News: Quick Takes

Governor urges stronger measures to combat coronavirus, but lawmakers have no plans for special session

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at a March 12 news briefing on the coronavirus. (Screenshot from UNC TV)
Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at a March 12 news briefing on the coronavirus. (Screenshot from UNC TV)

North Carolina’s General Assembly has no plans to hold a special session to address coronavirus, but while Gov. Roy Cooper and state health leaders issue new recommendations for residents, lawmakers remain watchful, House and Senate leaders say.  

With at least 15 coronavirus cases diagnosed in North Carolina, Cooper, during a Thursday, March 12, news conference, strongly advised people to work from home, cancel gatherings of more than 100 people, and isolate the sick. Bold action is needed, Cooper said. Schools remain open, and no one should panic, he said, but residents are “strongly advised” to follow the state’s guidances on remote work and social interactions.

Cooper said the state may mandate stronger measures if residents fail to comply with the recommendations and the virus outbreak worsens.

The legislature announced Thursday afternoon its staff should work from home. Lawmakers also postponed oversight committee meetings until next month. 

“Effective immediately, individual supervisors, including legislators, may work with their employees to allow teleworking or electronic commuting in a manner that provides for accountability and productivity — the people’s business must go on,” says a joint memo from Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland. The announcement was emailed to legislative staffers Thursday afternoon. 

North Carolina is well-positioned to respond to challenges presented by coronavirus, Berger said, and leaders are “in regular contact with the Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Mandy Cohen to stay apprised of the state’s actions. 

“We are preparing for any policy response or economic stimulus that may be needed so we can act decisively at the appropriate time,” Berger said.

North Carolina is financially ready to support prevention, provide relief, and keep residents safe, Moore said.

“Lawmakers stand ready to approve robust policy and budgetary action to support frontline health care professionals as may become necessary,” Moore said. 

The 2020 legislative short session remains scheduled to begin April 28, lawmakers said.