Your community matters

Wake County stay-at-home order starts Friday, nonessential businesses must close, no gatherings allowed

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.

Posted

RALEIGH — Wake County citizens will be under a stay-at-home order beginning 5 p.m. Friday, the county announced Thursday afternoon.

The order, which county leaders say will prevent hospitals from being overwelmed with COVID-19 cases, will remain in effect until at least April 17.

“If we’re serious about protecting our community, we need to get serious about staying home, so we can slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Greg Ford, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, in a statement. ”That’s why we moved swiftly to implement this measure. Our short-term sacrifices can mean very literally the difference between life and death for some of our residents ­— and it would be irresponsible not to act.”

The order asks everyone stay home who is able to do so. All nonessential facilities, services, operations and retail business must close. Gatherings of any size are not allowed.

Exceptions are allowed for essential workers in health care, food service, and other critical jobs.

Currently, the number of cases of COVID-19 in Wake County is doubling around every two-and-a-half days, said Donald Gintzig, WakeMed Health and Hospitals president.

Wake County has 100 confirmed cases of the virus as of Thursday. There are 636 cases across the state with 12,910 tests completed by the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial laboratories.

North Carolina saw its first COVID-19-associated death Tuesday in Cabarrus County. The patient was in their late 70s and had several underlying health conditions, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners made the decision with the advice of all of the county’s 11 municipalities as well as front line workers in the healthcare, emergency services and emergency management fields, Ford said.

“When dealing with a situation like COVID-19, having the response of the people on the front lines is most important,” said Ford. “After speaking extensively (with them), it becasme clear that more active measures are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 that would place a tremendous stress on our healthcare system.”

The decision was not made lightly and is supported by data, he added. The county hopes to mitigate damage to the county’s economic while keeping people safe.

“The damage (COVID-19) does to us and our economy will be minimized by what we do today,” Ford said. “The length of time can be minimized by being proactive. ...

"When we prevale — and we will — sober, rational and data-informed action will show the way forward."

Not allowed under the proclamation

The stay-at-home order includes the following mandates:

• All non-essential facilities, services, operations and retail businesses must close.

• Gatherings of any size are prohibited.

• People of any age with medical conditions should not leave their homes except to get medical care.

• Social distancing must be practiced while in public.

• Public transportation should only be used if necessary. If public transport is a person’s primary way to get around, they should abide by social distancing best practices, standing and sitting at least six feet apart and using sanitizing products.

Allowed under the proclamation

The stay-at-home does not restrict activities such as:

• Shopping for food at the grocery store or picking up take-out meals from a local restaurant.

• Operating businesses that provide critical services like hospitals, government agencies and financial institutions.

• Caring for a family member or pet in another household.

• Providing childcare for parents who have to go to work at jobs that are considered essential.

• Utilizing plumbers, electricians, exterminators and others who help maintain the safety and sanitation of residences.

• Visiting a local park, greenway or nature preserve while practicing social distancing.

Businesses that are excluded from the proclemation include health care facilities, construction, grocery stores, farms, social servies, media, gas stations, transportation, auto-repair shops, financial institutions, hardware stores, landscapers, plumbers, electricians, shipping, education, faith organizations, laundry providers, housing, hotels, legal and accounting services, real estate, funeral homes and essential government functions.

For a comprehensive list,  read the proclamation, which can be found here.

It will remain in effect until April 17, at which time the county will reevaluate the situation and determine if an extension is needed.

“We’ve been in constant conversation with our partners at the local hospitals and in the municipalities since the pandemic took hold here,” said Wake County Manager David Ellis, in a statement. “Together, we looked at the growing caseload in our community and determined a stay-at-home order was the best way to help protect our residents and healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19.”

Information for businesses

Wake County has set up a dedicated phone line – 919-856-7420 – to address business-specific questions related to the stay-at-home order. In addition, special FAQs focused on the business community are posted on the county’s COVID-19 webpage here.

Wake County is also working with the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wake County Economic Development to help communicate with the business community about these changes and share important resources to support them during this challenging time.

Monitoring compliance

The Wake County Sheriff's Office will be monitoring compliance through routine patrolling, according to Sheriff Gerald Baker.

Deputies may pull over vehicles to ask drivers where they are going. If they are not in compliance, they will be asked to come into compliance by heading home, Baker said.

"Our deputies will be a soft touch with this," he added.

'100% compliance'

So far, the residents of Wake County have been complying with restrictions, said Regina Petteway, director of human services.

"I want to thank you for how much you've done so far," Petteway said. "If you look out the window, there's very few cars on the stree, very few people walking. For the most part, people have invested in this.

"We'll never get 100% compliance, but we'd like to see the number close to that."

She also reminded people to continue to wash their hands, avoid touching their faces and to continue social distancing.

By the numbers

Wake County has 100 confirmed cases of the virus as of Thursday. There are 636 cases across the state with 12,910 tests completed by the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health and reporting hospital and commercial laboratories.

North Carolina saw its first COVID-19-associated death Tuesday in Cabarrus County. The patient was in their late 70s and had several underlying health conditions, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Today is a stark reminder that we must take this decision seriously,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday. “This virus can be deadly and that’s why our daily lives had to change so dramatically. I know it’s hard, but it’s necessary.”

More deaths will likely happen before the pandemic runs its course, according to Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. On Wednesday she confirmed that 29 people across the state were hospitalized.

Closings

The town of Zebulon declared a state of emergency March 20, joining several towns, including Rolesville and Knightdale.

The town of Bunn also closed its town hall, except the police department, to the public March 20. The town of Youngsville closed its town hall to in-person traffic until April 13. Services in both towns are available online and over the phone.

Trash pickup, bus service

Wake Forest has suspended bulk waste starting 5 p.m. March 27 and yard waste collection starting 5 p.m. April 3 until further notice. Trash and recycling collection will continue as scheduled.

Starting March 30, Wake Forest Loop B and the Wake Forest-Raleigh Express bus services are suspended until further notice, the town said in a press release.

Wake Forest Loop A will continue to operate as scheduled. Riders are asked to board using the rear doors. Front door access will be available for persons with disabilities.

Protect yourself

Wake County’s public health team encourages people to:

• Stay away from sick people and practice social distancing measures.

• Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

• Do not touch you eyes, nose and mouth.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipes.

• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.

• Stay home if you’re sick and don’t send sick children to childcare.

Comments