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Harnett County,
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Wednesday, May 20, 2020  |  Permalink

May 20 COVID-19 Update

Harnett County continues to work with state officials and local agencies to closely monitor the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Residents are encouraged to stay up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information by reviewing our daily press release. We will continue to provide new information while also communicating reminders for residents during this time.

In today’s update, the following sections include new information:

  • Harnett County COVID-19 Data
  • NCDHHS Launches Interactive COVID-19 Dashboard
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Updates
  • Harnett County Schools Revised 2020-2021 School Calendar
  • Consumer Alert: Hang up on Robocall Coronavirus Scams

HARNETT COUNTY COVID-19 DATA
The Harnett County Health Department is working to provide consistent updates about reported cases of COVID-19 to help our community better understand how this pandemic is developing in our county. As we continue to see an increase of cases in our county, we are encouraging the community to follow the Public Health Orders that have been issued. Take action to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a cloth face covering in public spaces, keeping at least 6 feet of physical distance, and frequently washing your hands.

The data below reflects laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 among county residents. Highlights of the data derived from the confirmed positive cases as of May 20, 2020 include:

  • Confirmed cases 251
  • Recovered cases 164
  • Deaths reported 20
  • Age ranges are 2 to 97 years
  • Average Age is 53
  • Gender 55% female and 45% male

It is important to remember that the data contained in this release is subject to change as cases are investigated and additional testing is performed.

NCDHHS LAUNCHES INTERACTIVE COVID-19 DASHBOARD
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services unveiled an updated COVID-19 Dashboard. The interactive dashboard provides an overview on the metrics and capacities that the state is following to inform decisions to responsibly ease measures that slow the spread of the virus.

The updated dashboard includes an enhanced NC map, sections on COVID-Like Illness Surveillance, Cases, Testing, Hospitalizations, Contact Tracing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Congregate Living Settings. There is also a section on weekly reports that currently includes presumed recoveries and risk factors for severe illness for North Carolinians.

A feature of the interactive dashboard is the ability to filter cases and deaths by demographic information (i.e., race, ethnicity, gender and age). For example, if a user selects a race, data will display for the ethnicity, gender and age breakdown for that racial group for cases or deaths. 

Additional features of the interactive dashboard include:

  • Searching by county or ZIP code for case and death counts.
  • Viewing cases by date reported or date of specimen collection.
  • County map for ongoing outbreaks in congregate living settings.
  • Rollover functions to see daily numbers.

The dashboard can be accessed online at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard.

WOMEN, INFANTS, AND CHILDREN (WIC) PROGRAM UPDATES
To assist with the COVID-19 pandemic, the special supplemental nutritional program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has made the following changes in how services are provided.

  • If you or a family member are currently certified to receive WIC food benefits, the NC WIC COVID-19 food package waivers have been extended until June 30, 2020. 
  • If you or a family member are currently certified to receive WIC food benefits, the benefits will be added to your eWIC account remotely on your family’s issue date. 
  • If you or someone you know has been financially affected by recent events and are pregnant, just had a baby, or have children under the age of five, the Harnett County WIC office is accepting applications for new families and is here to help provide healthy foods and other resources.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, WIC has the option to complete most services via the phone without your physical presence in the office. With these changes, the program is working to support mothers, infants and children that rely on WIC. 

For more information, please call the Harnett County Health Department’s WIC office at 910-893-7570 or visit the Health Department’s website at www.harnett.org/health.

HARNETT COUNTY SCHOOLS REVISED 2020-2021 SCHOOL CALENDAR
Harnett County Board of Education approved a revised school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year in order to comply with current requirements from the state legislature. Recent legislation requires schools to add five (5) additional student days at the beginning of the school year, and five (5) remote learning days to school calendars. Harnett County Schools students will start school one week earlier on August 17, 2020, and the last day of school will end on June 4, 2021.

Remote learning days will consist of student learning at-home, similar to what has taken place during the stay at home orders from the Governor due to the coronavirus pandemic. Harnett County Schools will adhere to the remote learning guidance given to the school district by the State Board of Education.

