NC rolls out ads to promote wearing masks
Public health and safety officials provide a Sept. 3, 2020, update to the coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina and the state's response to it.
Spare Berry, Lee Williamson and Monica McGee are American Sign language interpreters and Jackie and Jasmine. Motive. Here are Spanish translators. I'll start with a rundown of the numbers. As of this morning, there were 172,209 laboratory confirmed cases. 1000 Sorry, 1656 were new cases. Since yesterday, 858 people are currently hospitalized, and sadly, there've been 2803 deaths. In the many briefings we've have have Don on Cove it you've heard me place a strong emphasis on wearing face coverings as a critical piece of the three W's, where weight and wash and you've heard about our work to identify and reach North Carolinians who are at higher risk and need support, especially members of historically marginalized populations in her state. Today, those strands come together in exciting new way as we launch North Carolina's new Whatever your reason campaign, it's a statewide public campaign to encourage every North Carolinian to wear masks in our collective fight against Cove in 19. Now, I'm really excited. First time we're doing this in our press conference, I'm going to premiere one of those TV spots that will be using to get this important message out. It's video. It features riel people in North Carolina explaining their personal reasons why they choose every day to wear a face covering and do their part to stop the spread of Cove in 19. Let's watch it now. You can't know someone has Cove in 19 just by looking at them. Anyone can get it. But while you can't know who is carrying the virus, you should know that everyone wears a mask. Has a reason to fight it. Whatever your reason, get behind the Mets. Take a moment to think about it. Why do you wear a mask for me? I wear a mask to protect my family, friends and co workers. And out of respect for every North Carolinian who's working hard to do the same, I wear a mask because I know my personal actions make an impact slowing the virus here in North Carolina. These are the kinds of discussions will be spurring through this public awareness campaign, which will show up across the state this fall in many forms TV, radio, YouTube, social media, your local billboard or bus stop will be delivering the message about mask wearing to North Carolinians wherever they are. And just like our overall covert response strategy, the whatever your reason campaign has been made by North Carolina for North Carolina, we worked with local North Carolina photographers to document riel people, places and lives, reflecting the strength and diversity of our state. In the coming weeks, you could hear an ad on the radio, watch one on TV or see it at a gas station or bus stop or convenience store. This roll out of the campaign has a very intentional focus on reaching are historically marginalized communities who are being most impacted by the pandemic. All P essays and materials will be available in both English and Spanish and will be continued to work with communities to bring these messages to the places and people that need this information the most. This includes members of our Latin X Hispanic community, which has experienced almost four in 10 cases statewide despite making up about less than 10% of the population. It also includes members of the African American community, which represent just over 20% of North Carolina's population but is experienced 30% of Covad deaths in the state since this pandemic has begun. And while these trends have been improving, these high levels of illness and mortality are not a pattern we're going to accept. There's something we're working on on all fronts in terms of our response to this change. There's another group who have been our top priority is we work through this response, and that's North Carolinians who are uninsured. As we have worked over the six months to remove barriers for testing, we've faced the challenging fact that they're still far too many North Carolinians who don't have insurance. Yesterday, Governor Cooper announced a new program that leverages federal funding to cover 100% of the cost directly related to covert testing for people without insurance. It's a good step to decrease barriers to testing, and this complements the work the state has already done to fund free testing sites across North Carolina. However, covering the costs of testing is not sufficient to help the uninsured. North Carolinians who don't have health insurance need the full range of care for cove it and access to needed preventive care. North Carolina needs to expand Medicaid like most other states have already done. I'm sure we're all looking forward to Labor Day weekend, and it's just a few days away, and I know many of us have our favorite traditions for this time between summer and fall. But this year, it's important to make a plan in advance about how you and your loved ones are going to enjoy these three days in a safe way. Of course, the most effective way to do that is by practicing the three W's wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth, waiting 6 ft apart in washing your hands, often as a reminder. It's important to practice these preventive steps wherever, whenever you're around people who are not in your immediate household. That includes gatherings with extended family and close friends. Public health experts believe that Memorial Day weekend last spring likely accelerated viral spread in the U. S. Because of unsafe large gatherings and travel. But now months have passed, and we've