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.
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 is widely available across the state.
- 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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 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
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.
RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper announced that $85.4 million in federal funds provided for COVID-19 relief to counties will be disbursed this week. Three large counties, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake, have already received funds directly from the federal government, and 59 other counties that have completed certification will receive funds this week from the state-administered Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) that was passed by Congress. Counties are encouraged to support municipalities with the funding as needed.
“Everyone is working hard to make ends meet, including county governments as they finalize their budgets,” Governor Cooper said. “These funds will help communities respond to the COVID-19 crisis with testing, personal protective equipment and more.”
Though the federal government did not require that the state share any of the $3.56 billion in the CRF to North Carolina local governments, Governor Cooper’s COVID-19 budget proposal recommended $300 million be allocated to counties and municipalities. Ultimately, the unanimously approved and bipartisan budget that Governor Cooper signed included $150 million for counties which have the flexibility to share monies with their municipalities as county commissioners deem appropriate. The full distribution of funds is listed here by county, along with instructions to counties about how the funds may be used.
The CRF funds may be used for medical needs including the COVID-19 related expenses of public hospitals and clinics, including testing; public health expenses, such as personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, as well as the cost of cleaning public areas and facilities such as nursing homes; payroll expenses for public safety or healthcare employees dedicated to responding to the COVID-19 emergency; and expenses to comply with public health measures, including teleworking, distance learning, food delivery, paid leave for public employees, expenses for maintaining prisons, and protecting the homeless population.
By state law, the 97 remaining counties will receive a base amount of $250,000, with more distributed by population. This quick disbursement of funds was coordinated by the state Office of State Budget and Management and the new North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office (NC PRO).
NC PRO is a temporary office that coordinates and oversees funds made available through federal and state COVID-19 recovery legislation, including the CRF. The office offers technical assistance for entities which receive funds and ensures proper reporting and accounting of all funds. The office will also work on the state’s economic recovery and strategic plan as North Carolina rebuilds from this pandemic. Two staff members will help lead the office’s recovery efforts:
Stephanie McGarrah will serve as Executive Director of the Office. A native of western NC, McGarrah most recently worked with the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) to help identify, measure and address health care workforce shortages across the state. Prior to that, she served as Vice President of Policy at the North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) and as a consultant for UNC Health and taught and conducted policy research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 2007 to 2013, Stephanie served as Assistant Secretary at the North Carolina Department of Commerce. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master degree in public policy from Duke University.
Dwayne Patterson will serve as the Deputy Director/Chief Operating Officer for NCPRO. A Kinston native, Patterson most recently served as Director of the Division of State Parks and Recreation. Formerly, Patterson served as the executive director for CREST, a regional non-profit agency that serves intellectually and developmentally disabled adults. His public service positions include serving as the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Chief Deputy Secretary for the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and Chief Financial Officer for the Warren County and Durham public school systems. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in accounting from N.C. State University.
For questions about how CRF funds may be used, go to the NCPRO website for more information.
MURPHY, N.C. – Murphy High School (MHS) Principal Jason Forrister released details for 2020 graduation, which include a socially distanced ceremony, video, and May 29 parade.
“Suffice to say, the conclusion of this senior year has been unfamiliar and unexpected. The administration, faculty, and staff have missed seeing you in the classrooms, watching you play your senior seasons, enjoying prom, and participating in many of the other parts of senior year. We know these missed events have weighed heavily on you, as they have on us. With the time of graduation approaching, we do not want this season to pass without doing our best to offer you a timely, inclusive, meaningful, and memorable celebration of your successes and your transition to your new beginning,” wrote Forrister in his letter to MHS seniors.
This year, MHS will graduate 128 seniors, and the senior sponsors, Asst. Principal Wend Leatherwood, and Forrister tirelessly researched the best way to hold ceremonies during the pandemic. The plan they created is approved by the health department and similar to other schools’ graduation plans in the area.
To begin, seniors and up to seven guests will be scheduled to attend a socially distance ceremony; here they will accept diplomas and turn tassels. A videographer and photographer will be on hand to document the entire experience.
Faculty, staff, and guests are encouraged to wear face coverings and socially distance of up to six feet during this ceremony. The families and guests will watch their student participate in the ceremony from the designated viewing area. Once their student is finished with the ceremony, a family photography area will be available. However, graduates and families can’t congregate with other graduates. Once finished with their photographs, they must leave the premise.
The videographer will edit all the footage together, including commencement speakers into one video that will be released on May 29.
On May 29 at 7 p.m., MHS will hold a parade for the 2020 seniors. The route will run from Save-a-Lot, behind Murphy Middle to the high school.
Graduates are encouraged to decorate their cars and wear cap and gowns. They are limited to one car per graduate, and everyone must remain in their vehicle throughout the entire event.
Forrister added that a traditional ceremony isn’t out of the question, but no one knows what the social mandates for N.C. will be throughout the summer. MHS wanted its seniors an opportunity to participate in this right of passage.
Images courtesy of Murphy High School Facebook.
PRESS RELEASE: Almost sixty days after closing their doors to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos will begin a gradual reopening of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River on Monday, May 18, 2020.
As the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and North Carolina begin to lay out a framework for easing restrictions relating to the pandemic, the casinos are looking forward to a return to operation, but with extensive health and safety precautions in place for the safety of employees and guests. Areas such as the gaming floor, hotel and some restaurants, where social distancing can be practiced will be the first to open, with significant limitations on occupancy. Areas where social distancing is not possible, such as the spa, valet, poker, buffet and concerts, will have to remain closed until it is appropriate to reopen.
To make social distancing possible, access to the casinos will be by invitation only at first with small groups of customers receiving the invitation by email starting as early as May 13. During this initial phase, only invited guests will be able to make hotel reservations, or access the properties. The number of invitations may increase over time as it becomes appropriate to do so. Members of the EBCI will also be able to access both casinos during this period of time.
Given this phased reopening, furloughed employees will begin returning to work as their respective work areas ramp up operation. Before beginning work, each employee will complete a screening, which will include a questionnaire and temperature check, and be required to wear a face mask while on duty.
Reflecting on the closure, Brooks Robinson, Senior Vice President and General Manager said “This is uncharted territory for the casino industry, but what is clear is that when we return to work it will not be exactly as it was prior to closing. We look forward to welcoming back our guests and team members, also understanding that social distancing is going to be a part of our business and lives for a while.”
MURPHY, N.C. – In a May 6 executive order, Murphy Mayor David Ramsey lifted several previous restrictions to ensure accordance with Gov. Roy Cooper’s Phase One order.
Recreational basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, and pickleball courts located at Konehete Park can open as of 5 p.m. on May 8. These areas have been closed since March 23.
However, all playground equipment, rock gym, and playground areas within city limits and at Konehete Park will remain closed.
People engaging in outdoor activities must maintain social distancing of six feet and mass gatherings of more than ten people are still prohibited by the state of N.C.
Religious services are exempt from the 10 people rule but should take place outside unless impossible.
Short-term rentals and lodgings can begin taking new reservations and accepting guests on Friday as well.
Finally, any non-resident of Murphy is no longer required to self-quarantine for 14 days once arriving at their second home.
The State of Emergency continues to exist in Murphy and the order issued on March 20 is still in place. As a result, the pedestrian curfew between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. is still in effect. It doesn’t apply to employees or customers who are traveling between business and car or vehicle traffic. Offenders are subject to a fine of $100 at most or up to 20 days in jail.
Read the entire order here.
For more information about restrictions being eased in Phase One, click here.