NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Locally, COVID-19 cases are increasing, and at today’s meeting, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Board voted to discuss and revisit the face coverings health rule for indoor public places and will hold a public hearing at its regular meeting on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 8 a.m.
New Hanover County’s percent positivity rate is currently 6.7 percent, and 592 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported over the last 14 days for an average of 42.3 cases per day. This is an increase since before Thanksgiving, when the percent positivity rate was 2.7 percent and there was an average of 14.5 new cases over the last 14 days. This continued increase is what prompted the board to schedule the public hearing and discussion.
“The Health and Human Services Board is going to discuss COVID-19 metrics and trends, data compared to last year at this time, and other statistical analysis as it relates to where we are in the pandemic after the new year and whether we need to reinstate our face coverings health rule,” said Health and Human Services Board Chair Dr. LeShonda Wallace. “This is a proactive conversation that the board plans to have, given our current increases in case counts and hospitalizations and the rapid spread of Omicron, to see where we are and if additional protective measures like face coverings are needed. The Omicron and Delta variants are actively circulating, so we encourage our community to make good choices over the holidays and wear face coverings when in crowded spaces and get tested if you plan to visit family. The more we can do proactively, the better we will all be.”
The board also voted to form a subcommittee to work with staff, including the newly formed Pandemic Operations Team, to develop a clear methodology of statistical analysis, including hospital, CDC and NCDHHS data, in order to make a data-informed decision related to the face coverings health rule and other protective measures related to the pandemic.
The January 18 public hearing will be an opportunity for the board to review current data, receive comments from the public, and determine whether the previously implemented health rule that requires face coverings in all indoor public places within New Hanover County should be reinstated. The previous health rule that will be considered can be viewed here.
The meeting will be held in the multipurpose room of the Health and Human Services building, located at 1650 Greenfield Street in Wilmington. In addition, the public may view the meeting live at NHCTV.com, youtube.com/NewHanoverCo and Spectrum Cable channel 13; or listen to the meeting by dialing 415-655-0003 and when prompted for a meeting ID, press 808 594 284, then the pound sign (#).
Comments can be submitted in advance of the January meeting online here through noon on Friday, January 14. The public can also attend the public hearing in person and speak about the proposed rule on January 18 at 8 a.m. Comments must be limited to 3 minutes each and a total of 45 minutes will be allotted for public comments during the hearing, which is in keeping with HHS Board operating procedures.
Based on statute, at least 10 days’ notice must be given in advance of any board action on a health rule, so the HHS Board voted to be proactive in order to discuss and potentially take action on the rule at its next meeting.
Being vigilant this holiday season is important in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the community. For anyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID or is showing symptoms related to COVID, testing resources, including a list of testing sites, can be found here. Additionally, information on self-testing can be found on the CDC’s website here.
As a reminder, the New Hanover County Health and Human Services Vaccination Clinics at 1650 Greenfield Street and Independence Mall will be closed December 23-27. Both vaccination clinics will reopen on December 28. The clinics will also be closed on December 31 and reopen on January 3 for regular operating hours.
Appointments to receive a vaccine at the HHS clinics are highly recommended and can be made by visiting TakeMyShot.NC.gov.
View additional COVID-19 information and data at Health.NHCgov.com.