NC creates support program for people in quarantine, isolation during pandemic
State health and safety officials provide an Aug. 25, 2020, update on the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and the state's response to it.
director Mike Spray Berries in Sparta, North Carolina today discussing earthquake recovery with local partners. But I'm joined by Monica McGee and Brian Tipton doing our American sign language Interpreters and Jack, Jackie and Jasmine Motive. Here are Spanish translators. I'll start with a rundown of the numbers. As of this morning, there are 157,741 lab confirmed cases. 1000 people are currently hospitalized with Cove in 19 and sadly, there have been 2570 deaths. Throughout our response to this pandemic, we've been encouraging all North Carolinians to protect themselves and their communities by following the three W's where weight and wash. These are our first line of defense against the virus, and as a state, we have seen positive signs in our trends. Thanks the three W's. But we know that this progress is fragile. The three W's is going to be part of all of our lives during the months to come. Today, I want to dig in a little deeper and talk about what the Www should look like in practice. First, where ah, face covering in public. You know, this means wearing a cloth mask over your mouth and your nose whenever you're in public, meaning whenever you're around. People who are not in your immediate household public doesn't just mean places like the grocery store or the post office. Public also means gatherings with extended family or close friends or when you're going to work. Remember, you can have cove in 19 and not know it. Second, our weight 6 ft apart. This means keeping space between yourself and other people where an ever you're outside your home and keeping distance doesn't mean just spacing yourself out while you're waiting on line at the store or letting someone else go and waiting for the next elevator. It also means just generally avoiding crowds. Gatherings of people are more likely to become super spreader events, as we've unfortunately seen this in our college campuses. Current executive orders and our phase two status means that North Carolina continues to have strict limits on group gatherings and effect no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 25 people outdoors. The third W wash means washing your hands or using hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean in particular. When you're out in public, you should be cleaning your hands often. For example, before and after leaving a store were after touching a public service. But as public surface, like a gas pump, bring your hand sanitizer with you in your car in your purse in your pocket and use it often. Public awareness about the three W's and how to practice them has been critical to slowing the spread of the virus in North Carolina. That's why this week we launch last Trust M s, a public awareness campaign in Spanish. The campaign brings this important information directly to our Latin X Hispanic communities, which we know have been disproportionately impacted by Cove in 19. We know that Latin X Hispanic cases represent 38% of our states cases, but they only make up 9% of the total state's population. Many in our Latin excess Bennett community work in essential industries and North Carolina relies on, such as construction and childcare food processing, and are therefore at higher risk Serving. This community is a top priority throughout our response work, including through this new public awareness campaign. While prevention is our best defense, we also continue to bolster our testing and support services. We have a new tool kit to help community organizations like places of worship and nonprofits and others who want a host community testing events. You can get that tool kit right now on our website and today the governor announced a significant investment 175 million to help people avoid eviction and pay the utility bills as they grapple with the impacts of Cove in 19. Having a stable, safe place to live is fundamental toe well being and health. Stay tuned for more and how folks can sign up for help through these two new programmes as they get up and running in the next couple of weeks. We also continue to prioritize supporting people and families in our Covad response, and I'm very proud to share that this week will be launching another important initiative, the New Cove in 19 Support Services program. It's going to assist North Carolinians in up to 20 targeted counties who are asked to isolate or quarantine but also need help accessing food or relief payments or access to primary medical care. Treating any diseases so much more than just giving out a diagnosis we have to treat the whole person. People in these targeted counties who are struggling to safely quarantine will be connected to a community health worker who will coordinate needed services, which may include nutrition assistance. Ah, one Time Cove in 19 relief payment transportation to and from essential locations, medication, delivery or other services. The Cove in 19 Support Services program builds on the Department of Health and Human Services. Nationally. Recognize work to address the nonmedical drivers of health and taps into our states infrastructure to buy health and not just health care. Community health workers will use NC Care 3 60 the nation's first statewide technology platform that connects health and human service organizations. They'll use anti care 3 60 to make connections to services and to track referrals. This is ground breaking work, and I'm really proud of North Carolina's