Gov. Cooper announces modified Stay at Home Order and transitions to Phase 1 of easing restrictions

New order takes effect Friday, May 8 at 5 pm

Personal care businesses, entertainment venues, gyms to remain closed

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper today signed Executive Order No. 138 to modify North Carolina’s Stay At Home order and transition to Phase 1 of slowly easing certain COVID-19 restrictions effective Friday, May 8 at 5 pm. Certain businesses remain closed as the state continues battling COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is still a serious threat to our state, and Phase 1 is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions that can boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” said Governor Cooper. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating.”

“We must continue to protect our families and neighbors as we take this cautious step forward. When you leave your home, follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

Today’s Order removes the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity and will be required to direct customers to stand 6 feet apart, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available, screen workers for symptoms and more. The Order allows people to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open.

Certain businesses remain closed, including bars, personal care businesses, entertainment venues, and gyms. Restaurants may only continue to serve customers for drive-through, take out and delivery.

All workers at retail and other businesses are recommended to wear cloth face coverings. Teleworking is still encouraged for businesses that can practice it.
Though small outdoor gatherings will be allowed in Phase 1, gatherings of more than 10 people generally are still prohibited. The Order encourages cloth face coverings to be worn when outside the home and in contact with others. Everyone who uses a face covering should adhere to this guidance without fear of profiling or bias.

During Phase 1, childcare facilities will be open to serve families of parents who are working or looking for work. These centers will be required to follow strict cleaning protocols. Summer day camps can operate in compliance with NC DHHS guidelines.

In explaining today’s Order, Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen reported North Carolina remains stable on the following key metrics:
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing.
Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases over the last 14 days cases is slightly increasing.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive over the last 14 days is decreasing.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
• North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations over the last 14 days is level.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:
Laboratory Testing
• North Carolina has doubled the daily testing rate.
Tracing Capability
• The Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative has received over 4,000 applications and is in the process of hiring 250 new contact tracers.
Personal Protective Equipment
• Supply chains continue to improve with the exception of gowns.

The order is in effect until 5 pm on Friday, May 22. However, the end of this Order does not necessarily mean the state will move to Phase 2. Phase 2 will only start if data and indicators are in the right place.


Read a copy of today’s graphs and slides.

Possible relief for small businesses

Today, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors took action in response to House Bill 1043. The bill includes $125 million to provide grants to entities for the purpose of making loans to assist small businesses affected by the economic impact of COVID-19.

The Board modified the terms of the existing NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program to align with the provisions of the bill. Effective today, loans made from the program to small businesses will include a limit on the number of employees per business, a minimum interest rate for the first six months of the loan term, and an increased time for repayment.

The NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program was launched on March 24 with an initial allocation of $15 million provided by Golden LEAF. Applications were quickly submitted well in excess of the available funding. Golden LEAF worked with the Office of Governor Roy Cooper and leadership of the North Carolina General Assembly to appropriate the additional funds to support this program and address identified demand. With this additional funding in place, applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Golden LEAF Board Chair Bo Biggs said, “The Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors thanks the Governor and General Assembly for their leadership. We are honored that Golden LEAF can serve as a trusted conduit for much needed resources to assist small businesses during this crisis.”

“The significant volume of applications in the pipeline is indicative of the severity of the statewide economic impact COVID-19 has had on North Carolina’s small businesses,” said Golden LEAF Foundation President Scott T. Hamilton. “Today’s action will enable the program to continue to provide much needed support to the State’s small businesses, especially those most at risk for permanent closure.”

“Today, North Carolina’s small business owners are facing an unprecedented economic challenge–and it will take a sustained statewide effort to support them through this crisis,” said NC Rural Center President Patrick Woodie, whose organization manages the program in partnership with Golden LEAF. “The NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery program would not have been possible without the quick response and ‘can-do’ attitude of our partners, Golden LEAF’s ongoing support, and the confidence of the North Carolina General Assembly.”

The NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program offers low interest loans of up to $50,000 with no payments for six month to businesses affected by COVID-19. If not repaid in six months, the loan will automatically convert to a term loan.

