Following the Data, North Carolina Will Remain Paused in Phase 3
|October 21, 2020 – Governor Roy Cooper announced today that North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 3 for three more weeks as health officials continue to monitor North Carolina’s viral trends. North Carolina has seen increased hospitalizations and trajectory of cases in recent weeks. Governor Cooper underscored the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, and using good judgment despite fatigue or frustration with the pandemic.|
“As this pandemic continues, I know it’s difficult and tiring to keep up our guard, especially when we’re gathered with people we love. But it’s necessary. No one wants to spread COVID-19 accidentally to friends or family, so we must keep prevention at the forefront,” said Governor Cooper. “Wearing a mask shows you care about people. Wearing a mask is an easy way to protect our communities and look out for each other. Confronting the virus head on and doing our part as individuals is good for our health and good for our economy.”
Guidelines for Get-TogethersNCDHHS-Guidelines-for-Get-Togethers
NCDHHS Launches SlowCOVIDNC Exposure Notification App; Available for Download Today
September 22, 2020 – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has launched a COVID-19 Exposure Notification app called ‘SlowCOVIDNC’ today, Sept. 22. The app will help North Carolinians slow the spread of the virus by alerting them when they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It is completely anonymous and does not collect, store or share personal information or location data.
SlowCOVIDNC, which leverages Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification System (ENS), alerts users who have the app if they have been in close contact with an individual who later tests positive for COVID-19. It is voluntary to download and use and designed to enhance the state’s existing contact tracing efforts. The app completed Beta testing earlier this month and can now be downloaded for free through the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Here’s how SlowCOVIDNC will work:
- Download the free SlowCOVIDNC Exposure Notification app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and enable Bluetooth and Exposure Notifications. Bluetooth must be on for the app to work.
- After opting-in to receive notifications, the app will generate an anonymous token for the device. A token is a string of random letters which changes every 10-20 minutes and is never linked to identity or location. This protects app user privacy and security.
- Through Bluetooth, phones with the SlowCOVIDNC app work in the background (minimizing battery) to exchange these anonymous tokens every few minutes. Phones record how long they are near each other and the Bluetooth signal strength of their exchanges in order to estimate distance.
- If an app user tests positive for COVID-19, the individual may obtain a unique PIN to submit in the app. This voluntary and anonymous reporting notifies others who have downloaded the app that they may have been in close contact with someone in the last 14 days who has tested positive.
- PINs will be provided to app users who receive a positive COVID-19 test result through a web-based PIN Portal, by contacting the Community Care of North Carolina call center, or by contacting their Local Health Department.
- SlowCOVIDNC periodically downloads tokens from the server from the devices of users who have anonymously reported a positive test. Phones then use records of the signal strength and duration of exposures with those tokens to calculate risk and determine if an app user has met a threshold to receive an exposure notification.
NCDHHS is partnering with institutions of higher education, local businesses and influential North Carolinians to promote SlowCOVIDNC and educate the public about how widespread use of the app can slow the spread of COVID-19.
NC Department of Health and Human Services Prevent and Protect Media Toolkit
Click here to view the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services “Prevent and Protect” media toolkit, which includes:
- Social media graphics in English and Spanish answering basic questions about wearing coverings over the mouth and nose. Images used in the graphics reflect the diversity of North Carolina.
- Posters for businesses and community organizations to print and hang that remind people to wear cloth coverings over their nose and mouth and celebrate the commitment businesses in your community have made to protect employees and customers. We encourage you to place the posters in your breakrooms, waiting rooms, building entrances or doors, and other frequented locations.
IPDC “Back to Work” Webinar Recording
Click here to view the recording of IPDC’s “Back to Work” Webinar held on May 7. This webinar featured Ruth Krystopolski of Atrium Health, Josh Carpenter of EDPNC, Freddie Killough of Marion Business Association, William Kehler of McDowell Emergency Services, and Steve Garrison Rutherford County Manager.
Resources Discussed in the Webinar:
- Atrium Health Business Resources for COVID-19
- Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina – Links to Mountain BizWorks and North Carolina Unemployment
- CDC’s Ongoing Mitigation Guidance
- Marion Business Association
- McDowell Chamber of Commerce – COVID-19 Business Reopening Toolkit
- North Carolina Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
- CDC Resources COVID-19 and Cooling Centers
- WNC COVID-19 Legal Hotline
Employer Re-Opening Guide
Click here to access the North Carolina Department of Commerce and NC Works Employer Re-Opening Guide for Phase 2, which has numerous resources available for the public.
Know Your Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash
The NC Department of Health and Human Services is asking people to remember these three things as we stay strong and continue to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19.
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 to ease restrictions while the virus is still circulating.
