Throughout the challenges and uncertainties with COVID-19, one thing is more evident than ever- Chatham County's resiliency. Whether it's County staff going above and beyond to help others or residents stepping up to volunteer, the
people of Chatham County are making a difference all around. Check out these stories of partnership, hope and
inspiration. We are #ChathamTogether!
Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center Assists Emergency Management in COVID-19 Preparedness and Response
Since the beginning of Chatham County’s coronavirus response, the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center (CCACC) transitioned into a receiving and distribution facility to assist Chatham County Emergency Management. Staff at the CCACC are responsible for intake of materials and distribution requests to community partners. CCACC employees say they are thrilled to be able to assist Emergency Management with these storage needs and fulfilling distribution requests.
Virtual Programming for All Ages from Chatham County Public Libraries
You are always the right age to use the library even during COVID-19. The Chatham County Public Libraries staff has been providing a variety of virtual programming including story times for young audiences, LEGO activities for teens and middle grade kids, book clubs facilitated by youth services librarians, and resources for those students attending Central Carolina Community College.
Staff has been providing information and assistance for residents to use e-books. So far they have received more than 250 online applications from interested individuals, including one person who is 101 years young who they assisted in getting audio materials for him to enjoy during this time.
Learn more about virtual programming at the Chatham County Public Libraries website, including the Virtual Open Mic they will be hosting on June 25, 2020.
Chatham County 911 Center Receives Delicious Donation from Chatham Community Church
Chatham Community Church, in Pittsboro and Chapel Hill, donated lots of yummy snacks to the Chatham County 911 Center to show their appreciation for the telecommunicators who work hard to keep the community safe.
Chatham County Public Health COVID-19 Lines Assist Public with Questions
The Chatham County Public Health Department has set up a COVID-19 information line system to respond to questions from the Chatham community. Whether residents are asking about clinical questions like testing or symptoms, ways to prevent spread of the virus in a place of employment or items related to the Stay at Home Order, or general COVID-19 questions, Chatham County’s Public Health Department has the community covered.
Please call 919-542-8220 and select from the list of topics.
Community Partnership help Provide Resources to Chatham’s Older Adult Population
The Chatham County Council on Aging has partnered with Chatham Transit, every Tuesday, to deliver shelf-stable meals and incontinence supplies, as well as word searches and other goodies to over 30 of their noon day meal participants who indicated a need for assistance.
Chatham Transit is also delivering CORA Senior Food Boxes every second Thursday of the month to over 20 of their noon day meal participants. The pictures below show CORA and Chatham Transit loading up meals.
In addition to meals and supplies, a number of community partners help provide activities to keep Chatham’s seniors active and engaged while sheltering in place. The Chatham County Sheriff’s Department, Chatham County Cooperative Extensions, UNC Trauma Center, Chatham News + Record, Chatham County Health Department, and Chatham County Library, have all offered virtual presentations. Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program, the Chatham County Complete County Committee, and many churches have contributed activities for delivery to Meals on Wheels and noon day meal participants.
Chatham Health Alliance Leads Donation Drive
The Chatham Health Alliance has launched two community drives for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other essential resources, and the Chatham community has responded! Donations of handmade masks and critical supplies have been coming in regularly. The two drives are #MasksForMedicine, a drive to get PPEs to essential workers, and #ChathamMasksMakers, a drive to get handmade masks and resources to the Chatham community.
Approximately 200 handmade masks have already been distributed to all grocery stores and tiendas in Siler City, and more have gone to all childcare facilities in the county. Looking to donate? See the flyer below for more info!
The Chatham Health Alliance has also helped initiate the Chatham Solidarity Fund. The Solidarity Fund is a collaborative effort of Chatham non-profit agencies, including The Hispanic Liaison, Chatham Habitat for Humanity, Chatham Partnership for Children, Chatham Organizing for Racial Equity, KidScope, El Futuro, and Chatham Literacy, with support from the Chatham Health Alliance. The Fund’s goal is to help some of the most vulnerable families in our community make it through the COVID-19 crisis.
