State and Chatham County news releases related to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, are listed below, from newest to oldest. For more details on coronavirus in Chatham County, visit the Coronavirus website and en español. To learn about Chatham County services that have been suspended, postponed, or cancelled visit the County's coronavirus Services Impacts page.
May 20, 2020- NC Moves to Safer At Home Phase 2
Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today announced that North Carolina will move into Safer At Home Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, May 22 at 5 pm. Read Executive Order No. 141. After two weeks in Phase 1, the state’s overall key indicators remain stable but the continued increases in daily case counts signal a need to take a more modest step forward in Phase 2 than originally envisioned.
“North Carolina is using the data to guide our decisions about when to lift COVID-19 restrictions, and overall our key indicators remain stable,” said Governor Cooper. “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.”
“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,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen.
May 18, 2020- NC Department of Health and Human Services Launches Interactive COVID-19 Dashboard
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services unveiled an updated COVID-19 Dashboard. The interactive dashboard provides an overview on the metrics and capacities that the state is following to inform decisions to responsibly ease measures that slow the spread of the virus.
The updated dashboard includes an enhanced NC map, sections on COVID-Like Illness Surveillance, Cases, Testing, Hospitalizations, Contact Tracing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Congregate Living Settings. There is also a section on weekly reports that currently includes presumed recoveries and risk factors for severe illness for North Carolinians.
A feature of the interactive dashboard is the ability to filter cases and deaths by demographic information (i.e., race, ethnicity, gender and age). For example, if a user selects a race, data will display for the ethnicity, gender and age breakdown for that racial group for cases or deaths.
Additional features of the interactive dashboard include:
- Searching by county or ZIP code for case and death counts.
- Viewing cases by date reported or date of specimen collection.
- County map for ongoing outbreaks in congregate living settings.
- Rollover functions to see daily numbers.
The dashboard can be accessed online at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.
May 15, 2020- Chatham Together Stories Highlight COVID-19 Response from Chatham County Community
Throughout the challenges and uncertainties with the COVID-19 pandemic, 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. To highlight this work in the community, Chatham County is sharing stories of partnership, hope and inspiration on its web page: chathamnc.org/chathamtogether.
Those who live, work or volunteer in Chatham County are encouraged to join the #ChathamTogether movement. Individuals can share the positive ways they are responding to COVID-19 through social media, tag Chatham County’s Facebook and Twitter and use the hashtag #ChathamTogether.
May 15, 2020- NC Department of Health and Human Services Updates Guidance on Who Should be Tested for COVID-19
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.
The new guidance recommends clinicians ensure 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.
May 13, 2020- NC Department of Health and Human Services Reports Data on COVID-19 Patients Presumed to be Recovered
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) estimates that as of Monday, 9,115 North Carolinians with COVID-19 are likely to have recovered from their symptoms. This data along with information about how it is calculated is posted on the COVID-19 Dashboard and will be updated weekly.
To calculate this number, NCDHHS estimates the median time for recovery from symptoms to be 14 days from the date of specimen collection for non-fatal COVID-19 cases who were not hospitalized or if hospitalization status is unknown, or 28 days for hospitalized non-fatal COVID-19 cases.
Patients’ actual recovery times could be shorter or longer depending on the severity of illness. This interval was chosen based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidance, and in consultation with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other state health departments. This estimates how many people have recovered from their symptoms. It does not estimate who many cases are or are not still infectious.
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.
May 11, 2020- Families to Receive Enhanced Benefits in May to Ensure Food Access
To help families access food during the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is temporarily increasing benefits for May 2020 to current Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) recipients in North Carolina. NCDHHS received federal authority to implement the program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on March 27.
All families that receive FNS will receive the maximum amount allowed for May 2020 for their household size. For example, a family of four would be eligible to receive a total of $646 for each of the two months regardless of their usual benefit amount. The increase is subject to the following guidelines:
- Households that have already received the maximum amount for their household size will not receive the temporary increase.
- The household size will not include ineligible or disqualified members.
- Households that were ineligible in May 2020 will not receive a temporary increase.
Approximately 360,000 households will begin receiving the temporary increased benefit on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card on May 22. They will be randomly generated and staggered every other workday until all eligible households have received their temporary increase. Read the full news release here.
