COVID-19 | NC Executive Orders (1/27/21)

COVID-19 | NC Executive Orders

January 27, 2020

Earlier today, Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen, Secretary of Health and Human Services, held a press conference to provide an update on the State’s COVID-19 response.

First, Governor Cooper issued a series of new Executive Orders today.

  • Executive Order 189.  This Order extends the Modified Stay-at-Home Order and the period for which the price-gouging law is in effect until 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 28, 2021.  This extension includes the mask mandate, the limitations on certain businesses, and the daily curfew from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next day.  These provisions had been set to expire as of Friday, January 29, 2021.
  • Executive Order 190.  This Order extends Executive Order 183, which temporarily allowed for the sale of mixed-beverages in sealed containers for off-premises consumption under certain circumstances, until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.  These provisions had previously been set to expire as of Sunday, January 31, 2021.
  • Executive Order 191.  This Order extends the provisions of Executive Orders 171 and 184 through and including Wednesday, March 31, 2021.  Executive Order 171 includes the moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent and an extension of programs to assist individuals with rent and utilities payments.  Executive Order 184 temporarily expanded the availability of the attached claim process to help expedite the processing of unemployment claims.  Both of those Orders had been set to expire as of Sunday, January 31, 2021.
  • Executive Order 192.  This Order extends certain transportation-related COVID-19 provisions of previous orders until Sunday, February 28, 2021.  Those provisions include:
    • Limiting services at DMV offices to appointment only.
    • Suspending road tests for driver licenses and permits.
    • Waiving license renewal requirements for school bus drivers and activity bus drivers.
    • Waiving the maximum hours of service limitations on drivers who are transporting medical supplies or equipment related to COVID-19.
    • Extending a number of waivers granted to commercial drivers with respect to temporary trip permits, quarterly fuel tax returns, and certain registration requirements for intrastate and interstate for-hire authority.

Governor Cooper and Dr. Cohen also gave an update on vaccine availability and distribution.  There were several key points:

  • As of today, North Carolina has administered 99+% of all first doses of vaccine it has received from the federal government.  It has administered more than 25% of all second doses it has received (many of the remaining doses are still held in reserve as it is not yet time for the individual to receive the second dose).  Earlier this week, DHHS reported that only about 0.1% of vaccine doses received by the State had become unusable for any reason.
  • Vaccine supply remains limited, but the federal government has announced that it is increasing the amount of vaccine released to the states by about 16%.  Therefore, North Carolina will see its weekly allocation increase from about 120,000 first doses per week to about 140,000 first doses per week for the next few weeks.
  • In order to address concerns about weekly fluctuations in supply, NC DHHS is implementing a new allocation system.
    • Going forward, each county will receive a baseline allocation.  This allocation will be determined based on county population.  This allocation will be made three weeks in advance to allow providers to plan vaccination activities.  Of the 140,000 first doses expected to be received each week beginning next week, 90,000 doses will fall under this allocation.
    • The remaining doses will fall under a second allocation.  This second allocation amount will go to ensure that all counties move to later phases on roughly the same schedule, to ensure geographic and demographic equity in distribution, and to accommodate mass vaccination events by providers who have extra capacity.  These doses generally will be allocated on a week-by-week basis.
  • The State remains in Phase 2 of vaccine distribution, meaning that patient-facing healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff, and people aged 65 and older are eligible to receive a vaccination.  The State has granted some limited leeway with this eligibility criteria.  For example, the State has instructed all providers not to waste vaccine and that unused doses of vaccine should be administered to any willing recipient rather than being allowed to spoil.  In addition, some counties were given leeway to honor appointments scheduled prior to a recent change in priority.  The State is not explicitly forbidding a local provider from moving to a new phase, but implied that disregard of the State priority list could affect later allocations of vaccine.  (For example, greater allocations of vaccine in later weeks might be directed to areas that were still actively focusing on currently eligible individuals rather than moving to new groups.)
  • As a reminder, individuals currently eligible for a vaccination are not required to receive it in the county in which they reside.  A provider cannot deny service to someone from another county, or even another state, based on residence alone.

The next group eligible for vaccination is frontline essential workers.  This a group that has been defined by the CDC in conjunction with guidance from the Department of Homeland Security.  The State is developing an outreach plan to employers in these fields to help ease implementation once the State enters this phase.  The State hopes to have more information on the outreach plan later this week.  The Governor and Dr. Cohen said they could not currently predict when the State would be ready to move to this next phase.