More information about the fund, including how to donate and how to apply can be found here.
Public Health Services Continue Despite Pandemic Response
Despite taking the leading on COVID-19 response efforts, Chatham County Public Health has been able to keep important services running (with some social distancing tweaks of course). Environmental Health has continued to conduct inspections, clinic has continued to see patients, and health promotion has continued to bring people together (virtually) to advance health and equity.
The Peer Education Program of Siler City (PEPSC) is a collaboration between Jordan-Matthews High School and the Chatham County Public Health Department that has been active for over 15 years. PEPSC members have adapted to the new virtual normal and have continued to support their fellow students through email, sending information on mental health, coping techniques, and local resources to help their peers.
During COVID-19 protecting residents’ health is more important than ever. Quitting smoking and vaping can be one way to reduce the risks and complications associated with the coronavirus. The Public Health Department’s normal in-person tobacco cessation classes, QuitSmart, were adapted to be done virtually from home (either over the phone or through a video-based service) to support those who are interested in quitting tobacco during this critical time. Contact email@example.com or 984-214-2060 for more information or visit www.chathamnc.org/tobaccocessation.
Abundance NC, in collaboration with the Chatham + Record, Caremongering Pittsboro Facebook Group, and Chatham Trades, has started Chatham Neighbor2Neighbor. The goal is to connect people in Chatham County who have the capacity to help with those who need the most help.
Any Chatham County resident who wants to volunteer to help should visit https://bit.ly/ChathamNeighbor2Neighbor.
A Spanish Version- Chatham VecinoAVecino, can be found at https://bit.ly/ChathamVecinoAVecino.
Once there, visitors complete a simple contact form which includes options for ways they can help. At the same time, any Chatham County resident who needs help can, through the same site, complete a form seeking assistance. Volunteers are then “matched” with the neighbor in need.
Chatham County Develops COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses
To assist businesses as they plan to reopen and operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chatham County has created Reopening Your Business: A Guide for Safely Opening and Operating Your Business. The guide can be found at the Chatham County Coronavirus web page, under Employer FAQs. It includes recommendations specific to business type from nail salons and restaurants to dentist offices and childcare facilities. Several Chatham County agencies developed the guide based on guidance from the CDC and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The collaboration includes the Public Health Department, Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau, in partnership with Orange County organizations. It will be continually updated to reflect the latest guidance.
Chatham County Parks and Recreation Providing Weekly Activities
Chatham County Parks and Recreation has been sharing daily recreational resources to engage our community at home through a social media series called #ConnectWithChathamCounty. Resources include arts and craft ideas, outdoor activities, wellness tips, educational resources, and at-home work outs. Below are just a few of the activities they have shared so far:
Life Size Chutes and Ladders
All you need is sidewalk chalk, a safe blacktop/sidewalk to draw on, and a dice!
How to play Chutes and Ladders:
1. On your turn, roll a dice and move that many spaces.
2. If you land at the bottom of a ladder, climb the ladder
up to where it ends.
3. If you land at the top of a chute, take the slide down
to where it ends.
4. Keep playing until you get to the end of the board.
From April 20-24, Chatham County Parks and Recreation hosted a daily laugh line. Anyone could call in to hear a kid friendly, cheesy joke! We had so much fun laughing with everyone, and it definitely made our week a little brighter. Below are some of the favorite jokes they told!
How do you stop an astronaut’s baby from crying? You rocket!
Why does a seagull fly over the sea? Because if it flew over the bay, it would be a baygull
How do you make an octopus laugh? With ten-tickles!
What do you call a bear with no teeth? A gummy bear!
Chatham County Public Health Shares Guidance with High-risk Settings
As communities have seen across the United States, containing the spread of COVID-19 is exceedingly difficult in the general population and is even more challenging in settings where people live or work in close quarters such as congregate living facilities and meat processing plants. Despite the challenges that come with responding to a global pandemic, the Chatham County Public Health Department (CCPHD), in coordination with Chatham County Emergency Management (CCEM) and many local partners, remains committed to leading collaborative efforts to slow the spread of the virus and minimize its impact on the Chatham community. Local agencies and partners in Chatham County recognized early in the pandemic that its impacts could be considerable and widespread, particularly in those facilities and businesses that would be most vulnerable.
CCPHD staff have worked tirelessly, putting in long hours every day, to conduct contact tracing, educate the public and employers on virus containment and employ every available strategy known to slow the spread of the virus. The level of dedication and commitment from these individuals to protect the public’s health has never been more evident. These are true public servants, and the CCPHD appreciates their dedication and expertise. The CCPHD remains grateful to the many partners who have worked together to respond to COVID-19 in Chatham County.
The Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau has Adapted to their Shifting Services
The Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has seen their services increase, but shift in nature, to support Chatham County’s tourism and hospitality businesses. They are continuously updating their website with information about food, drink, and virtual visits in the county along with resources for businesses. Learn more at the CVB website.
National Travel and Tourism Week is May 3-9 and they are celebrating virtually this year. A virtual road trip of Chatham took place May 5 on Twitter.
CVB is also created a Quarantine Cuisine Recipe Album on Facebook using recipes from Chatham County businesses. Find it on Facebook.
CVB has provided Chatham-specific images that anyone can use for backgrounds during Zoom meetings. They have also provided instructions on how to apply the background. Find them at the CVB website.
Supplies Secured through Chatham News + Record and Chinese Students at Duke University
In early May, the Chatham News + Record and Chinese students at Duke University, secured a donation of 1,500 surgical masks, 500 N95 masks, and 400 face shields for Chatham County. They worked with the Chatham County Public Health Department to determine where the greatest need for each item is in the county.
The supplies were given in this joint initiative through a mutual association with a journalism professor at the University of Kentucky.
Childcare Health Consultant Assists Childcare Facilities as They Continue to Serve During Pandemic
Dorothy Rawleigh is Chatham County’s Child Care Child Care Health Consultant, pictured on the left. In addition to continuing to support child care programs to achieve best practices around immunizations, nutrition and gardening, she has been working closely with the Environmental Health Department (Anne Lowry and Lisa Morgan) and the Chatham County Partnership for Children (Pam Anderson and Meredith Williams) to support Chatham County child care facilities that remain open during the pandemic.
These child care facilities provide a critical service to essential workers in Chatham who must have reliable and safe child care so they can continue to work in health care, law enforcement, food service, transportation and social services. The Public Health Department and the Chatham County Partnership for Children has collaborated to quickly respond to the questions, concerns and needs from these licensed child care programs that are required to implement the latest guidance from NC DHHS and the CDC to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Supporting these essential child care programs means guiding teachers and directors through scenarios if a child or staff person were to develop COVID-19 symptoms and mitigation techniques for preventing and reducing the spread of COVID-19 into the child care community. This collaboration also works to together to help child care facilities access affordable sanitation supplies like disinfectant, toilet paper, paper towels and working thermometers and face covers for the daily health screenings of staff and children. Many of the face covers delivered to the child care programs are from the Chatham community mask donation drive, organized by the Chatham Health Alliance.
Dorothy also has helped with reaching out to the business community by conducting on-site surveys with (10) local businesses to find out what PPE needs they have and what barriers they have experienced with implementing required and recommended actions for reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Chatham County Adult Services Unit Provides Support for Facilities and Clients
Chatham County Department of Social Services has found ways to provide outreach and support to adult and family care homes, including supporting the staff in those facilities. In March, the Adult Services Unit delivered handmade masks that were donated to six adult and family care home facilities.
Since mid-march Adult Home Specialist has been making weekly phone calls to home aide clients to talk with clients about coping during COVID-19, how their needs are being met, and share updated information about programs and resources.
Adult Services staff has been sending “Thinking of You” cards to clients, pictured.
Chatham County Central Permitting & Inspections Practices Social Distancing while Continuing to Provide Needed Services
Chatham County Permits & Inspections has experienced little slowdown as a result of coronavirus, which required them to find ways to operate safely. To spend less time in the office the Inspectors start work from home after downloading the information they need onto their tablet. Once at the job site, they request social distancing while conducting their inspections are recorded at the end of the day.
Employees in Permitting continue to work in the office. Each employee has an individual work station, so personal space bubbles were marked on the floor (pictured) to make sure others are aware of the 6 feet needed to properly social distance. To further help with social distancing, one staff member works from home each week.
Emergency Management Adapts to Supply Shortages
Since Emergency Management (EM) was only able to source disinfectant in concentrated form, they used lined rain barrels to mix large quantities.
Using an old pickle jar, and adapting instructions on how to make your own rain barrel, EM created two dispensers to make the disinfectant and dispense it into smaller containers for distribution (pictured on the left).
They use the small cooler pictured for mixing and dispensing hand sanitizer. To date, EM has produced 22 gallons of disinfectant and 5 gallons of hand sanitizer.
Chatham County Community Assessment Studies COVID-19 Impact
To get a better understanding of COVID-19 infecting in the county’s population as a whole, the Chatham County Public Health is working with the NC Department of Health and Human Services and UNC-Chapel Hill on a study involving the innovative Chatham Community Assessment cohort. Chatham was one of three counties statewide to receive support from the state for this type of COVID-19 assessment specifically because of the Community Assessment cohort representative of the county’s population, which was a novel approach. The new study will include COVID-19 testing over time to assess COVID-19 prevalence. More on that study can be found here.
University of North Carolina Medical Students Volunteering with Chatham County Council on Aging
Several University of North Carolina medical students have been volunteering with Chatham County’s Council on Aging (COA) during this time. They have been fundraising, delivering supplies, and making phone calls to help in any way they can. They also created a GoFundMe page for hygiene supplies and raised more than $500.
Read the full article about these students and their efforts in the Chatham News + Record.
Photo from the Chatham News + Record: Third-year UNC med student Brandon Feaster, left, and COA staff member, Wynne Fields, deliver incontinence supplies to seniors in Chatham County.
Working Hard to Keep the Public and Partners Informed
Chatham County has worked hard to share information and keep the public and stakeholders up to date about COVID-19. In early March, COVID-19 websites (in English and Spanish) were create to share COVID-19 facts and guidance for medical providers, businesses, schools and childcare, and the general public. These websites have expanded to include FAQs for the public, businesses, and childcare, a list of resources for those hit hard by the pandemic, and impacts to county and non-profit services.
In addition to these online resources, Chatham County Public Health staff have shared information the old-fashioned way by handing out flyers and information to businesses, churches, stores, and directly to community members. Staff have also participated in meetings hosted by local partners and written articles and responded to countless media requests to keep the public informed and the community safe and healthy.
The Chatham County Public Health Department and Emergency Management have led weekly meetings with many community partners like schools, Council on Aging, County Managers Office, Sheriff’s Office, Chatham Transit, Department of Social Services, CCCC, Chatham Hospital, and the Towns of Siler City and Pittsboro. When the meetings began, they took place three days a week in person. As social distancing became important, they were moved online to accommodate the large group that benefited from shared guidance, updates and discussion.
UNC Chatham Hospital Donates Supplies to Chatham County Emergency Management
The University of North Carolina Chatham Hospital was able to provide 2,000 ear loop face masks to Chatham County Emergency Management for distribution throughout the county. Some were delivered to the County Receiving and Distribution Point at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center and the rest were put into reserves for emergencies or outbreaks in the future.
Communicable Disease Nurses Hard at Work Responding to COVID-19
From before the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Chatham County Public Health Department’s communicable disease nurses have been hard at work preparing for and responding to the virus. From testing and contact tracing to answering questions from the public, sharing guidance with providers and so much more, this highly skilled group has worked around the clock on the frontlines to protect the Chatham community.