All North Carolinians are encouraged to share this message in their businesses and through their organizations to protect our families and neighbors as the state takes a cautious step forward while the virus is still circulating.
Click here for printable “Know Your Ws” flyers to post at your business
EDPNC Business Reopening Resources
For all general questions, call Business Link North Carolina (BLNC) at 800.228.8443. BLNC staff are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm. BLNC staff will connect your business to the appropriate organization for assistance. All inquiries will receive a response from a confidential business counselor within three (3) business days. “Se Habla Español.”
Are you preparing to reopen your business?
Businesses looking for the latest info on the COVID-19 situation in NC can visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services website. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services publishes guidance for dealing with the current COVID-19 situation, including specialized advice for businesses and restaurant operators.
Ongoing Mitigation Guidance
Businesses seeking guidance to plan, prepare, and respond to COVID-19 can review the CDC’s Ongoing Mitigation Guidance guidelines for potential mitigation activities according to level of community transmission or impact of COVID-19 by setting.
WNC COVID-19 Legal Help
Individuals with low-incomes who need legal assistance can call:
- Pisgah Legal Services at 1-800-489-6144 during regular business hours or apply online for assistance anytime.
- Legal Aid of North Carolina at 1-866-219-LANC (5262) or apply online.
Pisgah Legal Services and Legal Aid of NC provide free civil legal aid to North Carolinians living in poverty who have a legal problem related to meeting their basic needs.
Individuals who do not qualify for free services through Pisgah Legal or Legal Aid of NC can call the NC Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-662-7660 for a 30-minute legal consultation for $50 or seek help with their legal question through NC Free Legal Answers at www.nc.freelegalanswers.org.
Protecting Your Business from COVID-19
Pandemics like COVID-19 create a variety of unusual circumstances that you must be able to quickly adjust to. This guide from the National Institute of Standards and Technology can help you prepare for and react to COVID-19 impacts and includes best practices for protecting your facility and employees from exposure.
- Staff, Visitor and Travel Policies:
- Review employee leave policies and modify them as necessary to support extended sick or home quarantine periods.
- Consider paid leave for these periods to encourage appropriate use.
- Consider flexible working arrangements for staff including working on-line from home.
- Review your visitor access policies and be prepared to limit visitors.
- Consider replacing in-person meetings with on-line alternatives. Test online meeting tools prior to use.
- Limit staff business travel to impacted areas; consult the CDC Travel Health Notice site for updates.
- Help Employees Stay Healthy:
- Maintain and enhance facility cleaning plans and consider providing hand-sanitizing locations on-site.
- Provide illness prevention training and education to staff, encouraging to practice these habits at home and work.
- Identify which staff and visitors need access to which areas of your facility, limit if possible.
- Consider screening, home-quarantine and other policies as appropriate.
- Consider a policy that supervisors must notify HR immediately if they become aware of diagnosed employee.
- Implement social distancing guidelines if recommended by public health officials.
- Communication Plan:
- Develop an internal employee communication plan regarding the company’s response plan providing regular (at least weekly) updates and provide opportunities for questions and feedback.
- Communicate to external business partners with updates on your response plan and impacts to them.
- Plan and act based on facts and anticipate employee fear, anxiety, rumors and misinformation and plan communications accordingly.
- Coordinate your response plan with local and state officials as needed.
Responding to COVID-19 Exposure at Your Business
The following can serve as a checklist for what you should do if you suspect a COVID-19 exposure has occurred at your facility. This advice is based upon recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). You can use the sources in this document and on the CDC’s website to ensure you have the latest updates and recommendations. Be sure to refer to your state’s recommendations as well.
- Protect Your Staff
- Employees (or visitors) who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately.
- Provide the employee with a copy of CDC’s 2019 nCoV fact sheet showing them how to get treatment.
- Refer to your state’s guidance in determining appropriate follow-up actions and notifications and review their Business Guidance recommendations.
- If possible, identify which areas of your facility were visited by the sick individual and which staff may have come into contact with them. Consult with your state’s guidance on appropriate actions (they may recommend a 14 day home self quarantine for these staff).
- Consider a temporary shut-down of the facility to thoroughly clean the facility before re-opening for business. Associated with this would be implementation of any flexible leave, flexible working and work from home arrangements.
- Communicate with your staff, suppliers, customers and business partners on your facility status and plans
- Conduct a Thorough Environmental Cleaning:
- Refer to CDC’s Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations for what steps are required at your site.
- It is recommended to close off areas used by the ill persons and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
- Ensure all cleaning staff receive proper training in advance and have proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The recommended PPE includes gowns, gloves and goggles or face shields for splash protection.
- Review OSHA requirements in terms of dealing with cleaning products and proper use of PPE.
- Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, restrooms, machines and common areas) used by the ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.
- If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA registered household disinfectants should be effective.