The Rural Center acts as a program administrator, managing the flow of loan applications to lending partners for underwriting and servicing. Lending partners include Business Expansion Funding Corporation (BEFCOR), Carolina Small Business Development Fund, Mountain BizWorks, Natural Capital Investment Fund, Piedmont Business Capital, Sequoyah Fund, and Thread Capital.

Small-business owners affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) can learn more about the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program and apply for a loan at or to speak with someone about this program or other resources available to small businesses contact Business Link North Carolina (BLNC) at 800.228.8443.

May 3-9 is Hurricane Preparedness Week

Governor Urges Residents to Update Emergency Kits and Plans, Especially Considering COVID-19

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed May 3-9 Hurricane Preparedness Week in North Carolina and reminded residents that now is the time to prepare for the 2020 hurricane season. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

“North Carolina knows all too well the damage and disruption that hurricanes can bring, but being prepared can help people fare better and recover quicker,” said Gov. Cooper. “Especially with COVID-19 affecting everyone’s daily lives, now is the time to make sure you and your family are ready this hurricane season.”

Gov. Cooper urges families to use this week to discuss their emergency plans, update their emergency supplies, and review their homeowners and renter’s insurance policies. This year, it’s also important to consider how the COVID-19 virus might alter your typical preparedness for hurricane season.

When considering your evacuation planning during the COVID-19 pandemic, a plan to stay at a hotel, or with friends or family who live farther inland are better options than relying on a large emergency shelter. Be sure to include items in your preparedness kit like hand sanitizer, face masks, copies of your health insurance cards and documents, and your medications. If you do evacuate, be sure to check in with family members, or an emergency contact, to let them know where you are.

“North Carolina is getting ready for hurricane season even in the midst of a pandemic,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “We have responded to simultaneous disasters in the past and will work with our local partners to do so again if needed.”

The most dangerous threats from hurricanes and tropical storms are flooding and storm surge.

During this hurricane season, North Carolina is introducing Know Your Zone, a tiered evacuation system that highlights areas most vulnerable to storm surge from hurricanes and tropical storms, and other hazards. If it becomes necessary, local officials will order evacuations using pre-determined zones created by coastal counties. The Know Your Zone lookup tool is a new color-coded interactive map you can use to determine the evacuation zone where you live, work, or are visiting based upon street address.

Having flood insurance is one of the best ways to prepare for flooding.

“Homeowners with flood insurance experience faster recoveries,” said Director Sprayberry. “Flood insurance is key to recovering quicker and with more resilience.”

“Preparing for an emergency is an easy and simple way to help protect you and your loved ones when a disaster strikes,” said Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “By having an emergency supply kit with enough non-perishable food and water to last each person three to seven days, you’ll be ready for aftermath of a storm when you may be without power, water or other essential services.”

Essential items for your emergency kit include:
• Food/water for every member of your family for several days
• Copies of insurance cards/papers and identification sealed in a watertight plastic bag
• First-aid kit
• Weather radio and batteries
• Prescription medicines
• Sleeping bag or blankets
• Changes of clothes
• Hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and deodorant
• Cash
• Pet supplies including food, water, leashes, bedding, muzzle and vaccination records
• Hand sanitizer
• Face masks

During storms, people should stay tuned into a trusted local news source and keep a battery-powered radio nearby for weather and evacuation information. They also need to heed the warnings of state and local officials and evacuate quickly when told to do so.

More information on hurricanes and overall emergency preparedness can be found on the ReadyNC website at

Cooper urges North Carolinians to stay vigilant


Some indicators moving in the right direction, others are not

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper and NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today shared an update on where North Carolina stands in the fight against COVID-19 and urged North Carolinians not to let their guard down.

“North Carolinians have made tremendous sacrifices and it is making a difference,” said Governor Cooper. “We remain hopeful that the trends will be stable enough to move into Phase 1 next week.”

“We need keep up the actions that will slow the spread of the virus. The good news is that we know we can do this. If we stay home now to protect our loved ones and our communities, we can put ourselves on a path to begin easing restrictions and moving forward as planned,” said Dr. Cohen.

