2 Yellow, 2 Orange in 4-County Area

North Carolina is experiencing a leveling trend following declines in covid spread.

Younger adult groups are experiencing increases, according the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services.

In the 4-county area, Vance and Warren Counties are identified in the recent covid County Alert System update as yellow.  Granville and Franklin Counties are orange.

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NCDHHS Updates County Alert System, Shows COVID-19 Trends Leveling

— NCDHHS Press Release

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today updated the COVID-19 County Alert System, which shows one red county — an increase from zero on the previous April 1 County Alert System.

Today’s update also lists 20 orange counties (previously 21 counties in the April 1 report), 48 yellow counties (previously 47), 30 light yellow counties (previously 31) and one green county (previously one). These updates account for 18 counties having moved up a tier (toward red) since the last report, 19 counties having moved down a tier (toward green) and 63 counties remaining in the same tier.

North Carolina’s key metrics show a leveling of COVID-19 trends after several weeks of decline. Although levels are far below the post-holiday peak in January, most of the state continues to experience significant or substantial community spread with concerning increases in younger adult age groups.

“We want to see our trends in new cases, hospitalizations and percent positive of tests decline again,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “The best way we can do that is by having as many people get vaccinated as quickly as possible and keep wearing our masks when out in public.”

To slow the spread of the virus, people should get vaccinated and continue adherence to the 3Ws until most people have a chance to get vaccinated. Regardless of what tier your county is currently in, individuals, businesses, community organizations and public officials all have a responsibility to take these recommended actions and others outline in the County Alert System.

The COVID-19 County Alert System gives individuals, businesses and community organizations, and public officials a tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to take slow the spread of the virus. The COVID-19 County Alert System uses metrics informed by North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into five tiers:

  1. Green: Low Community Spread
  2. Light Yellow: Moderate Community Spread
  3. Yellow: Significant Community Spread
  4. Orange: Substantial Community Spread
  5. Red: Critical Community Spread
Granville County Public Schools

Granville School Board Work Session April 19 To Review Budget, Get Task Force Update

The Granville County Board of Education will meet for a work session on Monday, April 19, 2021 at the Mary Potter Center of Education. The board is expected to receive and approve the 2021/2022 budget proposal that will be presented to county commissioners and hear a task force update related to further school consolidation.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. To join the livestream meeting, please use the following link: https://live.myvrspot.com/st?cid=MDhkZj. Members of the public wishing to attend the meeting will be required to wear face coverings, undergo health screenings before entering the building, and cooperate with social distancing requirements. There will be limited seating available. The Mary Potter Center of Education is located at 200 Taylor St. in Oxford.

Board Chair David Richardson convened a strategic task force last year to navigate the process of increasing efficiency of current facilities. Dr. Stan Winborne, GCPS public information officer and assistant superintendent of operations & human resources, said more details should be available in the next couple of months and perhaps a decision about school mergers or closings could come in the summer.

“The board of education realizes that we have a problem with empty classrooms. We’ve got more space than we do students and so they’re trying to increase our operational efficiency with our facilities,” Winborne told WIZS News.

The board of education held a joint meeting with county commissioners on Mar. 29 to discuss the issue, which included a $ 23-30 million proposal for construction and renovation at Hawley Middle School in Creedmoor.

Winborne said both boards have the basic information needed to continue the decision-making process.

“The real obstacle is trying to find the best solution for children – that we can afford,” he said.

VGCC Logo

VGCC Joins #CCMonth Celebration

Vance-Granville Community College added its name to the list of community colleges across the country to participate in #CCMonth, a month-long campaign to raise awareness about advantages of attending a community college and how they influence economies, academics and equity.

The campaign, coordinated by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), coincides with April’s designation as Community College Month. It’s a way to showcase that public community colleges are “a uniquely American educational model that was designed to guarantee access to affordable, high-quality higher education for all people,” according to a press release from VGCC’s Director of Communications Chris LaRocca. From nursing programs to trade certifications, community colleges “also serve as an onramp to bachelor’s, master’s and higher-level degrees for many students, and particularly for the most demographically and socioeconomically diverse students,” he stated.

Community college can accommodate adult students who work and go to school at the same time, and also make education accessible for many students who otherwise would not be able to access higher education.