learned a lot from that experience. We have more and better information about two per how to protect ourselves. So let's all act on that. Remember where weight and wash, and whatever your reason, get behind the mask, and with that I'll turn it over to Director Spray Berry. Thank you, Madam Secretary. Good afternoon. Today is Day 1 78 of the State Emergency Operation Centers Cove in 19 response. We're continuing to aggressively push PPE to a variety of groups throughout the state. First, let me talk about this. Our thoughts and prayers are with those families recently impacted by the flooding in the central part of the state, particularly those that lost loved ones and floodwaters in Johnston County and Warren County. We also appreciate the valiant efforts of our first responders now to an update on our current disaster recovery operations. Recovery is underway after a tornado strike in Burti County during Hurricane East Isis and the earthquake centered in Allegheny County. The U. S Small Business Administration has granted disaster declarations for both of these events, making SB a low interest disaster loans available to homeowners and businesses to assist in getting folks back on their feet. Governor Cooper has also signed Type one state disaster declarations for both the tornado and the earthquake events, making state funded individual assistance available to those who do not qualify for an S B A loan. The Disaster Recovery Center in Windsor has been open since August 24th and closes later today. However, residents consistent apply online for S B A assistance at disaster loan dot s b a dot gov The Disaster Recovery Center in Sparta opened this week and will be open through September 11th for residents to apply for assistance in person and eastern North Carolina. The state emergency response team is working to complete damage assessments for Hurricane, he say's this impacts Joint preliminary damage assessments are being completed with state and FEMA officials and will determine our ability to request a federal major disaster declaration for those areas. In Bertie County, 46 individuals from 17 families remain housed in hotels. Volunteers are working hard to connect and furnish travel trailers toe how some of those tornado victims who need temporary housing solutions and need it quickly volunteer. Voluntary disaster relief organizations have been doing great work to support recovery operations throughout the state, and we thank those volunteers for the dedication and service regarding our outstanding volunteer partners. The Cove in 19 Pandemic has reduced the number of disaster volunteers available toe work these volunteer organizations need your help, especially if you're young and able. Visit the Web sites for groups like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army Baptist on Mission Team Rubicon and many others that are a part of the North Carolina voluntary organizations active in disaster at N. C. V o ed dot org's. That's in Seve oh, ed dot org's to see how you can volunteer to help North Carolina communities recover our food. Banks continue to work overtime to address hunger during this pandemic. They desperately need volunteers to ensure we continue to feed North Carolinians in need. If you can't volunteer, please consider helping with a donation to support the food banks visit feeding the Carolinas dot org's to donate to a food bank near you. Your contribution will help put food on the tables for families that are struggling. We're now at the peak of hurricane season, and we're currently closely monitoring multiple areas of interest in the Atlantic and the tropics. While none of these systems pose an immediate threat to North Carolina, we know that forecast can change quickly. We're asking that everyone remain aware and prepared, especially during this holiday weekend. If possible, make sure your family has a plan to stay with family with friends or the hotel. If you have to evacuate due to hurricane during the cove in 19 pandemic, having a plan cost nothing, and every household should have a plan. The state will have non congregate and Congress sheltering available, but it's best to stay away from shelters so you can minimize contact with others. Also, make sure your emergency kit is ready and includes the necessary items to stay healthy during Cove in 19 such as face coverings and and sanitizer. If you have questions about emergency planning, please visit ready and see dot org's form or information about plans, preparedness kits and evacuations as part of your Know your Zone initiative, as Dr Cohen shared, now is the time, Whatever your reason, to get behind the mask where weight and wash this is how we slow the spread of the virus. Working collectively together, we have the power. We urge you to rededicate yourselves to these actions over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Let's keep everyone safe and healthy by being smart. Finally, a special shout out on a hearty hand salute to my battle buddy, Doctor Mandy Cohen. Today is Dr Mandy Cohen Day at the Stadio. See, Not only because she is the recipient of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health 2020 leadership in public Health Practice award, but also because of her extraordinary leadership, expertise and partnership. Congratulations, Madam Secretary. We appreciate you. And as always, don't forget to look out for your family. Friends and neighbors. Call your loved ones daily, guaranteed. They'll appreciate it with kindness and cooperation. All get through this together is one team, one mission and one family. Thank you. Thank you, ma'am. Well, thank you. Thank