Wake County FAQs

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.

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.

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.

Visit the Vaccine page for more information.