North Carolina has moved into Phase 3 of Gov. Roy Cooper’s plans to reopen. During this phase some restrictions are still in place for residents and businesses.
Phase 3 began at 5 p.m. on Oct. 2, and it will run until at least Jan. 8.
On Dec. 11, Gov. Cooper implemented a modified “Stay at Home” order on all North Carolinians during overnight hours to address the current spike in COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations. The stay at home order is in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. This order requires nighttime closure for certain businesses and activities. It also prohibits the sale and service of alcohol for onsite consumption from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.
As of May 1, Wake County has been following the statewide stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper. For more information, call the state’s hotline at 2-1-1 or consult its frequently asked questions.
On Dec. 11, Gov. Cooper implemented a modified “Stay at Home” order on all North Carolinians during overnight hours to address the current spike in COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations.
Under the current order:
- Certain businesses and facilities are ordered to close to the public between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. This includes restaurants (with exceptions for take-out and delivery), bars, entertainment venues, parks, museums and aquariums, certain retail establishments and other businesses and facilities specified in the order.
- Large outdoor venues with seating greater than 10,000 may operate with 7% occupancy for spectators.
- Smaller outdoor entertainment venues, like arenas or amphitheaters, may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
- Movie theaters and conference centers may open indoor spaces to 30% of capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
- Bars may operate outdoors at 30% of outdoor capacity, or 100 guests, whichever is less.
- Amusement parks may open at 30% occupancy, outdoor attractions only.
- The limits on mass gatherings will remain at 10 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
The sale and service of alcoholic beverages is prohibited for on-site consumption between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Gatherings of more than 10 people in a single indoor space remains prohibited. In outdoor spaces, gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited.
Yes. Residential and commercial construction and landscaping are essential services.
The mass gathering limit and other requirements of Phase 3 do not apply to worship, religious and spiritual gatherings, funeral ceremonies, wedding ceremonies and other activities constituting the exercise of First Amendment rights.
Individuals are encouraged to follow the Three Ws to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19. Read more information here.
Yes, but attendees should maintain social distancing. Funeral homes, crematoriums, cemeteries and providers of mortuary services are essential services.
Public and private gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited outdoors. However, spending time outdoors and exercising are important for maintaining physical and mental health. While private sporting facilities are closed, we encourage families to take advantage of public recreation areas for activities that allow proper social distancing. For instance, basketball and soccer games are off limits because everyone touches the same ball and players come into close contact. Families may play golf or tennis, provided facilities are open and social distancing is practiced at all times.
The Governor's safer-at-home order applies to the entire state of North Carolina, including all areas of Wake County.
The restrictions do not apply to people experiencing homelessness. We urge them to find shelter and practice social distancing as much as possible. If you or someone you know needs help, call Oak City Cares at 984-344-9599.
Teleworking is being strongly encouraged. If you believe your business should be closed, but you are still being asked to show up to work, you should discuss it with your employer.
GoTriangle is continuing to update its bus and shuttle services in response to COVID-19. Changes affect the routes run by GoRaleigh, GoCary and GoWake Access, as well as routes that run beyond Wake County. Riders may call 919-485-RIDE for information.
Yes, on June 24, Gov. Cooper issued a statewide face mask order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. This order states that 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.
Read the full text of Executive Order 147 for details, including exceptions to the mandate.
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. The CDC has additional resources for families to avoid spreading the disease among themselves.
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.
Yes, Wake County Public Health started receiving COVID-19 vaccines on December 22, 2020, but they have arrived in very limited quantities. Frontline health care workers, first responders/emergency personnel at high risk for exposure, and residents and staff in long-term care facilities are being prioritized to receive these first rounds of COVID-19 vaccines. Currently we are in Phase 1a. Wake County has not moved to 1b yet.
COVID-19 vaccines will be available more widely in 2021 and, eventually, everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. Getting enough supplies to vaccinate the entire population of Wake County will take months. Again, those at highest risk of either getting COVID-19 or having serious health problems if they are infected will be prioritized.
The vaccine alone won’t stop the spread of COVID-19 right away. A safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 will be a major breakthrough in preventing COVID-19 infections and needs to be used in combination with other prevention methods.
Clinical trials have proven the vaccines to be very effective at preventing serious illness; however, it’s still possible that some vaccinated people could get infected without developing symptoms. This means they could silently be spreading the virus, especially if they come in close contact with others or stop wearing masks. We need to continue practicing the 3Ws and other key precautions, including limiting activities outside the home, practicing physical distancing and wearing masks as we learn more about how long vaccination protection lasts and as more people become protected through vaccination over time.
The timeline for vaccinations is completely dependent on how quickly vaccines are approved, manufactured and shipped. It is also dependent on guidance from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services which is regularly being updated and adapted to federal recommendations. It's best to keep checking back to this website for updates.