you, Director. Now that I'm sufficiently embarrassed by Mandy Cohen day here at the O. C. I want to remind our media partners that the p s a that we showed as well as other products that we have our ah, public asset. And they're available for your media outlets to to use. And we hope that you dio So with that, I will take the first question. Our first question today. It's from Lynn Bonner, the news and Observer. Thank you very much. Dr. Cohen, this is Glen Bonner from the News and Observer. I've got a question for you about the CMS new rules for testing in their homes, their new turkey nursing home testing rules don't match the state requirements. So it looks like a lot of nursing homes. They're gonna have to increase their testing frequency beyond once every two weeks. And I'm wondering how that's gonna mess with a state requirement. I'm assuming that the federal apartment is going to supersede the state. So how were the nursing home's gonna pay for the extra tests? And how will adherence to the New Testament or the Parliament be determined? Thanks, Lynn Deep a lot of lot of questions within that in a lot of details. So for folks who haven't been following as closely, the federal government, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services did issue a rule to nursing homes to do more frequent testing. Then even we are requiring at the state for us at the state we were acquiring every other week testing of staff, they're requiring every week testing. They issued an emergency final rule on that that went into effect immediately. It is enforced through what's called a survey and certification process. Um, and so I know that nursing homes are working to increase that. As we announced several weeks back, the state has both paid for that first round of funding, and then we continue to have ongoing funding for nursing homes. It was meant to cover the every other week testing again. Yes, this these new federal rules are are more accelerated than then. Even our our baseline rules a couple things to help with that. We also know that the federal government has sent nursing homes certain testing devices as well as supplies, so that helps having the this applies right on hand. But that's just a few nursing homes that have really been able to get those supplies and testing instruments from the federal government. In addition, we expect the federal government to be shipping us additional anti gin tests, and we don't know how much and when exactly. But they the federal government has bought up all of the rapid Abbott tests that are the five minute antigen tests with the expectation we will potentially use that to deploy to our nursing homes. So I think we have a number of ways in which we can assist nursing homes in trying to increase their their testing. Um, not only the funding that we're sending, but also through these these instruments. And they will yes, have to comply with the federal law. Thanks, Lynn. We have a follow up from land at the News and Observer again, Dr Cohen to get back on topic you about the public information campaign. We're now officially kind of six months into this pandemic. And I'm wondering why this campaign is getting going now. I mean, we're kind of kind of deep into this at this point. No, thanks, Lin. Great question. And what What I think is really important is that it takes ongoing vigilance with face coverings to make sure that we're continuing to keep viral spread low. So I think this is coming at the exact right moment, particularly as we're heading into our face 2.5. Few more things open. We're having Labor Day weekend. I think we need to continue to keep these messages up. We know we are asking folks to change behavior, right, and go to wearing face coverings and waiting 6 ft apart. That that's hard. And we're actually asking them to do it pretty quickly. Um, and so I think this reinforces those messages and gets it out to even more folks. I know I know the folks who watch these press conferences every day and ask questions have been hearing me say the three W's. But we know that the message needs to get out far and wide beyond what what we can do from these press conferences. So I think this is a really great compliment toe what we've already been doing. I do want to thank the business community and others in the health care community who have been doing a lot of work on their own, promoting the three W's in different ways. Again. I think this all reinforces each other and it's going to take that ongoing work. So I think this will propel us forward. I think it has a unique way of asking the question about you know, why you wearing a mask s So I think it gets back to intent, which I think is really important for us toe all recognize that we're working hard for each other. We all have different reasons to wear a mask, but at the end of the day, we're protecting each other. Thanks for that. Our next question is from Road Tobin, North Carolina Health news. Hi. Secretary Cohen is broke. Tobin Ah, at NC Health News. Thanks for taking my question. So, you know, for months we heard you talking about that. We were aiming at 5% positivity. Um, four. And here we are. We were going to a 2.5, and we're really closer to the, like, seven and something. So no Help. Help me. Help! Help me through the contradiction here between you know what? You depending for a long time. And now you're making the choice. Kind of go ahead and open up a little bit more even though you hadn't the benchmark throws for that. So couple of things first, remember that when we make decisions about moving forward, we look at a combination of metrics, so we don't look at