About a month ago, I signed a lease for an apartment (with two roommates who are renewing their lease) in North Carolina with a move-in date of May 15th. I'm a STEM graduate student, and with developing family finance concerns and the recent transition to remote everything both teaching and research related, I'm beginning to think it may not makes sense to drain so much of my income to stay near a closed university rather than move in with my brother.
To my reading, the lease agreement states that breaking with more than 6 months remaining will incur a penalty of 2 months' rent. Were I to attempt to back out in the next few days (well before the move-in date), could I expect the current national or state declaration of a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic to impact my penalty? In particular, is there any legal reason to expect that, due to the state of emergency, I could avoid the penalty altogether?