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The original item was published from 3/17/2020 9:00:00 AM to 3/17/2020 9:02:16 AM.

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Posted on: March 13, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Orange County to implement social distancing measures in response to COVID-19

Image of historic Orange County Courthouse

Out of concern for public safety and to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Orange County will implement social distancing measures designed to reduce public gatherings on Monday, March 16. This reduction will affect many non-essential services.

Call Center

Orange County has established a call center to answer residents’ questions about COVID-19 and its impact on services in Orange County. Call (919) 245-6111 between 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. to speak to an operator. Spanish language and other languages available.

Public Library

Beginning Monday, Orange County libraries will be closed to the public. All activities and classes are canceled until further notice.

Department on Aging/Senior Centers

Orange County Department on Aging is suspending activities at both senior centers (Passmore Center in Hillsborough and the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill) and any off-site classes.

Registered Lunch Program participants are encouraged to pick-up a carryout lunch Monday-Friday between the hours of 12 – 12:30 p.m.

Aging Transitions, Senior Center programming and Volunteer Connect 55+ staff are available to meet individually by appointment or by phone or email. For more information call the Passmore Center at 919-245-2015, Seymour Center at 919-968-2070, or the Orange County Aging Helpline at 919-968-2087.

All Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services are suspended until further notice. This includes both our One-Stop and Drop-Off Programs.

Community Centers

All Orange County Community Centers (Cedar Grove, Efland Cheeks and Rogers Road) are closed until further notice.

DEAPR

  • All recreation programming/activities (classes and sports leagues) are suspended until further notice.
  • Central Recreation Center will be closed to activities, only the administration office will be open.
  • Parks will be open on their regular schedule but shelter reservations will not be taken for the next two weeks. Existing reservations in that time period are being canceled.

Dental clinic

The Orange County Dental clinic will not perform dental procedures through April 3, as recommended by the American Dental Association. Call (919) 245-2435 for more information.

DSS

DSS would like to remind and encourage residents that applications for Medicaid and Food and Nutrition Services can be completed online at https://epass.nc.gov/CitizenPortal/application.do

For questions or assistance with how to complete applications for other DSS programs without coming into the agency, people can call the main number at 919-245-2800.

Elections

The Elections Department will close for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.each day (Monday-Friday) until further notice.

Planning and Inspections

Orange County Inspection Division will be open for walk-in customers to drop-off or pick-up and pay fees for permit applications. Customers who additional assistance or wish to discuss your project in more depth are asked to call and schedule an appointment to reduce time spent waiting. We will try to answer your questions over the phone or by email, if possible.

Appointments will also be needed for site plan review with Current Planning.

The majority of inspection staff will be working remotely, if you need to contact a Building Safety Official, Plans Examiner, or other staff please call our main number at (919) 245-2600 for contact information.

Recycling/Solid Waste

Curbside  Recycling Collection: Recycling will be collected as usual. AS ALWAYS: Keep out any tissues, paper toweling, bagged materials or other contaminants.

Waste and Recycling Centers, unstaffed drop off sites and Landfill/Disposal Center: Operations will continue as usual. Staff will maintain a safe social distance. Please remember to maintain a safe social distance from both staff and others at the sites. Mulch remains ON SALE at 50% off through March 28.

Solid Waste Administrative Office: The Solid Waste Administrative Office at 1207 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill will be closed to the public through March 30. Sales of compost bins and kitchen buckets are suspended. The Fork-It-Over program is also suspended until March 30, 2020. Staff will continue to monitor and respond to your emails and phone calls. There may be some delays in responses to your queries but we will reply as soon as possible.

Other planned Solid Waste related activities:  The March 21 Composting 101 Workshop is postponed until rescheduled.  Confidential paper Shred-A-Thons scheduled for April 25 and May 2 ARE POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. 

Salvage sheds closed at the Waste and Recycling Centers until further notice.

Tax

The Tax Office will remain open to accept payments, but residents are encouraged to make payments online (https://web.co.orange.nc.us/publicwebaccess/) or through the phone (1-844-435-3981). Credit and debit card payments can be accepted online or through the phone.

Transportation Services

Starting Monday OCPT will not operate the Orange–Alamance Connector. The Orange–Chapel Hill Connector will resume regular service and the Hillsborough Circulator will operate every 30 minutes. Passengers are advised to limited the amount they utilize public transit.

Advisory Board meetings will be suspended unless legally required to meet. Please check the website or call (919) 245-2130 to check the status of advisory board meetings.

“Essential public safety services will not be affected, but many non-essential services will be impacted by efforts to promote social distancing,” said Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair Penny Rich. "We appreciate the community’s understanding."

“We regret the potential impact this will have on our residents, but we are following recommendations from our county health director, state and federal health officials,” said Orange County Manager Bonnie Hammersley. "County staff will monitor the situation closely and we will resume our normal operations as soon as circumstances allow us to do so."

All County services that do not create public gatherings will continue to operate. Recycling collections and the Convenience Centers will operate as usual. All County offices will remain open. All County phones will continue to be answered. However, staff will be encouraged to offer these services over the phone or online where possible.

Impacted meetings

The following meetings or events will be impacted.

  • March 17 – Work Session for the Board of County Commissioners – Canceled
  • March 19 – HOME Public Hearing on 2021-25 draft plan – Postponed until later date
  • March 21 – Composting 101 Workshop – Postponed until later date
  • March 24 – County Government Academy – Postponed until later date
  • March 25 – DSS Job Fair – Postponed until later date
  • March 26 – Low-cost rabies clinic at Farmer’s Market (Hillsborough) – Canceled
  • April 25 – Confidential paper Shred-A-Thons – Postponed
  • May 2 – Confidential paper Shred-A-Thons – Postponed

Protect Your Health

The Orange County Health Department recommends everyone take simple steps to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. For more information, visit Orange County’s COVID-19 page (www.orangecountync.gov/coronavirus).

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with an elbow or tissue.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when sick and avoid close contact with others.

High-risk populations

The Centers for Disease Control makes the following recommendations for people are at higher risk for serious illness (people with underlying health conditions, pregnant women or older adults):

  • Stock up on supplies.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.

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