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On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper announced a Modified Stay-at-Home Order after a rapid increase in North Carolina’s key COVID-19 trends.

The order requires people to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., taking effect on Friday and to remain in place until at least Jan. 8.

People are to stay at home between those hours, businesses will be required to close by 10 p.m. and all onsite alcohol consumption sales must end by 9 p.m.

N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state had more than 6,000 cases reported in a single day, twice.

“To give some perspective, we had more cases in a single day than the entire population of Gov. Cooper’s hometown of Nashville,” she said.

“The County Alert map presents a sobering picture.”

She is referring to the NCDHHS’ County Alert System Map, available at bit.ly/2JPuIgj, displaying the spread of COVID-19 among a color-coded map of the counties, with Yellow: Significant Community Spread; Orange: Substantial Community Spread; and Red: Critical Community Spread. More than 40% of the counties are red and orange, she said.

“We now have 48 counties in the red,” Cohen said.

She urged folks to limit essential activities and to avoid people they do not live with.

“We can slow it down,” she said. “Do not wait until it is you or your loved one to wait to wear a mask or wash your hands — act now, do those three W’s now.

“Your actions can keep people from getting sick, save lives and make sure our hospitals can care for people. As you think about the upcoming holiday, avoid traveling and gathering. If you must, it is essential you get tested ahead of time, where a mask all the time, keep it small and keep it outdoors.”

As a glimmer of hope, Cohen said the first people in Britain began getting the vaccine on Monday, and a vaccine could possibly be in the state as early as next week.

Cooper said there are already strong safety protocols and capacity limitations in place — including a statewide mask requirement.

The order requires such venues as restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and personal care businesses to close at 10 p.m.

Travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services; or to take care of a family member are exempt. More information about the order is available at bit.ly/2VSow9R.

“With this additional action beginning Friday, we hope to get these numbers down,” Cooper said.

“Our new modified Stay-At-Home order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer, especially during the holidays. It’s also a reminder that we must be vigilant the rest of the day: wearing a face mask when we are with people we don’t live with, keeping a safe distance from others and washing our hands a lot.”

This article originally ran on rrdailyherald.com.

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