NC Gov. Cooper lifts many COVID-19 restrictions

State to lift gathering limits, social distancing requirements in all settings and indoor mask mandate for most settings

RALEIGH: Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. shared an update on the state’s COVID-19 progress. Throughout the pandemic, state officials have taken a data-driven approach and have been guided by the science in making decisions. Following yesterday’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully vaccinated individuals can safely do most activities without wearing a mask or the need to social distance from others, the state will remove its indoor mask mandate for most settings. Additionally, the state will lift all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements. These changes are now in effect as of 1:30 PM today.

“We can take this step today because the science shows our focus on getting people vaccinated is working,” said Governor Cooper. “But to keep moving forward – and to make sure that we keep saving lives – more people need to get vaccinated.”

The ability to lift restrictions sooner than anticipated following the CDC’s guidance shows the importance of vaccinating all North Carolinians. As of this week, even more people can get vaccinated. Younger teens between 12 and 15 can now get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Young people are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, just like everyone else, and the percent of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina children 17 and under has been increasing.

North Carolina continues to focus on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably. To date, the state has administered over 7.7 million doses. 51% percent of those 18 and up are at least partially vaccinated, and 46% percent of those 18 and up have been fully vaccinated.

“I am so proud of the incredible progress we have made in beating back this pandemic,” said Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Vaccines continue to be incredibly effective at protecting individuals from this terrible virus. And as more and more people get vaccinated, the results show in our stable metrics with lower cases, lower hospitalizations, and lower deaths.”

In accordance with the new CDC guidance, there will still be certain settings where masks and other safety measures will be required. Masks will still be required in child care, schools and camps as most children are either not yet vaccinated or are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. Everyone, including people who are fully vaccinated will still be required to wear a mask in certain settings such as public transportation, health care settings like hospitals, doctor’s offices and long-term care settings like nursing homes, and certain congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters.

NCDHHS will continue to have strong public health recommendations for individuals to continue to protect one another until more people are vaccinated. People who are not vaccinated should wear a mask and maintain distance in all indoor public settings and in outdoor settings when they can’t maintain six feet of distance.

Masks are strongly recommended for everyone at large crowded indoor events like sporting events and live performances.

NCDHHS recommends public-facing businesses post signage reminding guests to social distance and wear a face covering if they are not fully vaccinated; remind employees to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19; have a plan to immediately isolate and remove sick workers, and clean high-touch surfaces once a day. Businesses may choose to continue to require that their customers wear masks.
The Department of Health and Human Services will also continue to expand strategies to reach people who have not yet gotten vaccinated.

Information on the state’s vaccine distribution is available at (English) or (Spanish). People can find nearby vaccine providers using NCDHHS’ online tool, Find a Vaccine Location. The state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline number is 888-675-4567.

Read the Executive Order.

Read a FAQ about today’s Order.

Library announces outdoor storytime

Pender County Library is pleased to announce that Storytime is now being hosted in person on the library lawn, 10 a.m. Tuesday mornings at the Hampstead Branch and 10 a.m. Thursday mornings at the Main Library in Burgaw (weather permitting).

Outdoor Storytime features stories, songs, and movement for children ages 3-5. Pender County Library encourages Storytime attendees to bring a blanket to sit on. Masks are not required during Outdoor Storytime; however, the CDC recommends masks for adults and children 2 years and older in outdoor settings where consistent social distancing is not possible.

Additional details about Outdoor Storytime, as well as other programs and events, at either Pender County Library location can be found by visiting the library’s website,, or by checking out Pender County Library on Facebook and Instagram. You can also call the library and staff would be happy to answer any questions by phone. No registration is required to attend Outdoor Storytime.

For more information or assistance, call Pender County Library at 910-259-1234 (Burgaw) or 910-270-4603 (Hampstead) during regular business hours.

Pictured above is Youth Services Librarian Dee Smith reads Goodnight Moon to a family on the lawn at the Main Library in Burgaw.

Pender County monitors area fuel emergency, issues a state of emergency

BURGAW- Pender County officials are closely monitoring the fuel emergency, the result of a cyber-attack on Colonial Pipeline late last week.

“Pender County will ensure the continuity of local government operations,” said George Brown, Chairman of the Pender County Board of County Commissioners. “The fuel disruption may extend through this week, according to our communications with state officials. We have issued a state of emergency and we are proactively addressing county staffing to ensure the safety of Pender County residents.”

“Analysts say it will take days for normal conditions to return,” said Brown. “Experts advise motorists not to panic purchase or hoard fuel as that will prolong shortages and spikes, making the situation worse. Motorists are asked to purchase only what fuel is immediately needed and to avoid fill the tank until the pipeline resumes operations.”

“As of 5 pm today, county leadership has implemented a plan to ensure that all emergency and essential employees are able to commute to and from work to serve the County residents, “said Chad McEwen, Pender County Manager.  “We are confident this plan will provide for continuity of all emergency departments, including DSS, Health, Utilities, Emergency Management, and the Sheriff’s Office.”

On May 11, Governor Roy Cooper issued a State of Emergency Executive Order 213. Included in this order is a statute regarding gas price gouging. Residents who witness price gouging should contact the North Carolina Department of Justice.


