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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper arrives for a press briefing on the COVID-19 virus at the Emergency Operations Center on Thursday, June 18, 2020 in Raleigh, N.C.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced NC will stay in Phase 2 of the coronavirus (COVID-19) reopening plan for at least five more weeks, through September 11 at least, as numbers continue to stay higher than medical experts want.

“In keeping with our dimmer switch approach with schools opening, and in order to push for decreasing numbers which will keep people healthier and boost our economy,” Cooper said, “North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for 5 weeks.”

There was some hope of a move to Phase 3, which would have allowed for bars and gyms to reopen, as some metrics have at least showed a leveling off. North Carolina has been in Phase 2 since May 22. NC Department of Health and Human Services Director Mandy Cohen said that many of our metrics are stable, but still high.

“North Carolina has passed the solemn benchmark of 2,000 people who have died from this virus,” Cooper said. “Every single one of them represents a family in mourning and a community grieving their loss. They are more than numbers on a chart – they are North Carolinians who are missed dearly.”

Face coverings or masks will still be required around the entire state as North Carolina stays in Phase 2, as a means to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

As schools and colleges begin to open this month, Cooper said the state was being cautious about how the state handled reopening, taking a “dimmer switch” approach.

Cohen said that the decision for five weeks instead of three weeks, as the state had been doing, was because of the timing of schools reopening. Officials wanted to be able to properly measure the impacts of school openings on the state, and how that would change the transition to a potential Phase 3.

The Governor also shared an update on recovery from Hurricane Isaias. Two North Carolina residents died in a hurricane-related tornado in Bertie County.

For more coverage on coronavirus in and around our region, visit our COVID-19 page.

More to come on this breaking story.

Brandon Plotnick is a former sports journalist, now living in the digital space with interests all over the musical and pop culture map.