“Community colleges are engines of diversity, equity and inclusion,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. “They give opportunities to all students, and they support all students throughout their educations, whether they attend to attain an associate degree or certificate, intend to transfer on for a bachelor’s or higher degree, or they take one or a few courses to learn a new skill or expand their horizons.”

The campaign is expected to have strong participation from community colleges and their supporters throughout the country.

NC Dept of Agriculture

COVID-19 Fund Helps Offset Quarantine Costs of H2A Workers

Local farmers who employ H2A farmworkers can apply for some financial relief if any of those workers have to quarantine during the 2021 growing season.

N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said Wednesday that his department has $2 million of federal COVID-19 funds that can be used to offset quarantine expenses.

“Farmworkers have always been critical to agriculture, but the pandemic has shown how essential a healthy workforce is to agriculture and our food supply,” Troxler said. “While it is a priority for all farmworkers to get vaccinated, this program will enable employers to safely quarantine workers who test positive for COVID-19 and hopefully minimize spread to their coworkers and others.” 

Under this program, employers that have farmworkers with valid H2A visas will be eligible for reimbursement of the cost of meals and lodging for the duration of the quarantine period, not to exceed the per diem rates for federal employees.  The employer on record for the farmworker with a valid H2A visa may submit reimbursement request on behalf of any farmworker requiring to be quarantined following a positive test for COVID-19, provided the employer covered the initial eligible expenses out-of-pocket on behalf of the farmworker. The program will be for expenses incurred from March 11, 2021 through the 2021 growing season.

The application period will open on April 14 and will continue through Dec. 15, 2021 or until program funds are exhausted. These funds are provided through CARES Act funding and subject to any changes to the federal legislation.  

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in serious and substantial impacts on the food supply chain, including migrant farm labor in North Carolina. The H2A program is a critical component in planting and harvesting of North Carolina commodities. This program will help offset the financial burden of quarantine accommodations for workers that test positive for COVID-19 in off-site locations.

Details regarding the NCDA&CS COVID-19 Farmworker Quarantine Reimbursement Program will be available at http://www.ncagr.gov/QuarantineReimbursementProgram.htm.  Please contact H2Acovidprogram2021@ncagr.gov with any questions regarding this program.

City of Oxford

Register Now For Oxford 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament April 24

The Isaiah Hicks Basketball Court in Oxford will be the site of a free 3 on 3 basketball tournament next Saturday, April 24. Participants can register by calling 919.603.1135 or online at https://oxfordnc.recdesk.com/Community/Home.

Teams should consist of players 16 years and older; participation will be limited to the first 20 teams that register. Teams can have four players.

Hicks Basketball Court is 313 E. Spring. St. The tournament tips off at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to end at 2 p.m.

Bodyworx and Northern Point Realty are sponsoring the event, which is hosted by the City of Oxford, Oxford NC, Historic Downtown and Oxford Parks and Recreation.

Kerr Tar Workforce and NCWorks

Employment for Graduating Seniors, Class of 2021 Career Expo

High school seniors who will graduate in a couple of months have choices to make, whether it’s choosing a college or university to attend or beginning a career. A regional career expo targeting the Class of 2021 will be held next month and it is designed with the Gen Z’er in mind.

The virtual event is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., according to Desiree Brooks, business services manager of the Kerr-Tar Council of Governments workforce development board.

Brooks told WIZS News Tuesday that several area workforce development boards, along with NC Works and the NC Department of Public Schools’ Career Technical Education (CTE) program have collaborated to put on the event.

“We have been coordinating with the CTEs in the five counties and they are working on getting students ready for the event,” Brooks said. “They are targeting students who are ready to enter the workforce upon graduation – we are all very excited about this event.”

The expo – tagged as the “Gen Z Edition” – will allow students and employers to communicate using a platform that young people are comfortable and familiar with, according to a flyer promoting the event. Students who have developed technical skills, have hands-on experience and earned credentials through their high school CTE program can use the expo as a way to showcase those skills for prospective employers. Employers can share job descriptions and other details of their business in interviews using text or video chat.

“One of our goals is to make sure the parents of seniors see the importance of this so they can encourage them to take part in this event,” Brooks noted. “Another goal is to get employers that are willing to hire graduating seniors with little or no prior work experience.”

Sign up for the event at trianglecareerexpo.com.

Joe Toler Oak Hill School Building Sold

Granville County Public Schools announced the sale of the former Joe Toler Oak Hill School today (Monday). The brief written statement said the buyer, Tae Joo Rim, paid $305,000 for the property, which was closed at the end of the 2018-19 school year. It has been vacant since then, although the board entertained the idea of leasing the property for a time before ultimately deciding to sell.