Gov. Cooper proclaims Hurricane Preparedness Week

Urges North Carolinians to update emergency plans and kits and to Know Your Zone

RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper has declared May 9-15 as Hurricane Preparedness Week, joining the national effort to make people more aware of the dangers of hurricanes and encouraging all North Carolinians to prepare for tropical weather. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

“All North Carolinians should take this time to prepare for the possible impacts of a hurricane or other severe weather by updating their family emergency plans and supply kits,” Governor Cooper said. “Having a plan and supplies will help you to survive through a hurricane and to recover faster should one adversely affect your home.”

Severe tropical weather is common in North Carolina. The state is currently recovering from the devastating effects of multiple large storms including Hurricane Isaias and the remnants of Hurricane Eta in 2020; Hurricane Dorian in 2019; Hurricane Florence as well as Tropical Storms Michael and Alberto in 2018; and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

“There are things everyone can do to prepare for severe weather long before it hits, such as having flood insurance and knowing if you live in a coastal evacuation zone,” said Mike Sprayberry, Executive Director of NC Emergency Management and the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

Twenty North Carolina coastal counties have established pre-determined evacuation zones, based on the threats of storm surge and river flooding. Residents can find out if they live in one of these zones by visiting Residents should learn their zone and watch or listen for it if evacuations are ordered before or after a storm.

“I also encourage everyone to lookout for one another, especially for those who may be more vulnerable such as the elderly,” said Sprayberry. “It is easier get through a disaster by helping your friends and neighbors and working together.”

By practicing an emergency plan periodically, everyone will be comfortable with his or her role in the plan. The plan should also include details on a meeting place and family phone numbers. Be sure to write down your plan and gather important documents, such as copy of driver’s license, insurance policies, medical records, and prescriptions, and put them somewhere you can quickly access in case of emergency.

Make sure to review and update homeowners or renters’ insurance policies to ensure they are current and include adequate coverage for your current situation.

Having an emergency kit allows people to survive independently if no other resources are available. Assemble an emergency supplies kit that includes enough non-perishable food and water to last each family member three to seven days. Other essential items include:
• 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, bedding, leashes, muzzle and vaccination records
• Face masks and hand-sanitizer

Residents should pay attention to weather and evacuation information on the local media stations and have a battery-powered radio in case there is a power outage. If asked to evacuate, residents should promptly follow evacuation instructions.

To help mitigate damage to your home from severe weather, people can take common-sense measures such as trimming trees, covering windows, securing loose outdoor items before severe weather strikes.
More information on hurricanes and overall emergency preparedness is online at Read the Governor’s proclamation here.

NCDHHS Announces 50% of NC Adults Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Raleigh-The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today announced more than 50% of adults 18 and older in the state have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. More than 43% of the adult population is fully vaccinated against the virus.

“This is a significant milestone toward our goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19 and bringing summer back to North Carolina,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “I hope you will join the more than 4 million people who have taken their shot and help put this pandemic behind us.”

To date, the state has administered more than 7.4 million vaccines. More than 74% of the population over 65 years of age is fully vaccinated, and nearly 40% of the total population of the state, regardless of age, has received at least one dose.

The department is working to ensure receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is easy and convenient for anyone 16 and older. The vaccine is widely available through a variety of providers, often with no wait time and without the need for an appointment. To find a vaccine in your area, use the Find a Vaccine Location tool or call 888-675-4567.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week shared an updated list of what fully vaccinated people can do. Activities include gathering indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, as well as moving freely outdoors without wearing a mask except in certain crowded settings and venues. Fully vaccinated people who have been around someone who has COVID-19 do not need to stay away from others or get tested, unless symptoms develop.

If North Carolina continues to work together, improve key metrics and increase vaccination rates, the state is poised to lift mandatory social distancing, capacity and mass gathering restrictions on June 1, 2021. Additionally, the state has set a goal to get two-thirds of adults vaccinated with at least one shot in order to lift the indoor mask mandate and lighten other public health recommendations. The timeline for this benchmark will be determined by how quickly North Carolinians get vaccinated.

To find a shot in your area, visit Find a Vaccine Location or call 888-675-4567. For more information and vaccination data, visit the NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard.


Pender County Utilities (PCU) is seeking Statements of Qualifications (SOQ) from design-build firms/teams experienced with water line design and construction.  The firm/team will provide complete design, permitting, construction, construction administration/observation, and record drawings of a proposed 8” and 6” water line extension along and in the vicinity of Factory Road in Hampstead in Eastern Pender County.  In order to be considered, firms must submit a SOQ to PCU by no later than 3:00 PM on May 28, 2021.  Submittals received after this deadline will not be considered.  Click here to view the full Request for Qualifications # 210507-125.  Also see Construction Record Drawings for Factory Road and Salter’s Haven.  Pender county reserves the right to reject any or all bids.

