Week of May 4, 2020
Keeping You Informed
Robert Hiett
Executive Director
Governor Cooper Signs COVID-19 Relief Bills Into Law

Gov. Cooper was joined by leaders from the state’s Democratic and Republican parties as he announced he would sign two pieces of legislation ( Senate Bill 704 & House Bill 1043 ) that will provide COVID-19 relief to the people of North Carolina.

The bills total almost $1.6 billion in relief in relief measures for critical expenditures related to public health and safety, educational needs, small business assistance, and continuity of state government operations. Of this amount, $1.4 billion has been appropriated and $150 million is set aside in a reserve fund for future local government needs. 
Governor Roy Cooper announced in a press conference Monday that he hopes to begin the three-phase plan to reopen the state’s economy this weekend when the current stay-at-home order expires on May 8.

Gov. Cooper extended the stay-at-home order on April 23, and also gave details on the three-phase plan . The stay-at-home order will remain in effect during Phase 1, which could start as early as Saturday. However, the order will be modified to allow more reasons to leave home.

“Very soon, we’ll be announcing the specifics on Phase 1,” Cooper said in Monday’s press conference. “We’re still analyzing our indicators, our testing, tracing and trends and talking with healthcare experts. We’re getting a lot of advice from businesses about what we can do. So we’ll provide all of that information, maybe by (Tuesday), but certainly at least by Wednesday”
Governor Cooper Announces Modified Stay At Home Order and
Transition to Phase 1 of Easing Restrictions 

New order takes effect Friday, May 8 at 5 pm 
Personal care businesses, entertainment venues, gyms to remain closed

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper today signed Executive Order No. 138 to modify North Carolina’s Stay At Home order and transition to Phase 1 of slowly easing certain COVID-19 restrictions effective Friday, May 8 at 5 pm. Certain businesses remain closed as the state continues battling COVID-19. 

“COVID-19 is still a serious threat to our state, and Phase 1 is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions that can boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” said Governor Cooper. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating.”

As a part of the Act to Provide Aid To North Carolinians In Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Crisis, (S.L. 2020-3, SB 704) the General Assembly has enacted modifications to the laws governing meetings of public bodies, and voting and quorum rules for city and county governing boards. The new law modifies those rules and provides specific guidance regarding remote meetings, including quorum, notice, voting, public comment, and public hearings. These provisions are in Section 4.31 of the Act, (starting on page 61 in the PDF linked above). The new provisions for remote public meetings became effective on May 4, 2020, and only apply when there is a declaration of a state of emergency by the Governor or General Assembly under GS 166A-90.20. They aren’t triggered by city or county emergency declarations. The new law also provides that any electronic meeting undertaken via remote participation between March 10, 2020 and the effective date of the new law is not deemed invalid due to the use of the use of electronic communication to conduct that meeting. This blog summarizes the new provisions.

Due to COVID-19 and related shutdowns, land development and local government operations have slowed dramatically. Recognizing that these slowdowns will impact the ability for projects to meet deadlines, the General Assembly passed legislation to extend the effective date of the new Chapter 160D to August 1, 2021, authorize local governments to adopt maps to be incorporated into local development regulations by reference, and extend certain development approvals by five months. This blog outlines the details of those provisions....

EPA RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

EPA's Coronavirus website provides key EPA resources and links to additional information about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Read the most up-to-date information about EPA actions, disinfectants, drinking water and waste water, and other resources.



EPA continues to provide critical information to the American public about safe disinfectant use. EPA now has nearly 400 products that have qualified to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This week the agency also published an overview of its actions and resources related to disinfection against the novel coronavirus. "EPA is dedicated to its mission of protecting human health and we want all Americans to have access to effective and approved surface disinfectant products," said Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.


Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes

This guidance is intended for all Americans, whether you own a business, run a school, or want to ensure the cleanliness and safety of your home. Reopening America requires all of us to move forward together by practicing social distancing and other  daily habits   to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Reopening the country also strongly relies on public health strategies, including increased testing of people for the virus, social distancing, isolation, and keeping track of how someone infected might have infected other people. This plan is part of the larger  United States Government plan and focuses on cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and can also be applied to your home.
School Buses to Serve as WI-FI Hotspots for Remote Learning

Starting this week, additional school buses will bring internet access to communities without it to help more North Carolina students connect to school online. Governor Roy Cooper announced the plan to equip more school buses with hotspots following the announcement that K-12 public schools would continue remote learning through the end of this school year.
Schools in Avery, Bertie, Bladen, Burke, Caswell, Chowan, Columbus, Duplin, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gaston, Gates, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Johnston, Martin, Montgomery, Northampton, Perquimans, Person, Randolph (includes Asheboro City Schools), Robeson, Sampson (includes Clinton City Schools), Scotland, Tyrrell, Vance, Wayne, Warren and Yadkin counties will receive the first 156 Wi-Fi hotspots. A team from the NCDIT Broadband Infrastructure Office, Hometown Strong and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) began delivering the hotspots the afternoon of Tuesday, May 5, to local education advisors. Outreach to other school systems to determine the location of additional hotspots is ongoing.

Register here
NC Rapid Recovery Loan Program

The NC Rural Center and their partners in the NC Rapid Recovery Loan Program have opened up applications to the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program and will continue to be reviewed on a first come, first served basis. L oans made from the program to small businesses will include a limit on the number of employees per business, a minimum interest rate for the first six months of the loan term, and an increased time for repayment. Please visit www.ncrapidrecovery.org to learn more about the program and submit an application for your small business.   
DES is working hard to ensure that unemployment benefits are processed. They have added call center agents (1,600 people working to process claims and issue payments) and also extended hours to help get your questions answered.

DES continues to update the website with the latest information for individuals and employers. Before you call, please check to see if your question can be answered online. 
Health Care Workers Being Matched to Facilities Seeking Staff

Due to COVID-19, many health care facilities in North Carolina, particularly long-term care facilities, are seeking to hire staff for temporary, part-time or full-time roles. There is an urgent need for Registered Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants, among other roles to supplement current workers and in some cases fill in for workers affected by COVID-19. Interested health care employees with the ability to pick up extra shifts or who may have been laid off from facilities and are seeking full-time roles can register at https://nc.readyop.com/fs/4cjq/697b

NCEM Public Assistance Tutorial Series (Info about FEMA reimbursement process)

The NC Division of Emergency Management and the School of Government have partnered to produce a series of online tutorials that provide helpful information about the FEMA reimbursement process and the FEMA Grants Portal.  

The tutorial series is available at  this link .  The Tutorial Series will be expanded on an ongoing basis as local governments and eligible nonprofits work through COVID-19 recovery. 
Coronavirus Information and Resources

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) updated its coronavirus information and resources webpage. It includes links to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Department of Labor Coronavirus website, the Job Accommodation Network Coronavirus website, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology's information on telework and accessibility, the Equal Employment Opportunity's Coronavirus resources, and more.

10 Tips for Making Sense of COVID-19 Models for Decision-Making

At a time when it can seem like our lives and livelihoods are somehow tied to what gets spit out of these COVID-19 models, it is a good time to learn a bit about what the models are made up of, and what they can—and can’t—do. Check out these 10 tips for making sense of COVID-19 models for decision-making such as directing health care resources to certain areas or identifying how long social distancing policies may need to be in effect. 

COVID-19 SMALL BUSINESS/
NONPROFIT INITIATIVE
 
What is it: 

This is a new remote clinic designed to help small businesses and nonprofits navigate the legal issues they are experiencing due to COVID-19. Small businesses and nonprofits will get to meet with a lawyer for a free 45-minute legal consultation by phone or video conference (client preference). Clinic appointments are scheduled at a time that is convenient for the client and attorney. After you apply for services, we will match you with a lawyer, and the lawyer will call you to schedule your appointment.  We have created this new and expanded clinic system to handle a high volume of COVID-19 related requests. Interpretation is available in Spanish. 
Who is eligible: 

  • North Carolina Small Businesses and Nonprofits
  • Must have 25 or less employees 
  • Have been affected by COVID-19 

What types of legal questions:

This clinic is to help small businesses and nonprofits with their legal needs that have arisen due to COVID-19. Areas of law that we are offering services include:

  • Federal funding opportunities under the CARES ACT including Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) programs. 
  • Commercial Lease issues (NC eviction moratoriums, lease amendments, landlord issues)
  • Employment Law issues (Paid Family and Medical Leave, Unemployment, Furloughs, etc)
  • Insurance questions
  • Bankruptcy & Dissolution 
 
How do I schedule an appointment with a lawyer?

Fill out our  Client Screening Form online. 
 
Questions:

Tillis Announces More Than $12 Million To Expand COVID-19 Testing At North Carolina Health Care Centers

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will award more than $12 million to 39 North Carolina HRSA funded health care centers to support expanded COVID-19 testing. This award is part of the Health Care Enhancement Act and Paycheck Protection Program. The funding will be used to expand the range of testing and testing-related activities including the expansion of walk-up or drive-up testing capabilities, as well as the purchase of additional protective resources, laboratory services, training for staff, and expanded outreach.

A portion of this funding will benefit three health centers in our region which include Carolina Family Health Centers in Wilson, Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc. in Rocky Mount and Rural health Group, Inc. in Roanoke Rapids.
Protect yourself and others. Wear your Mask Properly.

Wear. Wait. Wash. As North Carolina eases some COVID-19 restrictions, the NC Department of Health and Human Services is asking people to remember these three things to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.
 
If you leave home, practice your Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash 

  • Wear a cloth face covering if you will be with other people. 
  • Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer. 

