Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots available for high-risk groups

Community, Press Release
booster shot

RALEIGH — To strengthen and extend protections against severe illness, North Carolinians at high risk for serious illness or exposure who have been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech (COMINARTY) vaccine for six months or more can now receive a COVID-19 booster shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today announced the Pfizer-BioNTech (COMIRNATY) COVID-19 booster shot is recommended for individuals who have been fully vaccinated for six months or more with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. People who are 65 years or older, 18 years or older with underlying medical conditions or work in a high-risk setting like healthcare workers, teachers and childcare providers or food workers are eligible in North Carolina.

“Pfizer boosters are now authorized for certain groups of individuals to extend the protection of vaccines against severe illness,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “If you are eligible, get your booster. If you aren’t vaccinated yet, don’t wait. The COVID-19 virus is more contagious than ever and we are seeing it attack the unvaccinated and make them very sick at an alarming rate.”

Those eligible can find booster shots at their health care provider, pharmacies and other locations where COVID-19 vaccines are available. There is no need for people to go back to the location where they received their original vaccines — most COVID-19 vaccination locations can provide Pfizer boosters. Visit MySpot.nc.gov and check “Pfizer-BioNTech (age 12+)” to search locations and ensure Pfizer is available. The CDC’s decision follows the Food and Drug Administration authorizing boosters for certain populations on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

If you have questions about whether to get a Pfizer booster, NCDHHS encourages you to talk to a medical professional to get their opinion.

North Carolina’s actions are based on recommendations from the CDC. Read the CDC’s full statement here.

NCDHHS encourages everyone 12 and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to continue to practice the 3 Ws — wear a mask, wait six feet apart and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to protect yourself and others.

If you have questions about Pfizer COVID-19 boosters, you can also join NCDHHS’s upcoming Town Hall featuring Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, State Health Director and NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer on Monday, Sept. 27, 5:30-6 p.m. by dialing (855) 756-7520 and entering 76072# when prompted.

Visit MySpot.nc.gov for more COVID-19 information and updates and to find a vaccine location near you.

North Carolina Increasing Capacity to Offer Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

News, Press Release
monoclonal antibodies

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced four new locations offering monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for treatment of COVID-19 managed by local organizations in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, bringing the number of sites in the state offering this therapy to more than 200. FEMA will also help staff one existing site. This partnership will give more North Carolinians access to monoclonal antibody treatment, which can decrease the likelihood of hospitalization related to COVID-19 if taken early.

“While vaccines provide the best protection from COVID-19, treatment options such as monoclonal antibodies are available for people at high risk for severe illness if you have had symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days or less or have been exposed to COVID-19,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, NCDHHS State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer. “Expanding access to this potentially lifesaving treatment can, if taken early, reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death.”

The four new sites, which are all operational as of the afternoon on Sept. 17, are located in Harnett, Johnston, Robeson and Wilkes counties. Listed below are the new sites and information about how people can make appointments, which are required:

  • Wilkes County: The Health Foundation in North Wilkesboro. Call 336-528-1637 or fill out this form.
  • Johnston County: Smithfield Hospital Campus in Smithfield. Call 919-268-1621.
  • Harnett County: Central Carolina Community College Harnett Health Sciences Center in Lillington. Call 910-893-0653.
  • Robeson County: UNC-Southeastern Ambulatory Care Center in Lumberton. Referrals based on a positive COVID-19 test are required for this location.

In addition, FEMA-contracted health care staff are providing surge capacity for an existing monoclonal antibody clinic at Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Murphy in Cherokee County.

NCDHHS, local partners and FEMA chose these locations based on a combination of geographic gaps in access to treatment and regional COVID-19 case counts. Appointments are required, but patients who qualify for treatment do not need a referral from a health care provider for sites other than Robeson County if they meet medical screening criteria when setting up their appointment. ID is not required to receive treatment at the FEMA-supported sites.

The federal government is providing monoclonal antibody therapy at no cost to patients. However, health care providers may charge an administration fee for treatment. Medicare and many commercial insurance companies are covering all costs for patients. Check with your health plan to learn more about treatment costs.

People who believe they may be eligible for treatment should ask their health care provider about monoclonal antibodies or call the Combat COVID Monoclonal Antibodies Call Center at 1-877-332-6585 (English) or 1-877-366-0310 (Spanish). The call center can assist people who do not have a health care provider. More information, including answers to frequently asked questions about monoclonal antibody treatments, is available at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/treatment.

Monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in a laboratory to fight infections — in this case, the virus that causes COVID-19 — and are given to patients directly with an IV infusion or a shot. Some early evidence suggests this treatment can reduce the amount of the virus, or viral load, that causes COVID-19 in a person’s body. Having a lower viral load may reduce the severity of symptoms and decrease the likelihood of hospitalization.

To meet the goal of administering monoclonal antibodies to treat mild to moderate COVID-19, or for preventive treatment in patients who are high risk for severe disease, Dr. Tilson issued a statewide Standing Order to expand access to this treatment following Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 232. There has been increasing demand for monoclonal antibody treatment in North Carolina and across the country, creating strain on supply. This week, North Carolina was allocated 6,500 doses by the federal government to meet the requests submitted to the state.

On Sept. 13, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) transitioned from the direct ordering process for monoclonal antibodies to a state-coordinated distribution system. At this time, federal mAb direct ordering has been paused and NCDHHS has updated providers on a new request process. A state-coordinated distribution system will give health departments maximum flexibility to get these critical drugs where they are needed most.

Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. All unvaccinated North Carolinians age 12 and older should get a COVID-19 vaccine now to protect themselves, their community and those who cannot be vaccinated. Rigorous clinical trials among thousands of people ages 12 and older have proven vaccines are safe and effective. Almost 200 million Americans have been safely vaccinated.

Free COVID-19 vaccines are widely available across the state to anyone 12 and older. To get a vaccine near you, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567. You can also text your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine locations near you.

Erlanger Health System implements no visitor policy

News, Press Release
Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in our region, the visitor policy for all Erlanger facilities has been updated and will begin tomorrow, Wednesday, August 18. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis for special needs and end-of-life patients.
For all Erlanger Health System Hospitals unless otherwise noted:
Inpatient Visitation – Erlanger Baroness, Bledsoe, East, North, and Western Carolina Hospitals have implemented a no visitor policy for inpatients. Minors, under age 18, at Children’s Hospital may have two visitors (parent or guardian) with option for overnight stay.
Obstetric – obstetric patients at East and Baroness Hospitals may have two support people during the entire time at the facility. Support visitors cannot switch out with another person during visitation period.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – NICU patients at East and Children’s Hospitals may have one birth parent plus one significant other who must remain at the bedside for the duration of the visit.
Emergency Departments – Erlanger Baroness, East, North, Bledsoe, Sequatchie, and Erlanger Western Carolina
Emergency Departments have implemented a no visitor policy for Emergency Department patients. Children’s Hospital Emergency Department patients may have two visitors. End-of-Life patients can have two visitors if approved by Emergency Department Management.
Outpatient Services – Adult patients, who have an appointment at an Erlanger hospital-based clinic, laboratory, or radiology cannot have a visitor without prior approval from the practice. Children’s Hospital and Kennedy
Outpatient Center outpatients/ambulatory patients may have two visitors.
Adult Surgical Services/ Procedures – Erlanger Baroness, East and Western Carolina Hospitals have implemented a no visitor policy for Surgical Services.
No visitors will be allowed for patients who have a pending or positive COVID-19 test.
Everyone entering any Erlanger facility is required to wear a mask.
Due to the changing nature of COVID-19’s presence in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina, this policy will be revised accordingly in response to circumstances.

Immunocompromised People Can Now Receive Additional Dose of Moderna, Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccines

News, Press Release
Immunocompromised

RALEIGH — North Carolinians who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines can now begin receiving an additional dose to better protect themselves from COVID-19, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced today. 

On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the Emergency Use Authorizations for both vaccines to allow for the use of an additional dose in some immunocompromised individuals, which was then recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Friday. A full list of conditions can be found on the CDC’s website. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised make up about 3% of the adult population in the U.S. 

According to the CDC, emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity after vaccination compared to people who are not immunocompromised. In addition, in small studies, fully vaccinated immunocompromised people have accounted for a large proportion of hospitalized post-vaccination cases. 

