North Carolina officials have rolled out a COVID-19 County Alert System to distinguish areas of high levels of community transmission across the state, and establish protocols to control the spread.
Dare and Currituck counties fall in the state’s “orange” alert, meaning substantial community spread. Hyde County remains in the yellow “significant” community spread tier.
The system is meant to 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, Gov. Roy Cooper announced at a Tuesday news conference.
The alert system uses a combination of metrics to determine whether a county meets criteria to be in the red or orange tier. These metrics provide information about the amount of viral spread and hospital impact in the county.
To be assigned to the red or orange tier, a county must meet the threshold for case rate for that tier and the threshold for either percent positive or hospital impact, the state says.
Under the tier system, Dare County as of Nov. 14 had a test positivity rate of 8.3 percent and moderate impact on Outer Banks Hospital. Currituck had an 8.5 percent test positivity rate, with a low hospital impact, because the county does not have one.
Recommended actions for individuals in red and orange counties:
- 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
- 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 NC, 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
Recommendations for businesses and community organizations in orange and red zones:
- 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 organizations can request PPE)
- Support employees to stay home when sick (resources: Check My Symptoms)
- Strongly encourage all employees download and use the SlowCOVIDNC app
- Follow general guidance for businesses and organizations as well as industry-specific guidance
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
Institutes of Higher Education:
- 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
- Community and religious organizations should avoid any in-person indoor meetings, events, worship services, or other gatherings above the indoor mass gathering limit
Public officials in Red and Orange counties:
- 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
- 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 onsite consumption at an earlier time
- Consider adopting local ordinances with additional restrictions for public facing businesses
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.