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Here’s what’s happening now:

North Carolina will be closed until at least May 8, state officials said, as they laid out what’s required for moving toward re-opening the state.

Governor Roy Cooper shared a three-phase plan for lifting restrictions on the stay-at-home order while continuing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The timeline for the phases depend on hitting certain benchmarks and could move backward.

The first phase will allow more reasons to leave home, with social distancing. People could shop inside businesses “such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops and other kinds of retailers.” Gatherings would be restricted to 10 people or less.

After a minimum of 2-3 weeks, if the state sees the progress outlined in its benchmarks, the state could move to phase two.

The second phase would lift the stay at home order and permit restaurants and bars to open at reduced capacity. Churches and other houses of faith would be permitted to open, also at limited numbers. Playgrounds would open. Vulnerable populations would be encouraged to continue to stay at home.

The second phase would be for a minimum of 4-6 weeks.

The third phase would increase capacity for restaurants, bars, worship services and mass gatherings.

In all three phases, the tight restrictions at congregate living facilities, such as nursing homes, would stay in place. The spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes continues to be a concern, as older adults with COVID-19 make up the majority of deaths from the coronavirus. While North Carolina nursing homes have more than 40 outbreaks, not all of the facilities are identified, WRAL and other local news organizations say.

What progress do N.C. state officials need to see to ease restrictions?

State officials will look at cases over a two-week period, and specifically: “COVID-like syndromic cases,” lab-confirmed cases, positive tests as a percentage of total tests and hospitalizations.

The testing and tracing capacity will also be key, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said. Officials will look at tests completed per day, whether or not there’s capacity for widespread tracing of cases, and the supply of personal protective equipment.

Where we are now:

To move to the first phase of re-opening the state, Dr. Cohen said officials want to see:
  • A continued decrease of “COVID-like syndromic cases” over the 14-day period,
  • a decreased or “sustained leveling” of number of cases,
  • a decreasing number of percentage of positive tests and decreased or sustained leveling of hospitalizations.
Testing would need to reach 5,000-7,000 per day, tracing resources would need to reach about 500 people and PPE should reach a 30-day supply. The News & Observer reports testing and tracing resources are about half of those benchmarks.

Also during the press conference, Gov. Cooper said that state education officials will make an announcement Friday afternoon on whether or not students will return to school in person this school year.

Meanwhile, Wake County’s stay-at-home order would end Thursday (April 30) if it’s not extended.

Some mayors in the county favor less restrictive rules on gatherings, mirroring the state in allowing 10 or fewer people to gather.

The current restriction doesn’t allow people to gather with others who live outside their home. [News & Observer]

➡️ Updated a few times per day: [how to get help + more what's happening now]

➡️ Updated regularly: [how to help]
Message from Raleigh Convergence:
Thank you so much for everyone who has donated so far to the Raleigh Convergence COVID-19 Local News Fund! With your help, we will get through this together.

Help us tell local stories of impact in Raleigh and Wake County by contributing today. [donate]
Raleigh Convergence is waiving sponsorship fees for local businesses and organizations affected by COVID-19 during the month of April as space is available. If you're interested in a free sponsorship, reply to this email for details.

Have kids who love trucks and public safety vehicles? The Junior League of Raleigh's Touch-A-Truck virtual event has video tours of GoRaleigh buses, a Raleigh fire truck and more at ABC11.

In lieu of collecting tickets at the door, consider donating to the JLR's Backpack Buddies, which feeds kids experiencing food insecurity. (editor's note: I'm a member, but this is cool regardless of that disclosure)

Drive Through Brewgaloo. The annual North Carolina craft beer festival is now a drive-through, pop-up event supporting local breweries.

Check out the Shop Local Raleigh website and see sampler Taste of the Triangle options or choose a pack based on your tastes (including sours, IPAs or ciders!). Pickup 3-5 p.m. Saturday at the Lincoln Theatre.

Creative Mornings is doing a virtual talk this morning on the theme of "purpose" at 8:45 a.m. with Shana Tucker, a musician, singer-songwriter and arts advocate. [registration]

We're in this together.

📸: @spclsigns, @deadliving at Hayes Barton Cafe.

Tell Raleigh Convergence: Where are you finding inspiration, comfort and resilience? Reply to this email and share public art, yard signs, moments of kindness and generosity.

Vivian Howard's "Somewhere South" makes a stop in Cary at the Around the World market in the episode that airs tonight. "People all over the state know. If you want good Indian food, go to Cary," Cary magazine quotes the chef. [Cary magazine]

Weekend idea: Socially distance with a picnic, with these spots suggested by Raleigh magazine. Bonus: Fill up your basket from a local restaurant. Whiskey Kitchen or Lady Luck have snackable offerings made for your picnic.
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