On May 14, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper enacted Executive Order 215 which will remain in effect until June 11, 2021 at 5 p.m., unless repealed, replaced, or rescinded.
- Face covering requirements are lifted in most settings. (See details below addressing where these requirements are still applicable.)
- Capacity restrictions are lifted in all settings.
- Social distancing requirements have been lifted in all settings. (For example, there is no longer a requirement that tables in restaurants be spaced out.)
Staying the same:
- Nothing prevents people from continuing to wear face coverings, which are recommended for unvaccinated people and for all people in large venues.
- Employers, business owners, and local governments may require face coverings and social distancing.
- Because children are still unvaccinated and can easily spread COVID-19, face coverings are still required in child care, children’s day camps, and children’s overnight camps. Nothing in today’s Executive Order changes the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit requirement for face coverings in schools.
- The CDC has advised that face coverings should continue to be required in several health care settings, in transportation settings like airports and bus stations, in correctional and detention facilities, and at homeless service providers. This Order continues those face covering requirements.
- Local governments can implement stricter COVID-19 face covering, capacity, and social distancing requirements.
• Face covering requirements are lifted in most settings.
• Capacity restrictions are lifted in all settings.
• Social distancing requirements have been lifted in all settings. (For example, there is no longer a requirement that tables in restaurants be spaced out.)
Can businesses or churches still require guests to wear face coverings despite the restrictions being removed?
Yes. Businesses and churches can still require guests to wear face coverings in their establishments.
The following establishments, businesses, and institutions are required to follow NCDHHS Guidance with respect to indoor face covering requirements and all other COVID-19 related restrictions and recommendations:
• Child care facilities
• Children’s day or overnight camps
• Certain health care settings like long term care centers
• Public or private transportation regulated by the State of North Carolina and North Carolina
airports, bus and train stations or stops
• Prisons and establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness
• Establishments that are providing shelter to people experiencing homelessness
Individuals in these settings may be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and, therefore, are subject to specific NCDHHS guidelines.
Yes. A face covering does not need to be worn by an individual who:
a. Should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability (including, but not limited to any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance);
b. Is under five (5) years of age;
c. Is actively eating or drinking;
d. Is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
e. Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
f. Is working at home or is in a personal vehicle;
g. Is temporarily removing his or her face covering to secure government or medical services or for identification purposes;
h. Would be at risk from wearing a face covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines;
i. Has found that his or her face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; or is a child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the Face Covering safely on the child's face.
Anyone who declines to wear a face covering for these reasons should not be required to produce documentation or any other proof of a condition. Children under two (2) years of age should not wear a face covering.
NCDHHS has additional recommendations to improve mask wearing based on guidance from the CDC.
To ensure masks are as protective as possible, NCDHHS recommends that you:
• Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face and covers your nose and mouth. To help with a snug fit, you can use a mask with a metal strip along the top of the mask.
• Use two or more layers for your face covering. You can do this by wearing a cloth face covering with two or more layers or by wearing one disposable mask (sometimes referred to as a surgical mask or a medical procedure mask) underneath a cloth mask.
• Do not wear two disposable masks.
• Make sure you can see and breathe easily.
For additional information on how to improve mask wearing, please see updated guidelines from the CDC.
The term "cluster" refers to a situation in which five or more cases have been associated with a location, such as a business. An "outbreak" occurs when two or more cases have been associated with a group living facility, such as a nursing home.
“The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
- Maintaining good social distance (about 6 feet) is very important in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”
According to the CDC, it may be possible for a person to "get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes."
While anyone can contract COVID-19, adults older than 65, people with underlying health conditions and pregnant women should take extra precautions as they may be at higher risk for developing serious illness associated with the disease.
Some ways to lessen your risk for getting COVID-19 include:
- Staying home and using teleworking technology when possible.
- Washing your hands.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Practicing social distancing and staying away from sick people.
- Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throwing the tissue in the trash.
- Staying home if you’re sick and avoiding close contact with others for three days after symptoms resolve.
Social distancing is a public health strategy that prevents close contact between people with the aim to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. Tactics that people can use to support social distancing include maintaining six feet of space between each other when in public and avoiding events with large numbers of people. The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 so that spread is contained as much as possible and there’s less strain on our healthcare system to care for sick people. The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19, so fewer people get sick and there’s less strain on our healthcare system. For more information, visit here.
