Governor Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen met with Dr. Deborah Birx in North Carolina today. The Governor and Dr. Birx also participated together in the call with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the Governor spoke about the need for our elected leaders and candidates to lead by example on the campaign trail this fall by holding events with face coverings and social distancing. In their meeting with Dr. Birx, the Governor and Secretary Cohen noted their appreciation for the opportunity to share how North Carolina has been responding to COVID-19 and how the state’s approach to slowly ease measures has helped distinguish it from others in the South who have faced greater setbacks. They discussed North Carolina’s multi-prong approach, which includes slowing the spread through prevention, knowing who has been exposed to COVID-19 through testing and tracing, and supporting people staying home when needed through isolation and quarantine supports. Secretary Cohen and Governor Cooper also addressed the state's efforts to protect people's health in congregate care settings, such as nursing homes, through widespread testing and other measures. Dr. Birx offered her expertise, sharing lessons learned from other states, and offering to surge testing resources on college campuses. The Governor requested additional federal support, including:
- Need national leaders to model effective prevention strategies, including the wearing of face coverings and social distancing – and to take these measures to protect North Carolinians when visiting the State.
- More testing over a longer period of time with a focus on community-led testing, proactive testing of K-12 staff in schools that are providing in-person instruction, and proactive surveillance at Institutes for Higher Education.
- Increased allocations for reagents for health system laboratories.
- Details on the federal government’s inventory and distribution plans for Abbot Binax Now testing.
- Additional funding for personal protective equipment and a halt on implementing new FEMA restrictions.
- Timing on when detailed vaccine planning guidance would be issued as well as required reporting elements and a provider enrollment agreement.
- Additional funds to continue supporting child care programs.
- Extension of the Pandemic EBT program beyond September 30th and flexibility for students in hybrid (part remote and part in-person) learning environments.