COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Content last updated 7/13/20. For the most up to date information, view the CDC or NCDHHS websites.

prepare dont panic

What Information is Out There?

From Disability Rights NC:

  • Governor Cooper has called a State of Emergency. The State of Emergency makes it possible for North Carolina to get extra funding and resources. It also prevents price gouging on supplies.
  • Contact your county's official Health Department for information on possible COVID-19 testing sites.
  • You might have heard the word "Pandemic" on the news related to this virus. Pandemic refers to the geographic spread of an infection. COVID-19 is called a pandemic because it has spread to so many different countries.


From the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS):

  • Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Some coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States and usually cause upper respiratory symptoms such as cough or runny nose, although some can cause more serious illness. The 2019 novel (new) coronavirus causes the illness coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
  • Coronaviruses like COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands.
  • Symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
  • If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, you may need to seek medical attention. If you can't call your primary care physician immediately, then call your local health department for further guidance.
  • Before going to a health care provider, clinic, hospital or emergency room, call ahead to describe your symptoms and how you may have been exposed to the virus. In the event of an emergency call 9-1-1 at once.

Some Other Friendly Resources

For plain language information on COVID-19, view this booklet (English) (Spanish).

For aphasia-friendly information, view this handout.

For more resources for individuals with intellectual/developmental disability, view the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities.

The Autism Society has created a Toolkit related to COVID-19 to discuss schedules, mental health, public policy and more.

Who is at High Risk?


Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease and those with weakened immune systems seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness if they become infected with the virus.

Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People who have heart disease with complications
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [(BM]I)≥40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk

There is limited information so far about COVID-19 in pregnant women. Pregnant women are at higher risk from influenza and other respiratory viruses, so they are encouraged to be extra vigilant.

The CDC has more information about at-risk individuals, including older adultspeople with asthma, and people with HIV.


What should high-risk people do?

NCDHHS recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection. This includes gatherings such as concert venues, conventions, church services, sporting events, and crowded social events. People at high risk should also avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.

If you rely on a support person, contact your LME/MCO or home healthcare agency to find out if they have a plan in case your care providers get sick.


Adult Congregate Living Facilities

NCDHHS recommends that all facilities that serve as residential establishments for high-risk persons described above should restrict visitors. These establishments include nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, and facilities that care for medically vulnerable children.

As family members & loved ones, try calling, using FaceTime or Skype (or other video technologies), or asking the facilities if they have any suggestions.

What can I do to Prevent the Virus from Spreading?

There are some common sense measures everyone can take to protect themselves and others from the spread of respiratory illnesses including coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).


  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at a time.


  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.


  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill. Stay away from places where there are lots of people. Keep at least 6 feet between you and others. Do not shake hands or touch others.


  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it away and wash your hands. Do not reuse your tissue after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.


  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.


  • The most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. If you have these symptoms, go or stay home and call your doctor.


It is also good practice to start being more aware of the number of times a day your hands touch an object or hard surface and then touch your face without being washed. Limiting the exposure of your nose, mouth and eyes to unwashed hands can help to protect from the spread of all germs and illnesses.

In North Carolina, masks are 100% essential in public. This is in accordance to Governor Cooper's Executive Order. Masks should be worn by everyone, regardless of if they think they are not at risk for COVID-19.

Need Assistance?

If you need assistance finding food paying housing bills, accessing free childcare, or other essential services, find your local 211 or dial 211 on your telephone to speak to someone who can help. For more information & updates, call 888-892-1162 or sign up for updates by texting COVIDNC to 898211.

Resources to Learn More

CDC: Prevent

CDC: The Facts

CDC: Coping & Anxiety

CDC: Higher Risk

NCDHHS: Response

NCDHHS: The Facts

NCDHHS: Individuals & Families

NCDHHS: Healthcare

NCDHHS: Coping

NCDHHS: Print Materials

NCDHHS: Guidance

NCDHHS: Higher Risk

NCDHHS: Executive Orders