Harnett County COVID-19 Updates – March 25

Harnett County continues to work with state officials and local agencies to closely monitor the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Citizens are encouraged to stay up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information by reviewing our daily press release. Each day, 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 Schools Updates
  • Medicaid Changes Policies to Encourage Telemedicine
  • CDC Updates List of Who is High Risk
  • Secretary Cohen Calls for Health Care Volunteers
  • Essential Industry Update

Harnett County Schools Updates
With the recent announcement of North Carolina Public Schools remaining closed for all students and staff until May 15, Harnett County Schools has outlined the following procedures that will be utilized through the remainder of the Governor’s executive order regarding school closure.

Assignment Packets
Remote Learning will continue throughout the closure of school. Teachers will have remote instruction through May 15th. Parents and students currently have materials in place for the next two weeks from our previous assignment packet pick-up times. Additional materials/work will be distributed to parents/students at all school sites on:

  • April 6, 2020, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • April 27, 2020, from 11:30 am. To 3:30 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 pm.

These packets will include work for three weeks/15 days. Students in grades 6-12 that have internet access at home can access assignments through Google Classroom. Printed assignment packets for pick up are for students in grades 6-12 that do not have a device and/or access. Printed assignment packets will be provided for all K-5 students.

School Lunch and Breakfast
Children ages 18 or younger will be eligible for meals. Families can pick-up bagged lunch for the day and breakfast for the next day (two meals in one bag). We have six school sites that will provide curbside pick-up meals between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Meals will be served Monday – Friday. Parents are welcomed to pick- up meals for their household. No one will be denied meals during pick-up times.

The following schools will be providing curbside pick-up meals:

  • Angier Elementary School
  • Boone Trail Elementary School
  • Coats Elementary School
  • Harnett Primary School
  • Johnsonville Elementary School
  • South Harnett Elementary School

Student Enrollment
Harnett County Schools will not transfer, enroll or withdraw students in the current 2019-20 school year until further guidance has been provided by the state. As a district, we are currently evaluating alternative methods to enroll students once that guidance has been received.

The school reassignment window for the 2020-2021 SY has been extended to June 1st, 2020. Rising kindergarten students are not permitted to apply for reassignment until after a new kindergarten registration period has been established by the district.

Essential Industry Update
NEW Protocol for Essential Business: At this time, North Carolina is not under a shelter-in-place order. However, during times of emergency, local and state government does have the authority to impose restrictions. To continue operations through a restriction or curfew, your business must apply for Re-Entry Certification. The N.C. Business Emergency Operations Center offers these steps to complete that request for certification. For guidance on how U.S. Homeland Security defines “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers,” check here. Businesses should email beoc@ncdps.gov  and provide the following:

  1. Business name
  2. Point of Contact including name, email, phone number, address
  3. Nature of business and why it is critical to continue operations
  4. Business website URL

Medicaid Changes Policies to Encourage Telemedicine
Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, Medicaid temporarily modified its Telemedicine and Telepsychiatry Clinical Coverage Policies to better enable the delivery of remote care to Medicaid beneficiaries. In addition to telephone conversations and secure electronic messaging, the modifications will include the use of two-way real-time interactive audio and video to provide and support physical and behavioral health care when participants are in different physical locations.

CDC Updates List of Who is High Risk

On March 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated who is at high-risk for more severe illness from COVID-19. This is a new disease and we continue to learn about it as new information becomes available.

Secretary Cohen Calls for Health Care Volunteers

With COVID-19 now in North Carolina, the state is looking to bolster our health care system to ensure we can care for those impacted by the virus. A crucial part of that effort is recruiting volunteers to supplement our health care workforce – including doctors and nurses, pharmacy, imaging and respiratory care, and facility maintenance and administrative support workers and others. They are also asking volunteers to provide medical supplies if they are able, including personal protective equipment.

Updates from Governor Cooper’s Office
On March 23, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 120, which closes K-12 public school statewide through May 15, bans mass gatherings over 50 people, and closes gyms, movie theaters, sweepstakes parlors, health clubs and other similar facilities. Because of their inability to conduct social distancing, hair and nail salons, barber shops and massage therapists will also close. This will take affect 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 25. For more information on these closures, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina/nc-updates.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson, is encouraging parents and teachers to use Khan Academy, a free online educational tool that provides remote learning resources. To access these resources, visit www.khanacademy.org/.

Governor Roy Cooper previously announced that North Carolina restaurants and bars will be closed to sit-down service and limited to take-out or delivery orders starting at 5 p.m. March 17, 2020. Grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores, are exempt from this order and will remain open, though they may not serve sit-down food.

Many of our local Harnett County restaurants and bars are still offering delivery and curbside services at this time. Citizens can contact these local businesses for more information on hours of operation and food services being provided.

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.

Citizens can view the updated presumptive positive case count for Harnett County by visiting the NC DHHS COVID-19 website www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc.

County Operations

Public Access Closure Notice

Effective March 19, 2020, Harnett County officials closed public access to Harnett County Government Office Buildings due to COVID-19. This closure does not affect the Harnett County Courthouse and citizens are asked to call 910-814-4600 for more information on court cases or visit www.harnett.org/clerk/ for the most up-to-date information.

The Harnett County Health Department is the only department that will continue to allow public access to their building to support citizens 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 citizens at this time. Citizens 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.

Citizens 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.

Board of Commissioners March 31 Work Session Cancelled
Harnett County Board of Commissioners announced the cancellation of the March 31 work session. The decision was made in response to Harnett County’s Declaration of a State of Emergency and State of Emergency Ordinance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to view the cancellation notice.

Resources for Businesses and Employers
Harnett County Economic Development, with support from many partners, is compiling resources for businesses amid the COVID-19 outbreak. A webpage has been created that provides more information for resources at this time. Resources include:

  • North Carolina Business Relief Resources
  • SBA Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources
  • Golden LEAF Foundation NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery for Small Business
  • Unemployment Insurance in North Carolina
  • Essential Industry Update

For more information, visit http://www.harnettedc.org/latest-news.asp?i=5816.

Central Carolina Community College Small Business Center will also be offering the following free webinars regarding COVID-19. To register or for more information, visit www.cccc.edu/sbc/.

  • March 26th from 3pm-4pm: A Game Plan to Survive a Cash Flow Crisis Amid the COVID-19 Disruption
  • April 2nd from 1pm-2:30pm: Strategic Planning and Actions to Take Now During the Coronavirus Crisis
  • April 14th from 1pm-2:30pm: Marketing and Promoting Your Professional Service Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Resources for Citizens
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.

Virtual Programs will be offered by the Harnett County Public Library through their Facebook page. On March 26 at 12pm, the Library will offer a virtual book club to discuss the novel My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. To join the discussion, citizens will need to join the Library’s closed Facebook group. For more information on Harnett County Public Library’s virtual programs, contact 910-893-3446.

Citizens can also take advantage of the Library’s curbside pickup, where they can request items from our catalog by either placing holds online, or calling the library at (910) 893-3446. Although the library is closed for public access, librarians are still available by phone at 910-893-3446 between 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday.

Know the Symptoms
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness with symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms are typically mild to moderate, but there have been cases of severe illness and death due to the virus. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

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.

Staying Informed
Citizens 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.