Gov. Roy Cooper

Gov. Roy Cooper spoke at a press conference on Tuesday.

Gov. Roy Cooper and the Coronavirus Task Force members gave an update reflecting on how misinformation can harm people.

In his usual opening, Cooper announced the numbers of 635,975 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 6,851 new cases since Monday, 3,940 hospitalized and 7,638 people who have died as of Tuesday.

“We continue to pray for those in North Carolina and across the country who’ve lost loved ones and those who are still battling this cruel virus,” he said Tuesday.

Cooper then remarked on the recent event at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 where supporters of President Donald Trump and others rallied and breached the building as Congress counted electoral votes.

“Our country endured a violent attack on our nation’s Capitol — the seed of our democracy,” he said. “It left death and destruction. Along with threats by some that there is more to come. This assault on our democracy was the result of dangerous rhetoric, lies and disinformation that spread far and wide.”

Cooper emphasized how words affect how people act and related it to how the public influences the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines’ perspective. He said lies and misinformation have cost lives during the pandemic as well and remarked on a one-day peak of 4,085 COVID-19 reported deaths on Thursday. Cooper said more could be alive today, but said the falsehoods of wearing masks, social distancing and other common sense safety rules affected the outcome.

“Words matter,” he said. “People listen to leaders and often follow their calls and imitate their actions. As the death toll from this pandemic increases, our leaders must listen to science, focus on the facts and tell the truth with their words and the examples that they set. The truth is that this disease is spreading fast. We are in a dire situation.”

Cooper reiterated the safety protocols of wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and abiding by the modified stay-at-home order and avoiding gatherings of people who are not living in the same home. As another truth, he said vaccines are safe and effective.

Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy K. Cohen took to the podium and remarked on the progress of closing the gap of distributing vaccines between groups of ethnicity and race. Cohen said the state is continuing to accelerate vaccinations with a 113% increase in vaccinations over the past seven days, with more than 100,000 doses given. However, she said while counties have begun to vaccinate people 75 years and older, there will still be a wait for most people.

Cohen then remarked on the dangers of COVID-19 as there were more than 11,000 new cases reported within 24 hours on Saturday. She said the percentage of the positive tests is over 13% above the 5% mark with hospitals stretched — 75% of staffed hospital beds were in use, and 84% of staffed ICU beds were in use, Cohen continued.

“We cannot let down our guard,” she said. “North Carolinians should stay home. You should only leave home for essential activities such as going to work or school, for health care, to care for family members or buy food.”

Cohen then reminded everyone of the 3Ws.

“You can save lives,” she said. “Whatever your reasons, get behind the mask and remember you have a spot, take your shot.”