Week of April 6, 2020
Keeping You Informed
Robert Hiett
Executive Director
Executive Order Meeting North Carolina Health and Human Service Needs  

Governor Cooper issued this Executive Order to prepare for and address a forecasted surge of COVID-19 cases requiring inpatient hospitalization in facilities across North Carolina in the coming days. A recent composite modeling forecast, constructed by experts from North Carolina universities and research organizations, estimates that by the end of May 2020, approximately 250,000 North Carolinians will be infected with the novel coronavirus, even if social distancing measures continue through that date. Other statistical modeling by experts within and outside North Carolina predict a significant risk that North Carolina will not have a sufficient number of hospital beds and medical equipment to meet the crisis.

The Order includes delegating to the Secretary of Health & Human Services authority to waive or modify the enforcement of laws or regulations in order to allow increases in licensed health care facilities’ bed capacity, allow increases in available medical professionals, allow acquisition of critical medical equipment, and allow transfer of medical resources where they can be most effective and save the most lives. The Order also provides for the usage of EMAC for telehealth work in North Carolina and other States.

The actions contemplated in the Order are temporary and shall remain in effect for 60 days unless rescinded or replaced with a superseding Executive Order.

Below is a link to an explainer document for the provisions in the Executive Order.

News from the Governor's Office

North Carolina has received approval from FEMA to provide housing alternatives, such as hotels, motels, and dormitories, for North Carolinians with unstable housing who may need to quarantine in response to or are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This will be key for housing homeless populations especially in urban areas.  https://governor.nc.gov/news/fema-approves-north-carolina-request-stand-shelters-follow-social-distance-guidelines
NCDHHS is providing financial assistance to help essential workers afford child care and bonuses to child care teachers and staff who provide care during the COVID-19 crisis. https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/ncdhhs-provide-financial-support-essential-workers-and-child-care-providers
Governor Cooper issued an Order that creates more flexibility in law enforcement training schedules during the state of emergency so that people training for new positions can pause their training and resume at a later date. https://governor.nc.gov/news/governor-cooper-orders-flexibility-law-enforcement-training-and-certification
Governor Cooper Signs Order to Tighten Social Distancing Measures, Strengthen Long-Term Care Rules and Streamline Unemployment Benefits Process

Executive Order No. 131 Sets Policies for Retail Stores, Enforces Mandatory Rules at Nursing Homes and Expedites Issuing Unemployment Benefits
RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper took action to the address the spread of COVID-19 by issuing stronger social distancing requirements and speeding up the process to get benefits to people out of work through Executive Order No. 131.

Three key areas are addressed in Executive Order 131. The first requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees. The second makes earlier COVID-19 guidelines mandatory for nursing facilities, and recommends other long-term care facilities to do the same. The third area is unemployment benefits, issuing changes that will speed up certain benefit payments to those who are out of work.
A new blog post was published on the U.S. Department of Labor's new final regulations

Earlier blog posts addressing employment issues raised by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) have also been updated to reflect the new regulations. See How the Paid Sick Leave Provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Affect Government Employers and Which Tax and Retirement Deductions Must Be Taken from FFCRA Emergency Paid Leave ?
These three blog posts should be read together when considering how to implement the FFCRA's provisions for emergency paid sick leave and emergency FMLA expansion leave.

Diane M. Juffras
Professor of Public Law and Government
School of Government
UNC-Chapel Hill
Trey Allen, 09 Apr 07:06 AM
Electronic meetings have quickly become a fact of life for many local governments in North Carolina as officials have acted to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. This post summarizes some of the advice that my colleagues and I have been giving on best practices for electronic meetings.... Read More

Trey Allen
Associate Professor of Public Law and Government
School of Government
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Campus Box 3330, Knapp-Sanders Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330
T: 919.843.9019   F: 919.962.0654

Norma Houston, 08 Apr 07:42 PM

As counties and cities continue their efforts to protect public health and safety during the COVID-19 crisis, some have discovered that their local emergency ordinances need updating. For jurisdictions that do not regularly face the threat of natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and winter ice storms, it is understandable that a local emergency ordinance might not be reviewed and updated as often as one which addresses matters more frequently considered such as zoning. Now, with COVID-19 impacting every jurisdiction in our state, some counties and cities are forced to exercise emergency powers they never envisioned needing. As city and county officials reach for their local emergency ordinances, some are discovering that their ordinances are out of date or don’t properly vest the appropriate city or county official with the full array of legal authorities granted under the State Emergency Management Act (G.S. Chapter 166A). What do to?... Read More
ACL’s COVID-19 Resources: What’s new

Here's what's new on  our COVID-19 resource page  since our last update.
As we head into our second week of April, DHHS continues working around the clock on our response to COVID-19. We remain focused on slowing the spread of the virus so fewer people get sick at the same time and helping North Carolinians weather these very challenging times. Below are some of the highlights of recent actions and resources. As always, please continue to check our website for the latest news, www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus .
·      Families are Receiving Enhanced Benefits to Ensure Food Access
·      Child Care Access & Financial Assistance Available for Essential Workers
·      COVID-19 Dashboard Updated
·      New Video on Reducing Anxiety and Stress Available
·      Executive Order Prohibits Utility Disconnections
·      Executive Order Gets Equipment to Healthcare Workers, Schools, Local Governments
·      Daily (M-F) Press Briefings Continue
Executive Order 124: 
Needs to Know and Resources

