Coronavirus 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. 

 

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. 

 

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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