Records obtained by The Associated Press show that governors worked closely with business interests as they weighed when and how to reopen their economies last spring.

Emails released under public-records laws highlight how governors in some cases leaned on the advice of businesses over public health officials who urged greater caution in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some governors sought to reopen their economies before meeting federal criteria for doing so. The records show that some industry groups wrote the guidelines that governors eventually adopted. In many cases, their states later experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases.

In North Carolina, the head of a restaurant association sent a copy of the group's reopening plan to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's chief of staff on April 24 and warned in a letter the following week that the outlook for restaurants “becomes more dire" with each passing day. She also served on a state task force that helped shape the guidelines Cooper eventually issued, which allowed in-person dining to resume with up to 50% of fire-code capacity and tables spaced at least 6 feet apart.

For the most up-to-date information on coronavirus in North Carolina, visit our Live Updates blog here. WFDD wants to hear your stories — connect with us and let us know what you're experiencing.

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