FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kristin Prelipp, Communications Manager and Public Information Officer
email@example.com or (919) 245-2462
Statement from Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart concerning the reopening of the UNC campus for the fall semester.
From Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart:
Recently I have been receiving emails from concerned community members about UNC reopening. I along with multiple staff from the health department have provided guidance and assisted with review and revision of plans for some parts of campus for reopening. I personally have been in many meetings with UNC Leadership over the past couple months. We are grateful to work so closely with UNC staff as we all respond to the pandemic together.
While I always appreciate and value input from community members, I feel that it is important to clarify who makes the final decision about campuses reopening. Many have suggested that I close campus and declare an imminent hazard. While it is true the local health director can determine an imminent hazard exists, there is a high legal bar for this to survive a judicial challenge and there is also cost associated with shutting down the UNC campus. The statute provides a single method for the recovery of costs, "local health department shall have a lien on the property of the owner, lessee, operator, or other person in control of the property where the imminent hazard existed for the cost of the abatement of the imminent hazard." Since this is the only means of recovering the costs the full cost most likely becomes the burden of the County. This is not a realistic option. Media reports indicated the Board of Governors had instructed universities to follow any recommendations from local health departments. However, we cannot find evidence of any action from the Board of Governors to make this official board policy.
The best thing we can all do to keep healthy is to wear a mask when out in public, wash your hands frequently and stay 6 feet apart from others, not including your household members. The Orange County Health Department will continue to work closely with the University to plan and prepare for any challenges the reopening brings.
Additional Tips to Flatten the Curve
To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, the Orange County Health Department also encourages everyone to:
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Call your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms.
Face coverings are required when you leave the house and may be near other people who are not family or household members.
For the latest information and guidance relating to Orange County’s COVID-19 response: