POLICE: 1,000 march in Raleigh wanting state to reopen

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 5:04 PM EDT
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Hundreds of people associated with REOPEN NC marched in downtown Raleigh today, demanding Governor Roy Cooper allow businesses to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor's stay-at-home order went into effect March 30th and is supposed to continue until the end of April.

Police say around 1,000 people took part in the protest in Raleigh today, urging the governor to open businesses back up.

But the Pitt County health director thinks differently.

"This Thursday we are about two and a half incubation cycles since the first case was identified here in Pitt County," said Dr. John Silvernail. "I think we probably need to get through at least three incubation cycles before we think about opening up, maybe longer."

Governor Cooper's stay at home order prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.

Businesses that are non-essential had to shut down but over 1,000 protesters think it's time they reopen.

"Who gets to decide who's essential and who's nonessential? Which children's parents are essential to earn a living for their kids. Which children being fed, is essential?" said one protester.

The protesters marched through downtown Raleigh, past the governor's mansion and the Legislative Building.

Many of the protesters were without masks, and often close in small groups, not practicing "social distancing" that public health officials say is necessary to limit the spread of the virus.

Cooper promised to ease restrictions under his stay-at-home order as soon as data shows that the worst of the pandemic has passed in North Carolina.

Governor Cooper says he knows how frustrated people are about wanting to get back to work and school.

"We understand that stay at home, we can't stay at home forever and that this is not something that is sustainable long term," the governor said.

Cooper said when restrictions are lifted, there's a potential for a spike in coronavirus cases so they want to be smart about opening businesses back up.

The World Health Organization and other public health officials argue that the worst of the pandemic is still ahead.

North Carolina is testing about 2,500 cases a day, but state health officials say more testing and data collection is needed before the state lifts the stay-at-home order.

The state is also working to set up additional testing sites to target minority communities.

Some businesses will open in Georgia on Friday, and South Carolina's governor wants to reopen non-essential businesses Tuesday.

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