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Gov. Cooper issues statewide North Carolina 'stay at home' order

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Friday a statewide mandate to prohibit non-essential travel and operations amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolinians will need to 'stay at home,' North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Friday.

A statewide North Carolina 'stay at home' proclamation will order residents to suspend all unnecessary travel through April 29.

"I know this order may lead to more hardship and heartache," Cooper said.

Essential services, such as grocery stores and medical services, will reopen open and operational.

The governor noted three North Carolinians have died due to COVID-19 and the state has 763 confirmed cases of the virus in 60 counties.

He called on all North Carolinians to protect themselves by staying home and following social distancing guidelines. North Carolina is now considered to have widespread transmission of the virus, which means people who have tested positive cannot trace where they were exposed to the virus. 

"We are also working to prepare for the surge of patients expected at our hospitals. We are identifying facilities that can serve as overflow for our hospitals, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is helping prepare facilities," said Michael Sprayberry, the director of the North Carolina Emergency Management.

"Businesses should review the executive order and the FAQ document carefully to determine whether they may continue operations," Sprayberry said. "In cases where a local order and the state order differ, the more restrictive requirement will apply. "

Localized 'stay at home' orders went into effect this week in Charlotte and surrounding counties.

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North Carolina joins a list of at least 24 other states with similar orders.

These orders are not total lockdowns, and federal law allows each state or city to decide its own rules when mandating residents stay home.  

RELATED: These states have issued stay-at-home orders. What does that mean?

A 'stay at home' order is different than a 'shelter in place.'

A stay at home order is a "stricter form of social distancing," according to Mecklenburg county. While it can can be enforced by law enforcement, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has previously said they hope to police the Mecklenburg County order with education.

RELATED: Here's how CMPD will enforce our stay at home order

In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster has previously said he does not intend to issue a statewide 'stay at home' order.

RELATED: SC Governor says statewide stay-at-home order not needed now