With North Carolina’s COVID-19 trends moving in the wrong direction, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Safety sent a letter to local leaders asking them to help slow the spread of the virus by promoting the 3 Ws and considering local actions to improve compliance with executive orders.
"The incredible work of our local partners has allowed North Carolina to avoid the first and second waves of rapid spikes in COVID-19 positives that devastated so many other states. To protect our communities, we must continue working together in this fight against COVID-19," wrote NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D., and NCDPS Secretary Erik A. Hooks.
The letter was sent to county and municipal leaders in 36 counties that met the following metrics: the county has had 300 or more new cases in the last 14 days and has been identified by the White House Task Force as a county of concern; the rate of cases is greater than 50 cases per 10,000 people; or the county is one of the three most populous in the state.
In addition to sharing resources to encourage people to wear a mask, wait six feet apart and wash hands, the letter outlined local actions to consider that have less severe penalties for violating COVID-19 executive orders than what is available through the state-level emergency powers. The penalty for violating the state-level executive order is limited to criminal citations, which could result in imprisonment. City and county governments can create ordinances that carry more flexible consequences such as civil fines. Examples of local actions include:
- Adopting an ordinance that imposes a civil penalty for violating its provisions.
- Issuing a local Emergency Proclamation setting higher standards to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Supporting the local health director to issue and enforce an Imminent Hazard Abatement Order against entities whose actions, including failure to comply with the governor’s executive order, present an imminent hazard to your community.
Letters were sent to leaders in the following counties: Alamance, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chowan, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Davidson, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gaston, Graham, Greene, Guilford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, Randolph, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Scotland, Union, Wake, Watauga and Wayne.