“This additional dose will offer valuable protection to those who need it, especially as we face a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant,” said Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, NCDHHS State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer. “I encourage those who are eligible to get this additional dose. In addition, if you are not fully vaccinated, please do so now to protect yourself and others – like those who are immunocompromised – from severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.” 

An additional dose of the same brand of vaccine is recommended for moderately to severely immunocompromised people at least 28 days after they’ve completed their initial two-dose series to help increase the body’s immune response. The same vaccine brand should be used unless unavailable, in which case either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can be used.  

The Moderna vaccine is available to those 18 and older, while the Pfizer vaccine is available to those 12 and older.  

Studies supporting this change were specific to people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and the authorization and recommendation for the additional dose is limited to this population. Additional doses should only be provided to people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. Patients may self-attest to their medical condition.

Providers can find information from the CDC at Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States.

Immunocompromised people eligible for an additional dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines should contact their health care provider or they can visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567 to find a vaccine location near them. Supply of vaccine in the state can accommodate providing this additional dose for immunocompromised people. 

It is not recommended that immunocompromised people who were vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get an additional dose at this time. There is not enough data on the safety and effectiveness of an additional vaccine dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for it to be authorized. This recommendation may change as more data is available.  

All unvaccinated North Carolinians age 12 and older are encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death. Rigorous clinical trials in more than a hundred thousand people have proven vaccines are safe and effective. Almost 200 million Americans have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Research has shown even people who had a mild case of COVID-19 may struggle with long-term effects like shortness of breath, chest pain and brain fog. 

To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities, NCDHHS also recommends that everyone wear a mask in indoor public spaces if you live in area of high or substantial levels of transmission as defined by the CDC until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases. In North Carolina, that is now all 100 counties. 

To get a vaccine near you, visit MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567. You can also text your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine locations near you. 

Gov. Cooper Issues Executive Order to Relax State’s Outdoor Mask Mandate and Ease Mass Gathering Limits

News, Press Release
mask mandate

RALEIGH: Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. gave an update on the state’s current data, trends and vaccination progress. As the state’s metrics and key indicators remain stable, Governor Cooper also signed an Executive Order outlining safety measures for the month of May. Executive Order No. 209 will take effect April 30 and is set to expire June 1. As more North Carolinians get vaccinated and adhere to safety protocols over the course of the next month, the state anticipates lifting more restrictions on June 1.

“While our numbers are mostly stable, we have more work to do to beat back this pandemic,” said Governor Cooper. “Let’s work hard in May and get as many people vaccinated as we can before summer gets here.”

Under the new Executive Order, masks will still be required indoors but are no longer mandated outdoors. Masks are still strongly recommended outdoors by NC DHHS in crowded areas and higher risk settings where social distancing is difficult.

Executive Order No. 209 will also increase mass gathering capacity limits. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 50 to 100 and the number of people who may gather outdoors will increase from 100 to 200. Occupancy limits currently in place will remain the same.

“Fortunately, we now have enough vaccine for everyone. They are free and widely available across the state. In many places you don’t need appointment,” said Secretary Cohen. “For those who have questions, I encourage you to go to YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov to learn about the benefits of the vaccines, potential temporary reactions you might experience, and answers to common questions.”

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. To date, the state has administered over 7 million doses. 48.7% percent of those 18 and up are at least partially vaccinated, and 39.2% percent of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated.

State health officials are continuing to monitor COVID-19 and its more contagious variants in North Carolina, which is why it is important to continue to follow the state’s mask mandate and continue to practice safety precautions, including the Three Ws—wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, and wash hands often.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is level.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is level.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is level.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level.

In addition to monitoring these metrics, the state continues to respond to virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Read Executive Order No. 209.

Read Frequently Asked Questions.