Click here for the latest vaccine rollout plan from North Carolina. Wake County Public Health and local hospitals are following this guidance, which currently prioritizes long-term care facility staff and residents, all health care workers and anyone 65 and older. Due to the extremely limited vaccine supply, it could likely be weeks or months before everyone in these first priority groups can make appointments to be vaccinated.
Wake County Public Health is one of five health care providers in Wake County receiving shipments of the vaccine. All of them are currently taking registrations or adding people to a waiting list if you qualify for Group 1 or Group 2. The others include Duke Raleigh, UNC Health, UNC Wakebrook, and WakeMed Health and Hospitals. These providers are working closely together to vaccinate the public against COVID-19 and help keep our community healthy and safe.
For Wake County Public Health, health care workers and anyone ages 65 and older who are interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine can join our waiting list, starting Tuesday, Jan. 19. To provide the best possible customer service, Wake County Public Health is using a new system to help match the demand for shots with supply of vaccine. Starting Tuesday you can either go online to WakeGov.com/vaccine and fill out the online form or you can call our new vaccination hotline phone line at 919-250-1515. Again, these two options to get on our waiting list won't go LIVE until 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
When people call the line or use the online form, you'll be asked a quick series of questions, including:
- Are you 65 years old or older?
- Are you a health care worker?
- Do you have an established primary care provider
- What is your name, email address and phone number?
Later that day, our staff will review submissions and if you're eligible, we'll place you on the waiting list. As soon as Wake County Public Health receives enough doses, these people will receive a notification via phone, email or text. The message will ask them to schedule a vaccination appointment.
“This is not a first come, first served process,” said Dr. Wittes. “We determine the order of appointments based on risk and need, so people don’t have to worry about being the first person to call our phone line or visit our online tool at precisely 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.”
#1. It’s critical that the community understand the demand for the vaccine will far outpace the supply – at least for the foreseeable future. Wake County Public Health only finds out a few days in advance of a shipment how many doses – if any – it will receive each week, which makes planning challenging. The more doses we get from the state, the more shots we can get into the arms of our 50,000 healthcare workers and 133,000 seniors ages 65 and older.
#2. Wake County Public Health also wants to emphasize that seniors 65 and older don’t need to rush to be first to call our reservation line or visit our online tool on Tuesday morning. Priority for vaccine appointments will be determined by factors like age and vulnerability to the virus – not the order in which they join the waiting list.
#3. Wake County Public Health has worked diligently to make the vaccination process as easy and efficient as possible. But, when launching anything new, minor improvements may be needed after going live, and the county will make adjustments, based on feedback, to improve the customer experience.
If I have two chronic health conditions, is there anything I can do now to get prioritized for vaccination?
Once vaccine supply has significantly increased, and we have completed vaccinating anyone in Phase 1a who wishes, we will be able to offer vaccines to other groups, including the public. Right now, we don’t know when that will be. Private medical providers, pharmacies, and other organizations throughout the county will also be offering COVID vaccines once supply becomes more widely available. We’ll be sharing out more information as soon as possible about when the broader community can expect to receive vaccines. In the meantime, we would encourage you to talk with your health care provider, as well as encourage them to sign up to become a vaccine provider once they are able. See our provider section below.
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. Because the vaccine supply is expected to be so limited at first, Wake County Public Health may be months away from offering any public vaccine clinics.
Right now, the two vaccines likely to be distributed first both require two doses. The Pfizer vaccine calls for a second shot 21 days following the first, and the Moderna vaccine requires a second shot 28 days later. There are currently other COVID-19 vaccines in development that would require only one dose.
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 will not receive COVID-19 vaccines until clinical trials are completed to ensure the vaccines are safe and work to prevent COVID illness in children. The Pfizer vaccine approved by Food & Drug Administration (FDA) can be given to teenagers 16 years old and up now. Additional studies are underway for children 12-16.
Clinical evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines are 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 Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, more than 70,000 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:
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.
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. For example, getting the mumps usually results in lifelong immunity for that virus. 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.
You should not be required to have an antibody test before you are vaccinated, but you should wait until you're feeling better and have met the criteria to discontinue isolation.
People with a recent infection may delay vaccination until 90 days if desired, since current evidence suggests that reinfection with COVID-19 virus is uncommon in the 90 days after the initial viral infection.
It is safe to get vaccinated with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine if you have been infected in the past. Additional information can be found here for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women may choose to receive the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. 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 for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Mutations in viruses, including the coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic, are neither new nor unexpected. A new strain was detected in southeastern England in September 2020, and quickly became the most common version of the coronavirus. So far, it has not proven a more dangerous strain. It does, however, transmit much faster, which ultimately results in more positive cases. Additionally, the more people who are infected, the more chances there are for even more mutations to occur. That's why following the 3Ws continues to be our best defense against exposure, infection, and the evolution of new strains.
NC State Public Health is increasing the number of specimens it regularly submits to the CDC for genetic sequencing, which detects new strains and vaccine sensitivity. They're on the lookout for this new strain in North Carolina. Experts believe the current vaccine will still work against the new strain.