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Posted on: January 7, 2021

Modified Stay at Home Order Extended, Residents Directed to Take Immediate COVID-19 Safety Actions

State Community Spread graphic

Gov. Roy Cooper has extended North Carolina’s modified stay at home order through at least Jan. 29, and the state health department has issued a secretarial directive for North Carolinians to take immediate actions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 as much of the state is experiencing critical levels of community spread.

The modified stay at home order:

  • Requires people to be at home 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Requires that many businesses and activities be closed or suspended 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Prohibits alcohol sales 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The secretarial directive from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is in effect until rescinded and directs North Carolinians to stay home except for essential activities and to avoid gathering, especially indoors, with people they do not live with.

Critical levels of community spread

The secretarial directive comes as the state reports 84 counties as red in the COVID-19 County Alert System, meaning most of the state has critical levels of viral spread. Twelve counties are designated orange for substantial community spread, and Orange County remains one of four counties in the yellow designation of significant levels of spread.

North Carolina also has experienced record high numbers on key metrics in recent weeks, including its highest number since the start of the pandemic of cases reported each day, the percent of tests that are positive, and people hospitalized with COVID-19.

“There is an alarming amount of virus everywhere in our state. We are in a very dangerous position,” said Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D., of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “Every single North Carolinian needs to take immediate action to save lives and protect themselves and each other.”

Immediate actions for safety

The directive is not enforceable through civil or criminal penalty but outlines immediate actions North Carolinians must take to save lives, slow the spread of the virus and protect hospital capacity to ensure medical care is available to anyone who may need it. It aligns with recent recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, the Governor’s executive orders on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 County Alert System for North Carolina.

North Carolinians are directed to:

  • Only leave home for essential activities such as going to work or school, for health care purposes, to care for family members or to buy food. 
  • Avoid leaving home if you are over 65 or at high risk for developing serious illness. Use delivery services or alternative pick-up methods for food and retail.
  • Avoid gathering with people who do not live with you. 
  • Wear a mask and keep distance from people when you leave home.
  • Avoid any indoor public spaces where people are not wearing masks.
  • Stay away from crowds. Avoid places where people may gather in large numbers.

As recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to North Carolina, the directive also instructs that if you have gathered with people who do not live with you, you should assume you are now infected with the virus and get tested for COVID-19. People also should get tested if they have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. See the Orange County COVID-19 testing page for testing locations and hours.

COVID-19 is highly contagious, and more than half of North Carolinians are at high risk for serious illness. Studies also are finding that some people, including those who had mild illness, experience symptoms for weeks or months following infection.

Related documents

The graphic shows community spread across North Carolina as of Jan. 2, 2021.

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