COVID-19 outbreak identified at Cherokee County Detention Center

News, Press Release
outbreak
MURPHY, NC – An outbreak of Covid-19 has been identified at the Cherokee County Detention Center. Seven staff members and 28 inmates have been confirmed positive for Covid-19.
On 1-28-2021 the Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Cherokee County Health Department after the first few cases were identified. The health Department tested all Detention staff and sixty-eight inmates on this date.
All are isolated and none are hospitalized. The Sheriff’s Office has notified Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital and Cherokee County EMS. The Detention Center remains fully staffed with a nurse on site. The Sheriff’s Office continues to work with the Health Department to ensure a successful conclusion.
Further testing will be conducted to contain and mitigate further spread.

Governor Cooper Extends Modified Stay At Home Order

News, Press Release
face stay at home in-person instruction

Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10 pm – 5 am to last through at least Friday, January 29. Secretary Cohen also issued a Secretarial Directive with stark warnings for North Carolinians to avoid indoor spaces without masks and gatherings between households. Read here for more details on the Secretarial Directive.

“We have turned the page on a new year – one that we’re hoping will bring better times. But as we know, the virus didn’t disappear at midnight on December 31,” Governor Cooper said. “In fact, in North Carolina, we have seen some of our highest case counts, percent positives, hospitalizations and ICU bed usage numbers in the past few days. No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat, and we must treat it that way.”

“We are in a very dangerous position. North Carolinians need to take immediate actions to save lives, slow the spread of the virus, and protect hospital capacity so that medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Dr. Cohen provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing

  • Testing is widely available across the state.

Tracing Capability

  • There have been more than 600,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map. There are now 84 counties designated as red (critical community spread) and 12 counties that are yellow (substantial community spread). Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

Vaccine Efforts Underway

Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen also highlighted North Carolina’s efforts to support the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Governor Cooper has mobilized approximately 50 North Carolina National Guard personnel to support NCDHHS and North Carolina Emergency Management. The Guard will assist with administering the vaccine and logistics support for local entities.

“As we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are also helping local hospitals and health departments to support their vaccine efforts. Getting the vaccine out quickly is the most urgent priority right now, and we will use everything and everyone needed to get the job done,” Governor Cooper said.

NCDHHS is onboarding more health care providers to administer the vaccine and sharing detailed guidance with providers to help them get the vaccine out more quickly. NCDHHS has also notified vaccine providers that future allocations will be based on how quickly they are able to get their supply out to eligible recipients. If an entity is not using their vaccine supply quickly enough or keeping the state database updated on their progress that will impact how much they are allocated going forward.

As the state moves into Phase 1b, local hospitals and other vaccine providers can now begin administering vaccines to those over age 75. Individuals should call their local health department or hospital to see if they have started to schedule vaccine appointments. A comprehensive list of local health department contact numbers can be found here.

Finally, NCDHHS and the state of North Carolina continue to work with communities around the state who may be hesitant to accept the vaccine when it is their turn. Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen underscored that this vaccine was authorized after independent health experts reviewed the data from tens of thousands of trial participants.

Read Executive Order No. 188.

North Carolina Expands Pre-Thanksgiving No-Cost COVID-19

Community, Press Release
Thanksgiving

RALEIGH: This weekend, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is offering more than 120 no-cost COVID-19 community testing events, including new locations in partnership with retailers to help North Carolinians protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities as they prepare for Thanksgiving.

In addition to existing testing events throughout the state, grocery stores in seven counties are offering testing on November 20-22: Buncombe, Cumberland, Durham, Iredell, Johnston, Mecklenburg, and Union. Select Carlie C’s IGA, Compare Foods, Food Lion, Ingles Markets, and Target will have walk-up and drive-thru testing. Testing will be conducted by C.W. Williams Community Health Center (in coordination with NC Community Health Center Association), OptumServe, and StarMed Urgent and Family Care, P.A.

For a full list of all testing event times and locations throughout the state, visit the No-Cost Community Testing Events page on the NCDHHS website. More locations are being added each day. Additional testing sites can be found at Find My Testing Place.

“We care about our customers and about the communities we serve,” said Emma Inman, Director of External Communications for Food Lion. “Along with NCDHHS, we want to encourage North Carolinians to get tested for COVID-19. It’s a simple thing to do before we see our friends, family, and loved ones this Thanksgiving to care for them and help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Anyone can get tested for COVID-19 at the events. People without insurance are eligible for testing and identification documents are not required. Children and adults may be tested, but a parent or legal guardian must be present with children and teens 17 or younger.

