• 46°

STATE: NCDHHS issues Secretarial Directive with immediate actions to protect North Carolinians

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday issued a Secretarial Directive telling North Carolinians to stay home except for essential activities and avoid gathering, especially indoors, with people who do not live with you.

The directive comes as the state reports 84 counties as red in the COVID-19 County Alert System released Wednesday, meaning most of the state has critical levels of viral spread. North Carolina also has experienced record high numbers on key metrics in recent weeks, including its highest number since the start of the pandemic of cases reported each day, the percent of tests that are positive and people hospitalized with COVID-19.

“There is an alarming amount of virus everywhere in our state. We are in a very dangerous position,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Every single North Carolinian needs to take immediate action to save lives and protect themselves and each other.”

The directive outlines immediate actions North Carolinians must take to save lives, slow the spread of the virus and protect hospital capacity across North Carolina to ensure medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason.

The directive aligns with recent recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Governor’s Executive Orders on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 County Alert System for North Carolina. North Carolinians are directed to:

• Only leave home for essential activities such as going to work or school, for health care purposes, to care for family members or to buy food.

• Avoid leaving home if you are over 65 or at high risk for developing serious illness. Use delivery services or alternative pick-up methods for food and retail.

• Avoid gathering with people who do not live with you.

• Wear a mask and keep distance from people when you leave home.

• Avoid any indoor public spaces where people are not wearing masks.

• Stay away from crowds. Avoid places where people may gather in large numbers.

As recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to North Carolina, the directive also says that if you have gathered with people who do not live with you, assume that you became infected with the virus and get tested for COVID-19. People should also get tested if they have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

COVID-19 is highly contagious, and more than half of North Carolinians are at high risk for serious illness. Studies are also finding that some people, including those who had mild illness, experience symptoms for weeks or months following infection.

North Carolina’s statewide mask requirement and Modified Stay at Home Order are in effect. This order requires people to stay at home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Businesses including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses, most retail stores and more, have capacity limits and are required to close by 10 p.m. In addition, all onsite alcohol consumption sales must end by 9 p.m.