Dare County health officials: Mitigation measures in place; school closures not yet recommended

Local government officials and staff from Dare County and the municipalities met this morning at the Dare County Emergency Operations Center for a briefing from public health and emergency management officials regarding COVID-19. [Submitted photo]

Local government officials and staff from Dare County and the municipalities met this morning at the Dare County Emergency Operations Center for a briefing from public health and emergency management officials.
Discussions centered around community impacts and necessary actions to be taken following Thursday’s announcement from Gov. Roy Cooper outlining seven mitigation measures and recommendations from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina. 

Local officials strongly support the state’s proactive response and efforts to limit impacts from COVID-19 to our community.

“Dare County and the municipalities have plans, partnerships, and resources in place to support the community. We are working in close coordination with all community stakeholders and the state,” said Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard. 

The seven statewide recommendations were made by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) to reduce the spread of infection in order to protect lives and avoid strain on our health care system. NC DHHS is making these recommendations for the next 30 days and will re-assess at that point.

 “We thank the local community for their support of all efforts to keep the impact and spread of the disease to our community minimal. The state is taking bold measures to prevent the spread. We understand these guidelines have tremendous impacts throughout the community but now is the time to take action and follow these recommendations to limit potential spread in our community,” said Dare County Public Health Director Sheila Davies. “Now is the time for our community to come together and get ahead of this while we still can. If our community follows these recommendations, it will reduce the number of people impacted and infected in Dare County.”

Recommendations include instructing high-risk people to stay home as much as possible. High-risk includes those 65 years of age or older, or persons with underlying health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, or persons with weakened immune systems. 

Congregate living facilities that serve as residential establishments for high-risk persons are directed to restrict visitors. These establishments include settings such as nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, correction facilities, and facilities that care for medically vulnerable children. Public Health is assisting local facilities as they take action on the state’s recommendations.

Organizers of events that draw more than 100 people should cancel, postpone, modify these events or offer online streaming services. Local events and gatherings of more than 100 people are already being canceled in Dare County. Kelly’s Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade scheduled for Sunday, March 15 in Nags Head has been canceled. Additional cancellations and postponements are expected as event organizers and local officials work together to follow NCDHHS recommendations. Check local media outlets for updates on event cancellations and postponements.

NCDHHS does not recommend closures of schools at this time but does recommend schools and childcare centers cancel or reduce large events and gatherings and consider distance or e-learning in some settings. On Thursday afternoon, Dare County Schools announced a suspension of school-related travel outside of the district effective immediately. 

For a complete list of the seven NCDHHS recommendations to help combat the spread of COVID-19, please visit the NCDHHS website.

Dare County will continue to closely monitor this dynamic evolving situation. Staff are in close and regular contact with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Emergency Management and the CDC. As of Friday, March 13, there are no confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Dare County. There are currently 14 presumptive positive cases and one confirmed case for a total of 15 in North Carolina.

It’s important for community members to access reliable sources of information. For regularly updated information on COVID-19 in Dare County and information about how to protect yourself, your family and our community, please visit www.darenc.com/coronavirus or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website www.CDC.gov. 

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.

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