If you have been in close contact with a known positive case of COVID-19, you are a good candidate for our free drive-thru testing.
You should stay home for 14 days, as much as possible, and monitor yourself for symptoms. If you develop symptoms, self-isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms and at least three days after symptoms resolve.
Facemasks should be used to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
The state of North Carolina requires face masks in public anytime you are not in a position to stay at least six feet apart.
If you believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, you can be tested at one of the testing locations throughout Wake County.
If serious illness develops, call your primary care provider. If you have trouble breathing, call 9-1-1.
The Wake County Animal Center is monitoring how COVID-19 may affect pets, following reports of pets in the U.S. having tested positive for the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Routine testing of domestic animals for COVID-19 is not currently recommended.
Until we know more, the CDC recommends pet owners take the following precautions:
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
If you have symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19, restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
- Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
- If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
- Follow general guidelines for staying healthy around animals.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. In rare cases, a strain that infects animals can spread to people. The CDC does not know its exact source, but the coronavirus that caused the current outbreak of COVID-19 is suspected to have originated in animals and spread to people.
At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the new coronavirus, according to the CDC. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
Starting Sept. 28, nursing homes, long-term care facilities and assisted living centers may allow for indoor visitations. To participate, nursing homes must meet several requirements, including, but not limited to:
- Not having a current outbreak within 14 days;
- Percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in the county they are located is less than 10%;
- Having a testing plan and updated written Infection Control or Preparedness plan for COVID-19; and
- Having adequate personal protective equipment.
Details are outlined in N.C. DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen’s Secretarial Order, which was signed on Sept. 28.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has posted a guide for individuals and families to avoid spreading COVID-19 within the home. Just like the general public, caretakers and those who share a home with someone in the increased risk group should take steps to limit their exposure to all kinds of contagious diseases, including COVID-19. If people think they’ve contracted COVID-19, they should take steps to avoid spreading the virus to anyone else, including those in their home or care who are in the higher-risk group.
If you fall into one of the following categories, you are a good candidate for our free drive-thru testing:
- Have COVID-like symptoms – fever, cough, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, loss of smell;
- Have been in close contact with a known positive case of COVID-19;
- Are a healthcare worker or first responder;
- Work in high-risk settings like long-term care facilities, correctional facilities and homeless shelters;
- Are 65 years old or older;
- Have underlying health conditions;
- Are a member of a vulnerable or historically marginalized population;
- Are a front-line worker in a setting where social distancing is difficult; or
- Have attended protests, rallies or other mass gatherings.
If you have symptoms, self-isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms. If you develop serious illness, call your primary care doctor for evaluation. If you experience difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1.
Community spread means that there are COVID-19-positive people who do not know how or where they became infected with the virus.
Now that North Carolina has community transmission of the virus, we have moved to a community-based mitigation strategy, aimed at decreasing the spread, especially among those most at risk of serious illness. In this phase, testing and contact tracing are more focused than in the broad-based containment approach we executed early in the outbreak.
This change in strategy allows us to be more vigilant about conserving resources like personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers and directing testing to those more likely to become seriously ill.
We have set up a few different phone numbers depending on your question. Visit our "Contact" page to get the email address of phone number best-suited for your need.
I’m concerned about kids who don’t have access to nutritional meals now that school is closed. How can I help?
The Wake County Public School System, Wake County and its partners are working together to make sure that food is available to hungry students during these unprecedented times. If you would like to volunteer to support food distribution sites, please complete the Food Security and Access Volunteer Form.
Antibody tests measure proteins called immunoglobulins, that the body produces to help fight off infections. It takes time for our immune systems to make antibodies, which is why the test is done after symptoms go away. The test helps determine if someone had an immune response to COVID-19 but does not tell us if the person has COVID-19 currently.
There is still a lot we don’t know about SarsCoV-2 or COVID-19, including interpretation of Antibody tests. According to the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), there are at least 90 tests on the market, and we don’t yet know which ones are best.
We aren’t sure. Right now, we don’t know enough about the test to determine its accuracy. It’s unknown whether the test can tell the difference between past infections from SARS-CoV-2 and the six other coronaviruses, four of which cause the common cold. It’s important to note that the antibody test is not a replacement for the diagnostic test.
If you are having symptoms of COVID-19, you should:
- Stay away from other people for 10 days after your symptoms begin
- When you no longer have symptoms, you should stay home without fever for three more days
- If you feel you need medical care, call your doctor. If you have trouble breathing, call 9-1-1.
No. According to the World Health Organization, there is currently not enough evidence to tell us that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection. At this point, until testing improves, and we understand more about the virus, everyone is still considered at risk.
This test is done after recovery from COVID-19, to detect an immune response from exposure. However, until the accuracy of the tests can be determined, there’s not much health officials can do with results. At this point, residents and/or providers do not need to report their results to the Wake County Division of Public Health or the North Carolina Division of Health and Human Services.
Cautions about the use of antibody results
- The presence of COVID-19 antibodies cannot currently be used to diagnose someone as having COVID-19.
- Positive antibody results cannot tell us with certainty that someone is “immune” to future infection. If protection does exist, we don’t know for how long.
- Positive results cannot certify people as safe to work or travel if they’ve already been sick.
- Positive results cannot tell us with certainty that the antibody detected is specifically due to COVID-19, and not another coronavirus (e.g. common cold).
- Negative results do not rule out the possibility of COVID-19 infection. If you have symptoms of infection, ask your doctor about testing for presence of the virus itself.
Wake County’s goal is to get everyone vaccinated as quickly, safely and equitably as possible.
Everyone 12 and older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina.
At this time, Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized for those under 18 years old, but Wake County Public Health's appointment system allows for those 12 and up to chose locations where Pfizer is being offered.
Click here to see our vaccine clinic schedule to find a spot near you to walk-in OR make an appointment. You can also call our Vaccine Hotline at 919-250-1515.
Wake County Public Health is one of many providers in Wake County receiving shipments of the vaccine. Find a vaccination location near you at NC Vaccine Finder.
All providers are working closely together to vaccinate the public against COVID-19 and help keep our community healthy and safe.
Anyone 12 and older can walk in or make an appointment with our online vaccine schedule and request form or by calling call the vaccine hotline at 919-250-1515.
Do I still need to wear a mask after I'm fully vaccinated? Can I gather with other vaccinated people?
The vaccine alone won’t stop the spread of COVID-19 right away. Still, it's a major breakthrough in preventing serious illness from COVID-19 and needs to be used in combination with other prevention methods.
These vaccines have been proven to effectively prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19. However, it’s still possible that some vaccinated people could get infected without developing symptoms. This means people who are vaccinated could silently be spreading the virus, especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks.
When in public, people need to continue to practice the 3Ws – wear a mask, wait at least 6 feet away, and wash your hands frequently.
It is important to remember that children under 12 cannot be vaccinated and are still at risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can:
- Gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
- Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household unless any of those people have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. For example, you can visit unvaccinated relatives who all live together or an unvaccinated friend without a mask. If any of the people you are visiting has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and are not vaccinated, wear a mask.
If you’ve been around or exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
Even when you are fully vaccinated, you should:
- Wear a mask in public.
- Stay socially distant, at least 6 feet, from unvaccinated people at high-risk for COVID-19.
- Practice good hand sanitation.
- Keep your indoor gatherings small – 2 total households.
- Avoid medium or large-sized gatherings.
- Delay domestic and international travel.
You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you’ve been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.
We learn more about how long vaccination protection lasts and as more people become protected through vaccination over time. It's estimated at 70-85% of people will need to receive a vaccine to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Some people are reporting temporary reactions after being vaccinated, such as swelling from the injection, tiredness, or feeling bad for a day or two. These are normal symptoms and are a sign of a proper immune response, similar to those experienced when receiving other routine vaccinations. These routine reactions typically last no longer than a day and a half. You cannot become infected with COVID-19 from receiving the vaccine. Please consult your primary care physician if you have any concerns about the way you’re feeling after vaccination. Click here for more information.
Wake County Public Health is using all the COVID-19 vaccines available to the public. Your vaccine provider will tell you what vaccine you are receiving and will let you know when and how to schedule our follow-up appointment.
All vaccines have shown to be safe and effective in preventing death and serious illness due to COVID-19. All the vaccines have shown to be highly effective in reducing death and serious hospitalization from COVID-19.
The goal of using all vaccines available is to increase vaccination rates so our community can stop the spread of COVID-19 and get back to life.
It is important that people do not mix vaccine brands for their first and second shots. Receiving the second shot of the same vaccine as your first shot is critical in achieving the vaccine's total protection.
Doses Needed for Full Coverage
|Vaccine Brand||Doses Needed||Days Until 2nd Dose|
|Pfizer||2 doses||21 days|
|Moderna||2 doses||28 days|
|Johnson & Johnson||1 dose||No 2nd dose required|
Yes, Wake County Public Health does allow you to see the expected brand of vaccine that will be offered at each site when you're making an appointment.
All the approved vaccines have been shown to be highly effective in reducing death and serious hospitalization from COVID-19.
Efficacy of COVID-19 Vaccines in Preventing Death and Serious Illness
|VACCINE BRAND||EFFICACY AFTER FULL VACCINATION|
|Johnson & Johnson||81.7% effective|
The most common side effects being injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and fever. Side effects are more common after the second dose, especially for younger adults.
It is important that people do not mix vaccine brands for their first and second shots. Receiving the second shot of the same vaccine as your first shot is critical in achieving the vaccine's total protection. Your vaccine provider will help you determine if you need a second dose and how/when to come back to get full protection.
Everyone who is vaccinated will still need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and frequent hand sanitation until most Wake county is vaccinated.
The goal of using all vaccines available is to increase vaccination rates so our community can stop the spread of COVID-19 and get back to life.
The COVID-19 vaccines are shown to be safe and effective. While these vaccines were developed quickly, they were built upon years of work in developing vaccines for similar viruses. To test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, more than 100,000 people participated in clinical trials. To date, those vaccines are nearly 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 with no serious safety concerns. Read more about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
This video was prepared for our Wake County EMS staff, who would become some of the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine shipment sent to the county. Many said hearing this information was extremely helpful in deciding whether to get the shot. Watch for yourself:
The COVID-19 vaccine will be available to everyone for free, whether or not you have health insurance. The federal government is purchasing the vaccines. Just like Wake County Public Health continues offering no-cost COVID-19 testing, we will be working to make sure everyone has equal access to the vaccine as well.
Yes, you should get vaccinated whether you've had COVID-19 or not.
Sometimes after being infected by a virus, your body builds up a “natural immunity” by making its own antibodies. But right now, there’s not enough information available to confidently say if being infected with COVID-19 creates any protection from getting it again. Early evidence suggests that natural immunity to COVID-19 may not last very long, so that's why it's recommended that everyone get a vaccine, even if you've tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered.
If you were treated for COVID-19 symptoms with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
It is safe to get vaccinated if you have been infected in the past. Additional information can be found here for the COVID-19 vaccines.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women may choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant women can talk with their doctors before making the choice. You do not need to take a pregnancy test before you get your vaccine. Women who are breastfeeding may also choose to get vaccinated. The vaccine is not thought to be a risk to a baby who is breastfeeding. Additional information can be found here.
Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is only available as a shot. Talk to a doctor, nurse or medical professional about your fear of needles. Many people report being afraid of needles, but they weigh the benefits of feeling that brief prick against getting sick if they contract COVID-19. When you get vaccinated, it not only protects you, it protects our community by breaking the chain of infection that COVID-19 relies on to spread.
Children 12 and up have been approved by the FDA and CDC to receive the Pfizer vaccine under an emergency authorization. Additional studies are underway for children under 12 years old.
Mutations in viruses, including the coronavirus which is causing the COVID-19 pandemic, are neither new nor unexpected. There are several additional strains and there will likely be more as this pandemic progresses. The more people infected by COVID-19, the more chances there are for mutations to occur. That's why getting vaccinated and following the 3Ws continue to be our best defense against exposure, infection, and the evolution of new strains.
Our state has increased the number of specimens it regularly submits to the CDC for genetic sequencing, which detects new strains and vaccine sensitivity. The vaccine manufacturers are testing their vaccines against the new strains and will develop new boosters as needed. Currently, no new boosters are needed.