COVID-19: Individuals and Families

On March 27, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 121, which issues a statewide Stay at Home Order beginning Monday, March 30, 2020 at 5 p.m. until April 29, 2020. This order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. Specifically, the order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others. Read the FAQs for more information.

Additionally, Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 124, which prohibits utilities - including electric, gas, water and wastewater services - from disconnecting people who are unable to pay during this pandemic and prohibits them from collecting fees, penalties or interest for late payment. The order applies for the next 60 days and gives residential customers at least six months to pay outstanding bills. Learn more in the FAQs.

There are some common sense measures everyone can take to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. Additionally, review tips to manage your overall health and wellness

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

Limiting the exposure of your nose, mouth and eyes to unwashed hands can help to protect from the spread of all germs and illnesses. It is not recommended that people wear masks if they are well or stockpile them. Masks should be worn by people who are sick to prevent the spread of infection. 

Preparing your household

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends households have a plan and review the checklist of actions to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak. CDC has guidance for preventing the spread of coronavirus in homes and residential communities.

People should think about having daily necessities and medications to last about two weeks, in case they need to isolate. Massive stock piling of supplies is not necessary. Leave some for others, especially those who can’t afford to buy a lot of food all at once. 

Individuals and families who need help with needs like food assistance, support for families and other basic needs should call 2-1-1 for assistance.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also released a list of cleaning products to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

What to do if you feel sick

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness with symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms are typically mild to moderate, but there have been cases of severe illness and death due to the virus. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you have been tested for COVID-19, please talk to the provider or laboratory that performed the testing about when and how you will receive your test results. Your test results will not be available from North Carolina Poison Control or other agencies.

Steps to take for mild symptoms

For people who think they might have COVID-19 and have mild symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends they stay home and call their doctor if you need medical care. Learn more in this NCDHHS fact sheet in English and Spanish

When people with mild illness leave their homes to get tested, they could expose themselves to COVID-19 if they do not already have it. If they do have COVID-19, they can give it to someone else, including people who are high risk and health care providers who will be needed to care for people with more severe illness. In addition, because there is no treatment for COVID-19, a test will not change what someone with mild symptoms will do. 

If you don't have health insurance and need medical care, call your nearest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or local health department. Free and charitable clinics may also be able to provide assistance. 

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911 or call ahead then go to the Emergency Department.

People who think they've been exposed to COVID-19

If you think you may have been exposed to the COVID-19 and develop symptoms, you may need to seek medical attention. Learn more about exposure and symptoms

See current CDC guidance on actions to take based on your level of exposure.

People at higher risk for severe illness

Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease and those with weakened immune systems seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. Learn more.

Pregnant women and children

There is limited information so far about COVID-19 in pregnant women. Pregnant women are at higher risk from influenza and other respiratory viruses, so they are encouraged to be extra vigilant. There is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. The CDC has information specifically for pregnant women.

See CDC information on caring for children during COVID-19.

See CDC information on talking with children about COVID-19.

People who have recently traveled

See NCDHHS information for travelers.

Family caregivers

Family caregivers face unique challenges during COVID-19 as they balance the care needs of their loved one—whether that is an older adult, a grandchild they are raising, or an adult with a disability.  The resources below can help these caregivers navigate resources and empower themselves during this complicated time:


It is important to make sure you are getting reliable information about COVID-19 from sources like NCDHHS and the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has additional information for at-risk individuals including:

Protect Yourself from Coronavirus Scams

Resources and Guidance

Resources and Guidance

The national Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) has also developed an easy-to-read COVID-19 booklet written by and for people with developmental disabilities. The information is current as of March 13, 2020 and available in English and Spanish. Note that some terminology and links are not specific to North Carolina.

Parent Resources

See all guidance