Help get the word out by sharing materials and posting on social media   in English and Spanish. Encourage people to remember their 3 Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash.
ACL’s COVID-19 Resources: What’s New

Here's what's new on  our COVID-19 resource page :

Understanding program reporting requirements: We’ve posted guidance to help grantees with reporting requirements associated with COVID-19 funding, including program-specific guidance for:

  • Centers for Independent Living
  • Long-term Care Ombudsmen programs
  • Older Americans Act Title III grantees
  • Older Americans Act Title VI grantees

Protecting rights and addressing abuse: ACL and our federal grantees and partners continue to monitor emerging threats to the rights and dignity of older adults and people with disabilities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. We've added a number of resources, including:

  • A statement from the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice on protecting civil rights during the COVID-19 response.
  • A video series from the National Disability Rights Network on the rights of people with disabilities. The series covers topics including housing, jails and prisons, healthcare rights, and domestic violence.
  • A letter to faith leaders on elder abuse and supporting survivors from the Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse and the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life. The letter has been endorsed by over 20 national organizations, including several ACL grantees and partners.

Supporting grandfamilies: Generations United and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging will be hosting a webinar on May 21 at 2:00pm ET to discuss how the aging network can best support older adults raising grandchildren or other young relatives during this tumultuous time.
Missed a webinar? We also have added recordings from five webinars that took place in April:

  • "Ensuring Continuity of Home and Community-Based Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic," part of a monthly webinar series hosted by ACL and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • "The Americans with Disabilities Act at Work: Considerations for COVID-19" was hosted by the ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) and featured speakers from NIDILRR's ADA National Network.
  • "Supporting Family Caregivers of Older Adults through Times of Stress and Isolation" hosted by Resources for Integrated Care.
  • "Providing Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed Services During a Pandemic" hosted by the ACL-funded Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care at the Jewish Federations of North America.
  • "Living With COVID-19: A Guide for Volunteer Programs" hosted by the SMP National Resource Center, the SHIP National Technical Assistance Center, the Center for Benefits Access, and ACL.

Spanish and ASL videos: We continue to grow our Spanish and ACL resources. We've added four new Spanish-language videos developed by the California DD Council and a regularly-updated list of coronavirus-related ASL videos being compiled by the National Association of the Deaf.

Info on Economic Impact Payments for Social Security Beneficiaries: The Social Security Administration has created a document to help beneficiaries quickly determine whether they need to take any action to receive economic impact payments under the CARES Act. SSA has also published answers to common questions about representative payees and economic impact payments.

Last but not least: Here are a few more resources we've added:

  • Questions and answers from ACL's April 22 call with State Unit on Aging directors.
  • Information on daily 20-minute "huddles" organized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to discuss high-priority COVID-19 challenges faced by nursing homes.
  • Information on the United States Department of Agriculture's Farmers to Families Food Box program.
Free Masks Still Available!
 
NCWaterWARN and North Carolina Rural Water Association, in coordination with EPA and FEMA, have received a supply of washable cloth face masks for employees of water and wastewater systems. A limited number of masks are still available. FEMA/EPA may request the return of any unused masks  so make your request ASAP! To submit your request, please click   HERE   and complete the official request form
 
Be prepared to enter the following data:
 
1.   Utility Name
2.   County in NC your utility is located
3.   Contact Information (Name, Address, Phone, Email)
4.   Number of Full-Time water/wastewater employees only (including administration, ie. managers, billing clerks)
5.   Population Served by your utility
6.   PWSID and/or NPDES permit number
7.   Type of System (Community, Non-Public, NTNC)
  
Only one request per entity  (please combine for water and wastewater systems).
 
If you have already requested masks, distribution will begin this week.
 
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We will be in contact with you soon regarding the distribution of cloth masks to your utility.
Food Banks Have an Urgent Need for Donations

Get or give food through a food bank near you. 

Join the Broadband Task Force, Be Part of the Solution

The Upper Coastal Plain Broadband Task Force (BBTF) meets every two months to talk broadband and develop strategies to attract affordable, reliable, and adequate Internet Service Providers to the region’s unserved and underserved areas. Since its inception in April 2019, the BBTF has guided UCPCOG in obtaining $72,000 from EDA to support a Regional Broadband Study.    

BBTF members will assist UCPCOG staff in carrying out the Regional Broadband Study’s scope of work, which includes developing public surveys, mapping regional broadband assets, hosting technical workshops, educating the community, providing resources to communities to attract quality Internet Service Providers, and more.  Now is a great time get involved in this project, join the BBTF, a have a role in solving the region’s broadband connectivity issues. 

To join or to request additional information, simply contact Ben Farmer, UCPCOG Economic Development Planner: bfarmer@regionc.org or (252)-234-5966. You are also encouraged to attend the May 8 th Broadband 101+ Webinar, hosted by the BBTF in partnership with NC Hearts Gigabit. For more information about the webinar, click here.
Previous Weekly Newsletters

Previous Newsletters are being added to our website after each publication. You can access them at www.ucpcog.org .
N CDHHS COVID-19 Website Gets an Update

The COVID-19 website has a new look. The redesign is intended to make the site more user-friendly and easier to navigate. Visit covid19.ncdhhs.gov to check it out