COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus

Information For Citizens & Visitors to North Carolina

North Carolina Extends Phase 3 of reopening. Effective until 5:00 pm, Friday, November 13, 2020. STATEWIDE REQUIREMENT FOR FACE COVERINGS FOR THOSE OVER AGE 5.

» Read Executive Order 170 | » Read Phase 3 FAQs

» Read Executive Order 169

Phase 3 Highlights

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 can operate at 7% capacity.
  • Bars, nightclubs and dance halls can operate outdoors only at 30% capacity or 100 customers, whichever is less.
  • Music halls and venues for live performances can operate at 30% capacity or 100 customers, whichever is less.
  • Movie theaters can operate at 30% capacity or 100 customers per movie screening, whichever is less.
  • The outdoor parts of amusement parks can operate at 30% capacity.

  • Current limits that remain the same under Phase 3:

  • Alcohol sales for on-site consumption are banned after 11 p.m.
  • The North Carolina face mask mandate is still in place.
  • Mass gathering limits remains at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

Macon County Public Health recommends that business owners consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on what employers and employees should do if they have been exposed to COVID-19. Macon County leadership is committed to remaining transparent with the public and encourages businesses to be open with the public as well. For more guidance about employee exposure, visit the CDC by clicking here.

covid 19 prevention

September 22 Update - Governor Cooper Announces Additional $40 Million COVID Relief for Small Businesses

Some North Carolina small businesses that have experienced extraordinary disruption to their operations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic may benefit from a $40 million relief program to help offset fixed costs like rent, mortgage interests and utility bills, Governor Roy Cooper announced today.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy – powering our local communities and giving back in so many ways. They deserve our support, and this new initiative can help them weather this tough time,” said Governor Cooper.

The N.C. Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR), administered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, can provide up to $20,000 in relief funds per qualifying business location. Business applicants from certain industry sectors that have not been able to operate during the COVID period may apply for up to two of their business locations.

Applicants can apply for up to four months of mortgage interest or rent expenses, and utility expenses. The help offers relief for some of the fixed costs a business cannot easily control on its own. Applications to the program should open next week and will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants must certify that they were closed during the period April 1 through July 31, 2020; they expect to be able to operate after the COVID crisis has passed; and they have not been reimbursed by any other federal source for the expenses for which they seek reimbursement through this program.

Eligible applicants include:

Amusement parks
Banquet Halls (with catering staff)
Bars, taverns, night clubs, cocktail lounges
Bingo parlors
Bowling alleys/centers
Dance halls
Indoor fitness and recreation centers
Motion picture/movie theaters (except drive-ins)
Museums

The Department of Commerce will begin accepting applications soon. Business leaders can learn about the MURR program by registering for one of the free educational webinars offered by the Department of Commerce over the next two weeks.For the webinar schedule and additional information on the program, visit www.nccommerce.com/murr.

Large, Outdoor Venues

Governor Cooper and NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also announced that effective October 2, large outdoor venues would be permitted to open at 7% capacity with key safety precautions in place. The announcement was made today so these locations could begin putting safety measures in place in order to operate. Large entertainment venues are those that can seat over 10,000.

“We will continue analyzing our data and indicators as we determine how to move forward safely in other areas that may be included in the new order on October 2nd. In it, we hope to ease some other restrictions, while still keeping safety protocols like masks, social distancing, and mass gathering limits in place,” said Governor Cooper.

”With more things open and people moving around more, we need everyone to stay vigilant about wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart, and washing their hands often,” said Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Our progress is fragile and will take our continued hard to work to protect it.”

State and public health officials will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the next week to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when the current Executive Order expires October 2 at 5 pm.

September 17 Update - Public Schools Grades K-5 Announcement

After several weeks of stable COVID-19 trends and continued low virus spread in school settings, Governor Roy Cooper today announced that beginning on October 5, North Carolina public school districts and charter schools can choose to implement Plan A for elementary schools (grades K-5). Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, social distancing, and symptom screening, but does not require schools to reduce the number of children in the classroom.

“We are able to open this option because most North Carolinians have doubled down on our safety and prevention measures and stabilized our numbers,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “North Carolinians are doing the hard work to improve our numbers and trends. Many people are wearing masks, keeping social distance and being careful to protect others as well as themselves. We have shown that listening to the science works. And I’m proud of our resolve.”

As the Governor announced in July, every district will continue to have flexibility to select Plan A, B or C based on their unique needs. In addition, districts should still provide an option for families to select all remote learning for their students.

» Download Macon County Schools Reopening Plan

» Find Latest Updates on MCS Facebook Page

» Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit | Frequently Asked Questions

August 6 Update - NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ANNOUNCES JOB RETENTION GRANTS

If your business or non-profit organization experienced interruption due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the new Job Retention Grant (JRG) Program may be able to offer assistance. The maximum grant amount may be up to two months of the eligible entity’s average monthly payroll costs from 2019 plus an additional 25% of that amount. The grant amount may not exceed $250,000.

To qualify to receive these grant funds, your organization must meet some specific eligibility requirements, which you can review below. We also encourage you to read carefully these instructions, which will help you gather the information and documentation you'll need before filling out the online application form.