  • EO 124 is effective March 31, 2020 for no less than 60 days.
  • Prohibits termination of service to RESIDENTIAL customers for nonpayment.
  • Cannot bill or collect any fee, charge, penalty, or interest for a late or other-wise untimely payment.
  • Must provide opportunity for reasonable payment arrangement to pay arrearages over 6 month period.
  • Utility providers are encouraged to re-connect previously disconnected services to the extent practicable
  • NCDHHS and the NC DEQ will work with Utility Providers to publicize payment assistance programs to aid customers
  • Utility Providers shall reasonably in-form customers of the provisions of this Executive Order
  • Only applies to residential customer locations
  • Does not apply to additional optional services ordered by customers
  • Does not apply to issuance or collection of special fees or penalties
  • Weekly reporting requirements due Wednesday of each week to the NC Utilities Commission

Contact NCRWA for assistance with EO 124 or any other assistance or training needs!
You are invited to join NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Practical Broadband Conversations Webinar
Topic : Rural Broadband: Three Service Providers Discuss Business Models and Solutions
Date Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Time:  2:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET
Overview: Rural service providers continue to deploy broadband solutions and work to close the digital divide, developing strong local partnerships and sustainable business models. Please join BroadbandUSA for its April webinar on broadband topics of interest, which features three providers that utilize different technologies to bring broadband solutions to their rural communities. Panelists include an electric coop from the Virginia Piedmont, an independent telephone company serving rural areas in the Southeast, and a regional cable provider, offering a triple play of video, Internet and voice in the upper Midwest.

·            Renee Chapline, Vice President of Communications and Government Affairs, Prince George Electric Cooperative
·            James Garner, Vice President of Operations, Telephone Electronics Corporation
·            Justin Forde, Senior Director of Government Relations, Midco
Please pre-register for the webinar using this registration link .   After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Want to access past Practical Broadband Conversations webinars? Visit our webinar archives for past presentations, transcripts and audio recordings.
Key takeaways from the week ending April 5

North Carolina’s overall response rate is 42%. By the start of the third week of Census reporting, North Carolina’s self-response rank had risen 6 spots from the first reporting date to 37 out of 50 states and DC. Nationally, 45% of households have responded to the Census.

NC’s online response rate continues to lag behind the nation. North Carolina’s online self-response rate is 35.7% – 3.6 percentage points lower than the national average (39.3%). This is an important roadblock, as online responses form the overwhelming majority of all responses both statewide and nationally.

North Carolinians are more likely to respond by mail or phone than the national average. For the past three weeks of reporting, a larger share of North Carolina households have responded by mail or phone (6%) than the nation (5.2%), and this disparity continues to rise.

All five top-responding counties in North Carolina are located in a metropolitan area. These are Orange, Union, Wake, Chatham, and Guilford counties.

The five lowest-responding counties likely impacted by suspension of Census Bureau field operations. Graham, Avery, Jackson, Dare, and Swain counties had high proportions of households that will be counted by “Update/Leave”—most of these households have not yet received their invitation to respond to the census.

SBTDC disaster assistance for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, allocates $349 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the current circumstances they are encountering. The CARES Act provides funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, modifies the existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and provides immediate loan payment relief for current SBA 7(a) borrowers. Click on the button below for an overview of the key components of and eligibility requirements of these programs.

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.

Disinfectants that meet EPA's criteria for use against coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). When purchasing a disinfectant product, check if its EPA registration number is included on this list. If it is, you have a match and the product can be used against SARS-CoV-2.

Information on drinking water and wastewater. The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies. Based on current evidence, the risk to water supplies is low.

During the April 3, 2020 Weekly COVID-19 Development Finance Briefing, experts from the North Carolina Rural Center, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and the New Orleans Business Alliance discussed their respective approaches to local financing programs to support small businesses. Click on the link above to listen to the recording.
Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration and the US Department of the Treasury have developed a Frequently Asked Questions document related to the Paycheck Protection Program – Section 1102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.  The document will be updated on a regular basis.   Click here   to view the FAQ document.
The SBA has also developed a tool for businesses to locate local lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program.   Click here  to access the tool.
COVID-19 Housing Alternatives

NC has received approval from the federal government to provide housing alternatives, such as hotels, motels, and dormitories, for North Carolinians with unstable housing and who may need to quarantine in response to or are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19.  This will be key for housing homeless populations especially in urban areas .   Click here  for additional information.
Roanoke Rapids has launched a

It is a simple way for the city and businesses to show unity in support of local police, firefighters, EMTs, healthcare workers, and store/restaurant employees that are on the front lines during this unusual situation. For a $20 fee, a Roanoke Rapids High School senior paints a single 15-inch red heart on the door or window of a sponsoring business. Main Street Roanoke Rapids signed up for 15 slots. Seven of the slots were given to the locally owned restaurants. The remaining eight slots were assigned on a first come, first serve basis. Those that received a heart from Main Street Roanoke Rapids were asked to "pay it forward" and sponsor a neighboring locally owned business. When they sponsor a neighbor, they encourage them to pay it forward and so on. Roanoke Rapids now has 70 businesses in the district with a red heart, thanks to many paying it forward, and the list continues to grow. Although not intended to directly help businesses financially, it has been a huge morale booster and is drawing the community’s attention to them. 

STAKEHOLDER ANNOUNCEMENT: USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19
*Updated April 8, 2020*

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.
Read the full announcement to learn more about the opportunities USDA Rural Development is implementing to provide immediate relief to our customers, partners, and stakeholders.
Tar River Transit Waives Fees

Beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, Tar River Transit will modify its fare structure as part of minimizing interaction between vehicle operators and the public. See the official announcement here .