anyone. Metric. We look at our surveillance data. Look at our cases. We look at the percent positive and we look at our hospitalization and we also say when we're looking at them, we want to look over a 14 day period. We want to look for the fact Are they declining or they leveling and the one thing with percent positive is we've been pretty rock steady after a period of decline. So we were up closer toe 89% percent positive and then we have consistently floated down and now we're bouncing around 67%. So we have declined. But we are holding steady a little higher than I want and I think this is why we continue to say as we reopen or re ease restrictions, we still have to be very careful. It's why we have taken a cautious step forward in just making this 2.5 and that we know that there is. There are other things that continue to remain closed like bars and other places, and I think that's exactly why we don't see perfection in our metrics. We still know that our cases are too high. We know that our percent positive is higher than we want it to be. We still have work to Dio. It's exactly why we're launching the campaign that we're doing today because even as we ease restrictions, we need to be vigilant and be doing those three W's. That is the thing that we really saw over the summer have our cases starts declined. So that's the work that we all need to do together, particularly as we start to head into flu season. I think we need to be even more. Ah ah, vigilant and be doing the three W's all the time. Thanks. We have a follow up from room. This is, uh, thank you for taking my follow this completely separate question yesterday were, um, Legislature was in town. The Senate passed of health bill 11. 051 of the things that I heard is the concern from a number of folks was about, um, the congregate learning sites with Children and the fact that they weren't going to be subject to the same type of rags as, um, you know, childcare centers. You know, the Senate declined to, um, to we impose those regulations. So you know what kind of plan you have for reaching out and tracking what those organizations were going to be doing? Um, to sort of, you know, at least come up to some minimum standards for child care. So first I want to say, as a working mom myself that I recognize that are working parents out there need options for child care, but I want them to be out child care settings that are safe. And so, you know, we have been working to put emergency rules in place so that community organizations like the Why can partner with schools toe have child care options for school aged Children. We've also stood up Ah, hotline for parents who want to know what childcare might be available in their community. And so I encourage folks to try that hotline if you're still needing ah, child care. But I do think it's important to make sure that the folks who are caring for our kids have background checks, that someone on site knows how to do CPR, that they're required to report co vivid cases to us. So I think those are core components, and I think with the legislation that was moving forward and has is headed to the, you know, the governor's desk is concerning, I think that it was important, and I'm you know, I think we need to go back as a team and figure out how we're going to make sure that kids continue to be safe, even though that folks did not put in even some minimum requirements related to safety in those childcare setting. So I'd encourage parents to look for licensed child care opportunities for for their Children. There are there, So go to the hotline and see what's available in your community. Thanks. Our next question is from Lexie Wilson at WCNC TV. Charlotte Hi there. Like really goes I'll be CNC Charlotte. Thanks for taking my question. My question is, you know, we're talking about the www If people don't follow that over this holiday weekend, what are some potential consequences that are state could potentially sees? Well, thanks for that. Um, it's so important as we go into this Labor Day weekend for folks to plan ahead. How are we going to celebrate this this time, but making sure that we're doing it in the safest way possible. So how are folks gonna plan to avoid large gatherings or to be wearing their face coverings? And remember, we want folks to wear face coverings with when you're around anyone outside your immediate family. That means extended family, close family friends, you want to be wearing a face covering, and now if folks don't do that, what we could be in store for is more viral spread its things that we saw back in June and July, where our cases were going up and up and up, and we started to strain some of our capacity in our health care system. We never overwhelmed it, but we started to get tight, and I don't want to see that. I don't want to see what happened in other Southern states over the summer, where they really surged cases and they really maxed out all of their health care. Resource is, that is not, ah, place where we want want to be. We want to make sure we have plenty of capacity in our health care system, not just to treat Cove it, but the heart attacks or the car accidents or whatever someone may need the health care system for. So it's really important that we all work together because what we're seeing is this. This can get away from us really quickly. Um, we have we see can see just from the example for, you know, a Chapel Hill, how quickly you can go from very few cases to a number of clusters. I think it again reminds US A. Why? Why it's so important to do those three W's to plan ahead for Labor Day. Really be cautious to avoid crowds