May 8, 2020- NC Enters Phase 1 of Reopening: Chatham County Develops Workplace Guidance
At 5:00 p.m. on May 8, 2020, Phase One of reopening will take effect across North Carolina. During Phase One, the Stay at Home Order remains in effect and most businesses are required to follow the same or similar guidelines as before. For example, barbershops, theaters and gyms remain closed while restaurants can operate take-out and delivery services only. Details about Phase One, including frequently asked questions and a side-by-side comparison to the previous Stay at Home Order guidelines, can be found at www.chathamnc.org/coronavirus.
Chatham County residents are still strongly advised to avoid coming into contact with others outside of their households and continue to take safety precautions if they do go out in public. “The danger is not behind us. In fact, we continue to see cases of COVID-19, including Chatham County residents who have become seriously ill,” said Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long. “We ask residents to remain vigilant and continue to take the same measures they have been to reduce their risk of infection: Stay at home, avoid gathering with others outside of your household, wear a face covering if you go out in public, and wash your hands regularly.”
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 provided above, 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.
Since early in the pandemic, the Chatham County Public Health Department has maintained regular contact with employers to share guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Chatham County. “For months, our team has worked tirelessly to answer questions from and promote best practices among essential employers and settings where COVID-19 is known to have a greater potential impact, including long-term care facilities, food processing plants, manufacturing facilities and childcare facilities. I am incredibly proud of their hard work and dedication,” added Long.
May 7, 2020- Wear, Wait, Wash to Continue Slowing the Spread of COVID-19
Wear. Wait. Wash. As North Carolina moves to ease some COVID-19 restrictions at the end of this week, the NC Department of Health and Human Services is asking people to remember these three things to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.
If you leave home, practice your Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash
- Wear a cloth face covering if you will be with other people.
- Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
These actions can protect our families and neighbors as the state takes a cautious step forward while the virus is still circulating.
On Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 138 to modify North Carolina’s Stay At Home order and transition to Phase 1 of slowly easing certain COVID-19 restrictions effective 5 p.m. Friday, May 8. Read the full news release here.
May 6, 2020- Food and Nutrition Services Participants Can Now Use Benefits At Authorized Online EBT Retailers
Starting today, North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) participants will be able to purchase groceries online using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards at authorized online EBT retailers. North Carolina is the 10th state to implement this flexibility, which will remain permanently in place beyond the COVID-19 emergency.
The new flexibility will allow participants to buy food while also promoting social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and helping families with transportation and mobility barriers.
"People need to feed their families while also practicing social distancing," said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. "This will allow families to order groceries at home and lower their risk of getting sick."
Currently, Amazon and Walmart are the only authorized retailers approved for online FNS purchases nationally. The U.S. Department of Agriculture must approve other retailers who wish to participate in the FNS online purchasing program. NCDHHS encourages other EBT retailers to pursue USDA approval to become authorized online retailers.
All EBT retailers in North Carolina have received information from USDA about how to become approved for online FNS purchases and other retailers are encouraged to seek approval for online purchasing. More information for retailers is available on the USDA website.
More information about North Carolina Food and Nutrition Services can be found at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/low-income-services/food-nutrition-services-food-stamps.
North Carolina individuals and families can apply for FNS at https://epass.nc.gov/CitizenPortal/application.do
May 6, 2020- Health Care Workers Being Matched to Facilities Seeking Staff
Due to COVID-19, many health care facilities in North Carolina, particularly long-term care facilities, are seeking to urgently hire staff for temporary, part-time or full-time roles. There is an urgent need for Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants, among other roles to supplement current workers and in some cases fill in for workers affected by COVID-19.
"A crucial part of our response to COVID-19 is bolstering the health care workforce so we can respond to outbreaks as soon as possible," said Ben Money, Deputy Secretary for Health Services. "The East Carolina University School of Nursing is partnering with us to match health care workers with the ability to pick up extra shifts to facilities in the nurse’s local area."
Interested health care employees with the ability to pick up extra shifts or who may have been laid off from facilities and are seeking full-time roles can register at https://nc.readyop.com/fs/4cjq/697b. Read the full news release here.
May 5, 2020- Governor Cooper Announces Modified Stay At Home Order and Transition to Phase 1 of Easing Restrictions
Governor Roy Cooper today signed Executive Order No. 138 to modify North Carolina’s Stay At Home order and transition to Phase 1 of slowly easing certain COVID-19 restrictions effective Friday, May 8 at 5 pm. Certain businesses remain closed as the state continues battling COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is still a serious threat to our state, and Phase 1 is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions that can boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” said Governor Cooper. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating.”
“We must continue to protect our families and neighbors as we take this cautious step forward. When you leave your home, follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
Today’s Order removes the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity and will be required to direct customers to stand 6 feet apart, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available, screen workers for symptoms and more. The Order allows people to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open.
Certain businesses remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms. Restaurants may only continue to serve customers for drive-through, take out and delivery.
All workers at retail and other businesses are recommended to wear cloth face coverings. Teleworking is still encouraged for businesses that can practice it.
May 5, 2020- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Identifies Percent of North Carolinians at Higher Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19
More than half (51.1%) of North Carolina adults are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 because they are 65 or older, have at least one underlying health condition or both, according to data analyzed by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
Risk factors identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were cross referenced with NCDHHS data sources to identify the percent of North Carolinians at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. The underlying health conditions included chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, severe obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and immunosuppressive conditions, including cancer treatment, smoking and other immune disorders.
Findings from the analysis include:
- In 2018, 27 percent of people 18–24, 36 percent of people 25–49, 49 percent of people 50–64 and 56 percent of people 65 and older had at least one underlying health condition that is a risk factor for serious illness from COVID-19.
- In 2018, 45 percent of blacks and 42 percent of whites had at least one underlying health condition.
- As of May 4, 2020, 31 percent of all people with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 had at least one underlying health condition.
- As of May 4, 2020, 75 percent of all laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths had at least one underlying health condition.
The full report is available online. Limitations to this analysis include NCDHHS data sources do not contain all underlying health conditions identified by the CDC and the definitions of the specific health condition may not be an exact match.
May 4, 2020- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Working Quickly to Secure Federal Resources, Broadening Mental Health and Resilience Supports for All North Carolinians
On April 30, 2020, FEMA announced North Carolina’s eligibility to apply for Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) disaster funds and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) acted quickly to submit an application that same day.
NCDHHS plans to leverage these CCP dollars to implement additional mental health supports and crisis counselling services for North Carolinians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic through two connected efforts — the Hope4NC Helpline and a Crisis Counseling Program tailored for COVID-19.
“We must work quickly, collaboratively, and boldly to flatten the second curve of COVID-19 – the behavioral health effects of the disease,” said NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Kody H. Kinsley. “The Hope4NC program, made possible by this federal grant, will help us quickly stand-up a statewide response that helps folks normalize their experience, get access to additional resources, and build resiliency.”
North Carolinians who call the Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463) talk with trained counselors who provide emotional support and share resources on building coping skills during times of crisis. This is a collaborative effort between NCDHHS, the state’s seven LME/MCOs, North Carolina Emergency Management and REAL Crisis Intervention Inc. Hope4NC Helpline began initial operations statewide in April. Read the full news release here.
May 1, 2020- Statement: Ongoing Efforts to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 in Chatham County
The following statement regarding ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Chatham County may be attributed to Layton Long, Chatham County Public Health Director:
“As we 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. The capacity of this virus to infect others far exceeds the usual flu virus that we experience each year and continues to spread in our communities despite the best efforts of local, state and federal public health agencies, medical professionals, and countless organizations and agencies. 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."
April 28, 2020- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Improving Mental Health Supports for Staff in Health Care Settings, Expanding to Support Staff in Child Care Centers
The Hope4Healers Helpline (919-226-2002) is being expanded to support the staff who work in North Carolina’s child care programs. Earlier this month, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) stood up Hope4Healers in partnership with the North Carolina Psychological Foundation to provide mental health and resilience supports throughout the state for health care professionals, other staff who work in health care settings, first responders and their families who are all experiencing stress from being on the front lines of the state’s COVID-19 response.
