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A year ago today, Cooper broke his trust with North Carolinians

A year ago today, Gov. Roy Cooper blatantly betrayed the trust of all North Carolinians and embarked on his present course of open-ended rule by executive order under the guise of an emergency. He had already violated the letter and spirit of state law concerning emergency management, confident in protection by party-first Democrats in the General Assembly and ideological sympathy at the state Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, April 23, 2020, was when Cooper was supposedly going to give the hoped-for reopening announcement. The end of his “thirty days … to slow the spread” was fast approaching, and his shutdown and home lockdown order was to expire on April 29.

It had been a tough month, but citizens and business owners had taken it as their civic duty to help flatten the curve. People had adopted the mantra “We’re all in this together” as a nod to our shared sacrifice. As the day approached, the governor had even said that the state had flattened the curve, which was important because it was Cooper’s stated rationale for all his executive orders.

Here’s a sample of what media were reporting leading up to that day’s announcement:

  • WRAL: “Governor Cooper expected to announce reopening plan Thursday afternoon”
  • News & Observer: “Gov. Cooper expected to announce state reopening plans. How to watch his press conference.”
  • WTVD: “9:15 a.m. … Gov. Roy Cooper is slated to speak at 3 p.m. Sources tell ABC11 that Cooper will talk about his plan for reopening the state. State Health Director Dr. Betsey Tilson, one of Cooper’s advisors, said nobody wants to reopen the state more than Cooper.”

What actually happened?

  • Cooper’s press office: “Governor Extends Stay At Home Order Through May 8, Plans Three Phase Lifting of Restrictions Based on Virus Trends”

There wasn’t a reopening for April 29 as promised. What “reopening” there would be was put off for well over another week, and it would be minimal. People were still under “Stay at Home” orders, “modified” so that they could leave their homes briefly to do business with what businesses were allowed to be open at the time.

Cooper granted that North Carolinians had achieved the goal behind his shutdown and lockdown order, and it didn’t matter. In so doing, he set a new pattern for his treatment of North Carolinians that would continue for a year so far.

Cooper would go on to break the promises of his own “phased” reopening, essentially keeping North Carolina in not-yet-Phase-2 for months. When all of his stated metrics for reopening were satisfied, he went back on that promise as well. He later demanded greater snitching by citizens and businesses on the mask mandate that his own research couldn’t support. Worse, he reinstituted a curfew and tightened business restrictions even more for several months.

Cooper also began spacing his orders out longer and longer, from two to three weeks apart to his most recent being five weeks. One supposes there would have been open revolt last March if he had announced “Over 400 Days to Slow the Spread.”

Yesterday, April 21, he announced that he “expects to lift mandatory social distancing, capacity, and mass gathering restrictions by June 1” (but not the unscientific and demonstrably ineffective mask mandate, of course).

He also gave a new metric for supposedly reopening: “The state anticipates lifting the mask mandate and easing other public health recommendations, once two-thirds of adult North Carolinians have received at least one vaccine dose and if trends remain stable.”

His media were just as happy to report his promises as they were a year ago:

  • WRAL: “Cooper expects to remove capacity limits, end distancing requirements in June”
  • News & Observer: “NC expects to lift most COVID restrictions by June 1, except mask mandate, Cooper says”
  • WNCN: “Gov. Cooper plans to lift social distancing and mass gathering restrictions by June 1”

Anyone in the possession of a memory, however, must be justifiably skeptical.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...