Updated: Oct 23
We have new developments and provisions that I wish to share with you from the Governor's office to promote continued safety from COVID-19:
Governor Cooper issued a new provision for our state to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus:
Executive Order 131
Effective Monday, April 13th at 5pm
On April 9th: Governor Roy Cooper took action to the address the spread of COVID-19 by issuing stronger social distancing requirements and speeding up the process to get benefits to people out of work through Executive Order No. 131.
Three key areas are addressed in Executive Order 131:
Requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees.
Makes earlier COVID-19 guidelines mandatory for nursing facilities, and recommends other long-term care facilities to do the same.
Unemployment benefits: issues changes that will speed up certain benefit payments to those who are out of work.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Executive Order 131
This information is subject to change in light of new CDC guidance and additional Executive Orders or local government declarations.
Required and Recommended Policies for Retail Establishments
Which retail businesses are covered by this Executive Order?
This Executive Order (“the Order”) applies to any business in which customers enter to purchase goods or services, including, but not limited to, grocery stores, big box retail stores, pharmacies, ABC stores, banks, hardware stores, and vehicle dealerships. The Order does not apply to outdoor farmers markets. Retail businesses that have been closed by previous Executive Orders or by orders of their local governments are not permitted to reopen.
What is the occupancy limit imposed on retail establishments by the Order?
The Order limits retail establishments to no more than 20 percent of the business’s stated fire capacity or five customers for every one thousand square feet of the retail location’s total square footage. Retail locations may choose which of the two calculations on which they base their maximum occupancy. For the square footage calculation, it includes the full footprint of the interior building, and all retail- and non-retail space.
What other requirements does the Order place on retail establishments?
The Order requires retail establishments to clearly mark six feet of spacing in lines at cash registers and in other high-volume areas to ensure proper social distancing. It also requires businesses to perform frequent and routine cleaning of high-touch areas.
What recommendations does the Order make for retail establishments?
The Order recommends that all open retail establishments:
Supply and encourage the use of cloth face coverings for employees if it is not possible to stay at least 6 feet apart, and provide education for employees on the use of cloth face coverings.
Place hand sanitizer at entry and exit points, and to have wipes or sprays available to sanitize carts and baskets, and have their employees wash their hands or use hand sanitizer between each customer interaction;
Designate exclusive shopping times for seniors and other high-risk groups;
Post signs to remind customers and employees about social distancing; and
Establish systems for online, email or phone ordering, no-contact curbside or drive-through pickup or home delivery, and contact-free checkout.
The Order also recommends that high-volume retail establishments use shields at cash registers, clearly mark designated entry and exit points, and provide store routing guidance.
Video Streaming of Remote Committees
Starting this week, on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, the North Carolina House of Representatives will begin to live stream video of the COVID-19 remote committee meeting web conferences for the public to watch on the General Assembly website via YouTube.
Update: COVID-19 Cases in NC
As of today, April 14th, 2020, NC DHHS confirmed 5,204 cases in North Carolina. There are 93 counties with cases. There are 418 people hospitalized with COVID-19. We have 108 confirmed deaths for North Carolina.
Nash County has 39 cases and 1 death; Edgecombe county has 31 cases and 1 death.
If you want to follow the data on COVID-19 more often, NC DHHS maintains this information on their website:
Update: Department of Public Safety
In response to the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS) today announced it is taking an extraordinary measure to help reduce the spread of the virus in prison facilities. The Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice last week transitioned the first individuals who will continue to serve their sentence in the community.
“The department has been reviewing all options to protect public safety as well as our employees and those in the state’s custody,” Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks said. “Many of those options were implemented quickly, providing immediate impact, while others have required more preparation.”
In an effort to keep staff and those in our custody safe, DPS has taken numerous steps over the last several weeks to help reduce the spread of the virus into facilities. Some of the actions include:
Suspending visitation, volunteers, work release, and other programs to limit the exposure to the public and avoiding mass gathering situations;
Providing extra soap and disinfecting supplies and requiring additional cleaning regimens;
Pre-entrance medical screenings for staff;
Pre-intake medical screenings for new offenders and a 14-day quarantine period;
Suspending acceptance of transfers of offenders from county jails for 14 days; and
Dramatically reducing the movement of offenders within the prison system.
Despite these efforts, more than 35 offenders among six separate facilities have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, necessitating use of stronger measures. Twenty staff at ten facilities have also self-reported positive test results for COVID-19.
By law, the Public Safety Secretary has the authority to allow certain individuals to serve their sentence outside of a DPS prison facility, but under the supervision of community corrections officers and/or special operations officers.
Adult Correction is reviewing additional offenders for possible transition to the community to complete their sentence under supervision. All offenders under consideration must meet strict criteria and all legal requirements, such as victim notification in certain cases, before a transfer to the community is approved. The approximately 500 offenders being considered cannot have been convicted of a violent crime against a person and must fall within one of the following categories:
Offenders age 65 and older with underlying health conditions
Female offenders age 50 and older with health conditions and a release date in 2020
Offenders age 65 and older with a release date in 2020
Offenders already on home leave with a release date in 2020
Offenders on work release with a release date in 2020
On Thursday, April 9th, six offenders were transferred into the community. All of those six are females and are either pregnant or are 65 or older, and thus in a high-risk category as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In a separate effort to reduce the number of incarcerated persons in its facilities, the department has been awarding time credits, where appropriate and in accordance with its statutory authority. This allows some offenders to reduce their maximum sentence and be released to community upon completion of the minimum sentence. In March alone, more than 300 offenders originally scheduled for release in April, May or June, were transitioned to post-release supervision by completing their minimum sentence. Through this process, many individuals who were scheduled for release this spring or early summer have already been discharged or are on an expedited schedule for transition in the next few weeks.
A total of 2,200 offenders were released in March. In fact, since January of this year, over 6,900 individuals have been released from a DPS facility. This is an increase of 10% over the same period in 2019. In addition to the actions of DPS, the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, is also reviewing offenders under its authority for possible release. For example, over the past week, the commission has released more than a dozen pregnant females to community supervision.
“We do not take these new measures lightly. Our staff are working in accordance with CDC guidelines, while being mindful of adult risk management, as well as reentry best practices in order to identify and transition adult offenders into our communities in a safe and efficient manner,” said Tim Moose, Chief Deputy Secretary of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice.
“This is an ongoing process. We will continue to work diligently to monitor best practices and offender risk, while coordinating any future releases to community supervision, as well as adjusting to this ever-evolving situation to protect our staff, the incarcerated community and the community at large,” Moose added.
For more information, see the comprehensive list of Prisons Actions .
Reliable Sources for COVID-19 information
-The National Disaster Distress Helpline offers crisis counseling and emotional support 24/7 during the COVID-19 outbreak: 1-800-985-5990
-COVID-19 Assistance: 211 or 1-888-892-1162
-Websites on COVID-19: CDC cdc.gov/coronavirus ; NCDHHS: ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus
-General COVID-19 Questions: NC COVID-19 Hotline at 866-462-3821
-NCDHHS asks for health care volunteers to assist with COVID-19: https://files.nc.gov/ncdhhs/documents/files/covid-19/Volunteer-as-Health-Care-Worker.pdf .
Representative James D. Gailliard
Committed to the People of Nash County-Rocky Mount
Progressive solutions for Rural Issues
Principles that foster Common Sense Legislation