After 888 days, Gov. Roy Cooper today (Monday) officially suspended the state of emergency declared due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cooper issued the emergency declaration March 20, 2020, after shutting down schools, churches and businesses for two weeks during the infamous “flatten the curve” period. The two-week lockdown had little effect on the pandemic, Cooper declared a state of emergency some have called constitutional.
New rules approved by the legislature last year, and signed by cooper with the new budget, clarify the statutory points on when and how a governor can declare a state of emergency. The new laws require that any emergency declaration must expire at 30 days, and may only be extended by a vote of the elected council of state. Cooper repeatedly bypassed the council while extending the declaration.
Last year, the governor admitted a driving force behind the extended declaration – the provisions of which were largely ignored by many communities – was to access federal COVID-19 funding. More than $6.5 billion in funding from various government agencies was earmarked for COVID relief in North Carolina, but an estimated $3 billion has not been distributed.
North Carolina was one of nine states holding out against full reopening. Seven of those states have Democrat governors. Three – New York, California and Washington State – still have strict COVID mandates in place.
A total of 25,734 people have died of COVID in North Carolina since the pandemic was declared. Columbus has seen 275 deaths, and a confirmed 17,371 cases.