After months of decline, North Carolina is experiencing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases among those who are unvaccinated. Today, we had more than 3,000 cases reported. All of the state’s key metrics are increasing with hospitalizations doubling over the past two weeks, the number of people going to the emergency department with COVID-like symptoms rising, and the percent of tests that are positive well over the five percent threshold.
To respond to these rising trends, we have updated our guidance. First, anyone who hasn’t gotten vaccinated yet, is urged to do so now to protect yourself and your community. Getting vaccinated prevents serious illness, hospitalizations and death, even with the Delta variant, and slows community spread. Rigorous clinical trials among thousands of people ages 12 and older, have proven that vaccines are safe and effective. More than 160 million Americans have been safely vaccinated.
If you are not vaccinated, you need to continue practicing the three Ws. Wear a mask in all indoor public settings. Wait six feet apart in all public settings. Wash your hands often. In addition, you should not gather with unvaccinated people who do not live with you. If you do, stay outside and keep 6 feet of distance. You also should not travel.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who live in areas with high or substantial levels of transmission wear a mask when in indoor public settings - even if they are vaccinated.
There are also still places where everyone in the state needs to wear a mask like health care settings, public transportation, large crowded indoor venues, and indoor places with large numbers of children. Per CDC’s updated guidance, all K-12 schools should require universal masking. We have updated our guidance for schools to align with this recommendation.
Our updated guidance also calls on all employers to take proactive action with their employees. All employers should require employees to report vaccination status. Employees who are not fully vaccinated should be required to wear a face covering indoors, maintain physical distancing from others, and get tested regularly. Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 224 requiring Cabinet-level state agencies to implement this guidance for state employees.
This moment requires action. Our trends are accelerating at an alarmingly fast rate because of the highly contagious delta variant. If you are already vaccinated, please urge your unvaccinated family and friends to get their shot now. It is not an understatement to say that you will save lives by doing so. You can get accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.
Thank you for all you do,
Senior Director for Economic Security
North Carolina State Child Support Director
Division of Social Services, Economic and Family Services, Child Support Services
NC Department of Health and Human Services