NC Commerce provides answers to the most frequent questions about the program here, and you can also review the underlying law that authorizes the program.

Applications are being accepted from now until the application deadline of Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 11:59pm. No applications will be accepted after that time. No grants will be awarded before the September 1 deadline, and the potential amount of each grant will not be determined until all applications have been reviewed and awarded.

The JRG team is available to assist you. Email your questions or comments to: jrg@nccommerce.com.

» GO TO THE ONLINE APPLICATION FORM

August 5 Update - As Students Return to School, North Carolina to Remain Paused in Phase 2 - Stabilizing trends are good but fragile, and now is the time to double down on safety measures

Governor Roy Cooper today announced that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for another 5 weeks as students and staff return to schools, colleges and universities and the state doubles down on efforts to decrease COVID-19 numbers.

“Other states that lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher. We will not make that mistake in North Carolina,” said Governor Cooper. “In keeping with our dimmer switch approach with schools opening, and in order to push for decreasing numbers which will keep people healthier and boost our economy, North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for 5 weeks.”

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shared an update on North Carolina’s data trends. Dr. Cohen explained that while some of North Carolina’s numbers have mostly leveled, any progress is fragile as other states have shown with sudden and devastating surges in viral spread.
“While overall we are seeing signs of stability, we still have much work to do. Our recent trends show us what is possible when we commit to slowing the spread by wearing face coverings and following those simple but powerful 3Ws,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is declining, though remains elevated.

Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases has stabilized but remains high.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is stable but still elevated.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is beginning to level.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:

Laboratory Testing
While testing turnaround times have improved, the number of tests done has decreased over the past week. Testing is a priority for anyone who has symptoms or those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, including:
• Anyone who has attended a mass gathering including a protest.
• Anyone who works in a setting at higher risk of exposure such as a grocery store, restaurant, gas station, or childcare program.
• People who live or work in high-risk settings such as long-term facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities or food processing facility.

Tracing Capability
We continue hiring contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments. There are over 1,500 full-time and part-time staff supporting contact tracing efforts, including the 615 Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) contact tracers.

Personal Protective Equipment
• Our personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

»View the slides and graphs from presentation

July 30 - NC Pandemic Recovery Office Disburses Additional $150 Million Of Federal Funds Allocated During Legislative Session

Governor Roy Cooper announced that an additional $150 million in federal funds provided for COVID-19 relief to counties has been disbursed this week. These funds are from the state-administered Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) that was passed by Congress. The funds represent the second half of $300 million appropriated by statute to county governments. Counties are required to offer a minimum of 25% of their total allocation of the funds to municipalities.

Though the federal government did not require that the state share any of the $3.56 billion in the CRF to North Carolina local governments, Governor Cooper’s COVID-19 budget proposal recommended $300 million be allocated to counties and municipalities. HB 1023/S.L. 2020-80, Section 3.3(2), appropriated the additional $150 million to county governments. The full distribution of funds is listed here by county. Counties and municipalities have been given instructions about how the funds may be used.

The CRF funds may be used for:

Medical needs including the COVID-19 related expenses of public hospitals and clinics, including testing;
Public health needs, such as personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, as well as the cost of cleaning public areas and facilities such as nursing homes;

Payroll expenses for public safety or health-care employees dedicated to responding to the COVID-19 emergency; and
Expenses to protect public health, including teleworking, distance learning, food delivery, paid leave for public employees, expenses for maintaining prisons, and protecting the homeless population.

Under state law, 97 counties received a base amount of $250,000, with more distributed by population. Three large counties—Guilford, Mecklenburg, and Wake—received funds directly from the federal government. This quick disbursement of funds was coordinated by the state Office of State Budget and Management and the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office (NC PRO).

NC PRO coordinates and oversees funds made available through federal and state COVID-19 recovery legislation, including the CRF. The office offers technical assistance for entities that receive funds and ensures proper reporting and accounting. The office will also work on the state’s economic recovery and strategic plan as North Carolina rebuilds from this pandemic.

For questions about how CRF funds may be used or to view Coronavirus Relief Funds County Plans, go to the NCPRO website for more information.

July 28, 2020 Update - Governor Roy Cooper Signs Executive Order No. 153 Limiting the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages After 11 pm

With actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 beginning to have impact, Governor Roy Cooper is doubling down on prevention measures with Executive Order 153 stopping the sale of alcoholic drinks in restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries at 11 pm. North Carolina bars that are currently closed will remain closed. This order will take effect Friday, July 31.

The order will not apply to grocery stores, convenience stores or other entities permitted to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption. Local governments that have implemented orders that end alcohol sales before 11 pm or that apply to other entities remain in effect.

» READ EXECUTIVE ORDER 153 | » READ EO 153 FAQs

July 14, 2020 Update - North Carolina Schools to Open this Fall

North Carolina K-12 Public Schools to Require Key Safety Measures to Allow In-person Instruction - Districts may choose to conduct school entirely by remote learning

North Carolina schools will open in the fall for both in-person and remote learning with key safety precautions to protect the health of students, teachers, staff and families.

