Gov. Roy Cooper during press conference on March 27, 2020. Screenshot via NCDHHS

Gov. Roy Cooper has issued a statewide stay-at-home order as a further step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. It goes into effect Monday at 5 p.m. through April 29.

The latest order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs people to stay at least six feet apart. Essential employees are allowed to report to work while other residents are urged to only leave their homes for activities like getting groceries, carryout food, exercising outdoors or helping a family member. 

During a press conference on Friday, Cooper expressed that the “tough directives” are necessary because no one is immune and there isn’t a vaccine.

“I know this order may lead to even more hardship and heartache,” he said. “Many of you are already doing what you’re supposed to, even though that means that you’re isolated or you might have lost your job.”

Statewide, more than 200,000 unemployment claims have been filed, with most of them citing the pandemic. Cooper shared that the first round of coronavirus unemployment benefits will be paid early next week.

Cooper’s order comes after Mecklenburg County issued its own stay-at-home directive that went into effect on Thursday at 8 a.m. and lasts until April 16. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management tweeted that the county’s order remains despite the effective date of the state’s order.

North Carolina has a total of 763 positive COVID-19 cases. According to the state’s department of health and human services, three North Carolinians have died from the disease, including two related deaths in neighboring Cabarrus County.

There were 230 cases of novel coronavirus reported to Mecklenburg County health department as of Thursday.

“It is critically important that our residents understand that all efforts should be made to comply with this order,” Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said following the announcement of the county’s order.

Total COVID-19 cases reported to Mecklenburg County health department.

County officials released a list of frequently asked questions to help residents understand what they can and can’t do under the stay-at-home order.

Katrina covers Charlotte's Black business scene for QCity Metro. She's a Miami transplant, pescatarian and lover of the arts. She earned a public relations degree from the University of Florida. Got a...