“While we do not know of any definite plans for the property, the buyer’s agent mentioned the possibility of using the property for an adult day-care facility,” according to Dr. Stan Winborne, assistant superintendent of human resources & operations and public information officer for the school district.

No further information was disclosed about the sale of the property.

Residents of northern Granville County rallied to keep the school in operation, but the school board agreed to close the school in 2019.

Donate Old, Functioning Laptops to HTI

HUBZone Technology Initiative (HTI) is collecting working laptop computers to convert to Chromebooks. There are several drop-off sites in Henderson and the surrounding area that will be accepting donations through April 22.

Drop-off sites in Henderson include:

  • HTI office – 208 N. Garnett St, Suite F, Wed-Fri 10 a.m. to noon
  • Restoring Bodies and Minds – 900 Dorsey Ave., Mon-Wed 10 a.m. to noon
  • Perry Memorial Library – 205 Breckenridge St., Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to noon, 2-4 p.m.
  • Freedom Life Church – 1001 Martin Creek Rd., Sundays 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Another drop-off site is the Veterans Life Center, 1005 9th St., Butner.

The laptops must be functional and have their power cords, as well as a hard drive for Google Chromium installation, according to information from HTI. Laptops with cracked screens or mousepads will not be accepted; no desktop computers, iPads or tablets.

HTI is a non-profit organization helping to bring technology resources to those in need within HUBZone communities nationwide, according to its website. The mission is to convert the laptops into Google Chromebooks and distribute them to students or others seeking employment or improving their employment.

I Voted Sticker

New Voting Equipment to be Tested and Displayed

Granville County elections officials are preparing to upgrade voting equipment and will hold a public meeting on Thursday, April 15 at the Granville County Expo & Convention Center as part of the decision-making process. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.

During the meeting, a simulated election and test of the new voting system and ballot-marking device will take place, giving participants an idea of how the new equipment will function. The equipment was purchased from Printelect/ES&S, a certified vendor of election equipment and the county’s current vendor, according to information from Tonya Burnette, county elections director.

The county last purchased voting equipment in 2006. The board of elections received about $50,000 from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to make the purchase.

The meeting is open to the public. Email Tonya.Burnette@granvillecounty.org to sign up to attend the meeting. Social distancing and masks are required and attendance is limited to 30 people at a time.

Anyone not able to attend the April 15 meeting who wishes to provide comment to the board of elections should do so by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14. Written comments can be emailed to Tonya.Burnette@granvillecounty.org or delivered to the board of elections office, 208 Wall St., Oxford.

The meeting will be live streamed as well. Contact the Granville County Board of Elections 919.693.2515 for a registration link.

Vance, Granville 6 Percent Behind NC for Full Vaccinations

Each year National Public Health Week, which is always celebrated the first week of April, has bookends, but the latest battle for public health workers hasn’t yet reached its conclusion as Covid continues.

Granville Vance Public Health Director Lisa Harrison, in a weekly email she provides like clockwork, wished a happy National Public Health week to staff and partners of GVPH. “This year, I think we all have a little more understanding and appreciation for the work of public health – usually we’re pretty far in the background fighting disease and promoting health. We’re not quite used to this much work at once, but are glad to be serving our communities in the way we are trained and experienced to do,” Harrison wrote.

She said the vaccine effort continues.  “Our hotline remains open Monday through Thursday and ready for calls to register anyone 18 and older for our upcoming vaccine clinics. If you have already had your vaccine, please find another person who may need assistance calling the hotline and getting registered. We are happy to answer questions about the vaccine. More about safety and effectiveness of the vaccines here: https://gvph.org/covidvaccines/,” Harrison wrote.

Vance County has seen 13,559 people partially vaccinated and 9,829 people fully vaccinated.  At the time of Harrison’s email Friday, that amounts to 30.4 percent partially vaccinated and 22.1 percent fully vaccinated.

Over 19,000 Granville County people are partially vaccinated with nearly 13,850 fully vaccinated.  The percentages from Granville resemble those from Vance County with 31.6 percent partially and 22.9 percent fully inoculated.

Across North Carolina, 40% of the adult population is at least partially vaccinated and 28.4% of the adult population is fully vaccinated.