The revised calendar also features three workdays before the start of the school year, and two workdays at the end

of the year for teachers and staff. To stay within the required 215 days for 10-month payroll purposes, workdays, and remote learning days are limited from previous years to ensure mandated state calendar requirements. "There is a very slim window to work with due to the reduction of teacher workdays and early release days. We were able to replace some of those days with remote learning days for our students," stated Dr. Fleming, Superintendent of Harnett County Schools.

Deputy Superintendent Brooks Matthews stated, "Recently mandated state calendar requirements necessitated the modification of Harnett County School's calendar for 2020 - 2021 school year. While making these calendar adjustments to meet the new requirements, every effort was made to hold fast to prior calendar committee input and to make the new calendar as similar as possible to the previously adopted one."

Due to the uncertainty of the current pandemic, Harnett County Schools will continue to make any adjustments to our school calendar and district plans to ensure compliance to government, state, and local mandates.

CONSUMER ALERT: HANG UP ON ROBOCALL CORONAVIRUS SCAMS
As North Carolinians work to stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers are looking to take advantage of their fears. Individuals have been receiving robocalls and text message scams offering bogus miracle cures, free at-home test kits, updates from government authorities, and home cleaning that scammers claim will reduce your risk of getting COVID-19. Some robocallers may also be offering help obtaining stimulus checks from the federal government.

Scammers are working to take advantage of people’s fears to steal their money and personal information. The best way to protect yourself is to follow these tips:

  • Watch out for unsolicited messages and calls. Never respond to texts or calls from unknown numbers. Take care to avoid clicking links, paying for products, or giving personal information to an untrusted solicitor. Know that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money. If you want information and the updates on government efforts related to COVID-19, contact your local government office, or go directly to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Be skeptical of “miracle cures” and testing offers. Ignore unsolicited offers for vaccinations, pharmaceuticals, and medicines that promise to cure COVID-19 or prevent you from getting the virus to begin with. Some scammers have reportedly targeted individuals who are high-risk to contract COVID-19. According to medical experts, no such cure-all product exists. Before you purchase a product or a service, check with a doctor. Remember, as all scams go – if it’s too good to be true – it probably is.
  • Don’t let anyone rush you. Avoid sales offers that are only good “now or never.” Fears about the spread of coronavirus mean that many people are making decisions under pressure – walk away from high-pressure sales pitches or cure-all promises. You should never feel like you have to make a decision or share financial information under pressure.

As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial that we do so with accurate information and protect our personal information and money in the process. If a company contacts you and you’re unsure of their authenticity or if you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, contact the Consumer Protection Division at ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

HARNETT COUNTY BUSINESS RESOURCES
Harnett County Economic Development
Harnett County Economic Development has compiled the latest COVID-19 information and resources for businesses in Harnett County. If your company is considering transitioning to production of medical supplies or equipment, please contact Angie Stewart at astewart@harnett.org for an expanded list of resources to potentially assist beyond those listed on the website. For businesses preparing to reopen, view these COVID-19 resources.  

COVID-19 Relief Bills
On May 4, 2020, Governor Cooper announced two COVID-19 relief bills. House Bill 1043 includes appropriation of $125 million to Golden LEAF Foundation for the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program. Applications are reviewed on a first come, first served basis. Visit NCRapidRecovery.org to learn more about the program and submit an application for your small business.

Job Opportunities
There are also several local businesses within Harnett County looking to hire. The following positions are available at this time:

Support from Local Chambers
Businesses can also receive support from the County’s five Chambers of Commerce. Small businesses are encouraged to reach out to these organizations for additional support during COVID-19.

PROGRAMS & ACTIVITIES FOR HARNETT COUNTY RESIDENTS
Harnett County Public Library

Virtual Programs. Even though the Harnett County Public Library is closed to the public, the library continues to provide access to content that enriches the lives of our community. This includes:

  • Online library card registration
  • Curbside item pickup
  • Virtual programs, including weekly storytime and line dancing classes
  • Electronic resources, including ebooks, audiobooks, interactive picture books, video, magazines, study resources, and more!