“North Carolina’s child care staff are the essential workforce supporting other essential personnel – working each day to provide safe, stable and nurturing care for children and families experiencing stress in their lives while coping with their own stress,” said NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary Susan Gale Perry. "We want to make sure that they have access to the mental health and resilience supports they may need during this crisis."
Hope4Healers also is now equipped with 24/7 call line support, so callers can speak to a live person who will listen compassionately, offer emotional support and make connections, including referral for follow-up supports.
April 27, 2020- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announces today the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative, a new partnership with Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) and the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
This new initiative builds on the long-standing relationship NCDHHS has with both organizations. The Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative is part of Governor Roy Cooper’s initiative to slowly lift restrictions by focusing on testing, tracing and trends. This collaborative will build upon existing local health department tracing efforts to help meet the surge in demand for contact tracing staff expected as COVID-19 testing increases.
“Extensive contact tracing is a key strategy for North Carolina to stay ahead of the curve,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. "Our local health departments are North Carolina’s experts doing this essential detective work and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. This collaborative will be a critical addition to our state’s capability to do widespread contact tracing and ease restrictions." Read the full news release here.
April 27, 2020- Operation Fan Heat to Begin Distributing Fans to Eligible Recipients May 1
As the weather starts warming up, the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services is partnering with the NC Area Agencies on Aging and local service providers to distribute fans to eligible recipients through Operation Fan Heat Relief May 1–Oct. 31.
People 60 and older, as well as adults with disabilities, are eligible to sign up for assistance from May 1–Oct. 31 at local aging agencies across the state. Since 1986, the relief program has purchased fans for older adults and adults with disabilities, providing them with a more comfortable living environment and reducing heat-related illnesses.
As individuals age and develop chronic medical conditions, they are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. They may also be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. Operation Fan Heat Relief helps vulnerable adults at risk for heat-related illnesses stay safe during the summer. Read the full news release here.
April 23, 2020- Governor Cooper Announces Statewide Stay at Home Order Extended Until May 8
Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 135 extending the stay at home order until May 8, 2020. This Executive Order extends Executive Order No. 121, which ordered people in the state of North Carolina to stay at home and for essential businesses to continue to operate while prioritizing social distancing measures.
April 23, 2020- Statement Regarding Mountaire Farms Testing
The following statement may be attributed to Layton Long, Chatham County Public Health Director:
“As shared by Mountaire Farms in their news release, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) is working with Mountaire Farms to offer testing to employees who have COVID-19 symptoms as well as any household members who have symptoms. The North Carolina National Guard and Piedmont Health Services are performing the testing with the support of the Chatham County Public Health Department and Chatham County Emergency Management.
To protect privacy and in accordance with North Carolina communicable disease law, the Chatham County Public Health Department cannot provide additional information that may lead to cases being identified, including cases at an employer. Questions regarding testing and efforts to respond to COVID-19 cases at food processing plants may be addressed to NC DHHS. Inquiries specific to this facility may be directed to Mountaire Farms.
The Chatham County Public Health Department continues to promote and implement strategies to limit the impact of COVID-19 in the Chatham County community. These efforts are ongoing and depend on everyone doing their part and following public health guidance to slow the spread of the virus."
April 21, 2020- Statement Regarding Mountaire Farms
The following statement may be attributed to Layton Long, Chatham County Public Health Director:
“As shared by Mountaire Farms and in the press release from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Mountaire Farms’ Siler City processing plant. The Chatham County Public Health Department and Chatham County Emergency Management are continuing to work with Mountaire Farms as well as state and local officials and healthcare partners to implement response measures in accordance with guidance developed by NC DHHS. These efforts are ongoing, and we remain committed to doing what we can, in partnership with many other stakeholders, to protect the health and safety of workers. To protect privacy, we are limited in details we can share about cases of COVID-19, including the number cases by potentially identifying characteristics like employer, geography and health status. For information about COVID-19 cases at this plant, please direct questions to Mountaire Farms. For additional questions about the press release, please reach out to NC DHHS. Read the full news release here.
April 21, 2020- North Carolina Leaders Act to Protect Workers at Food Processing Facilities
After witnessing outbreaks at food processing plants in other states and receiving reports of cases among workers in our state, North Carolina public and private leaders have come together to take swift action to protect workers here from COVID-19. The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDACS), local health departments, plant managers and corporate owners, community health centers and local hospitals are working together to keep workers safe and to help ensure the world’s food supply remains stable. Read the full news release here.
April 20, 2020- North Department of Health and Human Services to Provide Additional Food Benefits for More than 800,000 Children Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Governor Roy Cooper announced today that North Carolina has been approved for the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, to help families purchase food for children impacted by school closings due to COVID-19. NCDHHS is working to operationalize the program and families will begin to receive this benefit in coming weeks.
“So many families are in need, especially with so many out of work right now. This approval helps people get assistance faster to feed their families,” said Governor Cooper.
The program provides a benefit on an EBT card to North Carolina families whose children are eligible for free and reduced lunch at school. Families will receive $250 in P-EBT benefits per child, provided in two installments, with the possibility of an additional benefit if North Carolina schools are closed beyond May 15. Families will be able to use the P-EBT benefit to purchase food items at EBT authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores. Read the full news release here.
April 17- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Universities, Health Systems Partner to Study COVID-19 Cases with Mild or No Symptoms
Governor Roy Cooper today announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is working with academic partners across the state to understand how widespread cases of COVID-19 with mild or no symptoms are in the state and to monitor prevalence of the disease over time.
“North Carolina’s actions to flatten the curve and fight COVID-19 are working. We know we need more testing of all types, and this research partnership will help us better understand the virus so we can keep our communities safe as we seek to ease restrictions,” said Governor Cooper.
NC DHHS is collaborating with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and East Carolina University to assess changes in COVID-19 prevalence in Chatham, Pitt, Cabarrus counties. Participants will be recruited across different populations and monitored over several months to understand the spread of the virus. Read the full news release here.
April 17, 2020- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Shares Strategies for Counties to Support Behavioral Health and Intellectual and Development Services during COVID-19 Crisis
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) shares recommended strategies to support local solutions to maintain and sustain services for individuals with behavioral health needs and intellectual and developmental disabilities along with reducing the burden on emergency departments and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NCDHHS has acted aggressively to create flexibilities designed to sustain and bolster the behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disability system during the COVID-19 emergency. With additional regulatory latitude in place, the proposed actions can be taken at the local level to assist in supporting services and mitigating the current health crisis. The strategies are directed at local government agencies, community organizations, local management entity/managed care organizations (LME/MCOs), behavioral health providers, hospitals in communities across the state and other partners. Read the full news release here.
April 16, 2020- NC Medicaid Increases Support to Protect Individuals Most at Risk for Serious Illness Living in Nursing Homes and Adult Care Homes from COVID-19
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Division of Health Benefits (NC Medicaid) is providing additional funding to support nursing homes and adult care homes for older adult Medicaid beneficiaries diagnosed with or at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
This targeted Medicaid funding will further enable nursing homes and adult care homes to provide the more intensive care needed for residents with COVID-19 and limit the spread of the virus to other residents and staff. NC Medicaid will offer expedited hardship advances and enhanced reimbursement rates to facilities with multiple COVID-positive residents. These relief measures will address immediate cash flow needs caused by sharply rising costs and the expense to maintain an elevated level of care over the course of the public health crisis. Read the full news release here.
April 15, 2020- Governor Cooper Shares Path Forward for North Carolina Chatham County
Governor Roy Cooper today charted a path forward for eventually easing certain COVID-19 restrictions while still protecting North Carolinians from a dangerous second wave of the virus.
“This virus is going to be with us until there is a vaccine, which may be a year or more away,” said Governor Cooper. “That means that as we ease restrictions, we are going to enter a new normal. We want to get back to work while at the same time preventing a spike that will overwhelm our hospitals with COVID-19 cases.”
Expert modeling has shown it would be dangerous to lift the restrictions all at once because it would increase the chances that hospitals become overwhelmed and unable to care for severely ill patients. Cooper emphasized that changes in restrictions must protect public health, especially those who are most vulnerable to severe illness, including people over age 65, those with underlying health conditions and people living in congregate settings. Read the full news release here.
April 14, 2020- Chatham County Experiences its First Death Related to COVID-19
A Chatham County resident who tested positive for COVID-19 has passed away. The individual was a resident at The Laurels of Chatham Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and had been in declining health for some time prior to testing positive for COVID-19, as reported by The Laurels of Chatham. To protect the family’s privacy, no further information about the individual will be released.
“We are extremely saddened by the passing of a Chatham County resident due to this horrible virus,” said Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long. “We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the individual’s family, as well as the residents and staff of The Laurels.” Read the full news release here.
April 12, 2020- Test Results from The Laurels of Chatham Confirm Additional COVID-19 Cases
On April 10, 2020, UNC Health, the Chatham County Public Health Department and The Laurels of Chatham worked together to test all residents and staff of The Laurels of Chatham for COVID-19 after six people associated with the facility tested positive earlier in the week. The Chatham County Public Health Department has been notified that an additional 51 individuals have tested positive for the virus (57 total). Please note, that this may include individuals who do not live in Chatham County and therefore would not be included in Chatham County counts on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. To protect privacy, no additional information about the confirmed cases will be shared. Read the full news release here.
April 10, 2020- All Laurels of Chatham Residents and Staff Being Tested for COVID-19
The following statement regarding COVID-19 testing of The Laurels of Chatham Residents and Staff may be attributed to Layton Long, Chatham County Public Health Director:
“UNC Health, the Chatham County Public Health Department and The Laurels of Chatham are working together to test all residents and staff of The Laurels of Chatham for COVID-19. A team of health care workers collected samples from residents and staff on April 10, 2020, after six people associated with the facility tested positive earlier in the week.
The Chatham County Public Health Department has had to prioritize testing to close contacts and those who showed symptoms due to a limited supply of tests available to us. We are grateful to UNC Health for making universal testing at this facility possible. These partnerships are critical as we respond to an unprecedented pandemic.
The Laurels of Chatham will notify staff as well as residents and their family members of any positive test results. The Chatham County Public Health Department will continue to work with The Laurels of Chatham staff to ensure best practices are in place to limit the spread of the virus.”
April 9, 2020- Governor Cooper Signs Order to Tighten Social Distancing Measures, Strengthen Long-Term Care Rules and Streamline Unemployment Benefits Process
Governor Roy Cooper took action to the address the spread of COVID-19 by issuing stronger social distancing requirements and speeding up the process to get benefits to people out of work through Executive Order No. 131.
Three key areas are addressed in Executive Order 131. The first requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees. The second makes earlier COVID-19 guidelines mandatory for nursing facilities, and recommends other long-term care facilities to do the same. The third area is unemployment benefits, issuing changes that will speed up certain benefit payments to those who are out of work.
“North Carolina continues to take strong action to slow the spread of COVID-19, and today’s Order will help make stores safer, protect those living and working in nursing homes, and get more unemployment benefits out quicker. Our state is resilient, and we will get through this crisis together if we all do our part,” said Governor Cooper. Read the full news release here.
April 9, 2020- COVID-19 Cases Identified in Chatham County Long-term Care Facility
As of April 8, 2020, four cases of COVID-19 (new coronavirus) have been confirmed in The Laurels of Chatham Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pittsboro, North Carolina. To protect privacy, no further information about those who have tested positive will be shared.
The Chatham County Public Health Department has been working closely with The Laurels of Chatham to identify and test any residents or staff members who were in close contact with those who tested positive or show symptoms of COVID-19 and to ensure measures are in place to limit the spread of the virus in the facility.
“Staff from The Laurels of Chatham have been in regular communication with our public health team, and we are working together to protect the health of both residents and staff in the facility,” said Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long. “This includes testing for COVID-19, acquiring additional protective equipment for healthcare workers who interact with residents, and ensuring proper cleaning and isolation protocols are in place.” Read the full news release here.
April 7, 2020- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to Provide Financial Support to Essential Workers and Child Care Providers
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is providing financial assistance to help essential workers afford child care and bonuses to child care teachers and staff who provide care during the COVID-19 crisis.
NCDHHS established an Emergency Child Care Subsidy Program for essential workers as defined in Governor Roy Cooper’s March 27 Executive Order 121. Essential worker emergency child care financial assistance will be offered through May and may be extended. To receive an emergency care subsidy, parents must complete the COVID-19 Parent Application for Financial Assistance for Emergency Child Care and submit it to their child care provider. Financial aid is available to parents and caregivers who are essential workers and who meet the following criteria:
- Their income is below 300 percent of the poverty line;
- They are an essential worker fighting COVID-19 or protecting the health and safety of communities; and
- They feel they have no other viable child care options available to them.
The hotline is available to help essential workers find child care programs that are meeting new health, safety and operational guidelines. Care options are available in licensed child care facilities for children from infants through age 12. The hotline is in partnership with the NC Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Parents and caregivers can call (888) 600-1685 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Read the full news release here.
April 6, 2020- North Carolina COVID-19 Modeling Shows Social Distancing Necessary to Slow the Spread and Preserve Hospital Capacity to Save Lives
A collection of North Carolina experts today released a composite modeling forecast looking at how COVID-19 could affect North Carolina in the coming months. The models, constructed by experts from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, RTI International, and others reinforced the need for limiting personal contact to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that health care is there for people who need it.
“We have life-changing decisions before us and North Carolina is fortunate to have world-class experts who can help our state as we continue battling the coronavirus,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Modeling is one tool that helps us prepare for this fight and it shows we will save lives if we stay home and keep our social distance right now.” Read the full news release here.
March 31, 2020- Governor Cooper Signs Executive Order to Prohibit Utility Disconnections in the Wake of COVID-19
Governor Roy Cooper today announced another step to help families by prohibiting utilities from disconnecting people who are unable to pay during this pandemic. Today’s Order applies to electric, gas, water and wastewater services for the next 60 days.
The Order directs utilities to give residential customers at least six months to pay outstanding bills and prohibits them from collecting fees, penalties or interest for late payment. Telecommunication companies that provide phone, cable and internet services are strongly urged to follow these same rules. Read the full news release here.
March 30, 2020- Families to Receive Enhanced Benefits to Ensure Food Access
To help families access food during the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is temporarily increasing benefits for March 2020 and April 2020 to current Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) recipients in North Carolina. NCDHHS received federal authority to implement the program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on March 27. Read the full news release here.
March 27, 2020- Governor Cooper Announces Texting Tool to Access Food for Children
Governor Roy Cooper announced today that parents who need food assistance for their children can text FOODNC to 877-877 to locate nearby free meal sites. The texting service is also available in Spanish by texting COMIDA to 877-877.
After entering their address, parents will receive a text with the location and serving times for nearby pick-up and drive-thru free meal sites while schools are closed. Sites have been set up across the state for families with children ages 18 and younger, including preschool children, who rely on free and reduced-price meals at school. Read the full news release here.
March 27, 2020- Governor Cooper Announces Statewide Stay at Home Order Until April 29
Governor Roy Cooper ordered people in the state of North Carolina to stay at home for thirty days, until April 29, 2020, in another step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Governor Cooper’s Executive Order No. 121 takes effect on Monday, March 30 at 5:00 PM and reduces the size of gatherings to 10 people. The Order provides for essential businesses to continue to operate while prioritizing social distancing measures. The Order has the force of law and will be enforced in all 100 counties statewide. Read the full news release here.
March 25, 2020- Public Health Director Advises Chatham County Community to Act Now to Slow Spread of New Coronavirus
As three additional Chatham County residents test positive for COVID-19 (six overall), Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long strongly advises residents to act with urgency to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
“Because of the infectiousness of the new coronavirus, we expect the number of cases to continue to rise,” said Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long. Read the full news release here.
March 17, 2020- Governor Cooper Issues Executive Order to Close Sit-Down Service at Restaurants and Bars and Make State Unemployment Benefits More Widely Available
Today, Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina restaurants and bars will be closed to sit-down service and limited to take-out or delivery orders starting at 5 pm tonight, March 17, 2020. Grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores, are exempt from this order and will remain open, though they may not serve sit-down food.
Additionally, the order lifts some restrictions on unemployment benefits to help workers unemployed due to COVID-19 and those who are employed but will not receive a paycheck. Additionally, it adds benefit eligibility for those out of work because they have the virus or must care for someone who is sick. Read the full news release here.
