State Issues Recommendations to Slow Coronavirus Outbreak
Note: The following news release was issued March 10 by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency, which activates the North Carolina Emergency Operations Center to help agencies coordinate from one location and which makes it easier to purchase needed medical supplies, protect consumers from price gouging, and increase county health departments’ access to state funds.
On Monday, March 9, 2020, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services confirmed five new cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Wake County, increasing the statewide total to seven. The department is taking proactive steps to protect the health of the community by making recommendations that are meant to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak and reduce the number of people infected.
The department understands these actions will have a significant impact on the lives of people in North Carolina’s communities. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is making these recommendations based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current actions by other states, and the most up-to-date epidemiologic information it has to protect the public’s health. This is a critical moment in the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in North Carolina when such measures can potentially impact the spread of the disease. The recommendations should be implemented immediately and extend through March 31, 2020. The department is monitoring the situation closely to determine whether these recommendations will be extended beyond March 31.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid large groups of people as much as possible. This includes gatherings such as concert venues, conventions, church services, sporting events, and crowded social events. People at high risk should also avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
People at high risk include anyone who meets any one of the following:
- Over 65 years of age.
- Has underlying health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease or diabetes.
- Has a weakened immune system.
People and establishments statewide
The following recommendations pertain to persons and establishments statewide:
Congregate living facilities
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all facilities that serve as residential establishments for high risk persons described above should limit visitors and restrict all visitors who have respiratory illness or potential exposure to COVID-19. These establishments include:
- Nursing homes
- Independent and assisted living facilities
- Correctional facilities
- Facilities that care for medically vulnerable children.
Mass gathering or large community events
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that event organizers:
- Urge anyone who is sick to not attend.
- Encourage those who are at high risk, described above, to not attend.
- Adopt lenient refund policies for people who are high risk.
- Find ways to give people more physical space to limit close contact as much as possible.
- Encourage attendees to wash hands frequently.
- Clean surfaces with standard cleaners.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all travelers returning from countries and U.S. states impacted by COVID-19 follow the department’s guidance on self-monitoring:
- Monitor for fever by taking temperatures twice a day.
- Remain alert for cough or difficulty breathing.
If they feel feverish or develop measured fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, they should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is not recommending pre-emptive closure of schools and childcare centers at this time.
People and establishments in the Triangle area
The following recommendations pertain to persons and establishments in the Triangle area:
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that employers and employees use teleworking technologies to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, employers should:
- Urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits.
- Consider staggering start and end times to reduce large numbers of people coming together at the same time.
Mass gatherings, community and social events
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that organizers of mass gathering events that primarily draw high-risk persons, including those that attract older adults, should consider canceling or postponing these events.
For reliable sources on the coronavirus, please visit:
- Orange County Health Department coronavirus webpage for local information. The Health Department is regularly updating a frequently asked questions document, Key Points, which includes guidance for businesses.
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus websection. The department is the state authority for health concerns. A citizen hotline is available at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, visit www.ncpoisoncontrol.org and select “chat.”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus websection. The center is the national authority for health concerns.
For handwashing information, please see:
- Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives (CDC websection in English)
- Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives (CDC websection in Spanish)