Individuals and Families

Stay home, save lives

Executive Order 188 extends the modified Stay at Home Order until at least January 29, requiring people to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Also issued was a Secretarial Directive telling North Carolinians to stay home except for essential activities and avoid gathering, especially indoors, with people who do not live with you.

Executive Order 180 included additional COVID-19 safety measures to tighten mask requirements and enforcement. In indoor gyms and fitness facilities, face coverings are now required when people are exercising. 

Executive Order 176 lowered the indoor mass gathering limit for social gatherings to 10 people in an effort to drive down North Carolina’s key COVID-19 metrics. The Order does not change the reduced capacity limits for certain businesses that have already been outlined in Executive Order 169.

Which gatherings or other events are subject to the 10-person indoor Mass Gathering Limit?

  • Indoor in-home gatherings
  • Indoor in-home social events
  • All other indoor gatherings not otherwise exempted from the Executive Order

Which gatherings or other events are not subject to the 10-person indoor Mass Gathering Limit?

  • Worship, religious, spiritual gatherings, wedding ceremonies, funeral services, and other First Amendment activities
  • Gatherings for work or for receiving governmental services
  • Gatherings at places that are subject to other capacity limits stated in the Executive Orders. These include fitness and exercise facilities, restaurants, personal care businesses, museums and aquariums, movie theaters, hotels, conference centers, and reception venues.
  • Normal operations at airports, bus and train stations or stops, medical facilities, libraries, shopping malls and shopping centers.
  • Families of more than 10 people who reside together.

Review the following for more information about these Executive Orders:

Staying healthy 

There are some common sense measures everyone can take to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick and put distance between yourself and other people.
  • Wear a cloth covering over your mouth and nose when you leave your house, especially when you may not be able to keep 6 feet between yourself and other people.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched. Disinfectants should be used by following label instructions.
    • Don’t mix chemicals, wear protective gear, use in a well-ventilated area, and store chemicals out of reach of kids. Increases in chemical exposures from disinfectants have been reported. Learn more.
    • Additionally, the CDC reported serious adverse health issues associated with methanol-contaminated hand sanitizers. Learn more about these recalls.

Slowing the spread

Testing and tracing

Testing and contact tracing are key components of North Carolina’s strategy to responsibly ease restrictions, while continuing to slow the spread of the virus. Through contact tracing, local health department staff and other COVID-19 Community Team members reach out to people who may have recently come into close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 and connect them with the information and support needed to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Know Your Ws: Wear, Wait and Wash

If you leave home, practice your Ws: Wear, Wait, Wash

  • Wear a cloth covering over your nose and mouth.
  • Wait 6 feet apart. Avoid close contact.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do pregnant women have a higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19?

Do pregnant women have a higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19?

According to the CDC,  pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 and are at higher risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth. Pregnant women are at higher risk from influenza and other respiratory viruses, so they are encouraged to protect themselves from illnesses. While children are generally at lower risk for severe infection, some studies indicate a higher risk among infants.

What are some helpful parent and family resources I can use during this time?

What are some helpful parent and family resources I can use during this time?

Talking to Children about the Coronavirus

Coping with Stress

Parenting & Caregiving Courses, Training, & Online Communities

  • American Academy of Pediatrics has information on children and coronavirus and helpful parenting tips. 
  • Triple P Online is a free parenting course that provides flexible, practical ways to develop skills, strategies and confidence to handle any parenting situation. The course now includes a Parenting During COVID-19 module and tip sheets. Resources are available in English and Spanish.
  • The Incredible Years website provides resources on topics such as providing calm and supportive parenting and tips for grandparents reaching out to children remotely.
  • Parents and caregivers can search for Circle of Parent groups that offer a forum for caregivers to exchange ideas, support and information.  
  • The Children's Bureau Tip Sheets provide parents and caregivers with easy-to-read, concrete steps to take when dealing with a concern or question.
  • MotherToBaby also has evidence-based resources, and can be reached with questions
How can family caregivers best support others during COVID-19?

How can family caregivers best support others during COVID-19?

Family caregivers face unique challenges during COVID-19 as they balance the needs of their loved one — whether that is an older adult, a grandchild they are raising, or an adult with a disability. It is important providers consider patient rights under the American with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act when considering caregiver visitation.

The resources below can help caregivers navigate resources and empower themselves during this complicated time:

  • The Office of Civil Rights has issued a bulletin regarding civil rights of individuals during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 
  • The CDC has issued guidance regarding allowing visitors who are essential for the patient’s physical or emotional well-being and care. For individuals with a cognitive impairment, their caregiver is an extension of the individual with the impairment, and should be treated as such. Unless it negatively impacts a facility’s ability to ensure the safety of other patients or visitors, anyone with a cognitive impairment should be allowed to have their caregiver with them either in the ambulance or in the hospital.
  • The 16 regional area agencies on aging have a Family Caregiver Resource Specialist available to assist caregivers with resources and services.
  • Minimizing caregiver stress and burnout while they are home for long periods of time is vital. The CDC has some helpful tips for reducing stress
  • Caregivers of individuals with dementia face their own set of challenges. The Alzheimer’s Association has developed tips for dementia care.
  • The CDC has guidance on caring for someone at home with COVID-19.  
What are some helpful resources for people with developmental disabilities?

What are some helpful resources for people with developmental disabilities?

The national Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) has developed an easy-to-read COVID-19 booklet written by and for people with developmental disabilities. The information is current as of March 13, 2020 and is available in English and Spanish. (Some terminology and links are not specific to North Carolina.)

How can I best prepare my household and prevent the spread in my home?

How can I best prepare my household and prevent the spread in my home?

The CDC has a checklist of actions to prepare your household for COVID-19, and guidance is available for preventing the spread of coronavirus in homes and residential communities.

People should make sure they have daily necessities and medications to last about two weeks, in case they need to isolate. Massive stock piling of supplies is not necessary. Leave some for others, especially those who can’t afford to buy a lot of groceries all at once. North Carolinians who need help with needs like food assistance, support for families and other basic needs should call 2-1-1 for assistance.

If you must run essential errands, follow this guidance on how to do so in a healthy and safe manner.

For cleaning your home, the CDC provides steps you should take and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also released a list of cleaning products to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Follow label instructions while cleaning.

Do I need a negative COVID-19 test before I can return to work?

Do I need a negative COVID-19 test before I can return to work?

Employers should not require documentation of a negative test before allowing an employee to return to work.

You can end self-isolation and return to normal activities when you can answer YES to ALL of the following questions:

  • Has it been at least 10 days since your symptoms started?
  • Has it been 24 hours since you last had fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications?
  • Have your symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, improved?

Read more about next steps to take when you are waiting for a test result, receive a positive test or a negative test.