As of today, North Carolina has 10,509 lab-confirmed cases, 546 people in the hospital, and 378 deaths due to COVID-19.

Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen updated on where North Carolina stands on the following key metrics:
• Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
• Currently, North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is level over past 14 days, but has been on an uptick over the past seven days.
• Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
• Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases over the last 14 days cases is still increasing.
• Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
• Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive over the last 14 days is decreasing.
• Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
• Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations over the last 14 days is largely level.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:
• Increase in Laboratory Testing
• North Carolina has surpassed 4,000 tests for the last 6 of 9 days with 6,000 tests reported yesterday.
• Increase in Tracing Capability
• NC DHHS announced the Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative, a new partnership with Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) and the North Carolina

Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) to double the state’s current contact tracing capabilities. The Collaborative has started recruiting for these positions.
• Availability of Personal Protective Equipment
• The state has a 30-day supply of most personal protective equipment, except for gowns and N95 masks.

“We need everyone to continue following the Stay At Home order right now so that we can move to the next phases of easing restrictions. Complacency could risk lives and undo these plans,” added Governor Cooper.

Governor Cooper Proclaims April 2020 Alcohol Awareness Month in North Carolina

Talk It Out NC Honors Alcohol Awareness Month by Encouraging Families to Start the Conversation about Underage Drinking

RALEIGH, N.C. – (April 6, 2020) Governor Roy Cooper issued a proclamation declaring April Alcohol Awareness Month in North Carolina. The proclamation coincides with a nationwide effort to educate Americans about the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to alcohol… all while families are staying home together.

Talk It Out NC, a state-sponsored initiative to reduce underage drinking, is taking the opportunity to encourage families in North Carolina to start the conversation about underage drinking. The program is launching several new initiatives to reduce the underage drinking problem in our state.

NC Alcohol Awareness Month Initiatives:

Engage Families During Pandemic Lockdown

Right now, when families are home together, is an opportune time in the fight against underage drinking. Talk It Out ambassadors are making virtual appearances across the stateto help families tackle what can sometimes seem like a daunting discussion.

“Students are home from school right now, and many of their parents are home from work — it’s the perfect time for families to talk about the consequences of underage drinking,” says Deputy Director of Education and Outreach for the ABC Commission Jim Van Hecke. “At the same time, Talk It Out is honoring Alcohol Awareness Month by encouraging students to Take the Pledge against underage drinking through several new initiatives.”

Social Media Blitz

Talk It Out is acknowledging Alcohol Awareness Month with engaging posts on all its social media platforms. These posts encourage families to talk about alcohol and keep the lines of communication open.

Alcohol Education Project

Talk It Out is also working with the North Carolina Association of ABC Boards to share information about an alcohol education project with the public. It is part of the Boards’ mission to ensure members of the public are well informed about the societal issues related to the consumption of alcohol.

School- and Faith-Based Initiatives

Although attendance at schools and churches is on hold right now, Talk It Out is planning for the future. The program is in the process of organizing school-based and faith-based initiatives for future engagement opportunities. Talk It Out’s ambassadors will connect with schools and churches in their communities to talk about underage drinking.

New Partnerships

April is also Alcohol Responsibility Month, and Talk It Out is partnering with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( to eliminate underage drinking. The Foundation released encouraging statistics that result from positive conversations between parents and their kids about alcohol:

Alcohol Awareness in North Carolina:

Source: Alcohol Awareness Month Proclamation

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control, the level of excessive drinking in North Carolina is trending upward.
  • Neuroscience tells us that the developing adolescent brain is far more sensitive to alcohol than the mature adult brain and underage alcohol use can negatively impact student success and athletic performance.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption in North Carolina costs over $7 billion a year in health care costs
  • Prevention efforts throughout North Carolina have helped raise the average age at which young people begin to use alcohol, yet 27% of high school students still report drinking in the last 30 days.

Talk It Out encourages families to keep the lines of communication about underage drinking open with helpful tips.