- Do not use compressed air or water sprays to clean potentially contaminated surfaces, as these techniques may aerosolize infectious material.
- Ensure the cleaning staff follow proper and frequent hand washing practices.
- Properly dispose or clean PPE, laundry, and refuse.
Guidance for Restaurant Operators
Restaurant operators preparing to reopen should consult the COVID-19 Reopening Guidance from the NC Restaurant and Lodging Association for a framework for best practices as you reopen. The purpose of guidance is just that, to offer you direction and provide a framework for best practices as you reopen.
Summary of Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 and Food Safety FAQ
Guidance for Retail Businesses
Open for Business – A Blueprint for Shopping Safe
America’s retailers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, with grocers, pharmacies, and other retailers working hard to make sure every family has what they need as America has stayed home. However, many retailers were required to shut down storefronts throughout the country, furloughing over one million workers in order to protect our communities and stop the spread of the coronavirus. Click here for the guide.
Printable Retail Signs
These signs from the NC State Food Safety Extension can be downloaded and filled with business specific information.
- Please Don’t Shop While Sick – Red
- Please Don’t Shop While Sick – Blue
- Please Don’t Shop While Sick – Green
- Please Don’t Shop While Sick – Grey
As North Carolina’s restaurants, hotels, attractions and businesses reopen after the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, Count On Me NC is a mutual pledge and public health initiative that empowers guests and businesses to help keep everyone safe and protected. Click here to learn more.
Businesses across North Carolina can participate in this no-cost training that was developed with the NC Department of Health and Human Services. It includes evidence-based practices on social distancing, employee health and sanitation to protect people’s health. The first phase of Count on Me NC training is designed for restaurants and hospitality businesses that serve food. The program plans to expand to other tourism businesses including lodging and attractions and add courses in Spanish by June.
This link highlights OSHA standards and directives (instructions for compliance officers) and other related information that may apply to worker exposure to COVID-19
COVID-19 can be a recordable illness if a worker is infected as a result of performing their work-related duties. However, employers are only responsible for recording cases of COVID-19 if all of the following are true:
- The case is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see CDC information on persons under investigation and presumptive positive and laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19);
- The case is work-related (as defined by 29 CFR 1904.5); and
- The case involves one or more of the general recording criteria set forth in 29 CFR 1904.7 (e.g., medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work).
Employers should also consult OSHA’s Enforcement Guidance for Recording Cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Visit OSHA’s Injury and Illness Record keeping and Reporting Requirements page for more information.
OSHA Worker’s Rights
Under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. If you have concerns, you have the right to speak up about them without fear of retaliation. Click here to learn more.
CDC Recommendations for Communities, Schools, and Workplaces
CDC guidance to plan, prepare, and respond to COVID-19:
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- FAQs for Businesses
- What Grocery and Food Retail Workers Need to Know about COVID-19
- Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers
- Transportation and Delivery Industry Recommendations
- Shared and Congregate Housing
- Gatherings and Community Events
- First Responders and Law Enforcement
- Community and Faith-Based Organizations
- Parks and Recreational Facilities
- Resources to Support People Experiencing Homelessness
- Retirement Communities and Independent Living
- Correctional and Detention Facilities
How to Clean to Slow the Spread of COVID-19
Cloth Face Coverings: Do’s & Don’ts
Wearing a cloth face covering CORRECTLY can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. When you go out on essential trips, follow these “do’s”.
If you have a child, remember those under age 2 should not wear a face covering.
Governor Cooper Announces School Re-Opening Plan
Throughout this pandemic, the most important opening in our state has been that of our classroom doors. Yesterday, Gov. Cooper announced that North Carolina schools will be opening this fall for both in-person and remote learning. pic.twitter.com/3IkRtSfgKh— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) July 15, 2020
- StrongSchoolsNC: Public Health Toolkit (K-12)
- StrongSchoolsNC: Public Health Toolkit (K-12) – Spanish
- What Are We Learning About COVID-19 and Children? (English, Spanish)
- Reference Guide for Suspected, Presumptive, or Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 (K-12)
- StrongSchoolsNC Infection Control and PPE Guidance (K-12)
- Frequently Asked Questions (English, Spanish)
- Social Media Outreach (English, Spanish)
- Memorandum on Preschool Programs and K-12 Public Health Guidance
Lighting Our Way Forward – NC’s Guidebook for Reopening Public Schools
The North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) and Department of Public Instruction (DPI), in consultation and response to guidelines issued by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), have developed guidance to support public school units (PSUs) and communities in determining their plans and strategies for reopening schools. Lighting Our Way Forward: Summary Document provides an overview and synthesis of NCDHHS requirements, clear, actionable steps that are advisable before students and employees return to school buildings, and guidance that is applicable throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Click here to read the guidebook.