COVID-19 Updates

The health and safety of our community is our number one priority and the City of Lowell wants to make sure that our community has accurate information to help prevent and prepare for COVID-19.  

The City of Lowell will be frequently updating this page with updates pertaining to the City of Lowell and Gaston County regarding the COVID-19 Coronavirus. 

Gaston County Receives $6.7M to Help Residents Affected by COVID-19 Impacts with Rent, Utility Payments

February 2, 2021

GASTONIA, N.C. – Gaston County’s Department of Social Services was awarded $6.7M by the federal government to help residents affected by the COVID-19 crisis with rent or utility payments.

Gaston County DSS applied for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program on Jan. 12 and found out late last month it was awarded the funds to aid residents. The assistance is available now through the end of 2021.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to be able to help folks knocked down by this crisis to get back on their feet,” DSS Director Angi Karchmer said. “Based on how we’ve helped people over the past year with our CARE Plan, we suspect there is a large need for this program in our community.”

Karchmer said the funds are available to anyone economically impacted by COVID-19, fell behind on rent or utility payments and meets the criteria for the program set out by the federal government.

Those interested in applying for the program should call (704) 862-7901 and leave a message with their name and phone number. A caseworker will call back within 48 hours to set an appointment and provide further information about the income limits and other program criteria.

Karchmer said her hope is the money from the program can help get many in Gaston County back to a level playing field as the county and the country pushes forward in its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The money can go toward rent and utility payments as far back as March 2020 and residents can be approved for as much as 15 months’ worth of rent and utility payments, based on need.

“We know right now there’s a moratorium on evictions, but once that’s lifted, we want to make sure we don’t have this huge wave of residents getting put out on the street,” Karchmer said.

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Governor Cooper, State Education Leaders Say it's Time for In-Person Instruction in K-12 Schools StatewideResearch continues to show mitigation measures allow safe in-person learning, low transmission among students and teachers


Raleigh

Top state education leaders joined Governor Roy Cooper today to call on K-12 school districts across the state to allow in-person instruction for all students. The Governor joined North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt and State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis to thank educators for their extraordinary work during an unprecedented time, to highlight ongoing research that shows that with proper mitigation measures, in-person learning is safe, and to emphasize the critical importance of ensuring all students have an opportunity to learn in a classroom. 

“Protecting the health and safety of the people of this state, especially our children and our teachers, has been our goal,” said Governor Cooper. “We know school is important for reasons beyond academic instruction. School is where students learn social skills, get reliable meals, and find their voices. Research done right here in North Carolina tells us that in-person learning is working and that students can be in classrooms safely with the right safety protocols in place.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, state leaders have emphasized the importance of returning students to in-person learning as quickly and safely as possible. Children who rely solely on remote instruction are feeling the negative effects of isolation, including learning loss, mental health challenges and food insecurity. The state’s public health toolkit details specific health and safety protocols K-12 schools must implement to keep students and teachers safe during in-person instruction. 

Read the updated StrongSchools NC Public Health Toolkit.

“Even with the thousands of students and teachers attending school in-person across the state, we have seen few COVID-19 clusters in our public schools,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Our Department will continue to serve our school communities, offering resources and support so we can keep our school doors open.” 

Increasing evidence suggests that, with prevention measures in place, there are low rates of COVID-19 transmission in primary and secondary school settings even with high rates of community transmission. In addition, ongoing medical studies and peer-reviewed data affirm that children infected with COVID-19 generally have mild or no symptoms, and are less likely to spread the disease. Read more at What are We Learning

“Learning loss resulting from COVID has the potential to be a generational hurdle, but the data we have seen shows us that schools can reopen safely if they adhere to COVID prevention policies,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt. “For many schools, the logistics of returning to in-person instruction five days per week will be a challenge, but this is absolutely a challenge we must face head on so that all students have a chance to fulfill their potential. With strong prevention measures in place, and the scientific research to back them, now is the time to act. North Carolina’s students cannot lose any more time.”

“We know that to equitably and fully address the needs of the whole child in every student, it is imperative that schools reopen for in-person instruction,” said State Board Chairman Eric Davis. “Since August, public school leaders have proven the merits of the safety protocols that have kept our schools safe for students and staff.”

The Governor and state health and education officials have made protecting the health and safety of students and educators the top priority since the beginning of the pandemic, moving to fully remote learning last Spring and giving local school districts the flexibility to gradually return to the classroom in September.

Today, Governor Cooper, Superintendent Truitt, Chair Davis and Secretary Cohen sent a letter to local school board members and superintendents encouraging in-person instruction across the state.

Read the letter state leaders sent to school board members and superintendents.

North Carolina has now administered more than 1 million COVID-19 doses across the state. Today, two new resources that will help provide North Carolinians with more information on vaccines were announced. First, the state’s call center has now expanded its operations and will be open seven days a week to help answer questions about vaccine eligibility, how the vaccines work and more. The number for the call center is: 888-675-4567. Additionally, NCDHHS launched an online search tool where users can enter their ZIP code or current location to find nearby vaccine providers.

 

 

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Gaston County to get 600 Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine for Each of Next Three Weeks

January 28, 2021

GASTONIA, N.C. – Today, Gaston County’s Public Health Department was notified by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that it will receive a baseline amount of 600 COVID-19 vaccine doses each of the next three weeks.

There remains the possibility there could be a small additional increase in the allocation for any of those weeks, but it is not anticipated to be a significant amount.

Gaston County is now working to ensure it fulfills the first-shot appointments it has already scheduled at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market each of the next three weeks. The County does not anticipate opening new appointments for those weeks at this time.

“While we are glad to know the baseline amount so that we can plan for these next three weeks, our staff stands ready to vaccinate far more individuals each week,” Public Health Director Steve Eaton said. “You give us the vaccine, and we’ll get it in people’s arms.”

The County will continue to exhaust every effort to secure as much vaccine for its residents as possible.

Once the County receives notice on allocation amounts for future weeks, it will then make an announcement on opening future appointments at GastonSaves.com. Residents who have pre-registered for their spot in line will be notified by email (or phone if no email address was provided) when new appointments become available.

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North Carolina Extends Modified Stay At Home Order as Numbers Begin to Stabilize in an Effort to Continue to Slow the SpreadExecutive orders for “to-go” or delivery sales of mixed beverages and evictions moratorium also extended


Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today announced that North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order, requiring people to be at home from 10 pm – 5 am, will be extended. Face covering requirements and restrictions on individuals gathering in both indoor and outdoor settings are still in place. Executive Order No. 189 will be in effect through at least Sunday, February 28, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. 

The extension of Executive Order No. 190 allowing for the sale of “to-go” or delivery of mixed beverages will continue to help businesses that are struggling right now. The extension of Executive Order No. 191 will help families have the ability to stay in their homes, a critical component of slowing the spread of the virus. 

The Executive Orders for “to-go” or delivery sales of mixed beverages and the evictions moratorium both received concurrence from the Council of State.

“With more than 3,300 people in the hospital, and the percent of positive tests in double digits, we know this virus is still spreading,” said Governor Cooper. “And with at least one new contagious variant of COVID-19 in our state, we still have work to do.  We cannot let our guard down, especially in these cold winter months.”

In addition to the Modified Stay at Home Order, the DHHS secretarial directive remains in effect. People should stay home and only leave for essential purposes such as buying food, accessing health care, and going to school or work.

“The 3 Ws are as essential as they have always been,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Remember people can have COVID-19 and not know it. The best way to protect those around you is to act as if you do have the virus and could be contagious. That means always wearing a mask – over your mouth and nose, always waiting apart from others, and always washing your hands frequently.” 

North Carolina continues to administer Covid-19 vaccines across the state. As of today, 99.8% of all first doses received by the state were reported as being administered and 859,695 total doses have been administered. Vaccine supply continues to be very low and the state is hopeful for more vaccine to be on the way. On a call with Governor Cooper and other governors yesterday, the Biden Administration committed to increase vaccine shipments to the states by 16% over the next 3 weeks. 

On Tuesday, NCDHHS expanded its vaccine data dashboard to provide information about vaccine doses allocated to and received by the state and updated guidance to ensure equitable distribution and speed of administration.

North Carolinians can find out when they will be eligible to get their vaccine through a new online tool, Find My Vaccine Group. The screener walks users through a series of questions to determine which vaccine group they fall in. Learn more about North Carolina’s vaccine rollout at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.

On January 23, NCDHHS reported the first identified case of B.1.1.7 COVID-19 Variant in North Carolina. Early data suggest that this variant may be more contagious than other variants and state health officials continue to recommend staying at home when possible and practicing the 3 “W’s:” Wear a face covering, Wait 6 feet apart and Wash your hands. 

Dr. Cohen provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing, but high.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is stabilizing, but high.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is leveling, but high.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is leveling, but high.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing

  • Testing capacity remains high.

Tracing Capability

  • There have been more than 666,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Read Executive Order No. 189 and the FAQs.

Read Executive Order No. 190 and the FAQs.

Read Executive Order No. 191 and the FAQs.

View the slides from today’s briefing.

Gaston County Moving Ahead with Friday Vaccine Clinic

January 26, 2021

GASTONIA, N.C. – Despite the initial announcement from the state of North Carolina that Gaston County would receive no COVID-19 vaccine allocation this week, Gaston County is moving forward with its vaccine clinic this Friday at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market.

The County has secured 400 vaccines from Kintegra Health and also was able to move a number of people who had appointments on Friday to earlier events. The County is also working with the state to request additional allocations so they can further expand the reach of Friday’s drive-through event.  

“We understand there has been a lot of concern about our local allocations and access to vaccines,” Public Health Director Steve Eaton said. “We are encouraged by new information the state has shared with us this week that will allow us to better plan for future events and give us a set weekly allocation for the next 3 weeks. We will do everything we can to vaccinate as many Gaston County residents as quickly as possible.”

The county is not canceling any appointments for Friday’s clinic. Once the state announces allocations for future weeks, Gaston County will continue to work with its local healthcare partners and the state to ensure residents are getting equitable access to this potentially life-saving vaccine.

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January 21, 2021

PRESS RELEASE

GASTON COUNTY ANNOUNCES COVID-19 VACCINE TOWN HALL AND APPOINTMENTS FOR RESIDENTS BETWEEN 65 AND 74


GASTONIA, N.C. – Gaston County is now opening vaccine appointments to residents between the ages of 65 and 74.

The county is offering appointments to vaccination clinics into mid-February. Those in the 65-74 year-old age group can pre-register at www.GastonSaves.com/covid19vaccine and will get a follow up email with a link to make an appointment, as they are available. They can also call the COVID-19 registration hotline at 704-866-3170.

The county plans to vaccinate up to 1,200 residents at this Friday’s clinic at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market. It has vaccinated more than 2,000 residents at clinics there the past two weeks.

Gaston County Public Health – in concert with GEMS and the Office of Emergency Management and Fire Services -- has planning ongoing for future clinics should upcoming weekly allotments exceed what the county is currently able to provide at the Farmer’s Market site. The county will adjust appointments week by week, to add or delay appointments, based on vaccine shipments.

