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Posted on: March 13, 2020

Orange County announces social distancing measures, service interruptions 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.

Effective Tuesday, March 17, as part of the effort to mitigate and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Orange County is closing three parks: Fairview Park, Efland-Cheeks Park and Cedar Grove Park. These parks include active recreation facilities such as courts, fields and playgrounds that may encourage gathering and work against the social distancing measures being used as part of the effort to minimize the virus.Other County parks, which are trails-oriented and more-conducive to social distancing, will remain open at this time on regular hours.

Dental clinic

The Orange County Dental clinic will not perform dental procedures through April 17, 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

We are closing Orange Works effective March 23 to walk-in traffic. Employment services will be available by appointment by calling (919) 245-2800 and ask for employment services.

We have also started collecting food, diapers, and other items to provide additional support to families who have lost income.

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.

Health

As of Wednesday, March 18, 2020, we will no longer accept walk-through death certificates or any appointments in person. As an alternative, death certificates may be mailed as follows:

Orange County Health Department Vital Records
PO Box 8181
300 W. Tryon St.
Hillsborough, NC 27278

Please note that services may be delayed during this time as offices are not fully staffed. Death certificates will be forwarded to our Register of Deeds office by Wednesday and Friday of each week. Please check in with Register of Deeds before obtaining any copies.

Should you have questions or need to inquire about the status of a death certificate, you can call our office at 919-245-2404, or the Register of Deeds at 919-245-2700.

Housing and Community Development

Both the Hillsborough and Chapel Hill offices are temporarily closed for in-person visits. Staff are available by phone and email during regular business hours, M-F 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

All unit inspections and home visits/walk-throughs have been suspended except for inspections and assessments of vacant units.

Documents for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program may be dropped off at the mail drop boxes at the Chapel Hill office (Southern Human Services Center) or uploaded online.

HCV Program participants are encouraged to report any household changes of income or composition online

To expedite the update of your account, please upload verification of the change you are reporting.

People in housing crisis can:

  • Go in-person to DSS in Hillsborough on Wednesdays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Call the Homeless Hotline, 919-245-2655, midnight-6 a.m. overnights Sunday – Thursday

Please check the Housing and Community Development Department Notice page for updates: .

Parks

Effective Tuesday, March 17, as part of the effort to mitigate and slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Orange County is closing three parks: Fairview Park, Efland-Cheeks Park and Cedar Grove Park. These parks include active recreation facilities such as courts, fields and playgrounds that may encourage gathering and work against the social distancing measures being used as part of the effort to minimize the virus.

Other County parks, which are trails-oriented and more-conducive to social distancing, will remain open at this time on regular hours.

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.

Register of Deeds office

In effort to follow CDC and local health authorities’ recommendations to promote social distancing, and to protect all staff and the public during the current State of Emergency, the Register of Deeds office will be amending all in-person services effective March 20.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak resulting in a declaration of emergency, the Register of Deeds office is implementing the following steps to restrict access to the office:

  • Limited access to the third floor, appointments only.
  • Attorneys are urged to utilize our Electronic Recording System Simplifile.com or call 800-460-5657.
  • The Public can order certified copies of Birth, Death, and Marriages through our online service only at www.getcertificatenow.com/orange.
  • Couples wishing to apply for Marriage License should complete the online marriage application on our website then contact our office at 919-245-2700 to schedule an appointment to come in to complete the process. Applicants only allowed in the office.
  • Notaries that need to take their oath will need to call for an appointment 919-245-2685.
  • Veterans needing to record their discharge papers will need to call for an appointment 919-245-2700.
  • Funeral Homes may order Death certificates online or send a mail request.
  • Attorneys, paralegals, etc., may mail in their documents or use the drop box located at the front of the building, this includes Assumed Business Name filings. Please read instructions located on the drop box before you place your document inside. If you have a Plat or documents requiring a Split, Merge, or multiple PIN sheet please call 919-245-2685 and a staff member will assist you.
  • Passport services have been suspended until further notice.
  • For all other inquiries or questions, please call 919-245-2685 or visit our website.

Soil & Water Board of Supevisors

The Orange Soil and Water Board of Supervisors has authorized their office to go to an appointment process for public interactions. They will have at least one person in office, but the door will be locked, with instructions for public visitors on the door. Call (919) 245-2750 to schedule an appointment.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service can not have more than 1 NRCS employee in an office at one time. NRCS will not be having face to face meetings with customers in any office. NRCS can still make field visits but only one person can be in the truck at a time. We can make field visits but do not need to meet with farmers unless outside and at least 6 feet away.

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 4 – Community Egg Hunt – Postponed
  • April 25 – Confidential paper Shred-A-Thons – Postponed
  • May 2 – Confidential paper Shred-A-Thons – Postponed
  • June 6 – Local Roots Festival (Blackwood Farm Park) – Canceled

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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