Visit the Harnett County Public Library’s COVID-19 Resources webpage for the latest information about library programs and services. Librarians are also still available by phone Monday through Friday from 9:00am-5:00pm at (910) 893-3446.

Dial-A-Story Service. The Harnett County Public Library also launched a new Dial-A-Story service. With this service, parents can call 910-814-6350 anytime of the day to let their children listen to a pre-recorded message of one of our librarians reading a storybook! The stories will be updated every few weeks and will feature different readers each time.

Book Drop Off. Starting May 15, Harnett County Public Library will reopen their book drop off service. Harnett County residents can return materials at your convenience as staff prepare to safely expand services. All fines and penalties for returned items will be waived until further notice.

Harnett County Parks & Recreation
Virtual Nature Hikes. Beginning Monday, May 18, Harnett County Parks and Recreation will begin sharing a virtual nature hike of the Cape Fear River Trail Park in Erwin! This will be a multi-part series that explores many interesting finds at the park such as the very large "grandfather trees", observed flora and fauna, and the soothing sounds of the Cape Fear River waters. All parts of the hike, when released, can also be found on the Harnett County Parks and Recreation YouTube Channel.

Harnett County Parks & Recreation previously launched their first ever virtual nature hike on May 1 which explored the many different elements of a Long Leaf Pine Ecosystem that can be found at Anderson Creek County Park. This multi-part series explored some basics of a long leaf line ecosystem, including plant life, signs of local wildlife, the benefits of conducting prescribed burns, etc. You can view the Long Leaf Pine Ecosystem Nature Hike Series on the Harnett County Parks and Recreation YouTube Channel.

Virtual Art Lessons. Harnett County Parks & Recreation has partnered with Elyse Johnson with Artifactual to bring you virtual art lessons every Wednesday and Friday at 12pm. You can view all of the previous art lessons and join live each Wednesday and Friday on the Harnett County Parks & Recreation Facebook page.

 

RESOURCES FOR INDIVIDUALS
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services continues to provide ongoing benefits as well as some emergency benefits as the impact of COVID-19 continues in our state. There are several ways you can apply or find out more information online to get benefits for you and your family. Click here for links, direct contact information, and scannable QR Codes.

NC 2-1-1 is an information and referral service that families and individuals can call to obtain free and confidential information on health and human services resources within their community. NC 2-1-1 operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and resources are available in most languages. North Carolinians can text COVIDNC to 898211 to receive general information and updates about COVID-19.

NCWORKS COVID-19 JOBS AND INFORMATION
Many North Carolinians have become unemployed or had their hours reduced as a result of COVID-19 (the coronavirus pandemic). At the same time, certain businesses across North Carolina need to find new employees quickly because of increased demand. Learn more about who is hiring and get connected to new job opportunities.

HOW TO HELP: INFORMATION ABOUT VOLUNTEERING AND DONATIONS
As our state leaders urge North Carolinians to stay home during this unprecedented pandemic, there are ways you can make a difference.

Donate Medical Supplies and Personal Protective Equipment

Our current purchasing efforts are focused on medical supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If your company can supply any of the supplies listed below, or related commodities or services, please provide your company’s information to VendorHelp.COVID19@dhhs.nc.gov.

Critical supplies include:

  • Respirators (N95, FFP2/3, N99, N100)
  • Surgical and Procedural Masks (aka: ear-loop masks or 3-ply masks)
  • Gowns (liquid barrier, meets ASTM PB70 standard for levels 1-4)
  • Nitrile Gloves 
  • Face Shields 
  • Eye Protection
  • Shoe Covers         
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Surgical Masks
  • Hand Soap 
  • Disinfecting Spray and Disinfecting Wipes 
  • Ventilators & Anesthesia Machines
  • Positive Air Pressure Respirator
  • Controlled Air Purifying Respirator

State Surplus has provided guidance for local and state government agencies and schools on Executive Order 122, related to donation and/or transfer of medical/health supplies including PPEs. Learn more.

Health Care Volunteers Needed
A crucial part of supporting our health care system includes recruiting volunteers to supplement our health care workforce. We are asking for your help to meet these needs. This response is provided through the State Medical Response System (SMRS), which recruits and manages volunteers in the following areas:

  • Clinical (physicians, advanced care providers, nurses, EMS)
  • Clinical Support (pharmacy, imaging and respiratory care) 
  • Non-clinical support (facility maintenance, safety, and administrative)

If you can volunteer, please register here.

Volunteer in Your Community
From helping to stock food banks to donating blood, there are numerous ways to help your community. Check out these opportunities across North Carolina.

CDC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CLOTH FACE COVERINGS
ake action to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a cloth face covering in public space.  A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people are in a community setting, especially in situations where you may be near people. These settings include grocery stores and pharmacies. These face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  These are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. 

When in public, use a cloth face covering that: 

  • Reaches above nose & below chin, completely covering mouth & nostrils
  • Fits snugly against sides of your face
  • Is made of multiple layers of cloth that you can breathe through

Take action to slow the spread of COVID19 by wearing a cloth face covering in public spaces, keeping at least 6 feet of physical distance, and frequently washing your hands.  For more information, visit the Harnett County Health Department’s web site www.harnett.org/health 

COUNTY OPERATIONS
Under Governor Cooper’s Stay at Home Executive Order, local government offices are considered essential business and are able to continue operations. You can view more about essential government operations by clicking here

 Public Access Closure Notice
Effective March 19, 2020, Harnett County officials closed public access to Harnett County Government Office Buildings due to COVID-19.

The Harnett County Health Department is the only department that will continue to allow public access to their building to support residents at this time. Harnett County Landfills and Convenience Sites are also operating on a normal schedule until further notice.

Although the buildings will be closed for public access, Harnett County Government staff will continue to offer services and provide support to residents at this time. Residents are encouraged to visit www.harnett.org to receive services online or call County Departments for assistance with services. A list of County department phone numbers can also be found at www.harnett.org/department-index.asp.

Residents can also visit www.harnett.org/publicinfo/covid19-cancellations-.asp to learn the latest updates from County Departments and how to access online resources and services.

PREVENTION TIPS
Although your risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low, the county’s public health team encourages you to protect yourself from COVID-19 and any other flu-like illness by following these simple steps:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, and for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL SICK
Coronaviruses like COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put together some guidelines for what to do if you feel sick.

  1. Stay home and call your doctor, if needed.
    Most people who get COVID-19 will recover without needing medical care. The CDC recommends that you stay home if you have mild symptoms – such as fever and cough without shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. You should call your doctor or 911 right away if you have: shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, blue lips, difficulty breathing, and/or confusion.

Most people will not need to be tested. When you leave your home to get tested, you could expose yourself to COVID-19 if you do not already have it. If you do have COVID-19, you can give it to someone else, including people who are high risk.

  1. Isolate yourself
    If you are sick with COVID-19 or believe you might have it, you should stay home and separate yourself from other people in the home as much as possible. You can stop isolating yourself when you answer YES to ALL three questions:
    • Has it been at least 7 days since you first had symptoms
    • Have you been without fever for three days (72 hours) without any medicine for fever?
    • Are your other symptoms improved?

Call your doctor if your symptoms are getting worse or you have any concerns about your health.

What should my family members do? Anyone in your household or others who have been in close contact with you should stay home for 14 days as much as possible and monitor themselves for symptoms. Close contact means within six feet for at least 10 minutes. If they start having symptoms of COVID-19, they should take the same steps to prevent spreading it.

You can view this information from NCDHHS by viewing the COVID-19: What to Do If You Feel Sick information handout.

STAYING INFORMED
Residents are asked to prepare for COVID-19 by getting the latest information directly from reliable sources. The COVID-19 outbreak has been accompanied by a flood of misinformation from unreliable sources. Be thoughtful about what you read or hear about the virus and make sure you are separating rumor from fact before you act. 

Please visit Harnett County’s COVID-19 webpage (http://www.harnett.org/publicinfo/coronavirus-covid19-updates.asp) for the latest information from the NC DHHS and the CDC. Harnett County will also be providing updates on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Nextdoor social media accounts.

 
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