Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning COVID-19 and Community Impact

Below are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions based on topic themes we have received over the phone, email, and social media. More information and answers to frequently asked questions about novel coronavirus is also available on the NC Department of Health and Human Services website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

North Carolina's Safer At Home Phase 3 and Holiday Guidance

North Carolina’s Safer At Home Phase 3 and Holiday Guidance

Guidance for Phase 3

Under Executive Order 169 and Executive Order 176, North Carolina remains under Phase 3 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions until at least Dec. 4. Under Phase 3:

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators.
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, such as arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity – or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity – or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Bars may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity – or 100 guests, whichever is less.
  • Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only.
  • Until 5 p.m. Nov. 13, the limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. Effective 5 p.m. Nov. 13, the indoor mass gathering limit is 10 people.  
  • An 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption remains in effect in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars
Guidance for Thanksgiving Holiday
  • Wear face coverings or masks over your nose AND mouth whenever you are around family or friends you do not live with
  • Do not attend or host a gathering if you feel sick or have been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19
  • Gathering limits are still in place; small, outdoor gatherings are best
  • If you have tables, keep people who live together at their own table and keep tables at least 6 feet apart (this is important since people will need to remove masks while eating or drinking)
  • Think about getting a test before traveling or gathering for holiday celebrations; if you test positive, stay home and isolate. If you test negative, you still need to practice the Three Ws
  • Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart, especially when eating or drinking
FAQs & Guidance (Download PDF)
Face Masks and Coverings

Face Masks and Coverings

Q. Why do I need to wear a cloth face covering?

Covering your face is about protecting other people. By covering your face when you are out in public settings, you are being a good neighbor and helping your community stay healthy.

There is growing evidence that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can spread between people in close contact – through actions like coughing, sneezing and talking- even when they are not showing symptoms. Wearing a face covering is another step that may help reduce the spread, especially for those who are sick but may not know it.

Face coverings are not a replacement for other evidence-based measures such as physical distancing, and frequent hand washing practices.

Q. When should I wear a cloth face covering?

You should wear face coverings when in public places, particularly when those locations are indoors or in other areas where physical distancing is not possible.

Certain businesses are required to have patrons and employees wear face coverings whether they are inside or outside when they are or may be within six (6) feet of another person, or unless an exception applies.

These businesses must follow the requirements for face coverings as described in Executive Order 147. These businesses, to the extent they are open are:

  • Retail Businesses;
  • Restaurants
  • Personal Care, Grooming, and Tattoo Businesses;
  • Child Care Facilities, Day Camps, and Overnight Camps;
  • Gyms, Exercise Facilities, and Fitness Facilities,
  • State Government Cabinet Agencies;
  • Transportation;
  • Certain High-Density Occupational Settings Where Social Distancing is Difficult, including manufacturing settings, construction sites, meat processing, and migrant farm or other farm settings;
  • Long Term Care Facilities
  • Other Health Care Settings
Q. Are there exceptions to the face covering requirements?

Yes, face coverings do not need to be worn by an individual, worker, customer or patron who:

  1. Has a medical or behavioral condition or disability and cannot wear a face covering (including, but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance);
  2. Is under eleven (11) years of age;
  3. Is actively eating or drinking;
  4. Is strenuously exercising or swimming;
  5. Is seeking to communicate with someone with hearing loss in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
  6. Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
  7. Is working at home or alone in a vehicle;
  8. Is temporarily removing his or her Face Covering to secure government or medical services or for identification purposes;
  9. Would be at risk from wearing a Face Covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines;
  10. Has found that his or her Face Covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; or
  11. Is a child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the Face Covering safely on the child’s face.
  12. Children under two (2) years of age should not wear a face
Q. Do I still need to stay at least six (6) feet away from people if I am wearing a cloth face covering?

Yes. Wearing cloth face coverings is an additional public health measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is still recommended that you stay at least six (6) feet way from other people and frequently wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This is especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms.

Q. Do I need to wear a face covering while exercising outdoors?

No. If you are able to safely maintain at least six (6) feet distance from others, you do not need to wear a face covering when exercising outdoors.

Q. Should children wear cloth face coverings?

Yes, it is recommended that children over the age of two wear a cloth face covering if they can reliably wear, remove, and handle cloth face coverings throughout the day, unless there is an exception, see question above. Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under the age of 2 because of danger of suffocation.

Q. What kind of face covering should I use?

People should wear cloth face coverings that cover the nose and mouth. Surgical Masks, Procedure Masks, and N95 respirators are not recommended for general public use or use in community settings, as these should be reserved for specific high-risk occupational settings, healthcare providers and other medical first responders in a health care setting. Plastic face shields that wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin are an allowed substitute for individuals that have difficulties wearing a cloth face covering.