People who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been around a person with COVID-19 should not shop in person until their isolation or quarantine period has ended. This includes shopping at partner retailers during testing events.

North Carolina is experiencing record high numbers of COVID-19 cases. NCDHHS urges caution when traveling or gathering for Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations, especially for gatherings that include people who are at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19, such as anyone over the age of 65.

People who choose to travel or gather for Thanksgiving should consider having a COVID-19 test three to four days ahead of time. A test can help someone know if they have COVID-19 even if they do not have symptoms yet; however, tests can miss some infections and are not a fail-safe measure. If your test is positive, you should stay home, not attend any gatherings, and self isolate or quarantine. If your test is negative, you still need to practice the 3Ws – wear a mask, stay 6 feet apart from people who do not live in your household, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

NCDHHS also recommends that everyone quarantine for 14 days before gathering with anyone outside their household to limit advance risk of being exposed to COVID-19. Quarantining is particularly important from the time you test until you travel or gather with people outside your household.

While gathering, shopping or traveling, follow the 3Ws. For a full list of guidance about traveling and gathering during the holidays, along with a chart outlining low, medium and high-risk activities, see the NCDHHS Interim Guidance for Thanksgiving Holiday.

Ask The Doc! Fighting Off Covid-19

Community, Lifestyle
Ask The Doc! Recovery Process Of Covid-19

This morning, The doctors address a comment left on one of the Ask The Doc Segments. What drugs are good for fighting off Covid-19 or do we just wait on a vaccine? The Doctors also address the President and first lady testing positive for Covid-19. What do the Doctors have to say about testing positive with no symptoms? When could he have contracted the virus? How long has he had it? All this and more on Ask The Doc!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rHHkEdwlKE

Ask The Doc! College And Covid-19

Lifestyle
Ask The Doc! Recovery Process Of Covid-19

This morning, the doctors discuss how colleges are dealing with Covid-19. When a Student tests positive, the colleges continue classes and give the infected student their own quarantined dorm. Is this the approach we should be taking with everything? Should we worry over the numbers? Hear Doctor Whaley and Doctor Tidman’s point of view on this right here on Ask the Doc!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBLFwj_Lmr4

Cherokee County NC announces fourth COVID-19 death

News
numbers asymptomatic fourth death
A Cherokee County resident that was previously reported to have COVID-19 has died from complications of COVID-19. This individual was in their early sixties. This is the fourth COVID-19 related death in Cherokee County.
This serves as an unfortunate reminder of the seriousness that surrounds COVID-19 and the potential impacts of the virus. We as a community must do our part to help stop the spread of the virus by washing our hands, practicing social distancing and wearing a face mask to help protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19. These are important preventative measures that we should all be taking any time we are in areas where maintaining 6 feet of distance may be difficult. It’s also important to remember that just because you feel well, doesn’t mean you cannot transmit the virus to others.
Cherokee County Health Department emphasizes that anyone who becomes ill with a respiratory type illness to isolate until the following criteria are met:
• At least 24 hours have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), AND
• At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
It is also recommended that household and close contacts of persons with a respiratory type illness should quarantine to the extent possible for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of a respiratory illness. If household or close contacts become sick during the 14 day monitoring period, it is advised that they then isolate until the criteria for discontinuation of isolation (listed above) are met.
In addition to isolating as instructed above, if you become sick with a respiratory type illness, please contact the Cherokee County Health Department at 828-837-7486 or your primary care provider to determine if you need to be tested.
Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, individuals should take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, staying home if you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow. The CDC now recommends that cloth face coverings be worn in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).
It is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like Cherokee County Health Department, CDC, and NCDHHS. For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which will also include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

Cherokee County Health Department regularly updates our Facebook page with accurate and current information regarding COVID-19, we encourage the public to check our Facebook page for up-to-date information at https://www.facebook.com/cchdnc.gov.

Symptoms for COVID-19 have a wide range reported-ranging from mild to severe illness. Symptoms include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are having a mild respiratory illness or exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19, isolate yourself from others until the criteria above is met. If your illness becomes severe requiring urgent or emergent health care, call and inform your health care provider or emergency services of your symptoms prior to arrival.
If you have questions, you may call the Health Department at 828-837-7486 during regular office hours which are Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM.