“We want everyone to know, that no matter what, if they want a shot, they will get a shot,” Public Health Director Steve Eaton said. “We are thrilled by the response of our senior residents and healthcare workers to get vaccinated, and we’re going to continue doing everything in our power to make sure we’re getting shots to those who qualify for them as quickly and as safely as we can.”

The County also continues to work closely with its partners at CaroMont Health and Kintegra Health to ensure the Gaston County is using all of its supply as quickly as possible and is ready to receive and distribute more.

In addition to the news about the vaccination appointments, the county is also announcing a virtual town hall for next Wednesday, Jan. 27, from 12-1 p.m., to be held live on its Gaston County Gov Facebook page. Physicians from CaroMont Health, and members of GEMS and Gaston County Public Health will participate on the panel.

The Town Hall will allow residents to ask the experts their questions about the COVID-19 vaccine – from those about the vaccine’s efficacy and safety to those about possible side effects and more.

Residents can ask questions during the event or submit them in advance at https://share.hsforms.com/1tTXBwdWUQLyKYWRoLsq7hw4yb15.

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Gaston County Prepares to Expand COVID Vaccination Efforts

January 15, 2021

GASTONIA, N.C. – As Gaston County rolls out its second large-scale vaccination clinic today at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market, it is also preparing for the change in requirements rolled out Thursday by the state.

The state has added in the 65-to-74-year-old population as part of what is now being referred to as Group 2. Gaston County is continuing to register individuals both through its hotline, 704-866-3170, and at GastonSaves.com/covid19vaccine. Thousands of Gaston County residents have already registered online since that option was launched last Thursday.

County employees will continue to staff the hotline during the week starting at 8 a.m. and will be available each day until 5 p.m. It has pulled employees from departments across the county and is getting additional assistance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to help manage the historically high call volume.

In response, the County will soon be adding vaccination days on Wednesdays in addition to Fridays as it will soon not only be providing the first shot to hundreds of residents at a time, but also the second round of vaccine to complete the process. The county also opened up another 2,400 vaccination appointments for the next three weeks.

The County is also working closely with its partners at CaroMont Health and Kintegra Health to maximize the opportunities to get members of the community vaccinated.

Those in the 65-74 age range should expect it may take a few weeks to get to their turn in line as the County has booked out appointments with remaining healthcare workers (Group 1) and the 75-and-over population that have pre-registered for appointments.

Vaccination clinics continue to be by appointment only, to manage the flow of traffic and allow for as smooth a process as possible.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for COVID-19 information email alerts at www.GastonSaves.com/covid19vaccine.

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Gaston County Adds Additional Registration Options, Prepares for Dreary Weather for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

January 7, 2021

GASTONIA, N.C. – Today, Gaston County launched a new tool to help residents get in line for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Now at www.gastonsaves.com/covid19vaccine, residents in the 1A or 1B categories can register for a COVID-19 vaccine. This is being brought online to alleviate some of the strain on the County’s COVID-19 Vaccination Registration hotline, which saw significant demand in its first three days of use.

That hotline number is 704-866-3170. County employees will continue to staff the hotline during the week starting at 8 a.m. and will be available each day until 5 p.m. Staff has been responding to thousands of voicemail requests Wednesday and Thursday.

In that vein, Gaston County Public Health wants to remind residents that their place in line to get the vaccine is secure.

“We understand the frustration with the limited appointment availability and are continuing to work through many voicemails from residents to schedule their vaccination,” Gaston County Assistant Health Director Brittain Kenney said. “We want to assure everyone that vaccines will be available to anyone in the eligible populations – frontline healthcare workers, long term care residents and staff, and those older than 75 – in the coming weeks. We are scheduling large vaccination events every Friday and will be adding other opportunities very soon.”

Tomorrow marks the first vaccination opportunity in Gaston County for residents 75 and older. It is also open to any individual in group 1A that has not yet received a vaccine.

County officials are stressing that the clinic is only for those who have pre-registered, in an effort to keep a manageable amount of cars and patients moving through the setup.

Those that show up without an appointment will be turned away to ensure that everyone who has reserved their appointment can get their vaccine.

While there is a chance of snow in the afternoon, the vaccine clinic is still on track for 9 a.m. to 4 pm. tomorrow at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market. If residents have any concern about driving in the conditions tomorrow, please reach out to the county and we will reschedule you for a future clinic.

“Please do not put yourself or others at risk if you do not feel comfortable driving,” Kenney said. “There will be plenty of other opportunities to get this vaccine.”

Media availability is by RSVP only to the Public Information Office.

Also, in the coming weeks, local healthcare providers will begin offering the vaccine to their patients. Residents can check with their primary care physicians if this is an option that might work for them.

Residents can sign up for COVID-19 information email alerts at www.GastonSaves.com/covid19vaccine.

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Governor Cooper Extends Modified Stay At Home Order Amid Rising Case CountsModified Stay At Home Order extended as numbers continue to increase at alarming pace; 96 counties now designated as “red” or “orange”; North Carolina National Guard mobilized, other efforts underway to support vaccine distribution


Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen shared an update today on North Carolina’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support the vaccination effort currently underway. 

Governor Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay At Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10 pm – 5 am to last through at least Friday, January 29. Secretary Cohen also issued a Secretarial Directive with stark warnings for North Carolinians to avoid indoor spaces without masks and gatherings between households. Read here for more details on the Secretarial Directive.

"We have turned the page on a new year – one that we’re hoping will bring better times. But as we know, the virus didn’t disappear at midnight on December 31," Governor Cooper said. "In fact, in North Carolina, we have seen some of our highest case counts, percent positives, hospitalizations and ICU bed usage numbers in the past few days. No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat, and we must treat it that way."

“We are in a very dangerous position. North Carolinians need to take immediate actions to save lives, slow the spread of the virus, and protect hospital capacity so that medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Dr. Cohen provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing

  • Testing is widely available across the state. 

Tracing Capability

  • There have been more than 600,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map. There are now 84 counties designated as red (critical community spread) and 12 counties that are yellow (substantial community spread). Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

Vaccine Efforts Underway

Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen also highlighted North Carolina’s efforts to support the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Governor Cooper has mobilized approximately 50 North Carolina National Guard personnel to support NCDHHS and North Carolina Emergency Management. The Guard will assist with administering the vaccine and logistics support for local entities.  

"As we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are also helping local hospitals and health departments to support their vaccine efforts. Getting the vaccine out quickly is the most urgent priority right now, and we will use everything and everyone needed to get the job done," Governor Cooper said.

NCDHHS is onboarding more health care providers to administer the vaccine and sharing detailed guidance with providers to help them get the vaccine out more quickly. NCDHHS has also notified vaccine providers that future allocations will be based on how quickly they are able to get their supply out to eligible recipients. If an entity is not using their vaccine supply quickly enough or keeping the state database updated on their progress that will impact how much they are allocated going forward. 

As the state moves into Phase 1b, local hospitals and other vaccine providers can now begin administering vaccines to those over age 75. Individuals should call their local health department or hospital to see if they have started to schedule vaccine appointments. A comprehensive list of local health department contact numbers can be found here.

Finally, NCDHHS and the state of North Carolina continue to work with communities around the state who may be hesitant to accept the vaccine when it is their turn. Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen underscored that this vaccine was authorized after independent health experts reviewed the data from tens of thousands of trial participants. 

Read Executive Order No. 188.

View the slides from today’s briefing.

 

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COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Update from Gaston County


January 6, 2021


Hello Gaston County!

We had more than 23 THOUSAND calls made to our COVID vaccination hotline yesterday. We’re also seeing an incredibly high call volume today as folks are clearly eager to sign up to get the vaccine, which is fantastic. We have already booked our capacity of 600 appointments for this Friday, Jan. 8 and we’re at capacity for next Friday, Jan. 15. We are now booking for Friday, Jan. 22 and after that will be signing up residents for a waiting list. Once the county receives more vaccine through the state, we will then schedule those individuals on the waiting list.

For the remainder of the day, our hotline will be set up to go directly to voicemail, to allow us to catch up on the hundreds of existing voicemails and email messages and get those folks registered in the order in which their calls and messages were received. We’ll reopen it in coordination with launching an online registration portal – which we hope to do as soon as tomorrow morning. We’ll keep the community updated on that on GastonSaves.com/covid19vaccine, on GastonGov.com/coronavirus and on the county’s social media channels.

We appreciate the excitement around the vaccine as well as the community’s patience as we work through this process.

Gaston County Public Health Announces Pre-Registration Details for COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

January 4, 2021

GASTONIA, N.C. – Today, Gaston County’s Public Health Department released additional details and resources for the public in regards to its upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinic, scheduled for this Friday, Jan. 8, at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market.

Friday’s clinic is open to residents 75 years or older, as part of category 1B. It is also open to any individual in group 1A that has not received yet received a vaccine. Pre-registration is required so the county can have the correct amount of vaccine available to meet the needs of those attending the clinic. 1A includes frontline health care workers and first responders who have direct contact with individuals who are potentially COVID-positive, as well as long-term care facility residents and staff.

The County has set up a hotline for residents to call to begin the pre-registration process for the vaccination clinic. That number is 704-866-3170. County employees will staff the hotline beginning Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. and will be available each day until 5 p.m.

If all operators are busy, residents can leave a voicemail, and a county staffer will return their call to begin the registration process.

Gaston County plans to continue hosting vaccination clinics each Friday at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market as doses are made available. All future dates will be listed at GastonSaves.com/covid19vaccine as they are confirmed.  

Gaston County’s Health Department worked with GEMS and its Office of Emergency Management and Fire Services in identifying the Gastonia Farmer’s Market as an ideal location to host the vaccine clinics, as it is on local bus routes, is centrally located in the county and provides protection from the elements for workers who will be servicing the drive-thru clinic.

Frontline essential workers are also a part of the 1B distribution, but are slated to be vaccinated as part of group 2, after residents who are 75 years and older, as there is not enough vaccine currently available to handle this entire group at once. The CDC defines frontline essential workers as first responders (e.g., firefighters and police officers), corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector (teachers and support staff members) as well as child care workers.

Those frontline essential workers who are 50 and over will be offered the vaccine first, followed by those frontline workers of any age as part of group 3 in the 1B classification. GastonSaves.com/covid19vaccine will contain updates on where Gaston County stands on the vaccination group schedule.

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Gaston County Public Health Announces COVID Vaccine Clinics


December 31, 2020

GASTONIA, N.C. – After a successful first week of vaccinating frontline health care workers and first responders, Gaston County’s Public Health, Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Management Departments are preparing for vaccination clinics for the county’s elderly population and others who qualify for early vaccines.

In line with the revised groupings passed down by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control, the clinics will offer vaccinations to any Gaston County resident 75 years or older beginning on Friday, Jan. 8 at the Gastonia Farmer’s Market. More information about the event will be shared early next week.