Q. Where can I get a cloth face covering?

While cloth face coverings are being sold by a range of retailers and available to purchase online, you can also make them at home from regular household items. CDC has released resources on how to make a face covering from items like bandanas and t-shirts. A video showing the steps is also available.

Q. How do I take care of my cloth face covering?

It is a good idea to wash your cloth face covering frequently, ideally after each use, or at least daily. Have a bag or bin to keep cloth face coverings in until they can be laundered with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle. If you must re-wear your cloth face covering before washing, wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face. Discard cloth face coverings that:

  • No longer cover the nose and mouth
  • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps
  • Cannot stay on the face
  • Have holes or tears in the fabric
Q. How do I safely adjust or remove a used cloth face covering?

Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing or adjusting a face covering and wash hands immediately after removing or adjusting.

Q. What if I am worried about being profiled or being subjected to bias if I wear a cloth face covering?

Some populations may experience increased anxiety and fear of bias and being profiled wearing face coverings in public spaces, but everyone should adhere to this guidance without fear of profiling or bias. If someone is the target of ethnic or racial intimidation as the result of adhering to the face covering provision or as a result of the pandemic, they are encouraged to report the matter to law enforcement or other government entity.

Q. What if I am a person with, or I support someone with a disability and cannot or simply will not wear a face covering?

It may be scary for individuals to have cloth placed over their face if they do not understand why or if they have trouble with breathing. Some individuals may have sensitivity to having something placed over their face. Providing clear education about the reasons to wear a face covering, giving encouragement, and modeling the use of a face covering are good rules of thumb when helping someone. It may also be helpful to practice wearing a face covering for short time periods or limiting the amount of time it is worn. If an individual is unable to wear a cloth face covering or will not tolerate using a cloth face covering, it may be necessary to use a scarf or other wrap. A person should not be forced to use a cloth face covering, but, instead, other steps should be taken to help the individual avoid unnecessary exposure.

Q. What if I am a person with hearing loss and am concerned about not being able to read lips?

Deaf and Hard of Hearing people often use lipreading to help understand what those around them are saying. Without being able to lipread, other communication techniques need to be used to help

with communication. Some solutions to improve communication include: find a cloth face covering that has a clear plastic area that allows the lips to be visible (there are a number of options out there), increase your distance, write notes back and forth, write on a white board to communicate, use a free speech to text app on your mobile device and allow the person to read what you speak, gesture and if needed step several additional feet back from the person and remove your face cloth face covering just long enough to communicate.

Q. How well do cloth face coverings work to prevent spread of COVID-19?

Scientific evidence suggests that use of cloth face coverings by the public during a pandemic can help reduce disease transmission. Cloth face coverings can reduce the release of infectious particles into the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for staying six (6) feet apart, washing hands, and staying home when ill.

Q: How does a retail or restaurant establishment comply with the requirement for customers to wear face coverings?

Executive Order 147 requires customers to wear face coverings inside retail and restaurant establishments. All retail and restaurant establishments must post signage (Option 1 (English, Spanish or Option 2 (English, Spanish) at the entrance of the establishment stating that face coverings are required per Executive Order 147. A best practice would be to have an employee at the entrance to a business establishment to monitor both capacity restrictions and offer disposable face coverings to those without one, but this is not required to be in compliance. If the retail or restaurant establishment clearly posts the signage putting the customer on notice of the face covering requirement, it is deemed to be in compliance with the enforcement of face covering requirements contained in Executive Order 147. Any violation of this requirement may be reported to local authorities.

Q. Who enforces the Governor’s executive order on face coverings and masks? (Executive Order No. 147)

Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order No. 147 requires both employees and guests to wear face coverings in certain public places—both indoor and outdoor—where they are or may be within six feet of another person, unless an exception applies. These public places include retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming sites, child care centers and camps (employees), state government agencies under the Governor’s Cabinet, workers and riders of transportation, workers in construction/trades, manufacturing, agriculture, meat processing, and healthcare and long-term care settings.

Law enforcement would enforce current executive orders. If requests to have either a business employee or guest wear a mask (unless an exception applies) are unmet, you can report the issue with local law enforcement for further guidance. Contact the agency’s non-emergency contact numbers to keep emergency lines via 9-1-1 available for serious medical and health emergencies that require first responders. More guidance about the requirements for use of face coverings and masks is on the NCDHHS website: https://www.nc.gov/covid-19/staying-ahead-curve

While the department cannot enforce the Governor’s executive orders, Brunswick County Environmental Health can provide education for this requirement to restaurant establishments. Please contact Brunswick County Environmental Health at 910-253-2150 to submit a complaint.