This measured approach will allow children to attend but provide important safety protocols such as fewer children in the classroom, social distancing, face coverings, cleaning and more.

As a part of this plan, local school districts can provide a remote learning option for any child who chooses it. In addition, school districts will have the option of all remote learning – if that’s best for them.

Some of the requirements for schools under this plan:

  • Face coverings will be required for every teacher, staff and student from kindergarten through high school.
  • The state will be providing at least 5 reusable face coverings for every student, teacher and staff member.
  • Schools will be required to limit the total number of people in the building so that 6 feet of distancing is possible, for example, when students are seated or in line. Districts and schools can use a plan that works for them – whether it’s alternating days or weeks or some other strategy.
  • Symptom screenings, including temperature checks, will take place daily before children enter the school buildings.
  • Schools must create a way to isolate students who have symptoms and ensure they can get home safely.
  • Schedules must allow time for frequent hand washing and schools will regularly clean classrooms, bathrooms, buses and equipment.
  • Teachers will work to limit sharing of personal items and classroom materials.
  • Nonessential visitors and activities involving outside organizations will be limited.

In addition to these and other requirements, schools are strongly recommended to implement other safety precautions such as:

  • One-way hallways and entrances
  • Keeping students in small groups that stay together as much as possible
  • Eating lunch in the classroom if the cafeteria won’t allow for social distancing
  • Suspending activities that bring together large groups like assemblies

Public health experts and school leaders developed these safety rules to protect our students and teachers and their families. They have also developed detailed procedures for what will happen if a student or teacher tests positive.

If trends spike and in-person school cannot be done safely even with these safety protocols, then North Carolina will need to move to all remote learning.

NCDHHS launched new initiatives to expand COVID-19 testing and contact tracing across the state. Two new online tools can help people determine if they need to be tested and find a nearby testing place. Check My Symptoms (ncdhhs.gov/symptoms) helps those who feel uncertain about whether they should get tested. Find My Testing Place (ncdhhs.gov/testingplace) is a resource for anyone who needs to locate a testing site.

COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color. Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 143 to address these disparities. » READ EXECUTIVE ORDER 143

The order will:
Create the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental and Health Equity Task Force. The task force will focus on access to health care; patient engagement in health care settings; economic opportunities in business development and employment; environmental justice and inclusion; and education. NC Department of Administration Secretary Machelle Sanders will lead the group of a diverse panel of experts, state agency leaders and community members of these five focus areas.

Directs the NC Pandemic Recovery Office to ensure that COVID-19 relief funds are fairly distributed. It also expands the capacity of our NC Historically Underutilized Business Office to provide those businesses access to opportunities and resources.

Directs NCDHHS, in partnership with community health centers, local health departments, rural health centers and free and charitable clinics, to provide COVID-19 testing and related health care to uninsured North Carolinians.

Provides direction for other state agencies.

NCDHHS COVID-19 Testing Sites

Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen also announced that DHHS now has a list of testing locations on the  DHHS website. The list includes more than 200 sample collection sites in 54 counties, with more being added as they are verified. The list is comprised of health care providers, pharmacies and retail locations, local health departments and others that are providing testing for COVID-19. Some of the sites that are federally funded do not cost anything for the individual being tested. Doctors and clinicians may also provide testing at their offices.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services issued updated guidance today on who should be tested for COVID-19

The new guidance recommends that clinicians test any patient in whom COVID-19 is suspected. It also ensures the following populations have access to testing, regardless of symptoms:

  • Anyone with symptoms suggestive of  COVID-19
  • Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms 
  • Persons who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
  • Persons who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
  • Persons who come from historically marginalized populations
  • Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
  • Front-line and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain

"We want anyone who needs a test to get one. This is particularly important for those at high-risk for severe illness, those at greatest risk for exposure and those who are being disproportionately impacted by this virus," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. 

Testing, along with contact tracing and supplies of personal protective equipment, is part of the state’s strategy to slowly ease restrictions, while protecting North Carolinians from COVID-19. The state is looking at a composite of metrics to guide its path forward, including the number of cases, the percent of tests that are positive, the number of hospitalizations and the number of emergency department visits for COVID-like illness. Yesterday, Governor Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Cohen shared these metrics remain stable for the first week of Phase 1. 

The new guidance updates testing criteria for the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. Those include hospitalized patients, health care workers or first responders, persons who live in or have regular contact with a high-risk setting, persons who are at higher risk of severe illness and for whom a clinician has determined that results would inform clinical management, and uninsured patients.

Staying home is still the best way to continue to slow the spread of  COVID-19  and protect North Carolinians. When going out, remember the 3 Ws. Wear a face covering. Wait at least six feet apart. Wash your hands often with soap and water.

State of NC Launches New COVID-19 Web Portal

The State of North Carolina has launched a new COVID-19 web portal at nc.gov/covid19 in an effort to gather all the COVID-19 related information from a wide range of State agencies. The existing DHHS site at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus will remain, and its content is accessible from the new site.

» VISIT NEW NORTH CAROLINA COVID-19 WEB PORTAL
» NCDHHS (North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services) Coronavirus Information