In addition to those 75 and older – classified as being in 1B, Group 1 according to the state categorization – those individuals who are part of the 1A grouping who did not already get vaccinated are welcome to attend Friday’s clinic. 1A includes frontline health care workers and first responders who have direct contact with individuals who are potentially COVID-positive, as well as long-term care facility residents and staff.

Gaston County plans to continue hosting weekly vaccination clinics as doses are made available. Future locations and times will be announced as they are finalized at GastonSaves.com.

“We have arrived, as a community, as a state and a nation,” shared Public Health Director Steve Eaton. “The biggest game-changer in terms of a pandemic is a vaccine. Both the people giving the vaccine and receiving the vaccine are part of history here in Gaston County.”

Frontline essential workers are also a part of the 1B distribution, but are slated to be vaccinated after residents who are 75 years and older, as there is not enough vaccine currently available to handle this entire group at once. The CDC defines frontline essential workers as first responders (e.g., firefighters and police officers), corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and those who work in the education sector (teachers and support staff members) as well as child care workers.

Those frontline essential workers who are 50 and over will be offered the vaccine first, followed by those frontline workers of any age. GastonSaves.com will contain updates on where Gaston County stands on the vaccination group schedule.

Even with the rollout of the vaccine to the initial groups, Eaton warned that Gaston County is seeing its highest levels of hospitalizations and percent positivity rate since the pandemic began. He urged residents to double down on mask wearing and avoid gatherings with members outside of your own household.

“While we are thrilled to have vaccinations on hand and be providing them to our community, it will take some time to vaccinate enough people to see the full impact. We have to continue doing our part to prevent the spread.”

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Governor Cooper Grants Santa an Exemption from Modified Stay at Home OrderHo Ho Ho… Someone Will Still Be on His Way


Raleigh

Watch the Governor's video message.

Today, Governor Roy Cooper shared an important COVID-19 update for Christmas. Santa Claus is exempt from the Modified Stay at Home Order and will be able to carry out his delivery duties on Christmas Eve.

“It’s important that we all follow the Modified Stay At Home order this year to be home between 10 pm and 5 am, but after being assured of his safety measures, Santa will receive a special exemption to carry out his job on Christmas Eve,” said Governor Cooper. “Santa will wear a mask to protect the families in our state, so make sure you do your part and wear a mask, too.”

Thanks to elves’ handiwork and creativity, they were able to make an extra-large mask to fit over Santa’s beard. The elves know the importance of keeping their village in the North Pole and our communities safe! In the workshop they washed their hands often, spread out six feet apart and wore masks. Their motto this year was, “Stay on task and wear your mask!”

Santa may take the cookies and milk to-go this year so he doesn’t have to remove his mask, which means he will have extra treats to bring back to Mrs. Claus and the elves! 

Santa knows that there is hope during the holidays this year with the vaccine arriving in our state and is grateful for everyone continuing to practice their 3 Ws – wear a mask, wash your hands and wait six feet apart. 

Watch Governor Cooper’s video message.



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City Hall Temporarily Closing to the Public Due to Increased COVID-19 Cases in Gaston County

12/17/20

Lowell, NC

Due to the rapidly increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases in Gaston County, City Hall will be closed to the public until further notice. Payments may be made at the drop box at City Hall, online, or by phone. 

Bulk and leaf pickup may experience intermittent delays over the next few weeks with the upcoming holiday schedule. Thank you for your patience as we try to keep our employees healthy so that we can ensure that essential services will continue to be provided. 

If you have any questions, please contact City Hall at 704-824-3518 and press option 1. 

With Key Metrics Increasing Rapidly, North Carolina to Begin Modified Stay at Home Order to Slow COVID-19 SpreadOrder will require people to stay at home from 10 pm to 5 am with certain businesses required to be closed during those hours; More than 80 percent of NC counties now in the red or orange categories


Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today announced that North Carolina will begin a Modified Stay at Home Order after a rapid increase in North Carolina’s key COVID-19 trends. The Order requires people to stay at home between 10 pm and 5 am and takes effect Friday, December 11 and will be in place until at least January 8, 2021. 

“We already have strong safety protocols and capacity limitations in place – including a statewide mask requirement. With this additional action beginning Friday, we hope to get these numbers down,” Governor Cooper said. “Our new modified Stay At Home order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer, especially during the holidays. It’s also a reminder that we must be vigilant the rest of the day – wearing a face mask when we are with people we don’t live with, keeping a safe distance from others and washing our hands a lot.” 

The Order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and more to close at 10 pm. Travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services; or to take care of a family member is exempted. Read more in the Frequently Asked Questions document. 

In the past week, North Carolina’s case count has broken single-day records on three separate days, including crossing more than 6,000 cases per day on two of those days. Just a month ago, cases were under 3,000 per day. In recent days, the percent of tests returning positive has increased to more than 10%. 

Governor Cooper was clear that further action would be taken to slow the spread of the virus if trends do not improve. This could require further limiting of restaurant dining, indoor entertainment or shopping and retail capacity restrictions, among other safety protocols. 

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map. The number of red counties (critical community spread) has more than doubled since November 23, up to 48 red counties from 20 red counties. There are now 34 orange counties (substantial community spread), as compared to 42 orange counties from the previous report. With today’s report, more than 80% of the state’s counties fall into the red or orange tier. Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

“Your actions can keep people from getting sick, save lives, and make sure our hospitals can care for people whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19. Protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community now,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing

  • Testing capacity is high, surpassing 50,000 tests per day for much of the past week. 

Tracing Capability

  • The state is continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments.
  • There have been more than 500,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Read Executive Order 181.

Read a Frequently Asked Questions document about the Order. 

Read the slides from today’s briefing.

 

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With Cases Rising Rapidly, North Carolina Tightens Existing Mask Requirements and EnforcementTen More Counties Designated as Red for Critical Community Spread


Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper today issued additional COVID-19 safety measures to tighten mask requirements and enforcement as cases continue to rise rapidly in North Carolina and across the country. Executive Order No. 180 goes into effect on Wednesday, November 25 and runs through Friday, December 11. 

"I have a stark warning for North Carolinians today: We are in danger," Governor Cooper said. "This is a pivotal moment in our fight against the coronavirus. Our actions now will determine the fate of many."

In addition to extending Phase 3 capacity limits and safety requirements, the Order tightens the existing statewide mask requirement – making it clear that everyone needs to wear a mask whenever they are with someone who is not from the same household. The Order also adds the mask requirement to several additional settings including any public indoor space even when maintaining 6 feet of distance; gyms even when exercising; all schools public and private; and all public or private transportation when travelling with people outside of the household. 

The Order also requires large retail businesses with more than 15,000 square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter. 

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, updated North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map due to the rapid rise in cases and hospitalization over the past week. Since introducing the system last week, ten more counties have moved into the red category indicating critical community spread. There are now 20 red counties and 42 orange counties. Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.

“The coming weeks will be a true test of our resolve to do what it takes to keep people from getting sick, to save lives, and to make sure that if you need hospital care whether it’s for a heart attack or a car accident or COVID-19, you can get it,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan spoke at today’s press conference to discuss what the city of Greensboro is doing to step up enforcement of existing, strong statewide safety rules. State officials have encouraged local governments to take action to require compliance and help lower COVID-19 numbers. 

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing slightly.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing

  • Testing capacity is high.

Tracing Capability

  • The state is continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments.
  • There have been more than 430,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Read Executive Order 180.

Read a Frequently Asked Questions document about the Order. 

Read the slides from today’s briefing.

 

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North Carolina Lowers Indoor Gathering Limit to 10 to Slow Spread of COVID-19Gov. Cooper & health officials urge North Carolinians to use caution when planning Thanksgiving events; follow the Three Ws


Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper announced today that North Carolina’s indoor mass gathering limit will be lowered to 10 people in an effort to drive down North Carolina’s key COVID-19 metrics. Executive Order 176 will go into effect on Friday, November 13 and will be in place through Friday, December 4.

"This reduction in our indoor gathering limit aims to slow the spread and bring down our numbers," Governor Cooper said. "It also sends a serious signal to families, friends and neighbors across our state. Success in slowing the spread will help our businesses."

As the weather gets colder, more people will be gathering indoors. Science has shown that indoor gatherings increase risk of transmission of COVID-19, and this Executive Order seeks to limit indoor gatherings that could rapidly and dangerously spread the virus. 

The Order does not change the reduced capacity limits for certain businesses that have already been laid out. For more on this, read the Frequently Asked Questions document

Governor Cooper and NC DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen also underscored the need for people to wear a mask anytime they gather with people outside of their immediate household. As the holiday season approaches, NCDHHS released health guidance to help people celebrate as safely as possible without spreading the virus. 

“Let’s keep our friends, family, and loved ones safe this holiday season. If you are going to travel or get together, plan ahead to reduce the risk to your family and friends,” said NCDHHS Secretary Cohen. “Remember, it’s not how well you know someone when it comes to wearing a mask. If they don’t live with you, get behind the mask.“

Dr. Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s data and trends. 

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days 

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing but still elevated.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days 

  • ·North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing. 

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days 

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is level but above 5 percent. 

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days 

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level but high. 

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Testing 

  • Testing capacity is high

Tracing Capability 

  • The state is continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments. 
  • There have been almost 350,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC. 

Personal Protective Equipment 

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable. 

Read Executive Order 176

Read a Frequently Asked Questions document about the Order. 

Read the slides from today’s briefing.

Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief Program Expands

Also today, Governor Cooper announced that full-service restaurants are now eligible for assistance through the Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief Program (MURR) administered by the NC Department of Commerce.

These businesses may apply for up to 4 months of rent or mortgage interest capped at $20,000 per location for up to 2 locations. Businesses can learn more and apply by visiting www.nccommerce.com/murr.

 

 

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Following the Data, North Carolina Will Remain Paused in Phase 3Gov. Cooper & health officials urge North Carolinians to recommit to prevention efforts


Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper announced today that North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 3 for three more weeks as health officials continue to monitor North Carolina’s viral trends. North Carolina has seen increased hospitalizations and trajectory of cases in recent weeks. Governor Cooper underscored the importance of wearing masks, social distancing, and using good judgment despite fatigue or frustration with the pandemic.

“As this pandemic continues, I know it’s difficult and tiring to keep up our guard, especially when we’re gathered with people we love. But it’s necessary. No one wants to spread COVID-19 accidentally to friends or family, so we must keep prevention at the forefront,” said Governor Cooper. “Wearing a mask shows you care about people. Wearing a mask is an easy way to protect our communities and look out for each other. Confronting the virus head on and doing our part as individuals is good for our health and good for our economy.” 

Also today, Governor Cooper updated on progress with the NC Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) program. Since Governor Cooper announced the (HOPE) Program last week, 12,000 eligible applicants have filed for assistance. The HOPE Program provides assistance to eligible low-and-moderate income renters experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic by making direct payments to landlords and utility companies. People can apply for help by calling 2-1-1 or going to nc211.org/hope.

“As the number of applications climbs higher every day, it should make us remember that it’s more than a number. Every one of those applications represents a family having to make impossible choices between basic necessities during a global pandemic,” said Governor Cooper. 

Yesterday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen and Secretary of Department of Public Safety Erik Hooks sent a letter to local officials in communities with increased viral spread urging their continued action in fighting COVID-19 and suggesting additional measures to mitigate its spread. Read more about that letter here.

“We are doing everything we can to slow the spread of this virus. This simple fact is we can’t do it on our own. Ignoring the virus doesn’t make it go away – just the opposite,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “As hard as this is, it will end. We will get through this. Let’s do it by looking out for one another. Whatever your reason, get behind the mask.” 

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is level.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing but is lower than it was during the last time North Carolina’s cases were at their peak in July.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

Laboratory Testing

  • Testing capacity is high.

Tracing Capability

  • The state is continuing to hire contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments.
  • There have been almost 250,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Read Executive Order 170.

Read the slides from today’s briefing.

 

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September 30, 2020

Raleigh

Governor Cooper Moves North Carolina to Phase 3 With Stable Numbers

Safety precautions set for large outdoor and some indoor venues

North Carolina will ease cautiously some restrictions while continuing safety measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 as the state’s metrics remained stable in September, Governor Roy Cooper announced today.

“Our top priority remains getting children back to in-person learning. This month marks a major shift for many families now and in the coming months as schools open their doors, some for the first time since the pandemic,” said Governor Cooper. “The virus continues to spread, so we must take the next steps methodically, and responsibly.”

“We must continue our hard work to slow the spread of this virus,” said Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “By practicing the 3Ws — wear, wait and wash, — getting your flu shot, and downloading the SlowCOVIDNC app, each of us can protect the progress we have made.” 

Dr. Cohen reviewed the state’s key metrics:

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness has a slight increase.

Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is level.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is level.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.

No-cost testing events are being deployed across the state and testing turnaround times are improving. New contact tracers are bolstering the efforts of local health departments. A new NCDHHS app, SlowCOVIDNC, is notifying users of exposure to the virus. Personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

As these metrics and capacity remain stable, the state will ease some restrictions starting Friday. Executive Order 169 begins Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. and continues for three weeks through October 23. Its new provisions include: 

  • Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators. 
  • Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, like 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. 
  • The limits on mass gatherings will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. 
  • The 11 pm curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption in locations such as restaurants and outdoor bars will be extended to October 23.  

State and public health officials will continue watching the key COVID-19 trends over the next several weeks to determine if any further restrictions can be eased when the current Executive Order expires October 23. 

Read Executive Order 169.

Read the FAQs on Executive Order 169.

Read the slides from today's briefing.

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September 1, 2020

Raleigh

 North Carolina to Move to Phase 2.5

After a summer of hard work to slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina can take a modest step to ease some restrictions; North Carolinians must stay vigilant on mask wearing and social distancing

Read the Executive Order.

Governor Roy Cooper today announced that after a summer of hard work to slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina will take a modest step forward move into Phase 2.5 starting this Friday, September 4th at 5pm. Mask mandates and other prevention methods remain in effect and are even more important to contain the virus, Cooper said. 

“Safer at Home Phase 2.5 continues our state’s dimmer switch approach to easing some restrictions,” said Governor Cooper. “We can do this safely only if we keep doing what we know works — wearing masks and social distancing. In fact, a new phase is exactly when we need to take this virus even more seriously.”

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shared an update on North Carolina’s data trends. Dr. Cohen explained that North Carolina has seen stability in our key metrics. 

“As we take modest steps forward today, it’s important to remember that moving forward doesn’t mean letting up on slowing the spread of the virus. Our progress is fragile and we need to maintain focus on the 3Ws especially as we head into flu season,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, MD.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness continues to decline.

Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases is stable.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is stable.

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is declining.

Although these numbers are still stable or declining, they remain high. In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to prevent virus spread. These areas include:

Laboratory Testing 

  • The state continues to have testing capacity and lab turnaround times are averaging two days. However, fewer people are getting tested. Anyone who has symptoms or has been exposed should get tested. There are supports available to help people who may face challenges in being able to miss work or safely stay home.  

Tracing Capability

  • The state continues hiring contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments.

Personal Protective Equipment 

  • North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Phase 2.5 means the following for North Carolina:

  • Mass gathering limits will increase to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors from the current limit of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. 
  • Playgrounds may open. 
  • Museums and aquariums may open at 50% capacity. 
  • Gyms and indoor exercise facilities, such as yoga studios, martial arts, and rock climbing, as well as skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor basketball, volleyball etc., may open at 30% capacity. 
  • Bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, indoor entertainment facilities, amusement parks, dance halls will remain closed. 
  • Large venues remain subject to the mass gathering limits. 

In addition, NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen issued a Secretarial Order allowing for outdoor visitation at nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. To participate, nursing homes must meet several requirements, including, but not limited, not having a current outbreak, having a testing plan and updated written Infection Control or Preparedness plan for COVID-19, and having adequate personal protective equipment. The Secretarial Order is effective as of September 4 at 5 PM and remains in effect through September 22, 2020.

View the slides and graphs from today’s presentation. 

Read the Executive Order.

Read the Secretarial Order.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions

###

 

August 5, 2020

As Students Return to School, North Carolina to Remain Paused in Phase 2
Stabilizing trends are good but fragile, and now is the time to double down on safety measures
Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper today announced that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for another 5 weeks as students and staff return to schools, colleges and universities and the state doubles down on efforts to decrease COVID-19 numbers. 

“Other states that lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher. We will not make that mistake in North Carolina,” said Governor Cooper. “In keeping with our dimmer switch approach with schools opening, and in order to push for decreasing numbers which will keep people healthier and boost our economy, North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for 5 weeks.”

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shared an update on North Carolina’s data trends. Dr. Cohen explained that while some of North Carolina’s numbers have mostly leveled, any progress is fragile as other states have shown with sudden and devastating surges in viral spread. 

“While overall we are seeing signs of stability, we still have much work to do. Our recent trends show us what is possible when we commit to slowing the spread by wearing face coverings and following those simple but powerful 3Ws,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is declining, though remains elevated.

Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases has stabilized but remains high.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is stable but still elevated. 

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is beginning to level.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:

Laboratory Testing 

While testing turnaround times have improved, the number of tests done has decreased over the past week. Testing is a priority for anyone who has symptoms or those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, including: 

  • Anyone who has attended a mass gathering including a protest.
  • Anyone who works in a setting at higher risk of exposure such as a grocery store, restaurant, gas station, or childcare program.
  • People who live or work in high-risk settings such as long-term facilities, homeless shelters, correctional facilities or food processing facility.

Tracing Capability

We continue hiring contact tracers to bolster the efforts of local health departments. There are over 1,500 full-time and part-time staff supporting contact tracing efforts, including the 615 Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) contact tracers.

Personal Protective Equipment 

  • Our personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

View the slides and graphs from today’s presentation. 

Read the Executive Order.

 

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July 14, 2020

North Carolina K-12 Public Schools to Require Key Safety Measures to Allow In-person Instruction

Districts may choose to conduct school entirely by remote learning; North Carolina will continue to pause in Safer At Home Phase 2 for three more weeks

Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen were joined today by education and health leaders to announce health and safety plans for K-12 public schools for the new school year. Schools will open for in-person instruction under an updated Plan B that requires face coverings for all K-12 students, fewer children in the classroom, measures to ensure social distancing for everyone in the building, and other safety protocols. 

“The most important opening is that of our classroom doors. Our schools provide more than academics; they are vital to our children’s’ health, safety and emotional development,” said Governor Cooper. “This is a difficult time for families with hard choices on every side. I am committed to working together to ensure our students and educators are as safe as possible and that children have opportunities to learn in the way that is best for them and their families.” 

The Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit outlines the updated requirements for Plan B. Districts may choose to operate under Plan C, which calls for remote learning only, and health leaders recommend schools allow families to opt in to all-remote learning. Modifications have been made to Plan B since it was released in June to make it more protective of public health. 

“After looking at the current scientific evidence and weighing the risks and benefits, we have decided to move forward with today’s balanced, flexible approach which allows for in-person instruction as long as key safety requirements are in place in addition to remote learning options.” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD. “We will continue to follow the science and data and update recommendations as needed. We ask every North Carolinian to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering when in public, Wait 6 feet apart, Wash your hands.”

Governor Cooper also announced that the state will provide at least five reusable face coverings for every student, teacher and school staff member in public schools. In June, the state provided packs of personal protective equipment to schools that included a two-month supply of thermometers, surgical masks, face shields and gowns for school nurses and delegated staff who provide health care to students.

“Educators and stakeholders across our state have worked tirelessly to reopen our school buildings safely for our students, teachers and staff. Today, we take another critical step towards that goal. We also know families need to choose the option that is best for their children, so all school districts will provide remote learning options,” said Eric Davis, Chairman of the State Board of Education.

"In-person education is important for children, and it happens in the context of a community. This plan strikes the right balance between health and safety and the benefits of having children learn in the classroom. We must all continue with proven measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission like wearing a face covering, keeping distance between people, and frequent hand and surface cleanings so we can move closer to safely re-opening public schools," said Dr. Theresa Flynn, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, a practicing pediatrician who serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Pediatric Society and joined today’s announcement.

Under Plan B, schools are required to follow key safety measures that include:

  • Require face coverings for all teachers and students K-12
  • Limit the total number of students, staff and visitors within a school building to the extent necessary to ensure 6 feet distance can be maintained when students/staff will be stationary 
  • Conduct symptom screening, including temperature checks 
  • Establish a process and dedicated space for people who are ill to isolate and have transportation plans for ill students
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in the school and transportation vehicles regularly
  • Require frequent hand washing throughout the school day and provide hand sanitizer at entrances and in every classroom
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups 
  • Limit nonessential visitors and activities involving external groups 
  • Discontinue use of self-service food or beverage distribution 

In addition, schools are strongly recommended to follow additional safety measures that include:

  • Designate hallways and entrance/exit doors as one-way
  • Keep students and teachers in small groups that stay together as much as possible
  • Have meals delivered to the classroom or have students bring food back to the classroom if social distancing is not possible in the cafeteria
  • Discontinue activities that bring together large groups 
  • Place physical barriers such as plexiglass at reception desks and similar areas

More details can be found in the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit. Read the Screening Reference Guide for schools and the Infection Control and PPE Guidance.

In addition to the announcement about school plans, Governor Cooper shared that North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 after the current Executive Order expires on Friday, July 17. 

“As we continue to see rising case numbers and hospitalizations, we will stay in Safer At Home Phase 2 for three more weeks,” said Governor Cooper. “Our re-opening priority is the school building doors, and in order for that to happen we have to work to stabilize our virus trends.”

School Groups on Today’s Public School Announcement

“While all school re-entry plans have their challenges during this pandemic, our superintendents, principals, and other school leaders will continue to prioritize student and staff safety in reopening schools under the cautious parameters outlined today by the Governor,” said North Carolina Association of School Administrators Executive Director Katherine Joyce. “We look forward to continuing work with the Governor, the General Assembly, and other state leaders to ensure our schools have the support needed to get student learning back on track in the safest manner possible in each local district.”

“I recognize Governor Cooper faced a very difficult decision. The good news is that local school boards can now begin to officially put their school reopening plans in motion,” said Brenda Stephens, President of the North Carolina School Board Association. “While the current situation may not be ideal for all, I’m confident North Carolina’s educators will continue to provide students with the best education possible.

 

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June 24, 2020

North Carolina Pauses in Safer At Home Phase 2, Adds Statewide Requirement for Face Coverings

As trends move in the wrong direction, state will not yet move into Phase 3

Raleigh

Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen today announced that North Carolina will remain in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three more weeks. Cooper also announced that face coverings must be worn when people are in public places as officials seek to stabilize concerning trends of increasing viral spread. 

Cooper and Cohen were joined by Dennis Taylor, President of the North Carolina Nurses Association and Eugene A. Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health.

“North Carolina is relying on the data and the science to lift restrictions responsibly, and right now our increasing numbers show we need to hit the pause button while we work to stabilize our trends,” said Governor Cooper. “We need to all work together so we can protect our families and neighbors, restore our economy, and get people back to work and our children back to school.” 

“I know North Carolinians are strong, resilient and care deeply about our communities. We pride ourselves on helping our neighbors. The best way we can do that now is by taking the simple action of wearing a face covering that covers your nose and mouth. If we each do our part, we can get back to the people and places we love,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen, NCDHHS Secretary.

Growing evidence shows that cloth face coverings, when worn consistently, can decrease the spread of COVID-19, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus. Until now, face coverings had been strongly recommended. Under today’s executive order, people must wear face coverings when in public places where physical distancing is not possible. 

In addition, certain businesses must have employees and customers wear face coverings, including retail businesses, restaurants, personal care and grooming; employees of child care centers and camps; state government agencies under the Governor’s Cabinet; workers and riders of transportation; and workers in construction/trades, manufacturing, agriculture, meat processing and healthcare and long-term care settings.

“Wearing a face covering is an easy thing to do that can make a huge impact for all of us. A major spike in cases would be catastrophic to the system, and without your cooperation, nurses and our fellow healthcare providers will have a harder time caring for sick patients for weeks and months to come,” said Dennis Taylor, a nurse, and President of the North Carolina Nurses Association. 

“As the leader of the state’s largest health system, I am pro-health and also 100 percent pro-business. In fact, the two are inextricably connected and I’m very proud of the way business leaders and health experts are working together to keep our economy strong,” said Eugene A. Woods, President and CEO of Atrium Health. “Medical science says to reduce the spread of COVID-19 masking works, and my sincere hope is that all the people of North Carolina can join forces to make wearing a mask not something we feel we have to do – but something that we want to do to keep each other, our neighbors, our children and our loved ones healthy and safe”

Based on the metrics laid out in April by Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen, North Carolina is evaluating a combination of the data from the following categories that shows the indicators moving in the wrong direction, causing officials to implement today’s pause in Phase 2. 

Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.

Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases starting to level, but is still increasing.

Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive remains elevated. 

Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days

  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations are increasing, though we have capacity in our healthcare system.

In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These areas include:

Laboratory Testing 

  • North Carolina is averaging more than 17,000 tests a day for the past week and there are more than 500 sites listed on online plus additional pop-up sites. 
  • North Carolina labs and labs around the country are seeing supply shortages for laboratory chemicals needed to process tests.

Tracing Capability

  • There are over 1,500 full-time and part-time staff supporting contact tracing efforts at the local health department level, including the 309 Carolina Community Tracing Collaborative contact tracers. These new hires reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, and 44% are bilingual.  

Personal Protective Equipment 

  • Our personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.

Businesses can download templates for signs on face coverings here. Downloadable social media graphics are also available for use. 

Read Executive Order No. 147 that implements today’s announcement. 

Read Frequently Asked Questions about today’s executive Order and mandatory face coverings. 

Read NCDHHS guidance on face coverings.

View the slide presentation from today’s briefing. 

 

###

May 22, 2020

City of Lowell Updates

Public Works - Brush pick-up has resumed. 

Parks and Recreation - Basketball courts have reopened. Playgrounds, fitness equipment, and restrooms will continue to stay closed until further notice. 

May 22, 2020 - NC Moves in Phase Two of Safer at Home Order

Safer at Home Phase 2

May 8, 2020 - NC Moves into Phase One of the Modified Stay at Home Order

Phase 1 Stay at Home Order

Press Release from Gaston County Municipal Mayors

April 29, 2020

The mayor of Lowell and the mayors of Gaston County’s other cities and towns have issued a joint statement. Businesses and residents are asked to comply with the North Carolina governor’s current stay-at-home order. 

Press Release


Gaston County Press Release: Small Business Bridge Loan Program

April 24, 2020

GASTONIA, N.C. – As small businesses continue to suffer mightily during the Stay at Home order, Gaston County is announcing a new program, aimed at providing aid when its needed the most.

The Small Business Bridge Loan program will launch on Wednesday, April 29th after approval from the Board of Commissioners at its April 28th meeting. The plan calls for $500,000 in loans to be made available to Gaston County businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Small businesses will be able to submit their application online at GastonRecovers.com.

Each loan will be up to $5,000 each, in an effort to serve as many Gaston County small businesses as possible. The loans will be spread over 3 years at a low interest rate, with payments deferred for the first 12 months as business owners try to keep things going during conditions unseen for generations.

“We continue to look at ways how we can do our part to keep Gaston County together,” Board Chairman Tracy Philbeck said. “As a small businessman myself, I understand what these folks are going through right now, and want to do everything in our power to support them. They are the backbone of our community.”

Small business owners discussed the difficulties they’ve faced with continued rent payments while many have seen a significant reduction in sales or have had to close altogether due to the restrictions put in place by the Stay at Home order.

“Bills are still coming in,” said Mona Fore, owner of Mona’s Boutique and Gifts in McAdenville. Fore has had to close her storefront location to customers and is relying strictly on online sales right now to keep her business afloat. “It feels like we’re working twice as hard for half the amount of sales that we normally would get.”

Jim Morasso, who owns Webb Custom Kitchen in Gastonia, closed the restaurant temporarily. One of the things he said that has kept him up at night, was figuring out how to take care of his servers, bartenders and other staff.

“Small businesses are the life center of every city, every community. It’s very important that we’re going to be able to help us bridge the difference between now and the new normal,” he said. “Simple things, such as helping us get past our utilities and some of our taxes are going to be essential for the breathing space to help us get from here to there.”

Governor Cooper, State Education Leaders: Remote Learning To Continue Through End of 2019-2020 School Year

Cooper also proposes $1.4 billion COVID-19 relief package using federal funds

Governor Roy Cooper today announced that North Carolina K-12 public schools will continue remote learning through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Cooper was joined by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson and the Chair of the State Board of Education Eric Davis for the announcement. 

“School buildings will stay closed to students for this school year, but school isn’t over,” said Governor Cooper. “The decision to finish the year by remote learning was not made lightly, but it is the right thing to do to protect our students, teachers and communities. This is a difficult time for many children and parents, and I am grateful for all the educators, administrators, support staff and parents who have gone the extra mile to keep children learning.”

Cooper underscored the needs for schools to continue to provide school nutrition programs now and into the summer, and to be looking ahead and planning for when it is safe to re-convene schools in person. This includes how to get students back on track, especially those who have not been able to access remote learning or were already behind when schools closed to in-person instruction.

To help students without home internet access online learning opportunities, Cooper today announced a partnership to equip more school buses with Wi-Fi. School buses with Wi-Fi will travel to areas that lack internet so students can turn in assignments, download materials, and connect with teachers. AT&T is providing 100 hot spots, Duke Energy Foundation is providing 80, and additional partners are expected to join the effort.

State public health officials are developing safety guidelines for schools to follow when classes are able to convene in person, as well as guidance for summer camps and other groups that use school facilities.

BUDGET

Cooper also released a recommended budget plan to invest $1.4 billion in emergency funds to help North Carolina respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding for this proposal would come predominantly from the state’s share of the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and would be appropriated by the North Carolina General Assembly in its upcoming session.

The budget package is intended to fund immediate needs in three main areas:

  • Public health and safety
  • Continuity of operations for education and other state government services
  • Assistance to small businesses and local governments. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every North Carolinian. This emergency funding proposal makes strong investments in public health, schools, local governments and small businesses to respond to this unprecedented crisis,” said Cooper. 

Governor Cooper and State Budget Director Charlie Perusse worked with state agencies, local governments, and other stakeholders to identify what immediate COVID-related needs were unmet by existing federal and commercial assistance to build a budget proposal that is responsive and responsible. 

Key investments from this proposal include:

  • $75 million to support testing, tracing and trends analysis as well as have the Personal Protective Equipment needed to help North Carolina move into Phase 1 of easing restrictions;
  • $78 million for school nutrition to continue to serve as many as 500,000 meals a day to children who depend on these meals to meet basic nutrition needs typically met in school;
  • $75 million for rural and underserved communities and health care providers that are particularly hard hit by COVID-19; 
  • $243 million for public schools to enhance remote learning and get ready for the next school year in a “new normal.” Funds are a joint request from DPI and the State Board of Education.
  • $52 million to the UNC system and private colleges to help with remote learning and COVID-19 impacts;
  • $300 million to assist local governments, distributed based partially on population and partially on acute need. 

“We know that people are hurting, businesses are struggling, and local governments are facing severe shortages. That’s why we have to act now to get resources in the hands of people and organizations that provide vital support,” said Cooper.

Governor Cooper and State Budget Director Charlie Perusse have been in discussions with leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly for several weeks to develop a consensus COVID-19 budget package that can be approved swiftly when the legislature returns next week. Elements of this package have already been announced as having consensus support, including a significant investment in an already operating bridge loan program for small businesses through the Golden L.E.A.F. Foundation. 

“This plan is a first step, and while it may not have all that North Carolina needs moving forward I present it in the spirit of compromise and consensus so that we can get relief to families fast,” said Cooper.

Find a slideshow summary of the budget recommendation

Read more about the full budget recommendation money report and provision list.

Governor Extends Stay At Home Order Through May 8, Plans Three Phase Lifting of Restrictions Based on Virus Trends

See information slides from the April 23 Briefing.

Governor Roy Cooper today issued Executive Order No. 135  extending North Carolina’s Stay At Home order through May 8. The orders extending closure of restaurants for dine-in service and bars and closure of other close-contact businesses are also extended through May 8. 

Governor Cooper shared details about North Carolina’s plan to lift restrictions in three phases once the data show that key metrics are headed in the right direction. 

“The health and safety of people in North Carolina must be our top priority,” Cooper said. “This plan provides a roadmap for us to begin easing restrictions in stages to push our economy forward.”

Last week, Governor Cooper laid out the path forward centered on three things: testing, tracing and trends. Today, Governor Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of NC Department of Health and Human Services, shared more specifics on those key metrics. The Stay At Home and other orders are extended today because North Carolina has not yet seen a downward trajectory of those metrics needed to begin gradually lifting restrictions. 

“North Carolina cannot stay at home indefinitely,” added Governor Cooper. “We have to get more people back to work. Right now, the decision to stay at home is based on the public health data and White House guidance. North Carolina needs more time to slow the spread of this virus before we can safely begin lifting restrictions. I know that this pandemic has made life difficult for many people in our state and I am focused on keeping our communities safe while planning to slowly lift restrictions to help cushion the blow to our economy.”

“Data has driven our decisions, starting with the aggressive measures Governor Cooper took early on to slow the spread of COVID-19. Those actions combined with North Carolinians’ resolve to stay home to protect their loved ones have put our state on the right path. If we stick to these efforts right now we will continue to see a slowing of virus spread and we can slowly begin easing restrictions,” said Secretary Cohen.

A detailed look at where North Carolina stands on testing, tracing and trends and more information about the three-phase plan can be found in today’s presentation. The metrics that North Carolina is considering aligns with the White House guidance for Opening Up American Again. 

In order to begin lifting restrictions, North Carolina needs to see progress in these key metrics:

  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing over the last 14 days. 

 

  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory of Lab-Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of lab-confirmed cases over the last 14 days cases is still increasing, although at a slower rate.

 

  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive over the last 14 days is increasing at a slow rate. 

 

  • Sustained Leveling or Decreased Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
  • Currently, North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations over the last 14 days is largely level with a slight trend upward. 

In addition to these metrics, the state will continue building capacity to be able to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread. These include:

  • Increase in Laboratory Testing 
  • Currently, North Carolina is testing approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people per day and is working to increase to at least 5,000 to 7,000 per day.

 

  • Increase in Tracing Capability
  • Currently, North Carolina has approximately 250 people doing contact tracing across its local health departments and is working to double this workforce to 500. 

 

  • Availability of Personal Protective Equipment 
  • The state is working to ensure there are adequate supplies to fulfill requests for critical PPE for at least 30 days. This includes face shields, gloves, gowns, N95 masks, and surgical and procedural masks. Currently the state has less than 30 days supply of gowns and N95 masks. Availability of PPE is calculated based on the average number of requests for the last 14 days compared to the supply that the state has on hand.

Governor Cooper also shared information about how North Carolina can gradually re-open over three phases to prevent hot spots of viral spread while also beginning to bring our economy back. These phases are based on the best information available now, but could be altered as new information emerges. 

In Phase 1:

  • Modify the Stay At Home order allow travel not currently defined as essential allowing people to leave home for commercial activity at any business that is allowed to be open, such as clothing stores, sporting goods stores, book shops, houseware stores and other retailers. 
  • Ensure that any open stores implement appropriate employee and consumer social distancing, enhanced hygiene and cleaning protocols, symptom screening of employees, accommodations for vulnerable workers, and provide education to employees and workers to combat misinformation 
  • Continue to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people
  • Reopen parks that have been closed subject to the same gathering limitation. Outdoor exercise will continue to be encouraged. 
  • Continue to recommend face coverings in public spaces when 6 feet of distancing isn’t possible
  • Encourage employers to continue teleworking policies
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 
  • Local emergency orders with more restrictive measures may remain in place. 

Phase 2

At least 2-3 weeks after Phase 1

  • Lift Stay At Home order with strong encouragement for vulnerable populations to continue staying at home to stay safe
  • Allow limited opening of restaurants, bars, fitness centers, personal care services, and other businesses that can follow safety protocols including the potential need to reduce capacity
  • Allow gathering at places such as houses of worship and entertainment venues at reduced capacity
  • Increase in number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Open public playgrounds
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 

Phase 3

At least 4-6 weeks after Phase 2

  • Lessen restrictions for vulnerable populations with encouragement to continue practicing physical distancing and minimizing exposure to settings where distancing isn’t possible
  • Allow increased capacity at restaurants, bars, other businesses, houses of worships, and entertainment venues
  • Further increase the number of people allowed at gatherings
  • Continue rigorous restrictions on nursing homes and other congregant care settings 

Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen both underscored the need for the testing, tracing and trends to move in the right direction for each of these phases to move forward. If there is a spike in infections, tightening of restrictions may be needed temporarily.

Information about K-12 public schools will follow later this week.  

Assistance for Small Businesses - Info from Gaston Business Task Force and Small Business Administration

April 1, 2020

www.GastonBusinessSupport.com 

This site offers information on Loan & Financial Support, Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, Unemployment & Layoff Aversion Resources,Tax Relief, Shop Local, Utilities Resources,Business Counseling & Support Services, and Volunteered Community Resources. 

In addition, the Small Business Administration is offering two forms of assistance to help keep small businesses open. 

There are 2 different ways to apply.

1. Economic Injury Disaster Loans

 EIDL has no application fee, payments are deferred for 1 year, and businesses apply directly to the SBA as opposed to a bank. This loan is for those who have been either indirectly or directly affected by COVID-19. Loans may be available for up to 2 million dollars at a 3.75% interest rate. Loans for less than $25,000 do not require collateral. Loan advances may be available in just a couple of days. Repayment periods can be elongated. 

This loan can be used for: paying fixed debts, accounts payable, and working capital. This loan does not allow the funds to be used for debt consolidation or for expansion use. 

What SBA will be looking at: historical credit history, repayment history, pre-and-post COVID-19 revenues. If businesses do not have a credit history, a profit-and-loss statement may be submitted in lieu of the credit history. It’s also highly to stay in contact with a SBA employee to ensure application is complete. 

2. Payroll Protection Program

More information to come on this program. 


Lowell Playgrounds and Outdoor Fitness Equipment Closures:

March 27, 2020

Per Gaston County’s Stay at Home order, all City of Lowell playgrounds and outdoor fitness equipment will be closed at 5pm today. Our parks will remain open but users should maintain a minimum of 6’ of distance from other people at all times.

Governor Cooper Announces Statewide Stay at Home Order Until April 29


Governor Roy Cooper ordered people in the state of North Carolina to stay at home for thirty days, until April 29, 2020, in another step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Governor Cooper’s Executive Order No. 121 takes effect on Monday, March 30 at 5:00 PM and reduces the size of gatherings to 10 people. The Order provides for essential businesses to continue to operate while prioritizing social distancing measures. The Order has the force of law and will be enforced in all 100 counties statewide.

“To continue our aggressive battle against COVID-19, I have signed a Stay at Home Order for the entire state of North Carolina. Though it is difficult we must do this to slow the disease spread,” said Governor Cooper. “We need our medical system to be able to care for the friends and family we know will become seriously ill from the virus.”

The Governor noted today that three North Carolinians have died due to COVID-19 and the state has 763 confirmed cases of the virus in 60 counties. He called on all North Carolinians to protect themselves by staying home and following social distancing guidelines. North Carolina is now considered to have widespread transmission of the virus, which means people who have tested positive cannot trace where they were exposed to the virus.

The Order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member. Specifically, the order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to physically stay at least six feet apart from others.

“I know this order may lead to even more hardship and heartache. Although we are physically apart, we must take this step together in spirit,” Governor Cooper said. 

The Governor’s full order is available HERE [click.icptrack.com].

Unless noted in the order, previous closures and orders stand as written as do local government orders in cities and counties. Frequently Asked Questions about the Order can be found HERE [click.icptrack.com].

If you do not think your business is included in the essential services list, and you think it should be, you may apply online at the NC Department of Revenue to be designated essential HERE. Until your exemption is reviewed, you may operate as long as your business can accommodate social distancing in your workplace.

For more information about health recommendations and who is designated at high risk for becoming seriously ill, please visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus and NCDHHS’ website at www.ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

GASTON COUNTY ISSUES "STAY AT HOME" ORDER

MARCH 26, 2020

GASTONIA, N.C. – Gaston County leadership today issued a “Stay at Home” order for Gaston County residents, to take effect Friday, March 27, at 5 p.m.

Gaston County held off on following what Mecklenburg County and then Cabarrus County did with similar orders this week until evidence was present in the community that such a move was needed. CaroMont Health officials notified Gaston County leadership Thursday morning that the first case community spread of COVID-19 has now been documented and the hospital system was asking for such a designation. Cases of COVID-19 increased from 5 to 11 in the past 24 hours.

The order reduces the size of gatherings from no more than 50 to no more than 10.

The order will remain in place until Thursday, April 16, but can be extended as conditions warrant.

“We have experienced signs of community spread,” Chairman Tracy Philbeck said. “It is clear to me that we have to be swift and act as local government to do what we can do to make sure that this virus does not spread beyond what is manageable.”

Gaston County’s order is similar to those adopted this week in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties, but differs in that it is slightly less restrictive on the manufacturing industry.

The county is setting up a hotline that businesses and citizens can call if they have questions about the order. They can call the ‘Stay-At-Home’ Community Hotline between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at 704-866-3170. This hotline is separate from the Coronavirus Information Line that is already in place. Citizens with questions about the virus or health-related questions, can call 704-862-5303.

Gaston County Government employees will institute its remote-working plan beginning Monday, March 30, utilizing key personnel. Gaston County will continue to serve its citizens as it is doing now, but through online and telephonic services.

Non-essential employees will be paid through administrative leave for up to 7 weeks.

“We should be calm,” Philbeck said. “We should be smart, and we should consider others at this time.”

Lowell Parks and Recreation Updates:

March 24, 2020
-Spring youth baseball has been cancelled and refunds will be processed.
-Although our parks are open for the time being, we are not recommending the usage of fitness equipment or playground equipment due to the dangers of coronavirus and the ability for the virus to live on hard surfaces for hours, if not days. Park users and basketball court users should practice social distancing and keep a minimum of 6’ from other persons at all times.
-Harold Rankin Park bathroom facilities will continue to stay closed until further notice.

Social Distancing

From Gaston County Schools:

March 24, 2020

Beginning tomorrow, we will have a total of 20 site locations for our ’Grab and Go’ meal program. The new locations are:

▪ H.H. Beam Elementary School, 200 Davis Park Road, Gastonia
▪ Brookside Elementary School, 1925 Auten Road, Gastonia
▪ Holbrook Middle School, 418 South Church Street, Lowell
▪ Tryon Elementary School, 2620 Tryon Courthouse Road, Bessemer City

As a reminder the ’Grab and Go" meal program is 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. For a complete list of locations, please visit https://www.gaston.k12.nc.us/grabandgomeals

From NCDHHS:

March 23, 2020

Beginning 5 p.m., Wed., March 25, the following businesses are closed: gyms, movie theaters, sweepstakes parlors, health clubs, hair and nail salons, barber shops, massage therapists, and other similar facilities per an executive order issued March 23, 2020

From Gaston County Schools:

SCHOOLS TO REMAIN CLOSED FOR STUDENTS UNTIL MAY 15

March 23, 2020

Earlier this afternoon, Governor Cooper announced that all public schools in North Carolina will remain closed for students until May 15 because of concerns related to the coronavirus. This includes Gaston County. Please know that we will share additional information with you when it is made available by the Department of Public Instruction and other state-level agencies.

Gaston County CARE Plan to Provide Aid, Boost Economy

March 23, 2020

GASTONIA, N.C. – In the midst of wave after wave of bad news tied to the coronavirus, Gaston County leaders are stepping forward with a plan to help those affected the most – and to provide a shot in the arm for the local economy.

It’s called the CARE (Capital And Relief Expansion) Plan, and is targeted to provide nearly $50 million in a combination of spending on projects and direct relief to nonprofit organizations aiding residents.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Tracy Philbeck championed the plan as a way of having county government make a significant contribution to those suffering in the crisis.

“This is about helping people, and keeping our economy going,” Philbeck said. “We’re calling on our municipal partners around the county and our major employers to join us in supporting our residents.”

The CARE Plan features four prongs.

First, it moves forward three major projects already in the county budget to infuse more than $6.7 million into the economy now. One of those projects is a new Child Advocacy Center being built on land donated by City Church in Gastonia (formerly Bethlehem Church). The $2 million facility will allow staff to better serve the more than 300 children who come to them each year that are the victims of abuse.

The plan also adds $100,000 from the County’s general fund to its Family Advisory Board. That doubles the amount of money the FAB has available to provide to nonprofits who apply to the board for funding.

Third, it puts a $28.25 million facility for Gaston County Emergency Management and Telecommunications along with an $11.25 million fleet management facility forward as projects the County will seek bond approval for from its residents. If approved, those projects would allow the county to continue to infuse money into the economy to keep people working.

Finally, Gaston County’s Department of Health and Human Services is providing $1 million to allow for donations to organizations helping residents in the following seven areas:

  1. Food
  2. Rental/Housing Assistance
  3. Vehicle Payment and Repair
  4. Daycare Supplements
  5. Homebound Clients
  6. Prescription Assistance for individuals not on Medicaid or Medicare
  7. Community Assistance for Foster Children ages 18-21

The $1 million coming through DHHS will use a combination of federal and county dollars.

County Manager Dr. Kim Eagle said the plan highlights the County government’s dedication to doing all it can to help mitigate the economic hardship being caused by COVID-19.

“These projects represent a strategic approach to addressing the economic circumstances that are impacting folks in our community as a result of the virus,” Eagle said.

Gaston County Sees Additional Cases of COVID-19

March 22, 2020

GASTONIA — As of Sunday, March 22nd, the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services (Gaston DHHS) has received information about three local cases of COVID-19. Gaston DHHS was alerted to two new cases over the weekend in addition to the initial positive result received on March 18th.

As testing increases, more positive cases will be identified. The County will provide local case numbers daily at 3 p.m. at www.gastongov.com/coronavirus. Local Communicable Disease nurses with Gaston DHHS are investigating the new cases and will continue reaching out to contacts. Additionally, if someone has general questions or concerns, they can call the Gaston County Coronavirus Information Line at (704) 862-5303.

If someone is sick and worried they have been exposed to Coronavirus, they should call their primary care provider; officials are still asking the public to call first to review potential risk and symptoms before presenting to any medical facility.

Gaston DHHS is emphasizing the need to practice social distancing during this time to slow the spread and prevent additional infections.

City of Lowell Public Works Update

March 19, 2020

In an effort to keep our employees healthy, the Public Works department will be staggering work schedules to ensure that essential public services continue to be provided.  The Public Works department will be suspending all roadside bulk and brush pickup effective this week but will continue to provide trash pick-up on the regular schedule. All trash must be placed in the city provided receptacle. 

Thank you for understanding during this time of uncertainty and know that continuity plans have been developed to continue to provide essential public services to you without interruption. 

From the U.S. Small Business Administration: 

MARCH 19, 2020

UPDATE: #COVID19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans are now available to small businesses in:
✔️Delaware
✔️Florida
✔️Georgia
✔️Indiana
✔️Massachusetts
✔️New Hampshire
✔️New Jersey
✔️North Carolina
More states to come.

▶️Apply for a disaster loan: https://disasterloan.sba.gov
▶️More #Coronavirus resources for small businesses: https://sba.gov/coronavirus

Gaston County Reports First COVID-19 Case

MARCH 18, 2020

The Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services (Gaston DHHS) is reporting the county’s first positive case of COVID-19.

The individual was tested in Mecklenburg County and the result was reported to Gaston DHHS. The individual is doing well and is self-isolating at home.

“We realize a confirmed case in our community can cause alarm, but this is further proof we need to continue to comply with our social distancing directives and requests,” said Gaston DHHS Director Chris Dobbins. “As testing increases, we anticipate we will see more positive cases and I have never been more confident in our ability to track contacts and monitor individuals to slow the spread.”

Individuals who are sick and worried they may have been exposed to the virus should call their regular provider to review their symptoms. If someone has general questions about COVID-19 or other concerns, they can call our local COVID-19 Call Center at (704) 862-5303.

From Gaston County Schools:

March 18, 2020

Beginning today, Gaston County Schools will make instructional materials available for our students. You may stop by your child’s school to pick up a printed copy or you may download the materials from the Gaston County Schools website. We hope the materials will be helpful to you as we seek ways to provide a focus on academics while our schools are closed. If you have questions, please contact your child’s school.

Please visit the website below for additional information
https://www.gaston.k12.nc.us/gastonathomelearning

As a reminder our ’Grab and Go’ meal program is from 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. We have added five additional locations for your convenience.

Meals are being distributed at the following 16 locations:
▪ Ashbrook High School, 2222 South New Hope Road, Gastonia
▪ Bessemer City High School, 119 Yellow Jacket Lane, Bessemer City
▪ Carr Elementary School, 307 South Pine Street, Dallas
▪ Chapel Grove Elementary School, 5201 Lewis Road, Gastonia
▪ Cherryville Elementary School, 700 East Academy Street, Cherryville
▪ Erwin Community Center, 913 North Pryor Street, Gastonia
▪ Grier Middle School, 1622 East Garrison Boulevard, Gastonia
▪ Hunter Huss High School, 1518 Edgefield Avenue, Gastonia
▪ Kiser Elementary School, 311 East College Street, Stanley
▪ Mount Holly Middle School, 124 South Hawthorne Street, Mount Holly
▪ North Belmont Elementary School, 210 School Street, Belmont
▪ Robinson Elementary School, 3122 Union Road, Gastonia
▪ T. Jeffers Community Center, 121 Hartman Street, Gastonia
▪ Tabernacle Baptist Church, 519 West 19th Avenue, Gastonia
▪ Warlick Academy, 1316 Spencer Mountain Road, Gastonia
▪ Woodhill Elementary School, 1027 Woodhill Drive, Gastonia

Please visit the website below for additional information https://www.gaston.k12.nc.us/grabandgomeals

Gaston County to Close Administration Building

MARCH 17, 2020

GASTONIA, N.C. – Gaston County is closing the majority of its public buildings, including its administration building in Gastonia, effective 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

This is part of the county’s continuing incremental response to the coronavirus crisis. County manager Dr. Kim Eagle directed department directors to use a hybrid model of staggered shifts and remote working options to minimize person-to-person contact.

Exempted from the order to close to the public are the DHHS and Health buildings, the Gaston County Police Department and the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office. However, each of those offices has restrictions in place to protect employees and staff.

Yesterday, the County closed the Gaston Senior Center in Dallas, the Gaston County Museum in Dallas, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension – Gaston County Center in Dallas and the Gaston County Travel and Tourism Center in Belmont. In addition, Gaston County’s Veterans Services Office is closed to in-person appointments, but is still offering services telephonically.

Eagle emphasized that critical services like the tax department and building inspections and permitting unit – would still continue to operate and fully serve the needs of the businesses pushing ahead with projects during this difficult time.

“As public servants, we are prepared to meet the needs of our residents and those we serve through the duration of this crisis,” Eagle said. “This decision is part of an ongoing effort to minimize face-to-face contact with the public for our health and safety and that of our residents.”

The county continues to monitor the situation on the ground in Gaston County with COVID-19. Despite the rise in confirmed cases in neighboring Mecklenburg County, health officials in Gaston do not have a confirmed case within the community.

 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18 UPDATE: The Gaston County Courthouse will remain open to the public on a limited basis. Most hearings are delayed for 30 days, per an order from the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Gaston County recycling centers and Gaston County Landfill will also remain open.

GASTON COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES ORDERS CLOSING GYMS AND SELF-SERVICE BUFFETS

MARCH 17, 2020

In keeping with existing measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Gaston County Department of Health & Human Services is issuing additional restrictions on local establishments to protect the health and safety of Gaston County residents, especially our most vulnerable members of the community.

In accordance with Gaston County’s Proclamation of a State of Emergency from March 15th, 2020, Item D mandates that, “The gathering of persons in groups of 50 or more in entertainment venues, county and municipal parks, or any other places of public assembly is restricted. Health care facilities, schools, government offices, business operations and day cares are exempted from restrictions.” The local health director is issuing the additional mandates, effective noon on Wednesday, March 18th as follows:

  • All fitness centers and gymnasiums cease operations in Gaston County;
  • Local grocery stores and restaurants in Gaston County will cease operations of their self-service food areas for take-out, unless food is served directly by a staff member practicing appropriate food-safety measures.

These restrictions will be in effect until conditions change.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Tracy Philbeck said, “We do not take these actions lightly. After hearing President Trump’s increased mitigation strategy, we feel strongly we should follow his lead on this to prevent any further outbreak. As he said, the next 14 days are critical. I am fully aware of the impact the virus is having on the economy, specifically small businesses. We are working with business leaders across the county to mitigate loss.”

“While this is not an easy decision, it is the right one,” shared Gaston County Health Director Steve Eaton. “We would like to commend businesses like our local YMCAs and Regal Franklin Square for proactively closing their operations during this period of social distancing. Many are doing their part and practicing ‘social care’ and we thank all our businesses and citizens for taking care of one another and doing their part to ‘stop the spread’.”

Public health officials are working closely with local restaurants and other businesses to help them continue operations while doing everything they can to mitigate risk to their customers. If a business has questions about these orders or how to operate under county guidelines, they can call (704) 853-5200.

GASTON COUNTY PRESS RELEASE

MARCH 17, 2020

CHANGES AHEAD FOR WEDDING LICENSES, BUILDING PERMITS

GASTONIA, N.C. – Gaston County’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 outbreak means some short-term changes in how people apply for wedding licenses or building permits.