Coronavirus Testing and Case Count Questions

Coronavirus Testing and Case Count Questions

How many people in Brunswick County have tested positive for COVID-19?

See the latest information from Brunswick County Health Services on COVID-19 and case counts.

Brunswick County also provides these numbers to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) for its case count webpage at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/covid-19-case-count-nc

COVID-19 Cases Among County Residents

Click the Image to View the Latest Information on Coronavirus Page With a Link to the COVID-19 Dashboard (Resident Case Counts)

 

COVID-19 Cases Among Non-Residents

Positive Cases (Non-Residents)20
Positive Cases Isolating in the County (Non-Residents)2
Positive Cases Isolating at a Hospital (Non-Residents) 0
Recoveries Among Positive Cases (Non-Residents)13
Transferred Monitoring to Home County (Non-Residents)3
Associated COVID-19 Deaths (Non-Residents)2
Statistics as of Nov. 27, 2020

As of June 26, Brunswick County Health Services will provide data concerning positive cases reported to the health department only. Since late March, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has not mandated that medical providers send reports concerning pending and negative test results back to local health departments, which could result in the under reporting of total test counts and incomplete data concerning COVID-19 testing in Brunswick County. As testing increases countywide, Health Services is primarily receiving information on positive test results from providers only.

The NCDHHS is now reporting data on the percent of positive test results by county on its COVID-19 dashboard. See the latest statistic by hovering your cursor over Brunswick County on the map at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/testing

Why do the case counts on Brunswick County’s website and the NCDHHS case count dashboard not always match?

Brunswick County Health Services and the North Carolina Department of Human Services (NCDHHS) update their case counts online every day. However, because both organizations post their daily update at different times, there could be variances in the counts based on cut-off times.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that all statistics on positive cases on Brunswick County’s website are officially verified through contact tracing and are therefore a more accurate reflection of actual confirmed cases in Brunswick County. The County’s data represents positive cases that have successfully been contacted through contact tracing to make sure the address they provided to the medical provider or that is listed on their driver’s license or insurance card is actually where they are living at this time.

The NCDHHS dashboard reports electronic results from commercial laboratories, which have not been quality controlled through contact tracing yet. Both dashboards serve a role in providing a snapshot of total positive cases in the county and state.

Who gets tested for COVID-19?

It is ultimately up to the primary medical provider to determine who should get tested, however the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) issued updated guidance on who should be tested for COVID-19. The new guidance recommends that clinicians test any patient in whom COVID-19 is suspected.

The new guidance recommends clinicians ensure the following populations have access to testing, regardless of symptoms:

  • Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.
  • Close contacts of known positive cases, regardless of symptoms.
  • The following groups are some of the populations with higher risk of exposure or a higher risk of severe disease if they become infected. People in these groups should get tested if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms.
    • People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (e.g., long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp).
    • Historically marginalized populations who may be at higher risk for exposure.
    • Frontline and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction sites, processing plants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
    • Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military).
    • People who are at high risk of severe illness (e.g., people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions).
  • People who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others. Testing should be considered for people who attended such events, particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list is not all possible symptoms. Anyone with more serious symptoms should call their doctor or 911 right away. More serious symptoms can include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure, confusion or blue lips.

In what zip codes/where are positive cases located in the county?
  • Patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation in their homes, which are located within the majority of zip codes throughout the county. Brunswick County residents should assume that community transmission of COVID-19 is present anywhere and take the appropriate precautions.
What does it mean to have an official recovery from COVID-19?

A positive case is considered recovered when they have been fever-free for at least three days without the use of fever-reducing medication, they have improved respiratory symptoms, and at least seven days have passed since their symptoms started.

What does a COVID-19 associated death mean?

A COVID-19 associated death is defined as a death resulting from a clinically compatible illness that was confirmed to be COVID-19 by an appropriate laboratory test. Note that a person does not need COVID-19 listed on the death certificate. Established criteria from the NCDHHS is:

