Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a briefing on Tuesday afternoon that he recently signed an Executive Order to prohibit utility companies from shutting off services for people who are unable to pay. The order comes on the cusp of April 1, when many bills are due, and targets utility companies that provide electric, gas, water, and wastewater services.
“People should pay their bills, and the vast majority want to, and do,” stated Gov. Cooper. “But in the [midst] of this crisis, many people are unable to [do so.]”
The order is in effect for 60 days, and Gov. Cooper urged telecommunications companies that provide cable, phone, and internet service, as well as banks that handle mortgage payments, to follow suit and adhere to the Executive Order’s guidelines.
Gov. Cooper also noted that 180 new National Guard members have been activated to help get supplies where they are needed most “as quickly as possible,” and to conduct engineering assessments in case the state needs to build more hospital facilities in the future.
He added that, thus far, North Carolina has only received 17.6% of the supplies that were requested from the Strategic National Supply, but that the state is “searching high and low for these supplies from other sources, and [we] will continue to push until we get what we need.”
Medical volunteers are still a large need, and interested parties can visit https://terms.ncem.org/TRS/ for more information.
Gov. Cooper also reminded the public that N.C. unemployment checks would be going out this week. More than 20,000 North Carolinians filed for unemployment on Sunday alone, and more than 300,000 people have been laid off in the past two weeks.
The Employment Security Commission has put in a new server to help with the influx of web traffic for filing online, and has activated a new call center to field the increased number of calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Cooper also urged N.C. residents to avoid over-buying or hoarding groceries in response to the crisis, noting that there is enough food for everyone. “The food supply remains strong, so just buy what you need so there’s enough for everyone.”
He started and ended the briefing by asking the public to stick to the Stay at Home order, and to adhere to social distancing guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The Stay at Home order is in effect now. I know it’s hard, but prevention is the single most important thing you can do right now,” he said. “It’s vitally important that everyone take this order seriously and obey it. Don’t let your guard down. Staying home helps stop the spread of this illness… If we don’t stay at home and flatten the curve, our medial system will be stretched beyond capacity.”
“…Helping each other through this is how we’ll achieve victory. This virus may be tearing through our state right now, but won’t tear through the bonds we share with each other.”