks to limit indoor gatherings that could rapidly and dangerously spread the virus, the governor’s office said in a press release. The order does not change the reduced capacity limits for certain businesses that have already been laid out.

Cooper and NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also underscored the need for people to wear a mask anytime they gather with people outside of their immediate household. As the holiday season approaches, NCDHHS released health guidance to help people celebrate as safely as possible without spreading the virus.

“Let’s keep our friends, family, and loved ones safe this holiday season. If you are going to travel or get together, plan ahead to reduce the risk to your family and friends,” Cohen said. “Remember, it’s not how well you know someone when it comes to wearing a mask. If they don’t live with you, get behind the mask.“

Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends:

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness Surveillance Over 14 days

North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing but still elevated.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

·North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is level but above 5 percent.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level but high.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing

Testing capacity is high.

Tracing Capability

The state is continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments. There have been almost 350,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

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Tom Mayer is the executive editor of Mountain Times Publications, a group of five news newspapers, six websites and one monthly periodical in the High Country of North Carolina.

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