  • Symptomatic with a positive laboratory test
  • No complete recovery between illness onset and death
  • No clear alternate cause of death
What is the difference between a molecular (PCR) and antigen COVID-19 test?
  • Answer: Under CDC guidance, molecular (PCR) tests are classified as confirmed cases, while antigen cases are classified as probable cases. However, positive cases identified through either testing method are still required to follow isolation rules and contact tracing efforts through their local health department. As antigen testing becomes more common, the County is following the NCDHHS’ steps to include cases identified through both molecular and antigen testing methods to provide the clearest picture on our overall case counts.
What does it mean to be a positive case identified through a molecular (PCR) test or an antigen test?
  • Answer: A molecular positive case of COVID-19 is a person who received a positive COVID-19 result from a molecular (PCR) test. An antigen positive case of COVID-19 is a person who received a positive COVID-19 result from an antigen test and does not have a positive result from a molecular test.
What’s the difference between an antibody test and a diagnostic test (molecular (PCR) and antigen)?
  • Answer: Diagnostic tests like molecular and antigen tests should not be confused with antibody tests; antibody tests are not used to diagnose an active COVID-19 infection. Instead, antibody tests look for antibodies that an immune system has created in response to a threat like a virus. Antibodies can take days or weeks to develop following an infection and can remain in the bloodstream for several weeks following a recovery. At this time, researchers do not know if the presence of antibodies means that someone is immune to the coronavirus in the future.
If someone has received a positive test result more than once since the pandemic began, are they counted multiple times on the County’s dashboard?
  • Answer: Positive cases identified through either testing method are reported by licensed medical providers and labs. Every positive case receives a unique number tied to the individual’s demographic data. This data is available to health care providers, which eliminates duplicate reporting of positive cases should an individual ever receive more than one test—regardless of the testing method used.
Travel, Rental & Beach Questions

Travel, Rental & Beach Questions

Travel

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) has issued guidance for all citizens regarding non-essential travel. This guidance asks individuals at higher risk to stay home, which means these individuals should not travel if it is not essential at this time. Even if individuals feel healthy and are not exhibiting symptoms, it is important that everyone follow these measures to better protect all our fellow residents, especially for those who have a high risk for severe illness, including those 65 years or older, those with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, or those with weakened immune systems.

Brunswick County is urging and reminding all individuals to avoid sick people, follow social distancing protocols and seek communication options including phone, email, and other online resources to limit exposure to others and protect yourself as best as possible.

Older adults and domestic travelers with underlying health issues are encouraged to stay home, avoid crowded places, and refrain from non-essential travel.

Travelers returning to Brunswick County after domestic travel from areas with widespread community transmission, cruise ships, riverboats, or by air travel should stay home for 14 days after returning. Take the following steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing for 14 days after you leave the affected area:

  • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever (temperature of 100.4 Fahrenheit or higher); watch for other symptoms such as cough or shortness of breath
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others; do not go to work or school during this 14-day period
  • Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares
  • Avoid crowded places and limit your activities in public
  • Stay six feet (about two arms lengths) away from others

At this time, all individuals are encouraged to follow travel guidance from the NCDHHS and the CDC and limit their travel to and from other cities, counties or states for the next few weeks to practice proper social distancing and reduce the spread of novel coronavirus within the County or other areas in North Carolina. Individuals are encouraged to stay at their primary residence and limit their travel outside the home to only that which is essential, such as going to work or to get groceries.

There are no specific advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States. However, cases of COVID-19 have been reported in many states, and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease. Crowded travel settings may increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19 if there are other travelers with COVID-19. Read the full NCDHHS travel guidance at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina/covid-19-travel

Beach Use and Closures
  • Each municipality legally handles any issues regarding restrictions or evacuations.  All beaches in Brunswick County are municipalities and need to be contacted directly for information regarding specific guidance and restrictions on visitors.
  • If a municipality allows beach access, all beach visitors need to practice social distancing (approximately six feet between you and others) when attending—including children, teenagers, and young adults. Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order No. 141 restricts groups of more than 25 people in outdoor settings. These measures are necessary to keep each other as safe as possible.
  • The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) has issued guidance for all citizens regarding non-essential travel. This guidance asks individuals at higher risk to stay home, which means these individuals should not travel if it is not essential at this time. Even if individuals feel healthy and are not exhibiting symptoms, it is important that everyone follow these measures to better protect all our fellow residents, especially for those who have a high risk for severe illness, including those 65 years or older, those with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, or those with weakened immune systems.
  • The NC DHHS travel guidance can be found here: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-response-north-carolina/covid-19-travel
  • Brunswick County is urging and reminding all individuals to follow social distancing protocols and seek communication options including phone, email, and other online resources to limit exposure to others and protect yourself as best as possible.
Hotel Closures
Hotel Cleaning and Rental Property Cleaning
Refunds and Rental Insurance (I have events planned and the rental organization says they cannot give me a refund unless additional restrictions are in place. What can I do?)
  • You are encouraged to reach out to the local municipal government in the jurisdiction of the rental to see if additional restrictions are or could be in place during the time of your planned rental. Ultimately, it will depend on if the state’s or any local restrictions are extended in the future. You are encouraged to take proactive preventative measures and avoid traveling for reasons such as vacations especially while travel restrictions are in place to prevent the spread and transmission of the virus to yourself or others.
  • Refunds and rental insurance for vacation rentals are legal or contractual questions. Rental agencies or companies should be contacted directly regarding these matters.
Park, Golf, Restaurant & Religious Functions Questions

Park, Golf, Restaurant & Religious Functions Questions

Are Brunswick County’s parks open?
  • All Brunswick County parks remain open to the public at their regularly scheduled hours: every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the exception of Brunswick Nature Park, which is always open from 8 a.m. to dusk. All park restrooms are open to the public during regular park hours each day, including weekends. Playgrounds remain closed per the Governor’s Executive Order No. 141 (Safer at Home Phase 2).
  • As a reminder, all park visitors need to practice social distancing (approximately six feet between you and others) and cannot gather in groups more than 25, per the Governor’s Executive Order No. 141 mass gathering rules for outdoor activities. This includes children, teenagers, and young adults. These measures are necessary to keep each other as safe as possible. The County will continue to monitor the parks to ensure compliance with state mandates and guidelines.
What is the guidance for golf courses during Phase 2?
  • The CDC and the PGA have worked together on guidance for golf courses and golfers during the national three-phase approach to lifting restrictions due to COVID-19: https://www.pga.org/coronavirus-resources/Back2Golf
  • According to this guidance, immediate family or approved pairings may ride in properly sanitized carts during Phase 2. More information on how to clean, disinfect, and maintain carts is here. Check with your golf course for information on what is considered an approved pairing and to make requests for accommodations concerning carts in the interest of personal health.
  • Golf courses and golfers must still abide by the mass gathering limit of no more than 25 people per group as defined in the Governor’s Phase 2 Executive Order, despite any other figures for mass gatherings as addressed in this guidance.
  • Golfers should always follow best hygiene and proper social distancing practices (approximately six feet between yourself and others) when golfing.
  • You are encouraged to reach out to your golf course to see what additional restrictions it is putting in place due to COVID-19 and to make requests for special accommodations in the interest of personal health.
  • Individuals who are considered at a higher risk for severe illness are discouraged from participating in golfing activities at this time. Sick individuals should remain at home to recover at all times.
  • See additional guidance from the National Recreation and Park Association and the National Golf Course Owners Association
Are houses of worship allowed to hold services in Phase 2?
  • The mass gathering limit and other requirements of North Carolina’s Phase 2 Executive Order No. 141 do not apply to worship, religious, and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights. Individuals are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.
Are weddings and funerals allowed to be held in Phase 2?
  • Even though there is no mass gathering cap on the people who may attend a wedding or funeral ceremony, receptions or visitations before or after weddings and funerals are subject to the mass gathering limit. Individuals are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.
What requirement do open restaurants need to follow during Phase 2?
  • All open restaurants must do the following:
    • Limit customers in indoor and outdoor seating areas to the Emergency Maximum Occupancy limit;
    • Limit customers at tables so that no more than ten people shall be seated together at the same table. More than ten people may sit together at the same table, however, if they are members of the same household;
    • Ensure that customers sitting at a table are not within six feet of any customers sitting at another table (as shown in the diagram below), and ensuring that customers at counters are separated by six feet;
    • Post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a noticeable place;
    • Post signs reminding customers and workers about social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) and requesting that people who have been sick with a fever and/or cough not enter;
    • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers, using a standard interview questionnaire of symptoms, before workers enter the workplace;
    • Immediately isolate and remove sick workers;
    • Perform frequent and routine environmental cleaning and disinfection of high-touch areas with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19);
    • Increase disinfection during peak times or high customer density times, and disinfect all shared objects (e.g., dining tables, booths, counters, payment terminals, tables, countertops/bars, receipt trays, condiment holders, and reusable menus) between each use;
    • Promote frequent use of hand-washing and hand sanitizer for wait staff and food service staff throughout the shift and upon reporting to work. Hand washing must at least meet the requirements specified in the North Carolina Food Code Manual; and
    • Mark six (6) feet of spacing in lines at high-traffic areas for customers, such as a cash register or place where customers wait to be seated at their table. Face coverings for employees and customers are strongly encouraged. People sitting at a table do not need to be members of the same household. This Executive Order does not require servers and wait staff to stay six feet away from customers. All types of restaurants may open in Phase 2, including, but not limited to, cafeterias, food halls, dining halls, food courts, and food kiosks. This includes not only free-standing locations but also locations within other businesses or facilities, including airports, shopping centers, educational institutions, or private clubs where food and beverages are permitted to be consumed on premises.
How is Emergency Maximum Occupancy calculated for restaurants during Phase 2?
  • Emergency Maximum Occupancy for restaurants is the lowest number produced by applying the following three tests:
    • Fifty percent of stated fire capacity (or, for spaces without a stated fire capacity, no more than twelve customers for every 1,000 square feet of the location’s total square footage, including the parts of the location that are not accessible to customers or guests).
    • Limiting the number of people in the space so that everyone can stay six feet apart.
    • People sitting at a table must not be within six feet of any customers sitting at another table. Moreover, each group of customers sitting at a counter should be separated from other groups by six feet. If the restaurant expands beyond its existing space, for instance, an approved expansion onto a sidewalk or parking lot, then that expansion space would be counted when making the Emergency Maximum Occupancy calculation.
How Can I Speak with Someone About My Coronavirus Questions?

How Can I Speak with Someone About My Coronavirus Questions?

Questions about My Personal Health

If you suspect you have coronavirus symptoms, contact your primary medical provider first to determine if your symptoms warrant a test and if they provide tests. Contact Public Health if you need assistance locating a provider to test.

Local and State Public Health Call Lines

The County is operating a joint information center with a Public Health Call Line and email to answer coronavirus questions and assist residents and visitors with testing locations.

Brunswick County Public Health Call Line and Email Information
Community Care of North Carolina’s COVID-19 Triage Plus (Available 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily)

CCNC’s COVID-19 Triage Plus is a toll-free helpline aimed at answering patients’ COVID-19 questions and helping them find the care they need. COVID-19 Triage Plus staff are local, NC-licensed RNs experienced in care management who will assist any North Carolina resident regardless of insurance coverage or lack of coverage. Through an agreement with the NC Department of Health and Human Services, CCNC will staff this helpline from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.

  • COVID-19 Triage Plus Patient Information and Support Line: 1.877.490.6642

Individuals who have questions afterhours are encouraged to use the North Carolina 2-1-1 program or call the North Carolina Public Health Call Line, which has public health professionals available 24 hours a day every day to answer questions.

NC Public Health Call Line (Open 24/7)
  • 1.866.462.3821
North Carolina 2-1-1 Program
  • For COVID-19 questions, dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162
  • Sign up for updates by texting COVIDNC to 898211
Mental Health Resources

The COVID-19 situation is a stressful situation for many of us. There are several resources available should you need to speak with someone anonymously at this time:

  • Trillium offers free telehealth resources for individuals in our county including a call center available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and every day of the year. Call Trillium’s call center at 1.877.685.2415 (available in English and Spanish).
  • Disaster Distress Helpline is also available at 800.985.5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (24-hour availability in English and Spanish).
  • The Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463) connects North Carolinians to additional mental health and resilience supports that help them cope and build resilience during times of crisis. As part of the state’s recent hurricane recovery efforts it served over 4,400 people in the most impacted counties, and now it is being made available to everyone in North Carolina’s 100 counties during the COVID-19 crisis. This initiative is in partnership with all seven of the state’s LME/MCOs and REAL Crisis Intervention Inc. in Greenville. Hope4NC is now available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to speak to a live person.
  • The Hope4Healers Helpline (919-226-2002) is a new initiative in partnership with the North Carolina Psychological Foundation. It provides mental health and resilience supports for health care professionals, emergency medical specialists, first responders, other staff who work in health care settings and their families throughout the state who are experiencing stress from being on the front lines of the state’s COVID-19 response. Hope4Healers is also available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for people to reach out for support; they will be contacted quickly by a licensed mental health professional for follow-up.
  • The NC Department of Health & Human Services also has a list of resources on their website to help you manage your overall heath.
  • Learn more on our website: https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/health/coronavirus/yourhealth/
Mental Health Resources

Mental Health Resources

Mental Health Resources (What mental health resources are available?)

The COVID-19 situation is a stressful situation for many of us. There are several resources available should you need to speak with someone anonymously at this time:

Trillium Health Resources 1-877-685-2415
(24-hour availability in English and Spanish)
Trillium Health Resources is a local governmental agency (LME/MCO) that manages mental health, substance use, and intellectual/developmental disability services in 26 counties in eastern North Carolina, including Brunswick County. Learn more at https://www.trilliumhealthresources.org/
Hope4NC Helpline 1-855-587-3463Additional mental health and resilience supports that help NC residents cope and build resilience.
Hope4Healers Helpline 919-226-2002New initiative in partnership with the NC Psychological Foundation. Provides mental health and resilience supports for health care professionals, emergency medical specialists, first responders, other staff who work in health care settings and their families.
Optum866-342-6892Toll-free 24-hour Emotional Support Help Line for people who may be experiencing anxiety or stress.
National Disaster Distress Helpline1-800-985-5990Crisis counseling and emotional support 24 hours a day.
Hopeline919-231-4525 or 1-877-235-4525Support available 24 hours a day.
NC Alcohol and Drug Council1-800-688-4232 or text 919-908-3196If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, support is available 24 hours a day via the hotline. Learn more at www.alcoholdrughelp.org.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline1-800-273-TALKOffers free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources and best practices for professionals. Learn more at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
National Domestic Violence Hotline1-800-799-7233Visit NC's Council for Women & Youth Involvement for a list of domestic violence and sexual assault service providers in your county. Individuals can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. Learn more at https://ncadmin.nc.gov/about-doa/divisions/council-for-women