Cherokee County Schools following Cooper’s Plan B option

Business
Plan B

CHEROKEE COUNTY, N.C. – Cherokee County Schools chose to operate under N.C. Governor Roy Cooper’s Plan B scenario for the 2020-2021 school year.

Under Plan B, schools must follow social distancing and safety protocols as well as a limited number of people allowed within the building. Originally, the government only permitted 50 percent capacity, but the plan has since been modified to ensure six feet of separation.

Parents and guardians can choose between returning to in-person instruction or remote online learning.

Students who return to in-person must wear a mask except for breaks and meals. Face coverings will be provided by the state.  A physician’s prescription will also be accepted if a child can’t wear a mask. Daily temperature checks and symptom questions will be conducted daily.

Students will sit one to a seat on buses with masks unless they are siblings. The limited number of seating might require buses to run late or make more trips. Parents are encouraged to pick-up and drop-off their children because of limited capacity. Bus riders must have a form attesting to their health and lack of COVID-19 symptoms.

On Monday and Tuesday, students with the last name beginning with A-L will attend school. M-Z will attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is a remote learning day for everyone, and the school will be sanitized.

Students who have siblings with different last names will have their schedules adjusted so they can be in school on the same days.

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are remote learning days.

Social distancing will always be maintained. Stickers will be placed on the floors, sign installed, along with social distancing procedures in place.

Intense sanitizing will take place on the campus and on buses. Students will be encouraged to regularly wash their hands and hand sanitizing stations will be prominently available. Water bottle stations will replace water fountains, and water bottles will be provided.

No visitors, including parents and guardians allowed inside the school without the express permission of administration because of an emergency or other situation deemed necessary by the administration. No large group assemblies, gatherings or congregating will be allowed.

Remote Learning Option

Students in remote only classes will be accountable for participation, attendance remotely and partake in an organized, rigorous curriculum. All assignments will count as a final grade.

Those in remote learning must commit to the option for an entire semester.

Face to face assessments will be conducted with remote students on days that other students aren’t in attendance.

Parents can complete a decision form to participate in online or in-person school before Monday, August 10. It can also be completed over the phone. Once submitted, this form will be used to reserve a student’s space in one of the options and cannot be changed until the end of the first semester in December.

After August 10, school staff will begin calling or making home visits to obtain an answer from parents and guardians.

Plans could change at any time as more information about COVID-19 becomes available, the infection rate increases, or the governor’s orders.

Watch the video about Cherokee Jumpstart to see how Cherokee County Schools might operate once students return to school.

Cherokee County announces third COVID-19 death

News, Press Release
resident work-related death
CHEROKEE COUNTY, N.C. – A Cherokee County resident that was reported to have COVID-19 has died from complications of COVID-19. This individual was in their late eighties. This is the third COVID-19 related death in Cherokee County.
This serves as an unfortunate reminder of the seriousness that surrounds COVID-19 and the potential impacts to those high-risk individuals. We as a community must do our part to help stop the spread of the virus by washing our hands, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask to help protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19. These are important preventative measures that we should all be taking any time we are in areas where maintaining 6 feet of distance may be difficult. It’s also important to remember that just because you feel well, doesn’t mean you can’t transmit the virus to others.
See the latest COVID-19 numbers for Cherokee here. 
Cherokee County Health Department emphasizes that anyone who becomes ill with a respiratory type illness to isolate until the following criteria are met:
• At least 24 hours have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), AND
• At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
It is also recommended that household and close contacts of persons with a respiratory type illness should quarantine to the extent possible for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of a respiratory illness. If household or close contacts become sick during the 14 day monitoring period, it is advised that they then isolate until the criteria for discontinuation of isolation (listed above) are met.
In addition to isolating as instructed above, if you become sick with a respiratory type illness, please contact the Cherokee County Health Department at 828-837-7486 or your primary care provider to determine if you need to be tested.
Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, individuals should take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, staying home if you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow. The CDC now recommends that cloth face coverings be worn in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).
It is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like Cherokee County Health Department, CDC, and NCDHHS. For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which will also include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.

Cherokee County Health Department regularly updates our Facebook page with accurate and current information regarding COVID-19, we encourage the public to check our Facebook page for up-to-date information at

Symptoms for COVID-19 have a wide range reported-ranging from mild to severe illness. Symptoms include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are having a mild respiratory illness or exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19, isolate yourself from others until the criteria above is met. If your illness becomes severe requiring urgent or emergent health care, call and inform your health care provider or emergency services of your symptoms prior to arrival.
If you have questions, you may call the Health Department at 828-837-7486 during regular office hours which are Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM.

North Carolina requires face coverings and social distancing for schools

Cherokee County Schools, Community, News
face stay at home in-person instruction

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen were joined by education and health leaders to announce health and safety plans for K-12 public schools for the new school year. Schools will open for in-person instruction under an updated Plan B that requires face coverings for all K-12 students, fewer children in the classroom, measures to ensure social distancing for everyone in the building, and other safety protocols.

“The most important opening is that of our classroom doors. Our schools provide more than academics; they are vital to our children’s’ health, safety and emotional development,” said Governor Cooper. “This is a difficult time for families with hard choices on every side. I am committed to working together to ensure our students and educators are as safe as possible and that children have opportunities to learn in the way that is best for them and their families.”

The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit outlines the updated requirements for Plan B. Districts may choose to operate under Plan C, which calls for remote learning only, and health leaders recommend schools allow families to opt in to all-remote learning. Modifications have been made to Plan B since it was released in June to make it more protective of public health.

“After looking at the current scientific evidence and weighing the risks and benefits, we have decided to move forward with today’s balanced, flexible approach which allows for in-person instruction as long as key safety requirements are in place in addition to remote learning options,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD. “We will continue to follow the science and data and update recommendations as needed. We ask every North Carolinian to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering when in public, Wait 6 feet apart, Wash your hands.”

Governor Cooper also announced that the state will provide at least five reusable face coverings for every student, teacher and school staff member in public schools. In June, the state provided packs of personal protective equipment to schools that included a two-month supply of thermometers, surgical masks, face shields, and gowns for school nurses and delegated staff who provide health care to students.

“Educators and stakeholders across our state have worked tirelessly to reopen our school buildings safely for our students, teachers, and staff. Today, we take another critical step towards that goal. We also know families need to choose the option that is best for their children, so all school districts will provide remote learning options,” said Eric Davis, Chairman of the State Board of Education.

“In-person education is important for children, and it happens in the context of a community. This plan strikes the right balance between health and safety and the benefits of having children learn in the classroom. We must all continue with proven measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission like wearing a face covering, keeping distance between people, and frequent hand and surface cleanings so we can move closer to safely re-opening public schools,” said Dr. Theresa Flynn, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a practicing pediatrician who serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Pediatric Society and joined today’s announcement.

Under Plan B, schools are required to follow key safety measures that include:

  • Require face coverings for all teachers and students K-12
  • Limit the total number of students, staff and visitors within a school building to the extent necessary to ensure 6 feet distance can be maintained when students/staff will be stationary
  • Conduct symptom screening, including temperature checks
  • Establish a process and dedicated space for people who are ill to isolate and have transportation plans for ill students
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the school and transportation vehicles regularly
  • Require frequent hand washing throughout the school day and provide hand sanitizer at entrances and in every classroom
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups
  • Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups
  • Discontinue use of self-service food or beverage distribution

In addition, schools are strongly recommended to follow additional safety measures that include:

  • Designate hallways and entrance/exit doors as one-way
  • Keep students and teachers in small groups that stay together as much as possible
  • Have meals delivered to the classroom or have students bring food back to the classroom if social distancing is not possible in the cafeteria
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups
  • Place physical barriers such as plexiglass at reception desks and similar areas

More details can be found in the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit. Read the Screening Reference Guide for schools and the Infection Control and PPE Guidance.

In addition to the announcement about school plans, Governor Cooper shared that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 after the current Executive Order expires on Friday, July 17.

“As we continue to see rising case numbers and hospitalizations, we will stay in Safer At Home Phase 2 for three more weeks,” said Governor Cooper. “Our re-opening priority is the school building doors, and in order for that to happen we have to work to stabilize our virus trends.”

School Groups on Today’s Public School Announcement

“While all school re-entry plans have their challenges during this pandemic, our superintendents, principals, and other school leaders will continue to prioritize student and staff safety in reopening schools under the cautious parameters outlined today by the Governor,” said North Carolina Association of School Administrators Executive Director Katherine Joyce. “We look forward to continuing work with the Governor, the General Assembly, and other state leaders to ensure our schools have the support needed to get student learning back on track in the safest manner possible in each local district.”

“I recognize Governor Cooper faced a very difficult decision. The good news is that local school boards can now begin to officially put their school reopening plans in motion,” said Brenda Stephens, President of the North Carolina School Board Association. “While the current situation may not be ideal for all, I’m confident North Carolina’s educators will continue to provide students with the best education possible.

To see the press briefing click here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=591404655097644


Cherokee County announces 2nd COVID-19 death

News, Press Release
resident work-related death
CHEROKEE COUNTY, NC – A resident that was reported to have COVID-19 on Monday, June 29 has died from complications. This individual was in their late eighties. This is the second COVID-19 related death in Cherokee County.
This serves as an unfortunate reminder of the seriousness that surrounds COVID-19 and the potential impacts to those high-risk individuals. We as a community must do our part to help stop the spread of the virus by washing our hands, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask to help protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19. These are important preventative measures that we should all be taking any time we are in areas where maintaining 6 feet of distance may be difficult. It’s also important to remember that just because you feel well, doesn’t mean you can’t transmit the virus to others.
Cherokee County Health Department emphasizes that anyone who becomes ill with a respiratory type illness to isolate until the following criteria are met:
• At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), AND
• At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
It is also recommended that household and close contacts of persons with a respiratory type illness should quarantine to the extent possible for 14 days and monitor for symptoms of a respiratory illness. If household or close contacts become sick during the 14 day monitoring period, it is advised that they then isolate until the criteria for discontinuation of isolation (listed above) are met.
In addition to isolating as instructed above, if you become sick with a respiratory type illness, please contact the Cherokee County Health Department at 828-837-7486 or your primary care provider to determine if you need to be tested.
Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, individuals should take the same measures that health care providers recommend to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face, staying home if you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow. The CDC now recommends that cloth face coverings be worn in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).
It is important to make sure the information you are getting about COVID-19 is coming directly from reliable sources like Cherokee County Health Department, CDC, and NCDHHS. For more information, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus, which will also include future positive COVID-19 test results in North Carolina.
Cherokee County Health Department regularly updates our Facebook page with accurate and current information regarding COVID-19, we encourage the public to check our Facebook page for up-to-date information at

https://www.facebook.com/cchdnc.gov.
Symptoms for COVID-19 have a wide range reported-ranging from mild to severe illness. Symptoms include: fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you are having a mild respiratory illness or exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19, isolate yourself from others until the criteria above is met. If your illness becomes severe requiring urgent or emergent health care, call and inform your health care provider or emergency services of your symptoms prior to arrival.
If you have questions, you may call the Health Department at 828-837-7486 during regular office hours which are Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM.

Murphy changes Independence Day celebrations

Community
Independence

MURPHY, N.C. – Murphy’s changing up its Independence Day event in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and extension of Phase 2 reopening plan.

Anyone attending the show is encouraged to remain in their car and pedestrian viewers should avoid gathering in groups larger than 25 people and wear a face covering that meets CDC guidelines. The fireworks show will take place closer to Murphy High School, not Konehete Park, in an effort to prevent large gatherings. The modified plan also avoids street closures.

Fireworks will be visible from Valley Village Shopping Center, Lowe’s and Ingles parking lots. The show will begin at dark. The rain date will be on Monday, July 6.

The downtown parade and day-time activities at Konehete Park are canceled, but the park will remain open.

The town of Murphy asks that everyone follow Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive orders and practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wear a face mask. Please contact 828-837-2510, ext. 4 for additional questions.

While the changes might not be ideal, Murphy looks forward to continuing its tradition of celebrating the nation’s independence.

 

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