March 17, 2020- Chatham County Adapts Operational Protocols to Limit Face-to-Face Contact
Effective March 18, 2020, Chatham County will adapt its operational protocols to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19. All County government offices and departments will continue to operate serving the public; however, they will take proactive steps to limit face-to-face contact such as closing lobbies and discontinuing in-person meetings. These measures are in line with the guidance of the federal government, Governor Roy Cooper’s executive orders and state health officials.
Chatham County residents are encouraged to visit the County’s Coronavirus Service Impacts page at chathamnc.org/coronavirus-serviceimpacts for more detailed information about specific departments’ operational procedures and restrictions. Individuals should call those offices with further questions. Read the full news release here.
March 17, 2020- Chatham County Declares State of Emergency
“On March 17, 2020, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved a resolution to declare a state of emergency in Chatham County," said Chatham County Manager Dan LaMontagne.
This proactive step by the BOC to activate the County’s Emergency Operations Plan, allows for reallocation of staff and authorizes the County Manager to take all necessary actions to protect lives and property, and to ensure safety and public order. Read the full news release here.
March 17, 2020- Two Additional Chatham County Residents Test Positive for Coronavirus
Two additional Chatham County residents have tested positive for the new coronavirus, COVID-19, bringing the current total to three. The Chatham County Public Health Department was notified of the positive tests March 17, 2020, by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. To protect privacy, no further information about these individuals will be shared by the Chatham County Public Health Department. Read the full news release here.
March 15, 2020- Chatham County Provides Guidance Amid School Closures to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
On March 14, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper announced new measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in North Carolina. The announcement included an executive order prohibiting mass gatherings of 100 or more people, as well as the closure of all public schools in North Carolina for at least two weeks, beginning March 16th.
To echo the guidance of the Governor’s Office, Chatham County officials also encourage employers to offer flexibility and support for employees whose schedules may be affected by school closures, and they reiterate the importance of social distancing (staying six feet apart from others and avoiding crowded spaces). Read the full news release here.
March 14, 2020- Governor Cooper Issues Executive Order Closing K-12 Public Schools and Banning Gatherings of More than 100 People
Governor Roy Cooper today ordered all K-12 public schools in North Carolina to close for a minimum of two weeks in response to COVID-19. The Executive Order also bans gatherings of more than 100 people. North Carolina currently has 23 people in 12 counties who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“We do not have the luxury of a wait-and-see approach. These are hard decisions but they are necessary so we can learn more about the virus,” Governor Cooper said. “We do not want any regrets in the rearview mirror, and I am guided by one objective – doing what we must to keep people from getting sick and to make sure that those who do can get excellent care." Read the full news release here.
March 12, 2020- North Carolina Recommends New Steps to Protect Against COVID-19
Governor Roy Cooper today announced that North Carolina is taking proactive steps to protect the health and wellbeing of our state in the face of growing cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 around the nation and here in North Carolina. Included in today’s guidance is a recommendation to cancel or postpone gatherings over 100 people and telework if possible.
“North Carolina has more tough decisions ahead, and we will be ready to make them. We have the benefit of learning from other countries and other states about the best ways to fight this pandemic,” said Governor Cooper. “We know that if we can slow the spread of this virus now, then fewer people will be infected or become seriously ill. And we can be more effective in avoiding an overload of our medical system. It will save lives.” Read the full news release here.
March 10, 2020- Governor Cooper Declares State of Emergency to Respond to Coronavirus COVID-19
Governor Roy Cooper took the next step in the state’s coronavirus COVID-19 preparedness plan today and issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency. The declaration activates the Emergency Operations Center to help agencies coordinate from one location and makes it easier to purchase needed medical supplies, protect consumers from price gouging, and increase county health departments’ access to state funds.
In addition to Governor Cooper’s emergency declaration, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) is making several recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of people infected. Read the full news release here.
March 6, 2020- North Carolina Identifies Second Case of COVID-19
A second North Carolina person, unrelated to the first case, has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The test, conducted by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, is presumptively positive and will be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab. The person is doing well and is in isolation at home.
A North Carolina man from Chatham County traveled in late February to an area in Italy that now has a COVID-19 outbreak. He had two days of mild, flu-like symptoms while in Italy. His fever resolved and symptoms were improving, and he flew back to the United States the following day. Read the full news release here.