and wearing a face mask? Thanks. The next question is from lose slimmer North Carolina from the Break You Hi, this influence summer from W and C. Thanks for taking my question, which is about 10 parent see around cases at colleges and universities. Many colleges have dashboard toe published data about their positive cases, but no two are alike, and some of them are really slim on the information that they're putting out to the public. In your opinion, do colleges have a responsibility to publish up to date data about cases? Or what information do you think is most important for campuses to release for the sake of public health? Thanks lives for that question. As you know, at the state level, we've worked incredibly hard on data transparency and data quality. Ah, and it is very hard on. I think that's what universities are are recognizing that it is very hard to both respond to the outbreak, which you very much want to do to do the infection control to make sure you're getting your students quarantined or isolated. That is, you know, job number one, right, cause we want to control the infection. But then it's hard to both do that and then get the data reported quality checked and up each and every day. So what I would encourage our universities to do is to share best practices on how that's doing. Um, how they could even rely on each other Teoh to help there. I do think there are some key things in terms of number of cases tests that have been done and I think most are are posting on their dashboard. But on I'd encourage folks to continue that transparency and in terms of ah, making sure that we at the state as well have that visibility. Folks should be working closely with their local health department. They can help both from the infection control, making sure there's enough testing availability on and then can can work on making sure if there is needed Ah, work around data transparency as well. Thanks. And our final question today is from Member Repent with ABC 11. Hi. Dr Cohen has never repented with ABC. 11 thank you for taking my question. My question has to do with the CDC letter that went out to state health officials last week to prep for a vaccine by November 1st, which of course, is just two days before Election Day. I wondered if you could talk about how North Carolina is responding to that request. And can you address any concerns about the timing? Does it politicize a potential vaccine ahead of the election? And and, uh, some question whether or not it's safe if it's being rushed? Well, thanks, Amber, for that. I think vaccines are going to be an important tool here to help fight Cove it, um, and it is going to be a big effort. So the planning does need to start now and has already started amongst my team, Um, and with our external stakeholders thinking about both priority groups who would be first in line to get the vaccine, as well as how we do the distribution. Ah, lot of complexities there, So work does need to go under way, and I think it's important toe have plans in place as far as timing. I think there's a lot of science left to still Dio Ah, there are trials going on right now in North Carolina, Phase three trials that aren't even fully enrolled. So I'd actually encourage ah, folks who are interested to check out the vaccine trials that are going on here. They enroll. Ah, lot of folks in those to make sure that we understand how vaccines that vaccine would perform in older folks in folks from different races and ethnicities. So we want to make sure we're getting a good understanding of how that vaccine is performing, both from a safety perspective as well as an efficacy perspective in lots of different groups. So encourage folks in North Carolina to be part of those trials. But like I said, I think there's still a lot of science left to do data for us to see before we are going to be moving forward with the vaccine. But like I said, I think it's right to start planning and our teams have started planning. We're working closely with emergency management to make sure that we are ready whenever a vaccine will be available, but will have to be looking at that data first. Can we have a follow up from member repentance? Yeah, just to follow up to that. So you also talk about how the distribution plan would be if and when the vaccine is made available, the phases of who would be receiving it? Sure, Thanks, Amber. In terms of the distribution plan for a vaccine, I think those are the plans that are being developed right now are understanding from the federal government is that they are going to be working with a distributor. They will have vaccine centers that were, they'll be able to store these and it will actually be distributed directly to providers to doctor's offices or hospitals. Or the pharmacy is so that will happen directly. I think the state will be involved in making sure that that that that goes successfully, we need things like deep freezers to make sure folks can keep those cold until they're ready to be used. So a lot of logistics involved. That is why I think it's right to do the planning now, um and then, uh, go from there. But like I said, I think a lot of science still to do and data to look at, so stay tuned. I think there's a lot more work we're gonna Ah, and a lot more. We're gonna learn about vaccines over the next number of months. Okay? With that, I want to thank you again for joining on. And whatever your reason, make sure you're wearing a mask as we head into Labor Day. Ah, and thanks to those, um, in the media for taking those p essays and using them on all your media outlets. All right. Thank you and happy Labor Day weekend.