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State guidance urges indoor masking for Wilson

Posted on August 1, 2021

OpinionColumnsCOVID-19

Linda Cooper-Suggs

Linda Cooper-Suggs

On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services updated their guidance for masks.

They have set this guidance to mirror the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and urge those in critical and substantial risk counties to continue wearing masks indoors. In North Carolina, that includes all but 14 counties. Wilson County is considered to be at substantial risk.

With the alarmingly low vaccination rates, Gov. Cooper also announced a new executive order for Cabinet agencies to begin verifying whether their staff is vaccinated. If a staff member is unvaccinated, he or she will be tested for COVID-19 every week to ensure workplace health and safety: Please note that the following are the only state agencies to which this executive order will apply:

• Department of Administration.

• Department of Environmental Quality.

• Department of Health and Human Services.

• Department of Information Technology.

• Department of Military & Veterans Affairs.

• Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.

• Department of Public Safety.

• Department of Revenue.

• Department of Transportation.

Now is the time for you to get your shot! You can sign up to get your vaccine at myspot.nc.gov.

Thank you all for joining me Thursday evening for our second virtual town hall event. A special thank you goes out to Kelly Vick from the Wilson Housing Authority and Candice Rountree from the Wilson County Department of Social Services for providing their insight on housing in Wilson County. If you missed the event, you can watch it on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/lcooper.suggs.

YOUR ‘SHOT’ TO WIN $1 MILLION

Gov. Roy Cooper announced an exciting incentive program for North Carolinians who are vaccinated. Everyone in North Carolina who’s 18 and up will be entered in a drawing to win $1 million. Every North Carolinian age 12-17 who is vaccinated will be entered into a similar drawing for $125,000 that will go toward postsecondary education at a college or university of their choice.

The next drawing will be this Wednesday! If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, take your shot and sign up for your COVID-19 vaccine at https://myspot.nc.gov.

COVID-19 NUMBERS

The number of confirmed laboratory cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina is now 1,044,877. There are now 1,141 people statewide who are hospitalized with COVID-19, and sadly, there are now 13,618 confirmed deaths. Across the state, 4,873,287 people are partially vaccinated and 4,907,964 are fully vaccinated.

Visit https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/ for more information on state statistics.

Wilson County has had 10,101 reported positive cases and 181 deaths since March 2020. Currently, 33,621 people are partially vaccinated and 31,393 are fully vaccinated.

For more information, visit the Wilson County Health Department’s website at www.wilson-co.com/departments/health-department/.

COVID-19 TESTING SITES

Getting tested helps everyone: the people getting tested, their family and their community. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will be connected with the COVID-19 Community Team, who will offer support and instructions on how you can get help and keep your community safe.

You can get tested at a no-cost community test event — visit the shortened link https://bit.ly/37UviSQ — or another testing site near you by visiting https://bit.ly/2PkMAlC.

HOPE PROGRAM REOPENS

The HOPE program — Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions — is reopened and now accepting applications for rent and utility bill assistance. You can find out if you’re eligible for the program and the application at www.rebuild.nc.gov/media/1625/open.

This program serves all counties in North Carolina except for Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Johnston, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Union and Wake. Those 12 counties are served by local organizations.

AREA AGENCY ON AGING

The Area Agency on Aging, part of the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, offers a number of services for those 60 and older in Wilson, Nash, Edgecombe, Halifax and Northampton counties.

Currently, the agency is offering a nutrition program where seniors can get weekly boxes of fresh produce! The next distribution will be held Thursday at the Wilson County Senior Activities Center! If you’d like to order a box, call Kesha Howell Atkinson at 252-265-5775.

If you’d like to find out more about the AAA, you can visit its website at https://ucpcog.org/area_agency_on_aging/ or call 252-234-5984.

EMERGENCY BROADBAND RELIEF

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission opened the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which helps eligible households connect to broadband internet service.

The benefit offers a discount of $50 per month for broadband service, or $75 if the household is on tribal land. Eligible recipients can also receive up to $100 to purchase a laptop from participating providers.

Find out if your household is eligible for the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit and apply at getemergencybroadband.org!

GET THE SCOOP ON MANAGING STRESS

It’s important to make sure you are taking care of your mental health. Behavioral health is core to our overall health. The COVID-19 pandemic is an extraordinary event, so it’s normal that individuals are experiencing significant behavioral health effects. There are actions you can take, and resources available, to help maintain your mental health.

Specific steps you can regularly take to improve and maintain your mental well-being are below:

S — Stay connected to family and friends.

C — Compassion for yourself and others.

O — Observe your use of substance.

O — OK to ask for help.

P — Physical activity to improve your mood.

Call the Hope4NC Helpline at 1-855-587-3463.

Linda Cooper-Suggs represents Wilson County in the N.C. House. This column is adapted from her constituent e-newsletter. For more information or to sign up for the newsletter, email Linda.Cooper-Suggs@ncleg.gov.

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