Beginning Wednesday, March 18, the Register of Deeds Office, located inside the Gaston County Courthouse, 325 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, will be closed to the general public until it becomes safe to re-open. Register of Deeds Susan S. Lockridge said her staff has been working to ensure services will still be available to citizens.

Specifically, those that wish to request records can do so online at deeds.co.gaston.nc.us or in writing via mail. Vital records requests will be handled in the same way – visit the Register of Deeds page on GastonGov.com for more information.

All marriage licenses and Notary oaths will be conducted on an appointment basis only. For marriage licenses, call (704) 862-7687 and for Notary oaths, call (704) 862-7681.

Passport applications have been canceled for the next two weeks. To make an appointment for a passport application after that, call (704) 862-7685.

Lockridge said her office is working closely with the Gaston County health Department and local funeral homes to minimize person-to-person contact when it comes to the filing of death certificates.

Building inspections in Gaston County will also see some changes over the next several weeks.

Building Services Department Director Brian Sciba is implementing new procedures to help keep County inspectors safe when entering homes. They’ll bring a questionnaire to those that need an inspection to see if a delay of three weeks can be implemented. If not, they’ve asked the public to avoid handshaking, keeping a six-foot distance from the inspector to maintain social distancing and having paperwork prepared beforehand to minimize the amount of time an inspector would need to be on site.

Sciba emphasized that despite the changes, the department is working to ensure projects are not delayed because of anything within the department’s control.

The grants division of Building Services will halt all in-person applications for the time being and ask will handle those contacts by phone or email. 

NORTH CAROLINA TO CLOSE RESTAURANTS AND BARS FOR DINE-IN CUSTOMERS, ALLOW TAKEOUT AND DELIVERY OPERATIONS TO CONTINUE

MARCH 17, 2020

Effective 5pm today, restaurants and bars will close for dine-in customers. Takeout and delivery options can continue. Governor Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force are holding a media briefing today at 2pm, where they will announce the Executive Order. 

The executive order will also include an expansion of unemployment benefits to help North Carolina workers affected by COVID-19.

CITY OF LOWELL UPDATES

MARCH 16, 2020

The health and safety of our community and employees is very important to us. In order to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) the City of Lowell is taking precautions by limiting face-to-face contact at City Hall and at city-sponsored events.

City Hall and the Community Center will be closed to the public until further notice. Payments may be made at the drop box in the City Hall parking lot, online, or by phone. The City of Lowell is suspending non-pay water utility disconnects and waiving any fees associated with non-payment for the Month of March. Customers who have questions can contact the City’s Customer Service number during regular business hours at 704-824-3518 and press 1.  

In response and support of Gaston County’s recommendation to limit gatherings to less than 50 people, the City of Lowell will be postponing the following events to a later date: River Sweep, Easter Senior Luncheon, and the Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt. 

The Lowell Community Center is closed until further notice and all events currently scheduled will be cancelled and money refunded.

Youth sports programs are currently suspended until further notice. 

The Lowell Police Department will continue operations as normal and will respond to calls as they come in. In an attempt to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), citizens are restricted from inside the police department. The lobby of the police department will still be open to the public, but it’s strongly requested to handle business by phone or email. If you need to file a report please call (704) 824-8540. If you need to pick up a report, please have your insurance company send a request for it.

There are currently no schedule or service changes for Public Works. 

Utility Payment Information:
For payments, please utilize the secure drive-up drop-box located behind the building. Place your payment, (check, money order, or cash) in an envelope with your payment stub. It’s important to include your payment stub from your bill to ensure your payment is applied to the appropriate account. As a reminder, you can pay your bill with a debit/credit card by calling us toll-free at (844)262-8223. We also offer a direct draft option where your payment will be drafted monthly from your account. You can also pay through on-line bill pay through most financial institutions. Simply set up “The City of Lowell” as a vendor and they will mail us a check each month.


GASTON COUNTY PRESS RELEASE

MARCH 16, 2020

GASTON COUNTY CLOSES LIBRARIES, SENIOR CENTER

GASTONIA, N.C. – Gaston County continues to respond to COVID-19, announcing today it is closing all 10 branches of its public library system for at least the next three weeks.

County leaders are evaluating needs on a day-by day basis and will have a decision made by the end of the month whether those closures will need to be extended.

The closure order goes into effect on Tuesday, March 17. Also included in the closure order is the Gaston Senior Center in Dallas, the Gaston County Museum in Dallas, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension – Gaston County Center in Dallas and the Gaston County Travel and Tourism Center in Belmont. In addition, Gaston County’s Veterans Services Office is closed to in-person appointments, but is still offering services telephonically.

The order is part of the County’s goal of limiting large gatherings after Chairman Tracy Philbeck issued a State of Emergency on Sunday limiting gatherings to no greater than 50 people.

The Board of Commissioners are playing their part as well. They are canceling work sessions during the months of April and May. Clerk to the Board Donna Buff is working to reschedule any non-essential items that would cause large crowds for the meetings that will need to take place.

Additionally, public zoning meetings will be delayed until May 26th. For the Board of Commissioners meetings that will still happen over the next six weeks – beginning with March 24th – the County will limit the total number of persons inside the commissioners meeting room to no more than 50. Two rooms are available elsewhere inside the Gaston County Courthouse, where the board meets, for any overflow crowds to be able to watch the meeting via livestream on television.

Advisory boards will delay meetings until May at the earliest unless absolutely necessary.

On Monday afternoon, Gaston County manager Dr. Kim Eagle led a teleconference of municipal leaders and community partners to discuss response to COVID-19. Many municipalities, including Gastonia, Lowell and Ranlo, mentioned they have halted water-service turn-offs during this crisis. The cities and towns of Gaston County have worked in close coordination with County leadership to ensure the safety of their citizens and a consistent message.

Dr. Jeff Booker, Superintendent of Gaston County Schools, said the district will begin feeding students breakfast and lunches via grab-and-go sites at 11 schools across the county (see the end of the release for full list).

Also on Monday, Chairman Philbeck announced the formation of a faith-based task force, to communicate with various congregations across the county during the coronavirus threat.

He’s asked Venture Lead Pastor Austin Rammell and Friendship Baptist Church Bishop John McCullough II to co-chair the task force, which will be critical in reaching out to Gaston County’s faith-based community.

Pastor Rammell spoke at a press conference Monday afternoon, pleading with other pastors to be responsible in the shepherding of their congregations and to heed the advice of health professionals. Rammell also brought to the table concerns about gatherings such as weddings and funerals for the 50-person gathering restriction, which the county has currently under discussion.

Video of Monday’s press conference will be made available on the County’s YouTube page, shared on its social media channels and available at GastonGov.com.

"GRAB AND GO" MEAL PROGRAM FOR STUDENTS

MARCH 16, 2020

Gaston County Schools will provide “grab and go” meals for students beginning Tuesday, March 17. This service offers a nutritious meal for children while schools are closed because of concerns related to the coronavirus.

Meals will be distributed at the following 11 locations:
▪ Bessemer City High School, 119 Yellow Jacket Lane, Bessemer City
▪ Carr Elementary School, 307 South Pine Street, Dallas
▪ Cherryville Elementary School, 700 East Academy Street, Cherryville
▪ Erwin Community Center, 913 North Pryor Street, Gastonia
▪ Grier Middle School, 1622 East Garrison Boulevard, Gastonia
▪ Kiser Elementary School, 311 East College Street, Stanley
▪ North Belmont Elementary School, 210 School Street, Belmont
▪ Robinson Elementary School, 3122 Union Road, Gastonia
▪ Tabernacle Baptist Church, 519 West 19th Avenue, Gastonia
▪ Warlick Academy, 1316 Spencer Mountain Road, Gastonia
▪ Woodhill Elementary School, 1027 Woodhill Drive, Gastonia

At each location, distribution will take place on the following days from 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon:

▪ Tuesday, March 17
▪ Wednesday, March 18
▪ Thursday, March 19
▪ Friday, March 20
▪ Monday, March 23
▪ Tuesday, March 24
▪ Wednesday, March 25
▪ Thursday, March 26
▪ Friday, March 27

How does the program work?
The “grab and go” meal service will work much like our summertime feeding program, and it is intended to help families who depend on our School Nutrition program for meals.

▪ When you arrive at the meal pickup location that is most convenient for you, look for the school bus in the front parking lot.
▪ Go to the school bus and ask for a meal. The meal will be packaged in a bag.
▪ The meal will be provided to children (age 18 and younger) free-of-charge.
▪ You should plan to take the meal with you – there will not be a place to eat on-site.
▪ You may pick up a meal at any of the 11 locations, regardless of where you live or attend school.

If you have a question about our “grab and go” meal program, call (704) 836-9110.

ALL SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED FOR TWO WEEKS, March 16-27

MARCH 14, 2020
Governor Cooper has announced that all public schools in North Carolina will be closed for the next two weeks (March 16-27) for students because of concerns related to the coronavirus. This includes Gaston County. We will provide information via e-mail for employees about their work schedule. We also will provide more information for students, parents, and employees as it becomes available.

GASTON COUNTY PRESS RELEASE

MARCH 12, 2020

GASTON COUNTY LEADERS URGE AVOIDING LARGE GATHERINGS

GASTONIA, N.C. – After a productive meeting with representatives from municipal governments, CaroMont Health and Gaston County Schools, Gaston County is strongly recommending Gaston County residents avoid gatherings of more than 50 people for the foreseeable future.

The board is also prepared to declare a State of Emergency if a coronavirus case is confirmed within Gaston County or if neighboring counties see a spike in cases.

This comes as neighboring Mecklenburg County announced two presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 on Thursday. Gaston County has not had a positive test as of 3 p.m., Thursday afternoon, but continues to prepare for that very real possibility.

“We want to be out in front of this,” Board Chairman Tracy Philbeck said. “Now isn’t the time to play politics. We need to do what’s right for our citizens.”

The move came with the support of the county’s public health department, which has been trumpeting a proactive approach to the crisis. Department of Health and Human Services Director Chris Dobbins is pushing the message to residents of “Call Before You Come.” Put simply, Public Health wants residents to call their primary care providers and describe their symptoms and get instructions for what to do.

Gaston County is also taking the step of cancelling all County-sponsored events where large gatherings would be present until further notice. This does not include Board of Commissioners meetings.

County Manager Dr. Kim Eagle arranged the meeting Thursday as part of the County’s ongoing response to the coronavirus. At the conclusion of the meeting, Chairman Philbeck and Director Dobbins spoke to the gathered media, which included WSOC-TV and The Gaston Gazette.

The full video of that press conference will be available this afternoon on Gaston County’s social media pages and website, gastonGov.com. That video is available for media use.

CORONAVIRUS CALL CENTER IN GASTON COUNTY

MARCH 11, 2020

Gaston DHHS has opened up a call center to help answer your questions or concerns around COVID-19.

The public can call (704) 862-5303 between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. After hours calls will be directed to the state’s 24/7 call center.

If someone is having a medical emergency, they should call 911.

Find out more here:
https://www.gastongov.com/news_detail_T32_R253.php