Here’s a round up of COVID-19 related news for 9/4/20. See our Coronavirus Resource Guide for extensive resources and information.
North Carolina as a whole
After a summer of hard work to slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina will take a step toward easing restrictions, says Governor Roy Cooper. On Friday, NC will move into Phase 2.5.
Here’s what will change:
Here’s what will stay the same:
Buncombe County will remain fully aligned with North Carolina.
Join Buncombe County for a “Let’s Talk” Town Hall on a Safe and Secure 2020 General Elections on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 5:30 p.m. These virtual town halls take place on the Zoom and will also be broadcast live on Facebook in both English and Spanish. Director of Election Services for Buncombe County, Corinne Duncan will host.
Here are some of the subjects the webinar will touch on:
As a means to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide order this week to temporarily halt evictions for millions of renters who meet certain criteria. The order will take effect Friday, September 4 and last through Dec. 31, 2020.
The order requires that renters meet certain criteria, including:
If you or someone you know needs help, call Pisgah Legal’s main phone lines at 828-253-0406, or 800-489-6144. Online applications are also being accepted: www.pisgahlegal.org/free-legal-assistance. Pisgah Legal staff and volunteer attorneys continue to work remotely, and will be in touch via phone and/or email.
By the numbers, Aug. 29 marked North Carolina’s highest daily increase of COVID-19 cases: 2,585, up from a previous record of 2,481 new cases on July 18, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. But Saturday’s figure was inflated by approximately 1,000 cases, tested over the first half of August, that had previously gone unreported to NCDHHS by LabCorp, one of the state’s biggest commercial laboratories.
NCDHHS officials are “working with LabCorp to understand the cause of the delayed reporting,” according to an Aug. 29 press release, but have yet to explain how the mistake occurred and how the delayed results will impact the state’s overall COVID-19 metrics.
The error generated a spike in the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests reported through the state’s dashboard: On Aug. 29, the statewide positivity rate jumped to 8.8%, the metric’s highest level of the month. The positivity rate had previously been “stabilizing” around 7%, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s secretary of health and human services, at an Aug. 25 press conference.
The unreported cases mark the second major reporting error from LabCorp. Earlier in August, the Burlington-based laboratory overcounted the state’s COVID-19 tests by more than 200,000. At the time, North Carolina’s key metrics were not impacted by the miscalculation.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday that is developing a COVID-19 exposure notification app called ‘SlowCOVIDNC’ that will launch across the state in September.
The app will alert North Carolinians when they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. SlowCOVIDNC will use Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification System (ENS).It will alert users that have the app if they have been in close contact with an individual who later tests positive for COVID-19.
The app is anonymous and does not collect, store or share personal information or location data, NCDHHS says. The free app, which is currently in Beta testing, will be available through the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Here’s how it works:
After opting-in to receive notifications, the app will generate an anonymous token for the device. A token is a string of random letters which changes every 10-20 minutes and is never linked to identity or location. This protects app user privacy and security.
Through Bluetooth, phones with the SlowCOVIDNC app work in the background (minimizing battery) to exchange these anonymous tokens every few minutes. Phones record how long they are near each other and the Bluetooth signal strength of their exchanges in order to estimate distance.
If an app user tests positive for COVID-19, the individual may obtain a unique PIN to submit in the app. This voluntary and anonymous reporting notifies others who have downloaded the app that they may have been in close contact with someone in the last 14 days who has tested positive. PINs will be provided to app users who receive a positive COVID-19 test result by contacting the Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) call center, through a web-based portal, or by contacting their Local Health Department (LHD). SlowCOVIDNC periodically downloads tokens from the server from the devices of users who have anonymously reported a positive test.
Phones then use records of the signal strength and duration of exposures with those tokens to calculate risk and determine if an app user has met a threshold to receive an Exposure Notification.
The North Carolina General Assembly on Thursday passed a nearly $1 billion spending bill that includes $335 stimulus check for some parents.
Highlights of the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 include: