In light of the increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, Gov. Roy Cooper, on Monday, March 23, issued an executive order keeping all K-12 public schools closed until May 15.

The earlier executive order had closed schools through March 30, so this extends that deadline by six weeks.

However, the order closing school buildings and in person teaching until May 15 leaves some hope that the schools will be back in session before the end of the school year. Some states have already closed schools for the remainder of the school year.

The number of confirmed cases in North Carolina has risen to 339 as of Monday afternoon, March 23, but according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), there have been no reported deaths in the state. According to Cooper, over 8,500 people in North Carolina have been tested, which is higher than some other states.

Cooper’s executive order also mandated that gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, nail salons, hair salons and barber shops be closed by Wednesday, March 25.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan on Friday, March 20, had recommended that all those types of businesses be closed in Greensboro.

It also bans gatherings of more than 50 people. The previous order had banned gatherings of more than 100.

At a call-in press conference on Monday, Cooper was asked about the long waiting period – from five to seven days – to get the COVID-19 test results.

Cooper said the federal government had not provided the testing supplies that had been promised, but that private companies had stepped up to help with the backlog. Cooper also said, “For those waiting for results of a test, you need to isolate yourself and stay at home while waiting for the results of those tests.”

Cooper said that the state had closed schools, banned meetings of more than 50 people and closed businesses “that have a greater risk of transmitting the disease.”

He said, “We are coming up with an option for every single scenario. We want to make sure the public is protected and that is what we are doing.”