Issued:  March 10, 2020

Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order on March 10, 2020 declaring a state of emergency to coordinate response and protective actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19

In addition to the emergency declaration, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is making several recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the number of people infected. The measures were announced at a press conference today with Governor Cooper and members of the state’s Coronavirus Task Force.

Providers are asked to rely on credible sources, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NCDHHS for updates regarding COVID-19, and to check these sources regularly.

Partners will continue to share information, such as this guidance from SAMHSA and news from NCDHHS, to help providers ensure the best care for our members. Providers may send questions to their account specialist, to the Provider Network Help Desk or email questions@partnersbhm.org.

The following is an excerpt from NC DHHS’ March 10, 2020 press release:

Today’s updated NC DHHS recommendations are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current actions by other states, and the most up-to-date epidemiologic information available to protect the public’s health. Many of the recommendations are targeted at protecting people at high risk of severe illness, which includes adults over 65 years, those with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, or with weakened immune systems.

Additional recommendations are being made for residents of the Triangle region. On March 9, 2020, NC DHHS confirmed five new cases of COVID-19 in Wake County, increasing the total in the county to six and statewide to seven.

“We all play a role in keeping our communities safe and healthy. These precautions can help us slow the spread of this virus and protect our more vulnerable neighbors,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “Let’s be guided by compassion and reason and work to support each other as a community.” 

The following recommendations pertain to persons and establishments STATEWIDE.

HIGH-RISK PERSONS
NC DHHS recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 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.

ADULT CONGREGATE LIVING FACILITIES
NC DHHS recommends that all facilities that serve as residential establishments for high-risk persons described above should restrict visitors. These establishments include nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, and facilities that care for medically vulnerable children.
Read the communication to family members, guardians and visitors.

MASS GATHERING EVENTS
NC DHHS 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 at 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.

ALL TRAVELERS
NC DHHS recommends that all travelers returning from countries and US states impacted by COVID-19 follow DHHS guidance on self-monitoring: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina/coronavirus 

The following recommendations pertain to persons and establishments in the TRIANGLE area.

WORKPLACE SETTINGS
NC DHHS 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
NC DHHS 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.

Currently, NC DHHS is not recommending pre-emptive school closures.

The recommendations should begin immediately and extend through March 31, 2020. NC DHHS will monitor the situation closely to determine whether to extend the recommendations beyond March 31, 2020.