Dear Friends,

These are very challenging and upsetting times. We are all trying to navigate through the changes in our lives and in our communities as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency.

To keep you informed as much as possible about developments, I’m sending a few important updates. Again, things are changing rapidly, so I urge you to stay informed by consulting the many media and organizational outlets. Here in the House District 49 Office, we are working remotely, as are the majority of offices and businesses, but the office remains in operation and we want to help you with information and guidance. Please continue to reach out to us by calling us at 919.733.5860 or emailing me at Cynthia.Ball@ncleg.net

Stay healthy and safe,

Cynthia
COVID-19 UPDATE
Yesterday afternooon, we received another update from NC’s Novel Coronavirus Task Force on the status of efforts to move from CONTAINMENT to MITIGATION STRATEGIES . So far, we have been able to trace the cases shown in the chart below to a known source, but it is believed that we will SOON see COMMUNITY SPREAD. For that reason, we are moving to more MITIGATION STRATEGIES, as evidenced by yesterday’s Executive Order and other actions outlined below.
State Case Count and Map As of 3-19-2020 at 10:25 AM

Please note: W e are providing the most recent update at the time this newsletter is sent.
We have been advised that the number is expected to continue climbing
as the large number of tests in recent days are processed. 
* This number reflects positive results from all tests, including the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and all hospital and commercial labs.

** This number reflects testing completed by the NC State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial laboratories.  
Many of you reached out to my office with your concerns about closing bars and restaurants, as well as help for people who lose their jobs. And on Tuesday, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 118 , which does two things:

(1) Immediately closes restaurants and bars for dine-in service. Exempt from this order are grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores; however they will not offer dine-in service
 
We are all being encouraged to continue to support our hospitality industry by using take out and delivery. Here’s a listing of restaurants in downtown Raleigh . Please also reach out to the websites of your favorite Wake County restaurants to see which are offering these services. And by the time you read this, there may be other lists organized for other parts of our area.
 
(2) Makes unemployment benefits more widely available. Some restrictions on unemployment benefits have been lifted to help workers impacted by COVID-19, as shown on the chart:
Since the order, thousands of North Carolinians have already applied . Some glitches are reported and efforts are underway to address any problems. You can apply by calling 888-737-0259 or visiting www.des.nc.gov .
Mass Gatherings, Public School Closure
On Saturday, March 14th, Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 117 which:

(1) Prohibits mass gatherings of more than 100 in a single room or space at the same time. This also includes parades, fairs, and festivals. (Additionally, consistent with the CDC recommendations, DHHS also suggests that mass gatherings of 50 or more persons be cancelled or postponed for the next 8 weeks.  And as an additional precaution, it is also suggested that individuals should try to avoid any gathering of 10 or more persons .)

(2) Closes all public schools until March 30th, unless extended beyond that date.

U.S. Small Business Administration Issues
Disaster Declaration for All 100 N.C. Counties
Yesterday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) granted Governor Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration to support small businesses who are suffering losses due to COVID-19. The Governor noted, “The State is currently sustaining severe economic impacts from this pandemic…I can certify that many small businesses have suffered substantial losses and need financial assistance not otherwise available on reasonable terms.”
 
The impact of this declaration is that affected small businesses may apply for low-interest SBA disaster loans. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via the SBA’s website at  DisasterLoan.sba.gov .  Businesses and individuals may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955, or 1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, or by emailing  disastercustomerservice@sba.gov .
 
I will continue to keep you informed of changing developments; please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns.

Important resources:

Your Reliable Sources of Information
Your can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses with these actions:

(1) Avoid close contact with people who are sick
(2) Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
(3) Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
NEW! 24/7 Access to Local Resources, Updates
Did you know that you could sign up to receive updates via text message directly from NC officials about the COVID-19 emergency here in NC?

TEXT COVIDNC to 898211
Legislative Action Plans Begin
House Speaker Tim Moore has announced that he is forming crisis response legislative groups to work remotely on policy measures addressing the COVID-19 crisis and is seeking input from North Carolina residents on reforms that will support families and businesses during the unprecedented emergency.

He said the groups would prepare emergency response measures across policy sectors including healthcare, education, tax, economic support, and government operations. Members of both parties will chair each group. I will provide more information as the makeup of these groups is announced.

His office encourages North Carolinians who wish to provide policy and budget recommendations to the Speaker’s legislative working groups to email his office at  tim.moore@ncleg.gov
Other Mitigation Actions
University of North Carolina System Update
Yesterday, interim UNC System President Bill Roper issued new guidance for the 17 campuses in the System. All students who live in on-campus housing are being asked to “remain at, or return to, their permanent residences unless granted an exception by the institution.” Individual schools will communicate the specifics of how this will impact each campus. This coming Monday, March 23 rd , all campuses will be conducting instruction online or via remote classes. I urge you to check each school website to find out the particulars of dormitory closings so you have the most accurate information.