COVID vaccinations available

Pender County Health Department is offering the Moderna vaccine on Tuesdays in Burgaw and Thursdays at the Hampstead annex. Appointments are available online at or you can walk in starting at 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

A snapshot of guidance from Executive Order 209

Here is a synopsis of  guidance from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper in Executive Order 209

  • Mass Gathering Limits are set at no more than 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. · In publicly accessible indoor facilities, the Mass Gathering limit applies per room of the facility.
  • Mass Gathering limits include a requirement of social distancing, defined as – maintaining a minimum of 6-feet between individuals who are not members of the same family. Wearing of Masks and Social Distancing
  • Wear a Face Covering over the nose and mouth inside all public settings such as grocery stores, pharmacies, or other retail or public-serving businesses.
  • Although not required, people who have not been fully vaccinated should wear a Face Covering outdoors when they cannot maintain at least six (6) feet of social distancing from non-household members.
  • All individuals should wear Face Coverings outdoors in crowded, dense, and higher-risk settings.
  • Maintain at least six (6) feet social distancing from other individuals, with the exception of family or household members. Meeting Facilities and Conference Centers
  • The facility must limit Guests to fifty percent (50%) of the stated fire capacity for each indoor and outdoor space controlled by the facility. For rooms or spaces without a stated fire capacity, the limit on Guests is twelve (12) per one thousand (1000) square feet, rounded up.
  • Social Distancing Required. The facility must limit the number of Guests in the space so that groups can stay six (6) feet apart. Livestock Shows (Under guidance provided in EO-209 for Arenas)
  • Guests must be in seats except to enter, leave, use amenities, visit the restroom, and obtain food or drink.
  • The facility must limit Guests to fifty percent (50%) of the stated fire capacity for each indoor and outdoor space controlled by the facility. For rooms or spaces without a stated fire capacity, the limit on Guests is twelve (12) per one thousand (1000) square feet, rounded up.
  • Social Distancing Required. The facility must limit the number of Guests in the space so that groups can stay six (6) feet apart. Livestock Sales (Under guidance provided in EO-209 for Retail events)
  • Occupancy is limited to 100% of Stated Fire Capacity.
  • For spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twenty-four (24) Guests for every one thousand (1000) square feet of 16 the location’s total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to Guests).
  • Limit the number of Guests in the store so that everyone can stay six (6) feet apart.

Previous guidance on facility cleaning, documentation of participation for contact tracing, and quarantine of sick individuals continue to be in effect, until further notice. The requirement, that all participants/spectators should have a temperature check prior to entry of the program/event facility, is no longer in effect. In addition, pre-entry/registration for events is no longer a requirement.

Sign up for 4-H Summer Fun Days

Pender County 4-H Summer Fun Days is just around the corner!

Sign your youth up to join us this summer. We will be taking many field trips to the Ecological Marine Adventures education center in Surf City, building robots with Legos, learn about bees, worms, and soil, take a camping trip to the Asheboro Zoo, canoe and zipline at Camp Kirkwood, and many other fun summer camp opportunities.

Contact Traci Spencer at or call (910)259-1393 for more information. You must enroll your youth on 4HOnline to register for these programs.

Pender County’s Creswell authors shark book

BURGAW – W. Clay Creswell, an environmental services employee in the Pender County Health Department, is the author of a new book to be released June 14, entitled “Sharks in the Shallows, Attacks on the Carolina Coast.”

“I’ve been interested in sharks since I was a child,” said Creswell, who started working in the county health department in 2002. “I wanted to live by the ocean and Pender County was my first choice.”

Creswell’s lifelong interest in sharks landed him the title of the North and South Carolina region shark-bite investigator for the Shark Research Institute Global Shark Attack File. In his free time, he has been an investigator of shark bites since 2004.

“Shark attacks are extremely rare,” said Creswell. “However, sometimes we hear of a case and we start looking for information. We talk with the victim, the police on the scene, the hospital staff, and witnesses.”

Creswell said “Sharks in the Shallows” explores the rarity of shark attacks as well as what triggers a shark to bite.

“Sharks play a quality role in our ecosystem,” said Creswell. “They maintain the population of fish, reptiles, and mammals as well as feed on carcasses in our waters.”

Sharks should be respected, explains Creswell, who added that his new book is also a guide to reducing the risk of encountering sharks at their peak times.

“Sharks should not be feared, but they should be treated like any other wild species,” said Creswell. “They can be unpredictable and dangerous.”

Creswell said he started writing “Sharks in the Shallows” more than four years ago. He spent two years writing “off and on” but the publishing process took more than two years. The book was reviewed by two panels, including peer reviews before going to print.

“I was impressed with the integrity of the peer reviews,” Creswell said.

Reviews included Ralph S. Collier, the president and founder of the Shark Research Committee, and Daniel C. Abel, author of “Shark Biology and Conservation.” Dean W. Fessler, Jr. the deputy director of The Shark Research Institute called Creswell’s book “Jawsome!”

“Sharks in the Shallows,” published by the University of South Carolina Press, will be available June 14 from Amazon, Barnes and Nobles,, and local bookstores.

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COVID-19 vaccination appointments are NOW being accepted for everyone 12 years and older. Schedule your appointment in Burgaw or Hampstead. (Moderna vaccine is only approved for age 18 and up.)