North Carolina’s pandemic state of emergency ends Monday, August 15, 2022

RALEIGH — On March 10, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper ordered his first COVID-19 emergency order.  Since then, he has issued about 120 orders and directives as part of the state’s pandemic response.

On March 14, 2020, the state banned mass gatherings and shut down schools, three days later restaurants and bars were shuttered for dine-in service.  That day unemployment benefits were expanded.

Then, on March 27, 2020, Cooper issued the statewide stay-at-home order.

Since then, many restrictions have expired or have been replaced by other, new orders.  The state of emergency, however, remains in place.  It expires Monday, August 15, 2022.

While there has been much debate over how long it should last, both Cooper and DHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley have defended it, both saying it gives them flexibility to help doctors, hospitals, and medical providers.

NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley

As it ends, both Cooper and Kinsley are in agreement that new legislation will fill the void left by the emergency order.  In a letter to legislative leaders on the second anniversary of the order, Kinsley wrote, “There are legislative actions that could enable the Department to continue to adequately manage COVID-19 without a state of emergency.”

While signing the new state budget, Cooper said, “The budget includes the changes in the law requested by the NC Department of Health and Human Services to ensure flexibility that is currently made possible by the Governor’s COVID-19 State of Emergency.”

What does this mean for the average North Carolinian?  Well, not much.  Most major decisions have fallen to local governments and things like mask mandates and school restrictions have already been lifted.

Just this week the CDC is easing COVID-19 guidelines, dropping the recommendation that people quarantine after contact with an infected person and ending the six foot apart recommendation when in public.

From the beginning of the pandemic, the North Carolina Medical Society has supported Governor Cooper’s efforts to keep it under control.  The NCMS advocates on behalf of physicians and PAs and their patients and has done so for more than 170 years.  When the emergency order was first enacted the NCMS said “Our leadership seriously weighed the consequences such a position would have on our communities – both businesses and individuals.  As medical professionals sworn to protect the health of our patients, a stay-at-home order such as the Governor issued is warranted and necessary.

Today, we continue to stand with the Governor and Secretary Kinsley.  New legislation is in place to protect our members and all North Carolinians.

North Carolina Medical Society CEO Chip Baggett

NCMS CEO Chip Baggett says, “this move was expected and supported by NCMS.  The governor and legislative leaders in the state have worked to ensure that North Carolina can continue to move forward and support medical professionals as the pandemic continues. Our ongoing dialogue with members reminds us that anxiety over COVID-19 persists.  We will, as always, work to maintain quality health care for all North Carolinians.”

Baggett adds, “working for our members and for the health of North Carolinians remains our top priority.”

The order ends Monday, 29 months after it began.  Since then, the Department of Health and Human Services reports nearly 3 million people have tested positive in the state and more than 25,000 have died.