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On Tuesday, Governor Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) announced a new COVID-19 County Alert System to pinpoint counties with the highest levels of viral spread and offer specific recommendations to bring numbers down.
The system uses metrics informed by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers:
Yellow: Significant Community Spread
Orange: Substantial Community Spread
Red: Critical Community Spread
To be assigned to the red or orange tier, a county must meet the threshold for case rate for that tier AND the threshold for either percent positive OR hospital impact.
According to the current chart, Vance County is coded orange for substantial community spread with a 9.1% 14-Day Percent Positive rate; 464.8 14-Day Case Rate Per 100,000 and a moderate hospital impact.
Henderson Mayor Eddie Ellington responded to the Governor’s press conference and Vance County’s orange alert level:
“As we look to the ever-increasing cases of COVID-19, the City Manager and I have met, and we are strongly advising the citizens to adhere to the Governor’s mandatory mask mandate along with the other common-sense steps that have been made known by numerous health experts. As duly noted by our orange alert level that shows substantial community spread, we must take this very seriously and act now for the well being of everyone in our city and county. It is up to us to protect ourselves and one another. Please, think before you leave your home, enter businesses and as we gather for the upcoming holidays; lives are at risk. We cannot and must not move into the red alert level. As the Governor has stated: it is up to each individual city and its leaders to take action, and we are prepared to take those next steps.”
Ellington continued, “While we are not at this point as of now, similar to texting while driving and wearing your seatbelt, this certainly could result in a fine for blatant negligence. We are making it a priority to revisit and contact businesses as well as the faith community, urging them to refuse entry without a proper face covering. This falls on them to do their part. These are difficult decisions for leaders, and it’s a reflection on them; safety has to be paramount. As the Christmas season approaches, let’s not let it get to imposing stricter regulations. Just do the right thing for your fellow man.”
In information sent by the City, the state of NC is asking public officials in red and orange counties to consider expanding free COVID-19 testing, pass ordinances to create civil penalties for statewide order violations, increase enforcement of gathering size and setting the alcohol curfew earlier than the statewide rule of 11 p.m.
The City has not indicated that any such further restrictions are currently planned for Henderson. WIZS will bring you any additional information as it is released.