Starting the Conversation:

  • Ask open-ended questions and really listen to their answers without interrupting or jumping to conclusions.
  • Take advantage of all kinds of situations, like a celebrity appearing in the news for drunk driving or a plotline in a TV show that involves alcohol.
  • Start a conversation in the car. Some teens feel more comfortable when they don’t have to make eye contact.
  • Make kids part of the conversation. Don’t make it a lecture.

View complete article here

To learn more visit:

Unemployment information for independent contractors and self-employed workers

Independent contractors and self-employed workers out of work because of the COVID-19 outbreak can now apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) at

If you have already applied and been denied for state unemployment benefits, you may need to provide additional information to apply again. You should sign into your online account and click on the ‘Apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance’ link to complete the application process.

If you need assistance filing your PUA claim, call the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance line at 866-847-7209.

More information and detailed instructions are here.

So far, North Carolina has paid out a total of more than $636 million in unemployment benefits to more than 280,000 people since the start of the outbreak.


Pender County Nature Photography Contest

BURGAW – Pender County Tourism and Pender County Parks & Recreation announce a Pender County Nature Photography Contest.

The contest is open to the public. Photos will be used in published materials giving credit to the photographer and location along with prizes awarded for first place in each category. Entries will be accepted through 5 p.m. on May 11.

“The contest has categories including adult amateur, adult professional, along with a 15 and under amateur youth category,” states Zachary White, Pender County Parks and Recreation. “Photos can be of animals, plants, landscapes, scenery, and historic structures in Pender County.”

“We are looking for some of your best high-resolution digital photos of nature taken in Pender County,” Olivia Dawson, Pender County Tourism, said. “This contest is a great way for locals to show off their photography skills while capturing the beauty of Pender County.”

Photos must be taken between November 11, 2019 and May 11, 2020. All entrants must complete an entry form submitting one entry form per photo with a maximum of 3 photos per person. Photos in the adult amateur and youth category may not be digitally altered, with the exception of cropping. The professional category may digitally alter their photographs. Only digital entries will be accepted, and photos must be the property of the entrant.

Winners will be announced no later than Friday, May 15. Winning entrants will be contacted by phone or e-mail.

For more information on rules, use, eligibility, and entry form visit or

Upload your entries here.

For more information contact Pender County Parks and Recreation Department 910-259-1330 or the Tourism Office 910-259-1278.

Pender County Nature Photography Contest

Gov. Cooper announces students and educators will not return to school buildings for the remainder of this school year

Today, Governor Roy Cooper announced that public schools in North Carolina will remain closed for normal operations for the remainder of this school year. Schools were originally scheduled to be closed through May 15. Students are currently continuing their schoolwork via various remote learning methods.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson said that while there was hope schools could eventually reopen this school year, the current COVID-19 situation in North Carolina does not make that possible.

“Teachers, staff, and students were hopeful that they could return to the classroom, but that is just not practical at this point,” said Superintendent Johnson. “However, I want to assure everyone that this will not be the new normal. While this crisis has forced us to be reactive over the last month, plans for next school year are already underway and will be proactive. We will share more on these proactive measures soon.”

Superintendent Johnson praised the work that educators and parents across North Carolina have done to help students continue their studies while schools have been closed.

“We all had to switch to remote learning overnight,” said Superintendent Johnson. “Many children, like my own, are working through the difficult emotional toll of this frightening time. And, we are all stuck at home; all day, every day.”

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has continued to work to ensure that students and families have the resources they need. That not only includes providing ways to get instructional materials to students, but also making sure they have access to things such as proper nutrition. DPI has been working closely with local school districts to provide whatever assistance they might need during this time.

At a special called meeting yesterday, the State Board of Education approved a plan on how grading will work in public schools for the current school year. Information on that plan can be found here.

In light of the Governor’s announcement that students will not return to schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, the State Board’s decision to not seek progress monitoring data for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, and the novel needs K-3 students, educators, and parents will face next school year, DPI has terminated the June 2019 Read to Achieve diagnostic tool contract and will immediately begin a new process to procure one, uniform reading diagnostic tool before the start of the 2020-21 school year.

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