'Worst is behind us': Gov. Roy Cooper recalls tragedy of COVID-19, praises steps taken to curb virus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Governor Roy Cooper spoke Thursday painting a picture of a state that was hard hit by COVID-19 but successfully responded to the challenges the virus created.

"Today we can look forward with the belief that the worst is behind us, and as we look ahead it's important to take stock of how far we've come," Cooper said.

In total COVID-19 killed more than 23,000 people in North Carolina. For every life lost there were loved ones left in mourning. Plus, so many more people caught the virus to varying degrees of severity--with some still suffering lasting health problems.

WATCH: Gov. Roy Cooper talks next steps in COVID-19
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"Today we can look forward with the belief that the worst is behind us, and as we look ahead it's important to take stock of how far we've come," Cooper said.



According to Cooper, North Carolina was among the lowest states for COVID-19 deaths and job loss per capita.

"We made the right choices. We got our children back in schools. We kept our economy going. We saved lives," Cooper said.

The governor's press conference came as COVID-19 case numbers continued to decline and North Carolina counties continued to relax and lift mask mandates.

"It's time to chart the new course. This virus will still be with us, but it won't disrupt us. We must remain prepared for the potential of future surges though," Cooper warned.

Despite the decreasing metrics, the White House is expressing concern over a lack of COVID-19 federal funding which they say can impact services and treatments in the future.

"For things like testing and treatments, for uninsured individuals, that fund is going to run out in the coming weeks. And as early as next week, providers may turn away folks who don't have insurance, because there's no funds from Health and Human Services to pay for them," said Dr. Cameron Webb, a Senior Advisor to the White House COVID-19 Response Team.

Earlier this month, 35 Republican Senators, including Richard Burr and Thom Tillis requested transparency in a letter to President Biden, writing in part: "Before we consider supporting an additional $30 billion for COVID-19 relief, Congress must receive a full accounting of how the government has already spent the first $6 trillion."

"We've shared charts and graphs, detailed information on how every dollar been spent since January of this year," countered Webb.

During his press conference Thursday, Governor Cooper called the money "crucial."

"We've already seen a 30% decrease in monoclonal antibody treatment we've received from the federal government. Now, we can manage that now because (metrics) are low. But that's the kind of thing we really can't afford," Cooper explained.

This all comes as cases are beginning to tick up in several countries in Europe and Asia, as the more transmissible omicron subvariant BA.2 now accounts for about of cases in the United States. Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist at Duke, doesn't believe there's a need to alter our measures at this time, though stressed the importance of being prepared.

"Antibody infusions, upfront antiviral drugs, testing capacity, the kind of things that we anticipate we will correctly need if we see another surge, to cut that funding out now because we're (improving), that ignores a lesson that we should have learned from 2021 when we saw Delta reappear," said Wolfe.
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