Food Access & Assistance Questions

Food Access & Assistance Questions

Food resources in Brunswick County
Brunswick Family Assistance (BFA)

The Brunswick Family Assistance Executive Committee voted March 31 to increase the number of allowed pantry visits from once to twice per month. This effort is in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and serves to ensure that no family goes hungry in the county. Additionally, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners approved a request at the April 6 regular meeting for $30,000 in additional funding to BFA to support their COVID-19 response. Those in need of assistance are encouraged to call BFA at 910-754-4766 for the Shallotte office or 910-408-1700 for the Leland Office to set up appointments for pantry visits and other assistance services.

Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc (BSRI)

Eligible seniors aged 60 or older can request home meal deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays (two hot and three frozen) through the Meals on Wheels program or RSVP for drive-through meal service on select days at a BSRI center/site if they have not already. Contact BSRI to learn more and sign up for either of these services. Find the latest updates and contact information at www.bsrinc.org

Apply for Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits through the NCDHHS

To help families access food during the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is temporarily increasing benefits for March 2020 and April 2020 to current Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) recipients in North Carolina. All families that receive FNS will receive the maximum amount allowed for March 2020 and April 2020 for their household size. Families and individuals who do not currently receive benefits can apply online with ePass.

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

The WIC Program is a supplemental nutrition program that provides food, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support to income-eligible women who are pregnant, have recently given birth, are breastfeeding, as well as infants and children up to five years of age. Brunswick County’s WIC team members are providing all services over the phone and can be reached via the following phone numbers:

  • Bolivia Office: 910.253.2288
  • Shallotte Office: 910.253.2878
  • Leland Office: 910.253.2877
COVID-19 Community Assistance webpage

Brunswick County is updating offers of community assistance including other food resources on its website. If you are aware of any other offers or notices, please email Volunteer and Nonprofit Coordinator Leslie Stanley at leslie.stanley@brunswickcountync.gov

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program

On April 20, it was announced that North Carolina has been approved for the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program to help families purchase food for children impacted by school closings due to COVID-19. The program provides a benefit on an EBT card to North Carolina families whose children are eligible for free and reduced lunch at school. Families will not need to apply for the P-EBT program. Parents with school aged children attending a school in the Brunswick County Schools district who currently receive Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits will receive the additional benefit on their existing EBT card. Parents with school-aged children attending a school in the Brunswick County Schools district who are not receiving FNS benefits will receive an EBT card in the mail with a letter from DHHS explaining how to activate and use their card. Families will receive $250 in P-EBT benefits per child, provided in two installments, with the possibility of an additional benefit if North Carolina schools are closed beyond May 15. Families will be able to use the P-EBT benefit to purchase food items at EBT authorized retailers, including most major grocery stores. More information about the P-EBT benefits including information in Spanish is on the NCDHHS website.

Grocery Store Resources/Stock
  • To check the inventory and specific supplies at your local grocery store, please contact the store directly.
Other Assistance
Other Health, Animal, & Water Questions