innovative and comprehensive covert response approach that continues to keep focus on our communities, health and their well being. So, as I conclude today, I'm urging everyone in North Carolina, including those in higher education community, to be practicing those three W's wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, waiting 6 ft apart and washing your hands often. It's the three W's where weight and wash. So with that, it's just me today, so I'm gonna turn it over and open it. Four questions. Thank you. Our first question is from Brian Anderson with the Associated Press. Hi, Dr Cohen. Thanks for the time. Inaccessibility again. We appreciate it. Brian Anderson here with the AP had two quick questions. First, with regard to the Kobe 19 dashboard on the Department of Health and Human Services website, it would be helpful if we could be just like you do for cases going back to started the pandemic. If we could see the same thing for testing, going on at the only sees, like it, see it over a month. So my question is, it seems that we have a low in test completed over the last two days. Certainly a month long low. I'm not sure how, how long. That is historically, Uh, why is that? And how long has it been since we've seen test conducted this low? And then I lost my follow up right after that for you. Thanks, Brian. Yes. We have seen lower amounts of test done just in the last couple of days, but even last week was a lower testing week for us. Overall, we've been analyzing this closely to try to understand Is there a particular part of the state that has lower tests testing? Is there something else that we can glean and and what we're seeing is really slowing of. Testing across the board doesn't seem to be in any one part of the state and what we're seeing is that slowing not just here in North Carolina, but in states around us as well on around the country. I know I have talked to some of my colleagues around the country toe toe, understand this, what what they're seeing and we're sort of all seeing a slowing. We think it's it's ah, number of factors. We think less folks are just showing up to get tested. We're not sure if they still think that testing results are taking a long time to come back, which they're not. We want to make sure folks know testing turnaround times and results are coming back faster. We're now seeing results in 23 days, sometimes even faster, so test results are coming back faster. We thought maybe is it? The summer people are on vacation, but again, here in North Carolina, we're getting back to school here, So we're hoping to see our numbers pick up. We announced late last week about a new testing vendor that the state has partnered with to again offer even more free testing for folks. We do not want costs to be a barrier. We have more than 500 testing sites and more in 600 actually now on our website. So we have the locations. We're trying to make sure cost is not a factor. We want folks to know that testing is needed, that that you can get your results turned around fast. And so we're gonna continue toe to talk more about this because we do think testing is really important. But we want folks to make sure that they're showing up to get tested. I'd want to remind folks about who should get tested. Certainly, folks who uh, have symptoms, right, cough or fever anyone who's been exposed. But we also want folks in higher risk jobs or higher risk settings to get tested as well. And that includes, now that we're seeing some viral spread in our university campuses. If folks are in those locations to also think about that as an exposure and to go get testing. We've said before, if you were in a crowd as I talked about, we don't want you to be. But if you find yourself in a crowd, that might be a reason to go get tested to make sure that you have not contracted the virus. So we're noticing that lower testing. We definitely want to see that improve. We're trying a number of ways in which Teoh increase our testing, working with stakeholders, getting more free testing out there. But we'll continue to do that as we go. Thanks, Brian. And I know you had a second question. Yes, I wanted to ask. With regard to UNC Chapel Hill reporting a positivity rate, it's going to test the second week of classes of 32 0.2% compared to 2.8% before classes had started. Some students I spoke with said that comes as no surprise that the campuses have shut down and, you know, four out of 16 public colleges and universities in North Carolina have stepped down, sitting before largest in terms of wonders that enrollment. Were you surprised to see them shut down so quickly? Well, thanks for that, Brian. I think, nearly two weeks ago now, when the governor and I, um, we're here talking about the next phase of what we would do with easing restrictions, we said, we need to pause. And we said that because as we knew, there would be opening of higher ed institutions, universities and colleges as well as our Kate off schools. We knew more people would be moving around. That means more virus moving around. So we we knew that this was going to be something we needed to watch very closely. Um, And so that is exactly why we we paused additional easing of restrictions back two weeks ago. We want we we knew that there would be some viral spread from the reopening. Um, and I think what we have been trying to do is make sure that we're understanding what are the drivers of that spread? And what we're seeing is that spread the virus is in social gatherings, parties, particularly ones that are off campus as well as housing. Um, that is off campus as well. Sororities fraternities, other group houses. Um what? And we're also soon seeing some viral spread in some of our athletic teams. So what that shows us is that look off campus in particular is still subject to our executive orders. Those that should be limiting gatherings and are requiring face coverings. It's why I spent some time today on the three W's. Those are the things that really need to be part of of the actions that everyone is taking. Avoiding crowds, avoiding parties, whether you're at a university setting or not, and wearing a face covering all the time. Thanks. Our next question is from Dewan Ho guard with ABC 11. Dr Colin Dwan Hug R W T V. D. Just wanted again. Follow up on that last question. What do you say to the board of governors who decided this in all these kids back to school, understanding what was going to happen? Um, and then Secondly, of this five weeks that were in when you're looking ahead toe possibly moving on to Phase three, these gyms are really struggling. Do you see the state reopening? Four. Jim's come September 11 thanks to one. Well, first to the folks that you and see, I know everyone is working hard to get their arms around the viral spread at Chapel Hill. We've been we at the state, have been working with with folks at Chapel Hill at NC State, at TCU and others and will continue to be a resource now the university, Um, I know there is Mawr, the EWG unversity can dio and we continue to work with them, particularly as they think about what is happening off campus on. And there are tools a university can use related to student codes of conduct and hope, holding students accountable for their actions both on and off campus. And so I know this university is moving in that direction. We want to encourage them to continue that. This is about making sure that the the guidance that we have on paper turns into Thean plantation that we need to see. And we need to see the universities do that and make sure they're using all of the tools at their disposal to make sure that that students again, whether on or off campus, are abiding by that guidance and the protocols to keep them and their communities safe. Thanks Oh, Jim's let me. Sorry. Do want Let me get your second on, Jim. So again, as we're gonna have to continue to watch our trends during this time, um and I'd say we're seeing some additional viral spread. So from two weeks ago, Toe last week, we did see a slight increase in our case is very slight. Ah, Teoh last week And that is largely driven by some of the re openings in our universities in the viral spread we're seeing at some of those campuses. Um, so we're going to have to see where our trends are. The thing is, we know what works, and it's the three W's. So if we continue to do the three W's together, um, and we all work at this together, whether it's in our universities, in college settings or throughout the state, um, I think we will continue to see progress in our trends. Assuming we do. Then we do want to make progress in additional re openings of things like gyms and and others. But we need to see continued progress. Ah, with our trends going in the right direction. And as of last week, they started to tip in the wrong direction. Thanks. Our next question is from Vanessa, Roughest with WCNC. Hi there. Thanks for taking my question. This is enough to resist with wcnc. Charlotte, I didn't want to speak a bit more on the trends that we're seeing with the metrics. I know you had just briefly touched on that in just a moment ago. The increase in the new daily cases and and I'm starting to see as well with that average line the uptick in the positive test rate just a little bit. Is this something that could be reversed? Or is this something that were, you know, we picked off this trend heading upward, and this is just kind of the ride that we started on the point. Thanks for Neffa. While we have been making progress, we knew that that progress was fragile and we're seeing some of the additional viral spread in our 18 to 24 year old drive some additional cases. It is slight. I would say that the case is going up Ah, at the end of last week and some of our percent positive going up very small. So I think there is plenty of opportunity here for us to make sure that we're getting back to stable and back to declining cases, which is what we want to see. And it goes back to that. Those simple three W's. I know it's repetitive. I know everyone is weary of this virus and the three W's. But these simple actions is what is going to help us make progress. When we don't have a medicine and we don't have a vaccine, it's the three W's that is our, um, our way of defeating this virus and again just to reiterate about this. And I want to be specific. I think we see a lot of good compliance with face coverings, for example, in grocery stores and settings like the Post Office. What we're not seeing is folks wearing face coverings. Maybe when they're with their extended family, where their friends, that is, that is a place where you also want to be wearing a face covering. And again you want to be avoiding large crowds in any sort, whether it's associated with the university, um, at an off campus party or somewhere else. I think large gatherings show us that this virus can spread quickly, so if we can keep doing the three W's, I do think that we can continue to see ah, positive progress in our trends, and that's what we're gonna work hard to dio. Our next question is from Lynn Bonner with the News and Observer. Hi, this is Lynn Bonner from the News and Observer. Thanks for taking my question. The Board of Governors making decision last spring about um, returning to campus is, was that too soon to make