North Carolina Reports Highest Daily Coronavirus Infection Increase as State Enters Phase 2 of Reopening

North Carolina reported its highest number of new confirmed cases in a single day Saturday, as the state enters phase two of reopening.

The state saw 1,017 new confirmed coronavirus cases reported, according to a press release by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, bringing the total confirmed cases to 22,725.

"This is a notable and concerning increase. As we head into a holiday weekend, please practice the three Ws – wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands frequently. When it comes to our health, we need to work together to protect our families, friends and neighbors," the state's health secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, said in the press release – which also indicated that "epidemiologists are analyzing the data to determine if there were any significant contributing factors."

North Carolina saw an increase of nine deaths since Governor Roy Cooper's briefing, bringing the total number of deaths to 737, according the health department's website. The state also has 589 patients with COVID-19 who are currently hospitalized.

The report comes after North Carolina entered into phase two of its three-phased approach to reopen the economy Friday, after spending two weeks in phase one. Cooper and Cohen announced the phase two protocols in a statement Wednesday.

"North Carolina is using the data to guide our decisions about when to lift COVID-19 restrictions, and overall our key indicators remain stable. Safer At Home Phase 2 is another careful step forward, and we have to continue taking this virus seriously to prevent a dangerous spike in infections," Cooper stated.

Phase two lifts the stay-at-home order and replaces it with a "Safer at Home recommendation." While bars, night clubs, gyms, and movie theaters will remain closed in phase two, restaurants, salons and barbers shops are allowed to open at 50 percent capacity. Swimming pools can also open at half capacity.

"From the beginning, North Carolinians have joined together to confront this crisis. We need to rely upon one another to practice the three Ws as we begin leaving our homes more. When we wear a face covering, wait six feet apart, and wash our hands often, we are showing we care for our loved ones and neighbors," Cohen said in the Wednesday statement.

Newsweek reached out to the North Carolina Health and Human Services to inquire as to whether health officials are still confident in moving forward with the phased reopening in light of the new daily high in cases – but they did not respond back in time for publication.

Protesters from a grassroots organization called REOPEN NC protests the North Carolina coronavirus lockdown at a parking lot adjacent to the North Carolina State Legislature in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 14, 2020. - The group was demanding the state economy be opened up no later than April 29. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images) Logan Cyrus/Getty