Other Health, Animal, & Water Questions

Animals
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information about pets and animals in relation to COVID-19 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/animals.html
  • CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19.
  • If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.
Controlled Burns (Why are controlled burns allowed when people have respiratory issues?)
  • There are no burn bans in place in Brunswick County and there are no plans at present to implement any bans. There are some management controlled burns occurring to help manage potential fire hazards due to the spring season. Some individuals might notice the smoke from these regular management burns due to spending more time at home during the daytime, which they might not typically experience while at work. There are other areas in western North Carolina that are under a burn ban because they are experiencing drier conditions and less rainfall than our region.
Hospitals (Can hospitals perform elective or non-urgent procedures and surgeries?)
  • As of May 1, 2020, each hospital can resume elective and non-urgent procedures in accordance with the guidance developed by the North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) and the additional considerations issued from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS).
  • Individuals should reach out to the hospital(s) they are considering using or will use for an elective or non-urgent procedure or surgery to see if they have resumed these services or have plans to do so.
  • The NCDHHS’ original guidance from March 20, 2020, asked all state hospitals to suspend all elective and non-urgent procedures and surgeries to support health care workers and conserve scarce resources.
  • The letters and guidance from the NCDHHS are not connected to the Governor’s Stay at Home Order or any other statewide executive order.
Mail
  • Currently, the CDC states there is no evidence of Covid-19 transmission through handling mail.
  • The World Health Organization states the coronavirus has some environmental longevity (hours to days) depending on temperature, surface conditions, time and humidity but it is very unlikely that the virus will persist on a surface after it has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperatures.
  • The U.S. Postal Service is not aware of anyone who has contracted COVID-19 through their work for the postal service.
  • The CDC does recommend that you follow good hanffd hygiene practices and wash your hands often. Infectious disease doctors discourage the use of gloves as the virus is not transmitted through the skin and it wastes valuable resources.
Masks (Should I wear a mask?)
  • Wearing cloth face coverings is an additional public health measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing – staying six feet apart from others – cannot be replaced by face coverings. The very best evidence on reducing the spread is to social distance and stay at home. The CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
  • While cloth face coverings are being sold by a range of retailers and available to purchase online, you can also make them at home from regular household items. Learn how to wear and/or make one on the CDC website and see answers to frequently asked questions about cloth face coverings on the NCDHHS website. You can also watch a video showing the steps to make a homemade face covering from materials like T-shirts or bandanas.
  • Everyone should follow the three Ws when visiting any public area. These efforts work best when they are all practiced together by as many people as possible:
    • Wear a cloth face covering when in public (Make sure both your nose and mouth are fully covered and you are able to breathe normally while wearing it.)
    • Wait six feet apart to avoid close contact and maintain appropriate social distancing between yourself and others
    • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer while also following other best hygiene practices
  • The CDC is not recommending medical masks, which need to first go to those on the front lines, including our health care workers. Cloth coverings can play a part in controlling the spread if they are used properly and in combination with other tried and true everyday preventive actions like washing hands and wiping down surfaces. If used incorrectly, face coverings can expose someone to more germs rather than less. Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.
Water Treatment Process Concerning Coronavirus
  • Brunswick County’s two drinking water treatment plants are designed to filter and kill all kinds of viruses including COVID-19. The EPA mandated through the Safe Drinking Water Act that all drinking water treatment facilities designed and built in the United States be able to inactivate viruses and bacteria. The disinfection process of using chlorine is very effective at inactivating (killing) viruses. The World Health Organization has recently published a technical document describing the coronavirus as having a fragile outer membrane that is generally less stable and more susceptible to oxidants such as chlorine (page 2 of document).
  • More information regarding COVID-19 and drinking water can be found here:
    https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-drinking-water-and-wastewater
Donations & Volunteerism Questions

Donations & Volunteerism Questions

Donations (How to Donate)

Brunswick County is directing questions about how to make food donations, to provide financial relief or other services for individuals affected by COVID-19 to Brunswick Family Assistance. Financial contributions are safer for the community than food donations due to the potential spread of COVID-19. Visit BFA’s website to learn more: http://brunswickfamily.org/

While BFA offices have been closed to the public since March 15 after an abundance of caution for the community and staff, staff is still on site and ready to assist the community. BFA services have not been impacted by the closing of the offices to the public. Those in need of assistance are encouraged to call BFA at 910-754-4766 for the Shallotte office or 910-408-1700 for the Leland Office to set up appointments for pantry visits and other assistance services.

I’m a recovered COVID-19 patient. How can I donate plasma?

Recovered COVID-19 patients who want to donate plasma should fill out and submit the American Red Cross’ Convalescent Plasma COVID-19 Donor Request Form online. Once Red Cross determines you are eligible to donate, they will send your contact information to a collection site near you, which might be a non-Red Cross site, to schedule your donation.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Donations

Brunswick County Emergency Services is encouraging individuals who have certain types of personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate them to the County for potential distribution to local medical providers or long-term care facilities in the future should the need arise.

Individuals can drop off donations at the Brunswick County Emergency Services building at 3325 Old Ocean Highway (Building C) in Bolivia at the Brunswick County Government Complex Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Individuals are encouraged to call first before they arrive to let our team know you are coming and follow the directions to enter the building when you arrive. Our team members in the front office will assist in collecting your items. You can also contact the County the following ways to ask questions you might have.

Brunswick County is accepting the following items. Items must be new and unused:

  • Unused masks rated N95 or higher: 3M Healthcare or NIOSH approved preferred
  • Full face shields
  • Impervious gowns: AAMI Level 2
  • Gloves: Nitrile or non-latex preferred
  • Unused ear loop masks
  • Unused surgical masks: meet the surgical masks regulations under 21 CFR 878.4040 preferred
  • Unused surgical masks with face shield: meet the surgical masks regulations under 21 CFR 878.4040 preferred
  • Medical/dental gowns

We are not able to accept homemade or hand-sewn items currently. Full details are at https://www.brunswickcountync.gov/coronavirus-ppe-donations/

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