a good assessment on whether students should have come back in person and secondly, know that somebody clusters air popping up on university campuses? And it's someone with within athletic departments. Are you or the governor advising college presidents to Campell with false sports season? Well, thanks, Lynn. You know, I think with this virus we are always learning new things, and we need to make sure we're incorporating our new learning into both the guidance that we give as well as the actions that we take. I think that's exactly why we updated our guidance last week to really focus on those off campus activities that we see are driving some of the viral spread and to really point out to universities that they need to be doing more here using their student codes of conduct, using honor code violations. To really make sure that we all take accountability for what is happening, and we need those universities to be doing that. So we do. I do think that we always need to incorporate the new learning that we do and then and have that come out in the implementation that universities air doing. And as far as athletics, I think that they're they're different kinds of athletics here. So one or some of like the wreck youth activities and we have guidance there that we still believe that contact sports are not something that either our youth high school rec folks should be doing. So um so things like contact sports like basketball, soccer, football are again things where people are going to be in close contact together for longer periods of time. And that's not things that we think should happen. Now, when you talk about professional college sports, though, they are doing and taking very different kinds of protocol, whether it's testing or you see some of our professional athletes going into two bubbles right there, taking different kinds of precautions that generally we don't see in the in the rest of the public S O. They are exempt from our executive orders in terms of moving forward. But it is exactly why our Jim's continued to be closed. Here in North Carolina, we continue not to recommend contact sports, because again, those are the activities that are more risky for for viral spread. Thanks. They have a follow up. Lynn Bonner using observer. Thank you, Dr. Cohen. Could you address Division One sports like football and basketball? I don't believe that these athletes are in bubbles like professional athletes. So what would you advise those programs to do, considering that we're seeing clusters pop up in athletic departments? Thanks, Lynn. For that question, I think a number of them are governed by different rules and player protocols within the, um, depending on the sport that they play. But I know a lot of our ah, um, our Division One sports are doing a testing regimen that is very aggressive. Um, and they're doing other protocols of trying to cohort folks together. I know it may not be a perfect bubble butt bubble like activities, and those are the kinds of things avoiding large gap is the same thing. Avoid large gathering, where your face covering on and then I think they're adding other layers of things like repetitive testing on and such can't be one time. Testing has to be repetitive testing. Ah, if you actually want Teoh, understand if there's viral spread within your, ah, your athletic team, so those are the kinds of things. But I will say that each sport and each collegiate ah, governing body has has different protocols that they're going through. Our final question today will be from Rebecca Martinez, w u and C I secretariats Rebecca from W. U N c. I have another question about Jim's. A survey recently came out indicating that 16% of, uh, people who have memberships to gyms have started going back, even though James Air, still ordered closed under face to I'm wondering, is something their offices aware of? Are there any plans for enforcement record? Thanks to that question, I'm not aware of that number where that data came from, but you are right in saying that our executive order ah, says that Jim should be closed at this point again. let me just step back to help folks understand why, um, that even if your gym is open, which it should not be, ah, that the reason that we are concerned about Jim's is because it is a place where, when you are exercising, you are breathing heavier, and when you breathe heavier mawr viral respiratory droplets have the opportunity to leave your body and go to others. Um, and so we know it is a place where form or viral transmission. Then again, we're just trying to cut down on, Ah, the number of activities that folks do that are high risk. So we we very much think that folks should should understand the risks at Jim's. Jim's are not supposed to be open. Um, and I know that there have been enforcement those there are local law enforcement has been working hard. Teoh enforce. And I know that has have closed a number of gyms that have been open. And then they go and make sure that their clothes and even take some additional enforcement action if needed. So we'll continue. Teoh, uh, monitor those and make sure that we're taking the action needed. All right. I think that was the end of our questions here. Appreciate that again. Spent a lot of time on the three W's today. It's really important. That is what is going to help us continue to make progress here in North Carolina. So wearing a face covering over your nose and now waiting 6 ft apart, avoiding large crowds and washing your hands carry that hand sanitizer with you wherever you go. Thanks for all that. You are doing North Carolina to help us through these hard times. All right, thanks so much.