North Carolina ranks 33rd out of 51 states and the District of Columbia for COVID-19 restrictions, according to a report from WalletHub released this week.

While all states have at least partially reopened non-essential businesses that were closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. is still far from a full reopening.

Source: WalletHub

Many states have put a temporary pause on moving to the next stage of reopening, or have even reversed course and closed certain businesses again due to surges in the disease. In order to determine the states with the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 17 key metrics. Our data set ranges from whether restaurants are opened to whether the state has required face masks in public and workplace temperature screenings. Read on for the state ranking, additional insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.

North Carolina cautiously eased some restrictions while continuing safety measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 as the state’s metrics remained stable in September, Governor Roy Cooper announced last week.

“Our top priority remains getting children back to in-person learning. This month marks a major shift for many families now and in the coming months as schools open their doors, some for the first time since the pandemic,” said Gov. Cooper. “The virus continues to spread, so we must take the next steps methodically, and responsibly.”

“We must continue our hard work to slow the spread of this virus,” said Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “By practicing the 3Ws — wear, wait and wash, — getting your flu shot, and downloading the SlowCOVIDNC app, each of us can protect the progress we have made.”

Dr. Cohen reviewed the state’s key metrics:

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness has a slight increase.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is level.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is level.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

No-cost testing events are being deployed across the state and testing turnaround times are improving. New contact tracers are bolstering the efforts of local health departments. A new NCDHHS app, SlowCOVIDNC, is notifying users of exposure to the virus. Personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

As these metrics and capacity remain stable, the state eased some restrictions. Executive Order 169 begins Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. and continues for three weeks through Oct. 23. Its new provisions include:

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators.
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, like arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Bars may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only.
  • The limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
  • The 11 pm curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars will be extended to October 23.

State and public health officials will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the next several weeks to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when the current Executive Order expires Oct. 23.

North Carolina public and charter schools moved to a Plan A option beginning on Oct. 5 for elementary schools (grades K-5). Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening, but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom.

National ranking

States with the Fewest COVID-19 Restrictions

Overall Rank State Total Score
1 South Dakota 83.93
2 Idaho 81.40
3 Utah 80.09
4 Oklahoma 75.89
5 Iowa 75.48
6 Wisconsin 70.71
7 Wyoming 70.42
8 Missouri 69.64
9 North Dakota 69.52
10 Arkansas 68.16
11 Florida 67.86
12 Alaska 66.85
13 Georgia 66.79
14 Alabama 63.39
15 Indiana 62.38
16 Ohio 61.96
17 Kansas 60.60
18 Tennessee 60.42
19 South Carolina 59.08
20 Nevada 57.92
21 Nebraska 57.59
22 Mississippi 57.32
23 Illinois 49.91
24 Maryland 48.10
25 Louisiana 47.02
26 New Hampshire 44.94
27 West Virginia 41.76
28 Montana 41.67
29 Rhode Island 39.05
30 Michigan 39.02
31 Delaware 38.72
32 Minnesota 38.45
33 North Carolina 38.33
34 New Mexico 37.71
35 Texas 37.68
36 Washington 37.53
37 Kentucky 35.77
38 New York 35.54
39 Connecticut 34.88
40 Virginia 34.82
41 Vermont 34.76
42 Pennsylvania 34.17
43 District of Columbia 33.93
44 Oregon 32.92
45 Arizona 30.98
46 Colorado 30.71
47 New Jersey 29.85
48 Maine 29.35
49 Massachusetts 24.88
50 California 21.73
51 Hawaii 17.92

Note: Rankings are based on data available as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday, October 5, 2020.

Source: WalletHub

Note: Rank 1 on the “COVID19 Death Rate Ranking” means fewest deaths and Rank 1 on “Fewest Restrictions Ranking” means the fewest restrictions in place.

Source: WalletHub

Note: Rank 1 on the “Unemployment Ranking” means lowest unemployment rate and Rank 1 on “Fewest Restrictions Ranking” means the fewest restrictions in place.


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