North Carolina establishes a COVID-19 County Alert System

Raleigh, NC – North Carolina has established a COVID-19 County Alert System that they claim will give individuals, businesses, community organizations, and public officials another tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to slow the spread of the virus.

The COVID-19 County Alert System uses metrics informed by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers:

  1. Yellow: Significant Community Spread
  2. Orange: Substantial Community Spread
  3. Red: Critical Community Spread

Because no one metric provides a complete picture, the COVID-19 County Alert System uses a combination of three metrics: case rate, the percent of tests that are positive, and hospital impact within the county.

In Chatham County, DHHS data (through 11.17.20) shows that the survival rate for those under 50 years of age is 100 percent. There have been 65 coronavirus deaths in the county. 44 of these deaths took place in two senior living facilities.

Most counties are in the yellow range. North Carolina claims that this means there is still “significant” spread of the virus. In these counties, state officials recommend individuals:

  • Wear a mask at all times outside the home and maintain physical distance from people who do not live in your household
  • Download the SlowCOVIDNC app and share with friends and family; if you test positive, enter your pin into the app to notify close contacts to get tested
  • Get a flu shot
  • Get tested if symptomatic or if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Answer the call and participate in contact tracing
  • Avoid large gatherings and crowds
  • If you must host or attend a gathering, limit attendance to 10 or fewer, host outdoors, and ventilate indoor spaces as much as possible (e.g., keep windows open) (resources: Guidance for Private Social Gatherings)
  • Avoid non-essential travel

For businesses

  • Share messages about the importance of wearing a mask and practicing the 3Ws
  • Post signs about 3Ws at entrances in accordance with executive order
  • Provide face coverings to employees and patrons (resources: certain organization scan request PPE)
  • Support employees to stay home when sick(resources: Check My Symptoms)
  • Strongly encourage all employees to download and use the SlowCOVIDNC app
  • Follow general guidance for businesses and organizations as well as industry-specific guidance
  • Take actions from the business toolkit
  • Community and religious organizations are strongly encouraged to:
    • Hold meetings, events, and/or services online/virtually, or
    • Limit occupancy at indoor meetings,events, or services to ensure social distancing and require face coverings
    • Follow guidance in Places of Worship Guidance and Faith Leaders Toolkit

For local governments

  • Role model and actively promote 3Ws. Always wear a mask when you are with people you do not live with
  • Post signs about the 3Ws in all public buildings
  • Work with local media to share messages about the importance of wearing a mask and practicing the 3Ws
  • Have all public employees download and use the SlowCOVIDNC app

For counties listed orange or red,
here are the state‘s recommendations:

For individuals

  • Limit mixing between households and minimize the number of people in your social circle
  • Avoid settings where people congregate, like outdoor bars and night clubs (in N.C., indoor bars remain closed and indoor night clubs must remain below indoor mass gathering limits)
  • If patronizing restaurants, consider ordering take-out from restaurants and/or eating outdoors socially distanced
  • Individuals who are high-risk for developing serious illness should consider staying at home as much as possible
  • Reduce your public interactions to mainly essential activities like going to work or school, caring for family members, buying food, getting health care or picking up medications

For businesses

  • All businesses are strongly encouraged to implement teleworking if feasible and cancel any non-essential work travel
  • Promote Find My Testing Place website to employees
  • Require all employees to participate in Count On Me NC training
  • Manufacturing, construction, food-processing, farms – request a consultation from NCDHHS on reducing workplace transmission (919-707-5900)
  • Community and religious organizations should avoid any in-person indoor meetings, events, worship services or other gatherings above the indoor mass gathering limit

For colleges and universities

  • Adopt strict restrictions on student gatherings and events on-campus and off-campus
  • Close indoor dining and move to “grab-and-go”
  • Consider moving to single-occupancy dorms or other single-occupancy living arrangements

For local governments

  • Meet with state officials to discuss plans for mitigating spread
  • Work with the state to expand availability of no-cost testing to residents, especially prior to holiday travel
  • Work with the state to increase availability of non-congregate housing
  • Increase messaging on the risk of serious disease for older individuals and individuals in all age groups with certain underlying medical conditions identified by CDC, and recommend those individuals stay at home as much as possible
  • Adopt ordinances that allow for the use of civil penalties for enforcement of the statewide restrictions
  • Increase enforcement of mass-gathering limits and masks with local law enforcement or other local regulators or inspectors, such as the fire marshal
  • Consider adopting local ordinances to end alcohol sales for on-site consumption at an earlier time
  • Consider adopting local ordinances with additional restrictions for public-facing businesses

COVID-19 County Alert System report.