NC’s Outer Banks: Dare County Restricts Access
Outer Banks officials have instituted a restriction on access—but NOT an evacuation order—for Dare County. Visitors will not be allowed to travel through Dare County to access Currituck, Hyde County, or Tyrrell Counties. People who reside, own property or work in Corolla or Ocracoke, will be allowed entry. Learn more here at the Dare County website.
COVID-19 Testing: What to Do If You Are Symptomatic
From Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary, NC Department of Health and Human Services:

“Last night [Tuesday, March 17 th ], we sent clear guidance to every doctor in the state through our medical board on how they can collect samples, while also protecting themselves, and other patients. If doctors are unable to collect samples for testing in their office, we are working with our public and private partners to expand sample collection for doctors to refer someone to alternative, non-hospital based sites.”

If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms,  call your doctor or the Wake County Health Department (919-856-7044) before leaving home . There are options for assessment and testing for those who are exhibiting symptoms. In addition, local hospitals also have remote assessment options to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

CDC - Symptoms
NC Public Schools
Note: the Governor has formed an Education and Nutrition Work Group to identify and address issues that have arisen due to COVID-19. In our next newsletter, we will give you information on the actions taken and recommendations from this group.
Food Distribution
With the closure of our public schools comes a rush to sort through all kinds of logistics. For many families, access to food is the first concern. Fortunately, several schools and community centers across our county are distributing food to those in need.


  • School Sites: Lunches for the day and breakfast for the next day
  • Community Centers: at least one meal will be provided
  • Inter-Faith Food Shuttle: mobile markets will be set up curbside with staples and baked goods from which families can select

Want to help?
 
Food donations are being accepted by:
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle   1001 Blair Drive, Raleigh (open 8:00am to 4:00pm)
Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC   1924 Capital Boulevard, Raleigh (open 8:30am to 5:00pm)


Resources for Learning at Home
For caregivers and their children comes the challenge of maintaining some sense of calm and order, while addressing educational needs. Fortunately, the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education has assembled some excellent resources for schooling at home.

Childcare
While some of us are able to work remotely, others on the “front line” are less fortunate and must find ways to handle childcare for young children now that schools are closed. Currently, approximately 50% of childcare centers are still open. Among the nine largest chains of child care centers, some are reporting up to 40% vacancies.

The closure of public schools may open up an opportunity to provide childcare for those individuals providing healthcare, public safety, and other essential services to our community. Members of Governor Cooper’s COVID-19 task force are looking at the option of housing emergency childcare in our public schools. 

  • Plans are underway to launch an 800 number to help families find available childcare. As a priority, efforts will be made to get this number to our “front line” -- first responders, hospital staff, front-line healthcare providers, nursing and adult group home staff, child care program staff, food service staff, and others working to keep our communities safe and healthy as we respond to COVID-19.
  • DHHS released guidance on the need to maintain compliance with all childcare rules to the extent possible, as well as provided regulatory flexibility for childcare providers around staff/child ratios and group size, training requirements, records, activity areas, and nutritional standards.

For more details, read
These kinds of proactive actions are being embraced by other states. And every hour, we are hearing that more and more actions are being taken across our country. It is essential that we all remain vigilant; this is how we will contain this virus and mitigate its impact!
President Signs Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Yesterday, Congress passed a second COVID-19 related act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (by a vote of 90-8), which was then signed by the President Trump. The bill includes: free coronavirus testing if testing is deemed appropriate by a physician, health care worker protections, family and medical leave assistance and paid sick leave for small businesses with 500 or fewer employees, food assistance, and unemployment benefits.

A third bill being worked on is expected to include direct payments to Americans in the next two months. More information will be provided in our next newsletter.
 
How Wake County Government is Fighting COVID-19
Wake County has taken numerous proactive measures—including declaring a state of emergency—to ensure that County actions are in lockstep with actions being taken at the State and Federal levels. Visit the Wake County COVID-19 website for up-to-the-minute information and resources.
Practice Social Distancing and Engage in Civic Duty:
Complete the 2020 Census ONLINE
Take 10 minutes to complete the 2020 Census online.

North Carolina  remains one of the fastest  growing  states in the country. Ensuring that everyone counts is important to our future.
Your participation is quick, easy, and confidential. It will help provide representation, funding, and planning data to serve your community for the next decade. 

North Carolina has 13 Congressional seats, but recent estimates show that our state may gain a seat after the 2020 Census. A complete count will ensure that North Carolina’s voice will be appropriately represented in Congress. The Census also provides the most detailed picture of our communities, and governmental funding programs rely on Census data to distribute billions of dollars each year. And Census information helps local service providers and businesses plan for our dynamic state.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or the
District 49 Legislative Assistant, Patty Williams , with your questions or concerns.
It is my privilege to serve the people of North Carolina!
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