Evolving situation: The latest on COVID-19 for the week of April 6


As deaths related to COVID-19 and new positive test results continue to rise in many countries around the world, North Carolina is beginning to see major surges in cases here as more testing is conducted and drastic measures are taken to try to contain the virus.
As of Monday, April 6, there are 2,870 confirmed cases of COVID-19 spanning 89 counties in North Carolina with 33 deaths.
Last week, the first death from COVID-19 in the region occurred in Macon County when an individual over the age of 65 with underlying medical conditions succumbed to complications from the virus.
On March 29, Gov. Cooper announced the state’s first payments for unemployment claims would go out this week. The latest U.S. Department of Labor report shows 6.6 million people filed for unemployment last week last week nationwide, with 170,881 of those in North Carolina.
On March 31, Gov. Cooper signed an executive order prohibiting utility shut-offs, late fees and re-connection fees.
Essential workers who are parents and have no other child care options can now apply for financial assistance through NC Department of Health and Human Services.
North Carolina is following CDC recommendations that people with mild symptoms should stay home and call their doctor to decide if they need a test. 

Library closures exended
In a statement update regarding the time the Albert Carlton Cashiers Community Library would remain closed, Librarian Serenity Richards said, “All Fontana Regional Library locations in Macon, Jackson, and Swain Counties will remain closed through April 30.”
Richards also said due dates and overdue fines would remain suspended for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.  
“All due dates for library materials have automatically been extended again, to May 15, and there will be no overdue fines while the library is closed. Please do not return any items at this time,” she said in an emailed statement on Friday.
For more information, visit www.fontanalib.org for information and resources that are still available, such as eBooks, eAudiobooks, streaming video,  and other online materials. 
Richards said, public Wi-Fi extends around the perimeter of all library buildings. Wi-Fi is available at the Albert Carlton – Cashiers Community Library from the parking lots, garden, and benches on Library grounds.
For more information, go to www.fontanalib.org.

DOL provides FFCRA guidance
The U.S. Department of Labor announced more guidance to provide information to workers and employers about how each will be able to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which went into effect April 1.
The guidance announced Friday includes a comprehensive webinar explaining which employers are covered by the new law, which workers are eligible, and what benefits and protections the law provides. The Wage and Hour Division also added additional questions and answers to its website in response to the questions most frequently received to-date through its extensive stakeholder engagement. 
Workplace posters translated into additional languages, which fulfill notice requirements for employers obligated to inform employees about their rights under the FFCRA, have also been added to WHD’s website. To view the webinar and other guidance materials, visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

OSHA provides N95 mask guidelines
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued interim enforcement guidance to help combat supply shortages of disposable N95 filtering face piece respirators. The action marks the department’s latest step to ensure the availability of respirators and follows President Donald Trump’s memorandum on making general use respirators available.
Due to the impact on workplace conditions caused by limited supplies of N95 FFRs, employers should reassess their engineering controls, work practices and administrative controls to identify any changes they can make to decrease the need for N95 respirators.
If respiratory protection must be used, employers may consider use of alternative classes of respirators that provide equal or greater protection compared to an N95 FFR, such as National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved, non-disposable, elastomeric respirators or powered, air-purifying respirators.
When these alternatives are not available, or where their use creates additional safety or health hazards, employers may consider the extended use or reuse of N95 FFRs, or use of N95 FFRs that were approved but have since passed the manufacturer’s recommended shelf life, under specified conditions.
This interim guidance will take effect immediately and remain in effect until further notice. This guidance is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis.