COVID-19, News

More in NC go hungry in the pandemic, NCCU finds

Nearly 80% of North Carolinians are at least considering sharing a meal with someone outside their household on Thanksgiving or winter holiday, and nearly 18% reported having too little food on at least one day in the previous week, according to preliminary results from an online survey conducted
Nov. 17-22.

N.C. Central University researchers sponsored the survey on COVID-19 and its effects on households. Researchers found increased food insecurity and lower household incomes.

“This suggests food insecurity is higher than it has been,” Christopher Paul, NCCU assistant professor of public administration and principal investigator on the food insecurity research project, said in an interview. “In this initial analysis, it’s at some of its highest levels in recent history.”

Thirty-two percent of respondents to NCCU’s survey reported losing income, and 38% said that if they got sick, it was unlikely they could count on neighbors to shop for them.

It’s not known whether the 77.4% who said they were at least considering dining with people outside the household over the holidays planned to do so indoors or outdoors, Paul said. Nearly 40% answered “yes” to the question.

“We don’t know a lot about how people are gathering,” Paul said. “A major factor is there is a confusion about what is safe, and there’s still a great desire to gather.”

The survey helps expose the COVID-19 pandemic’s broad impact, he said.

“We see how our food and well-being intersect. It shows these vast impacts on our wellbeing as individuals and as a society. There are things we can do as a society, checking in on neighbors, through government and nongovernment organizations, to make sure we maintain people’s access to food and social supports.”

The 1,345 respondents were part of an internet survey panel and include residents in 97 counties. NCCU’s full report is expected in mid-December.

The US Department of Agriculture reported 13.1% of North Carolina households from 2017-2019 did not have enough food, relied on food banks or food stamps, or used other strategies to eat.

COVID-19, News

Read Cooper’s latest COVID-19 statement and order here

Gov. Roy Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen

Governor tells North Carolinians “We are in danger”

The COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina continues to grow more dire by the day.The state continues to set more records for positive tests and hospitalizations and 20 counties are now officially considered to be in the “red zone,” which means that community spread of the virus as been deemed “critical.”

In response, Gov. Roy Cooper issued the following statement today:

With Cases Rising Rapidly, North Carolina Tightens Existing Mask Requirements and Enforcement

Ten More Counties Designated as Red for Critical Community Spread

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper today issued additional COVID-19 safety measures to tighten mask requirements and enforcement as cases continue to rise rapidly in North Carolina and across the country. Executive Order No. 180 goes into effect on Wednesday, November 25 and runs through Friday, December 11.

“I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: We are in danger,” Governor Cooper said. “This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many.”

In addition to extending Phase 3 capacity limits and safety requirements, the Order tightens the existing statewide mask requirement – making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever they are with someone who is not from the same household. The Order also adds the mask requirement to several additional settings including any public indoor space even when maintaining 6 feet of distance; gyms even when exercising; all schools public and private; and all public or private transportation when traveling with people outside of the household.

The Order also requires large retail businesses with more than 15,000 square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, updated North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map due to the rapid rise in cases and hospitalization over the past week. Since introducing the system last week, ten more counties have moved into the red category indicating critical community spread. There are now 20 red counties and 42 orange counties. Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

“The coming weeks will be a true test of our resolve to do what it takes to keep people from getting sick, to save lives, and to make sure that if you need hospital care whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19, you can get it,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan spoke at today’s press conference to discuss what the city of Greensboro is doing to step up enforcement of existing, strong statewide safety rules. State officials have encouraged local governments to take action to require compliance and help lower COVID-19 numbers.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing slightly.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing

  • Testing capacity is high.

Tracing Capability

  • The state is continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments.
  • There have been more than 430,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Read Executive Order 180.

Read a Frequently Asked Questions document about the Order.

Read the slides from today’s briefing.

COVID-19, News

Advocates: there’s still time for North Carolina families to get $335 “extra credit grants”

While many have raised serious and legitimate questions about the wisdom of the so-called “Extra Credit Grants” program North Carolina enacted earlier this year as a partial relief measure in response to the pandemic (most notably whether it makes sense to give money to families who are faring just fine during the crisis, while making it hard for many of low income to participate), for better or worse, the program is up and running.

What’s more and to their great credit, advocates for low income North Carolinians at the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and its partners, the  law firm of Robinson Bradshaw and Legal Aid of North Carolina, have succeeded in making the benefit much more accessible to people in true need.

Today, those advocates hosted a press event at which they drew attention to a new website (335forNC.com) launched just last Friday that will give families in need two more weeks to apply for the benefit. This from a release that accompanied the event:

The organizers of 335forNC.com have reopened the application process for Extra Credit Grants to support low-income families in North Carolina struggling to meet the demands of educating and caring for their children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and its partners, Robinson Bradshaw and Legal Aid of North Carolina, took successful legal action to reopen the application process for eligible families to apply for one $335 Extra Credit Grant per household. Eligible N.C. families who missed the original October deadline are encouraged to go to 335forNC.com as soon as possible to apply for a $335 Extra Credit Grant before the deadline, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, at 2 p.m.

…Eligible families who did not get the opportunity to apply for an Extra Credit Grant before the Oct. 15, 2020, deadline are encouraged to apply. People should plan to apply for an Extra Credit Grant if they did not file a 2019 state tax return solely because their gross income for the 2019 was below state requirements (generally $10,000 per year if single and $20,000 per year, if married). Eligible applicants need to have at least one qualifying child aged 16 or younger in 2019, and be a North Carolina resident for all of 2019.

Please note that if an individual applied through the NC Department of Revenue (NCDOR) application process before the Oct. 15 deadline, their Extra Credit Grant check will come directly from NCDOR later this year.

For more information click here to visit 335forNC.com to determine if you are eligible and to apply.

COVID-19, News

As a third COVID-19 vaccine shows promise, NC’s distribution plan takes shape

AstraZeneca announced Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective, with no hospitalizations or severe cases of the disease in those receiving the vaccine.

Dr. Leah Devlin, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

AstraZeneca now joins Pfizer and Moderna with a late-stage vaccine showing real promise in addressing the pandemic.

All three will require regulatory approval, which could come for at least one of those vaccines by mid-December.

Dr. Leah Devlin, professor of practice in health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, recently co-chaired the advisory committee for a COVID-19 vaccination plan developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Devlin, who is former health director for Wake County and the State of North Carolina, joined Policy Watch last week to discuss the promise these new vaccines, the challenge of dealing with initially a limited supply, and the how to win over those who may be hesitant to take the vaccine.

An estimated 51 % of North Carolina’s adults are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 based on being 65 or older or having at least one underlying health condition.

Click below to listen to our full interview with Dr. Devlin:

For more on North Carolina’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan click here.

.

COVID-19, News

Washington at a standstill, as states face the loss of federal help amid ‘the worst part of the crisis’