RALEIGH: Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. announced that state government would begin verifying vaccination status of its workers. Employees not vaccinated are required to wear a mask and be tested at least once a week. Today’s announcement comes as North Carolina’s latest upswing in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is driven by unvaccinated North Carolinians.
“Until more people get the vaccine, we will continue living with the very real threat of serious disease, and we will continue to see more dangerous and contagious variants like Delta,” said Governor Cooper.
NCDHHS updated guidance encourages private sector businesses to, at a minimum, verify vaccination status for their workers as well. The requirement for state government employees applies to cabinet agencies and is included in Executive Order 224.
“There is only one way out of this pandemic and that is vaccination. Our trends are accelerating at an alarmingly fast rate and the highest rates of viral spread are happening in areas with low vaccination rates and among those who are not fully vaccinated,” said Secretary Cohen. “If you are already vaccinated, I call on you to urge your unvaccinated family and friends to get their shot now. It is not an understatement to say that you will save lives by doing so.”
The NCDHHS updated guidance reminds unvaccinated people that they need to continue practicing the three Ws – wear a mask in all indoor public settings, wait six feet apart in all public settings and wash hands often. In addition, unvaccinated people should not gather with other unvaccinated people who do not live with them. If they do, they should stay outside and keep 6 feet of distance. In addition, unvaccinated people should not travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new mask guidance this week based on levels of transmission in communities. The new maps designate counties as areas of low (blue), moderate (yellow), substantial (orange) or high (red) transmission. Moving forward, everyone in a red or orange county in North Carolina, including those who have been vaccinated, should wear a mask in public indoor settings.
Additionally, in accordance with the updated CDC guidance, all K-12 schools should require universal masking, regardless of vaccination status. NCDHHS is updating its guidance for schools to align with this recommendation.
To date, North Carolina has administered nearly 9.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 57 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. 61 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 86 percent of North Carolinians 65 and over.
Learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at myspot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). Details on the Your Shot at $1 Million Summer Cash Drawing can be found at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/summervaxcash. Use NCDHHS’ online tool Find a Vaccine Location to find a nearby vaccine site. Call the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 888-675-4567.
Read the Executive Order.
Feature image courtesy of NC Department of Public Safety.
RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today announced that North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order, requiring people to be at home from 10 pm – 5 am, will be extended. Face covering requirements and restrictions on individuals gathering in both indoor and outdoor settings are still in place. Executive Order No. 189 will be in effect through at least Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.
The extension of Executive Order No. 190 allowing for the sale of “to-go” or delivery of mixed beverages will continue to help businesses that are struggling right now. The extension of Executive Order No. 191 will help families have the ability to stay in their homes, a critical component of slowing the spread of the virus.
The Executive Orders for “to-go” or delivery sales of mixed beverages and the evictions moratorium both received concurrence from the Council of State.
“With more than 3,300 people in the hospital, and the percent of positive tests in double digits, we know this virus is still spreading,” said Governor Cooper. “And with at least one new contagious variant of COVID-19 in our state, we still have work to do. We cannot let our guard down, especially in these cold winter months.”
In addition to the Modified Stay at Home Order, the DHHS secretarial directive remains in effect. People should stay home and only leave for essential purposes such as buying food, accessing health care, and going to school or work.
“The 3 Ws are as essential as they have always been,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Remember people can have COVID-19 and not know it. The best way to protect those around you is to act as if you do have the virus and could be contagious. That means always wearing a mask – over your mouth and nose, always waiting apart from others, and always washing your hands frequently.”
North Carolina continues to administer Covid-19 vaccines across the state. As of today, 99.8% of all first doses received by the state were reported as being administered and 859,695 total doses have been administered. Vaccine supply continues to be very low and the state is hopeful for more vaccine to be on the way. On a call with Governor Cooper and other governors yesterday, the Biden Administration committed to increase vaccine shipments to the states by 16% over the next 3 weeks.
On Tuesday, NCDHHS expanded its vaccine data dashboard to provide information about vaccine doses allocated to and received by the state and updated guidance to ensure equitable distribution and speed of administration.
North Carolinians can find out when they will be eligible to get their vaccine through a new online tool, Find My Vaccine Group. The screener walks users through a series of questions to determine which vaccine group they fall in. Learn more about North Carolina’s vaccine rollout at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.
On January 23, NCDHHS reported the first identified case of B.1.1.7 COVID-19 Variant in North Carolina. Early data suggest that this variant may be more contagious than other variants and state health officials continue to recommend staying at home when possible and practicing the 3 “W’s:” Wear a face covering, Wait 6 feet apart and Wash your hands.
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 decreasing, but high.
Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is stabilizing, but high.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is leveling, but high.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
- North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is leveling, but high.
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 capacity remains high.
- There have been more than 666,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.
Personal Protective Equipment
- North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.
MURPHY, NC – At 8:07 a.m. on August 9, 2020, many North Carolinians were rattled by a 5.1 magnitude earthquake, originating two miles outside of Sparta, NC.
According to the National Weather Service, this quake is the strongest to hit NC since 1916. It was 5.2. magnitude earthquake in Buncombe county and it toppled chimneys and people ran into the streets
At this time, no injuries or major damage have been reported. If you felt it, report it to the USGS.
Residents from Murphy and Hayesville have reported experiencing tremors at the time of the earthquake. Additionally, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee felt the effects of the morning quake. Georgia reports include Dahlonega and as far as Fayetteville.
Did You Feel It??? According to the USGS, North Carolina just experienced a 5.1 magnitude earthquake with the epicenter at 2 km SSE of Sparta, North Carolina. For more info click here https://t.co/cq5bMmUcJD pic.twitter.com/pzAt8tvuRP
— NWS Raleigh (@NWSRaleigh) August 9, 2020
Sparta is 272 miles from Murphy, NC, 264 miles from Hayesville, and 165 miles from Asheville. The city sits close to the NC/Tenn. line.
Another smaller 2.6 magnitude earthquake occurred in the same area at 1:57 a.m.
National Weather Service out of Raleigh has also reported three other possible quakes in Guilford, Randolph, and Moore counties.
If you felt the earthquake this morning or experienced any damage, please let us know!
The most recent earthquake in the Triangle was in 2011 in Virginia. Its magnitude was 5.8.
MURPHY, N.C. – A large, peaceful crowd turned out in downtown Murphy to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on June 4.
Approximately 450 or more BLM supporters brandished homemade signs while marching from the train depot to the courthouse. The three young adult organizers created the event on Monday, June 1 with the intention of holding a small gathering with their friends. However, after launching the Murphy BLM Peaceful Protest group, it grew from 10 to 200 people overnight. At the time of the event, the group had 677 members. No one expected such a big crowd, and several protesters expressed the hope they felt at the sight.
“I think it says there are a lot more people out there then you know. Like that support what you’re trying to convey and spread the word. I think it just says a lot about what we don’t know is out there,” organizer Jake Reed told FYN on the protest’s success.
Reed and his fellow organizers TeLor Allen and Emily Mills all stressed their desire for a peaceful protest leading up to the event. They wanted it to be a safe space for the people from Cherokee County to show solidarity with the BLM movement.
“I am not a rioter. I am not a looter. I am not a thug. I am not a stereotype. I am a student. I go to the University of Tennessee. I am a daughter. I matter. My name is TeLor Allen,” declared Allen. “Thank you for using your voices for a cause that is so much beyond us that we can’t even imagine.”
The event appeared to serve as an outlet for those who wanted to support BLM and share their grief as well as desire for change.
“[I experienced] a lot of recently feeling helpless, but then hearing oh there’s a protest actually going on here in Murphy, which I was shocked to find out considering how small it is. But I’m so glad that it happened and glad that I am here,” said one protester who goes by Ryvers.
FYN spoke with participants about small towns and the likelihood of protests in support of BLM. Certain individuals discussed that residents in rural communities are “at peace” with how things operate and don’t see a need for change. No one wants to “rock the boat” or take a gamble on controversial topics.
Diversity also plays a part in how communities see BLM protests. One protester talked about moving from Athens, Ga to Murphy, NC, and how one of their classmates told them that they never saw a person of color before.
Another BLM supporter brought up community diversity and the role it plays:
“We grew up in Florida where there was diversity and there was color and to move to a small town and to see how closed it was. This was very important to us for our voices to be heard. Not only for Black Lives Matters, but also for the injustice that the police, there are so many occasions of them getting away with so much stuff,” said Kathryne, “The fact that the police officers were on the side that really meant a lot to everybody.”
“We all wanted it to be peaceful and glad that it’s reaching such small communities too,” responded Lynsey. “This is a matter that affects all of us.”
When asked why now and why they felt the need to demonstrate, they responded:
“I’m sick and tired of seeing everything happen on the news. I’m tired of watching our black Americans go through everything that they are. I want things to be better for them. They should feel safe and have the same privileges that we do and not feel oppressed or as though, they can’t attain, the same things that we do,” expressed Sierra Butler.
“I’m tired of just standing by and knowing that I have white privilege, but not being able to do anything about it,” added Brenda Hammond. “I know that there are people who have it so much worse than we do simply because they’re darker than us and that’s not right. It makes me hurt so much to see so many people in pain.”
Hammond also addressed how her family has a lot of mixed opinions on the issue, but they are having conversations about race in America to try and understand.
While marching, they continued to chant “No Justice No Peace,” “George Floyd,” “Black Lives Matter,” “This is America,” and “I can’t breathe.” Once reaching their destination, several protesters laid down in the street with their hands behind their back and chanted “I can’t breathe.”
Everyone fell silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to recognize the length of time former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to George Floyd’s neck.
Cherokee County Sheriff Derrick Palmer spoke, at times in tears, over the injustices African American’s face and the acts of police brutality. He condemned the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and any officer who didn’t see the wickedness in the four former MPD members.
“It’s a long time past that law enforcement and community leaders need to stop, and no longer continue to be silent but speak out when we see injustice occurring,” Palmer stated. “No longer can community members and leaders turn our backs, turn our faces, and pretend these things don’t happen. We don’t only need to speak out for a change, but we need to make changes in our community both Republican and Democrat.”
The sheriff also stressed the need for the community and the nation to love each other citing the Bible and Martin Luther King Jr. Palmer and his staff have started discussions on how to end systemic racism in law enforcement and help their citizens. He added that this discussion only took place because of protesters raising their voices against unjust systems.
Police reform is at the heart of the issue, FYN asked Reed what next steps people could take after the protests:
“I think the next big step for police systems, police departments, and people in power that can really change is realizing that we need change. I think that us being here even in this tiny town is really impactful.”
Some individuals who disagreed with the protest lined the outskirts of the protest. One even shouted out “all lives matter.” He was quickly shouted down by others in the crowd, who echoed “not until black lives matter.” Others shouted that the disruptor “didn’t have a clue.”
FYN chatted with protesters, Kathyrne, Lynsey, and Talon who encountered him before the event started.
“He looked at us and said are you serious, and I just said yes sir, we are, and thank you, have a nice day,” explained Lynsey. “If you’re here for the wrong reason, go home.”
Once the peaceful assembly ended, the organizers and police handed out water to those in attendance and cleaned the streets of any trash.
To see all photos from the event, click here.