The world changed once again for local residents Monday as Gov. Roy Cooper, Nash County officials and some local municipalities announced changes and new restrictions as a result of the increasing cases of COVID-19.
As of Monday, three cases of Nash County-related COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, though only one of those has yet appeared on the state map due to delays in updating the map. Two of those cases involve unrelated individuals who are hospitalized in an ICU unit in another county, Nash County Health Director William Hill said on Sunday.
At a state news conference Monday, state Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said there were only roughly 11 people in the state hospitalized with COVID-19. As of Monday, the state DHHS reported 297 confirmed cases across the state with no deaths reported so far.
Nationally, more than 42,000 cases have been reported as of Monday afternoon, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, more than 400 cases have resulted in death.
Hill said Monday at a meeting of Nash County officials that tests no longer have to be confirmed by the CDC, so the current cases are considered positive rather than presumptive positive.
Because of the growing number of cases, Cooper issued an executive order Monday with an increased number of restrictions across the state.
- Schools will be closed for face-to-face instruction until at least May 12. School districts are working on long-range plans for remote instruction to continue until that time. The situation will be re-evaluated closer to that time to determine if schools will reopen at all this academic year, state officials said.
The state is working with federal officials to get an official waiver for much of the testing for the rest of the year. This is expected to pass as the federal government has committed to working with states on this issue.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson said the state was especially committed to working with seniors who were on track for graduation this year to make sure their plans are not disrupted.
- Mass gatherings are limited to 50 people or less.
- Most entertainment facilities and venues are ordered to close by 5 p.m. Wednesday. These include sweepstakes operations, video game arcades, bingo parlors, bowling alleys, skating rinks, gyms, yoga studios, pools, spas, health clubs, martial arts facilities and live entertainment venues.
- Personal care businesses also will close by 5 p.m. Wednesday. These include barber and beauty salons, nail salons and tattoo and massage parlors.
- Long-term care facilities also are now under even stricter visitation regulations, though most of these already applied to local facilities.
Nash County is also instituting new policies to minimize personal contact during the current situation.
In a press release issued Monday, Nash County Manager Zee Lamb stated county officials are urging residents to use online options to conduct business with the county in the interest of providing increased safety for residents and employees.
“We are requesting that residents do business with the county through our services online, over the phone or by email whenever possible. If you visit our website, www.nashcountync.gov you will find a link to all of our services you can access remotely,” Lamb said. “You can also find local information regarding COVID-19 from our website, our Facebook page or ask coronavirus-related questions from our new hotline 252-459-9819.”
Some Nash County services require in-person visits, Lamb said. Residents in this situation should call ahead to confirm a visit is necessary and make an appointment when possible. Questions about Planning and Inspections can be answered at 252-459-9807; the Public Utilities department can be reached at 252-462-2436; the Register of Deeds office can be contacted at 252-459-9836; the Tax Office can be reached at 252-459-9824; and Veteran Services are available at 252-462-2720.
For the complete list, visit www.nashcountync.gov .
At a remote COVID-19 Nash County Response Meeting on Monday, Lamb said he was proud of how staff members were stepping up to the plate. He especially commended the Parks and Recreation Department for offering to help other departments while sports activities are shut down.
Robbie Davis, chairman of the Nash County Board of Commissioners, also commended county workers.
“We are very pleased with the handling of this very difficult time by our professional staff. We are available for consultation from staff but otherwise will simply let our professionals do their job,” Davis said.
Several local towns in Nash County also are changing the way they do business as well.
- The Town Hall in Spring Hope is closed to the public. Staff is available by phone and payments are accepted in the drop box only.
- The Town of Sharpsburg also has closed its offices to the public. All meetings of the Town Council and any in-person meetings with staff members are canceled until further notice.
- The Nashville Town Hall and all other town facilities are closed to the public.